Shamanic healing is a process, not an event

It delights me daily that people all over the U.S. are discovering, or re-discovering, shamanic healing. Because of the articles I've written about soul retrieval and compassionate depossession, people from all over this country find their way to my site and ask their questions about shamanism and shamanic healing. A question I hear very often is: Will I need more than one healing session? My answer is that no one can say, and I'd like to discuss why that is so. One thing I've observed in my work is that the soul yearns to be both whole and free to live its purpose. In fact, the more whole our soul is, the likelier it is to successfully live its purpose. And so sometimes the events and symptoms we experience in our bodies, minds and lives are the soul's way of prompting us to seek our healing, which leads to our wholeness. Depression and sadness, for example, are a common reaction to soul loss. So a client will come for shamanic healing, feel either immediately or gradually free of depression, and look forward to plunging back into life with vigor. And then, a few months later, the depression and sadness return. And my client is then puzzled: Why didn't my shamanic healing stick? When old symptoms return, it is often an indication that the healing stuck very well. So well that the soul has grown strong, is craving more healing, and prompts the feeling of sadness to drive the client to it. The return of a useful symptom, then, often indicates that the client's soul is ready for the next step in its healing journey. The shamanic healing process is most like peeling that proverbial onion. We [...]

Manifesting Joy in Your Life

I am very fortunate to be a participant in Betsy Bergstrom's 2 year shamanic training in Middle World shamanic skills.  Betsy's training is designed to help shamanic practitioners like me to sharpen our disciplines, learn new skills to support our work and find fellowship and replenishment among our colleagues. Betsy has dedicated a lifetime of work to studying the Middle World, and sharing what she's found with those who are living a shamanistic life and to those who are just beginning to learn. Betsy's work is also shaped by one of my favorite human qualities: compassion. Studying with Betsy you will learn how deep and effective compassion can be as strong a force in this World and others. Participating in any of her classes is life-transforming. In this Middle World work we strengthen our relationships with many helping Spirits of the Middle World, using various techniques. One of those is the art of Mediumship. In Mediumship, we agree to "share" our consciousness and, sometimes, our physical bodies, with other Spiritual helpers. This is beautiful and powerful work, and must be undertaken within carefully planned and supported places and processes. In such a carefully planned way, I was able to share my consciousness recently with a helping Spirit who brought many lessons for me. This helping Spirit is one who manifests Joy in this world; she expresses herself and the Joy she carries in the form of the element of Fire. Sharing my physical self and my mind with her was an experience beyond my ability to describe. And yet, she charged me with sharing with you, and all who will hear, her lesson of how to manifest Joy in your life. Joy, she explained, is [...]

The Shamanic Worlds: Claim Your Birthright

Many decades ago anthropologist Michael Harner developed and presented to the Western world the cosmology of Core Shamanism. As a result of his study and experience with shamanic cultures around the world, he determined that all have some things in common. One of those commonalities he described is the division of our experience of existence into Ordinary Reality (OR) and Nonordinary Reality (NOR). Ordinary Reality is this reality in which we find ourselves living; I call it the "consensus reality." In this reality, we don't perceive that trees sing, rocks move of their own volition, etc. Nonordinary Reality is the spiritual realm, which in the shamanic realm is the source of the reality we experience. In other words, Ordinary Reality is a reflection of Nonordinary Reality. And in Nonordinary Reality, trees sing beautifully, rocks move about freely, and we converse with spiritual beings to gain knowledge, help, healing and perspective. It is in Nonordinary Reality that the shamanic practitioner does the bulk of his or her work. Another organizing principle Dr. Harner presented is that Nonordinary Reality contains (at least) three Worlds: the Upper World, the Lower World and, of course, the Middle World. And there are various "levels" or locations within each of those Worlds. The Lower World is a very dense and expansive version of our own reality, with landscapes and animals like those in our reality. These caves, rivers, oceans, meadows and these Bears, Owls, Eagles and all other Power Animals, are very much more intensely SO than in our reality; it is as if we are perceiving the essence of these things and forces in the Lower World. The Upper World has, in my experience, opposite qualities from the Lower World; [...]

Is Shamanism Real: And What About Dreaming?

Thanks to the sponsorship of the amazing Rubin Museum I discovered the fascinating documentary film Edge of Dreaming. In this film Amy Hardie documents, very intimately, a year in which she transforms from a "rational" scientific documentary film maker, into a dreaming, shamanic-journeying film maker. In the course of that transition, she experiences a convincing dream-based prediction of her own death and the healing that was needed to make that death an ego-death, rather than a physical one. I was initially drawn to the film because Amy declares early on that she is a person who doesn't dream. My Beloved is also one who rarely remembers his dreams, and I often wonder about the meaning of that. One night, Amy dreams that a loved pet horse has died. She awakens from this unusual dream to discover that her horse has, indeed, died, and in precisely the way portrayed in the dream. Some few months later, Amy dreams that she is to die in her 48th year, which is about to commence. Amy's life begins to focus on what this possibility might mean to her, to ponder what this dream might mean, until she becomes ill in her 48th year with a lung illness that threatens her life. Amy then embarks on an exploration both intimate and scientific, within her own life and in interviews with various scientific experts in dreaming and neurology, eventually deciding that there might be some kind of "knowing" in her dreams. It is then that Amy consults with a shaman, Claudia Goncalves, who helps her to journey to the source of the problem. In this journey to non-ordinary reality Amy encounters helping spirits who show her how her life is connected to [...]

Is Shamanism Real?

I love the Internet. It has completely changed the way we communicate with one another, and created open doors for ideas and interactions that we couldn’t have dreamed of a few decades ago. When previously I’d have had to write you a letter or produce a flyer to let you know what I was thinking or what classes I am offering, now I only need think about it for a few moments, hit the keyboard, and you are informed and I’ve communicated. Another thing I like about the Internet is that I can read what you are thinking, as you wend your way to my web site. I’ve invited Google, in the form of Google Analytics, to tell me how people arrive at my web site. So it tells me a lot of general, not specific, information about who is looking at my site and how they found it. For example, I can see that my average viewer spends over 3 minutes reading my site. And I’m glad of that because one purpose of my site is to help you understand healing, coaching, Reiki, shamanism and the possibilities they offer for your life. Another thing it tells me is how you, my anonymous reader, might have arrived at my site through a Google search. And those are the really intriguing bits of information Google feeds to me. The most fascinating Google search that brings you, dear Reader, to my site is this: Is Shamanism Real? I like this question because it is what I asked, myself, for several years. As I intently studied shamanism and began a shamanic practice, I found great joy in it. But I asked myself at least daily: is this real, [...]

Setting Out

I’ll confess right up front that I’ve struggled to get to this spot, my first blog post. And I’m not even talking about my usual struggle with semi-colons versus commas, Arial versus Verdana or even my titanic passes through the thesaurus looking for the word that perfectly describes the nuances of my idea. I mean that I’ve struggled for years to give life to this web site, this simple bare-bones statement of who I am and what is my work in the world. And I’ve struggled for weeks with the text of this first blog entry: what new is there to say about the struggle of beginning? Modern life and technology has made it possible for us to regularly engage in the act of setting out. The kinds of settings-out our ancestors engaged in were epic and huge, requiring tremendous acts of courage, expenditures of time and resources, and even the consumption of human lives. Migrations and explorations are the stuff of our history: entire continents, people and cultures “discovered” halfway around the world; the flight into space; the journey of our species to become one human race through all of our wars and peaces, disasters and triumphs. I can’t help but contrast these epic efforts with the ease with which we modern humans can simply open an electronic space and create something entirely new where nothing existed before. And yet, despite this ease, I have still experienced a great reluctance in this stepping out, this setting out. When I’m stuck in a process, I sometimes like to ponder the cultural understanding of that process, and so I often begin my process of getting unstuck with the dictionary. And this time, I find that Webster’s [...]