Shamanism and Healing

Spirits and Helpers
Shamanic healing does not have a basis of teaching as we know it from homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda etc.

Much rather we look at shamanism as a pool of experience of many, many generations of healers on being aware of, understanding, directing and carefully using the healing forces of the elements, nature and the universe. Generally spoken it is the spirit, the soul of these forces that shamans work with. The so called spirit describes the invisible creative intelligence within every plant, every animal, every rock, the elements, the cosmic worlds and even the small atoms. Shamans know about the existence of these spirits, how they mutually support each other and about the interconnection and influence of everything upon each other. Therefore it is one of the main responsibilities of a shamanic healer to reestablish the balance and harmony between the world of the spirits and the physical, mental and emotional world.

Different approaches of healing
It is the main task of a shaman to create the spiritual prerequisites for the recovery of his patient. He or she never lays the focus on physical or psychological work, it is always spiritual. Dealing with herbs, medicines, chakras, impositioning of hands, etc. only take a minor role in the whole concept. The way we are familiar with dealing with medicines and herbs is that they cause specific healing or pain relieving effects once they are taken by the patient.

Homeopathy has a more sensitive approach. Different natural substances - which sometimes can be highly toxic - are processed in a very special procedure which dilutes them to such an extent that the homeopathic remedy may not contain a single molecule of the original substance. The fluid or the globules which we can physically look at are simply vectors for the actual medicine – the pure energy of the original substance.

The shamanic understanding of healing
Shamans even go one step further. We know that the shaman is in connection with the world of the spirits and gods. He is a rambler in between these worlds. The spirits are his allies, his helpers. During his journeys into other levels of consciousness he can connect with his spirits and helpers and travel into further realities to either perform necessary healing work or gain essential information and advice.

The shaman acts as a vector for spiritual healing energies. He asks his spirits for support for his patients. Healing happens through the forces of the spirits, the shaman only acts as a medium. The comparison to a ghost healer may help in understanding. They, too, see themselves as a channel for higher divine forces. It is not themselves performing the healing, but higher energies which are provided to the patient through their help and so induce self healing processes.

The shaman’s view provides several methods for transferring the spiritual energies necessary for the healing process of a patient. The following example should demonstrate this:

The shaman receives the information from his spiritual helpers that a certain plant can support the healing process of his patient. The healing energy of this plant can now be transferred to the patient by the following methods:

  1. The shaman travels into the other worlds and visits the spiritual energy field of this plant. With the help of his own spirits he can convey the healing potential from the spiritual world, the so called nagual world, into the ordinary reality, the so called tonal world. When he returns from his journey he will incorporate this healing energy of the plant into the energy field of his client – either by singing, by using his rattle, his drum or by blowing...

  2. The shaman can also drink the plant as a tea or chew a leaf of it to receive the information of the plant via his mucous membranes and then transfer it onto his client.

  3. he patient himself takes the plant medicine. In many cases it may be a plant whose physical ingredients are in no relation to the disease of the patient. In this case the plant was chosen because it is a medicine plant with which the shaman has a good spiritual connection to work with. The plant is a spiritual helper of the shaman. It is a carrier for the healing energies of the shaman and his spiritual helpers in the other worlds.

The spirits let the shaman know which method is the most suitable in every case to transfer the healing energy.

Healing spiritual fields
According to the shamanic view of the world every human being has various forces and energies in his physical, mental and emotional energy fields which are entry gates to the spiritual nagual worlds. For example everybody is accompanied through life by animal spirit guides.

The personal animal spirit guide represents a medicine, an energetic frequency which offers us support, strength and healing throughout our life. If we neglect our body, our mind, our soul through misuse of drugs or medicines, bad nutrition, to little exercise, by letting ourselves go or wallowing in negative emotions such as fears, jealousy and grudge our animal spirit won’t feel comfortable with us and may leave our energy field. This new empty space will then be occupied by energies that are not supposed to be there. This creates weakness, discomfort and Illness. Other spiritual energies and forces will start leaving us if we don’t start to take good care of us.

In the shamanic understanding major strokes, lovesickness, traumata and stress can lead to the escape of parts of our soul. Psychology addresses this phenomenon as partial dissociation. If this happens a vacuum is created in the soul and is refilled with foreign energies which don’t belong there. With the support of his spirits a shaman can lead these lost energies and parts of the soul back home to their original place in his client.

The art of being a shaman
The shamanic world does not differ between good and bad. Everything is neutral. Simply if there is a lack of energy somewhere or something has taken a place where it is not supposed to be then the balance has to be restored. And this is the skill of a shaman. He serves as a mediator for spiritual healing energies to transform negative forces into positive fields of energy.

Supporting self healing
A shaman will never replace a medical specialist. But he or she can help by inducing a self healing process on a spiritual level which then will manifest in the psychical and physical structures of the patient.

Dealing with shamanic healing challenges us to look and step beyond the boarder of our western understanding. It is the efficacy of this work that speaks for itself.

In 1980 the WHO granted shamanism the same status for healing psychosomatic illness as western medicine. In the meanwhile shamanic approaches have been followed and investigated at various university clinics around the world.

© Sonia Emilia Roppele, Austria