A Shaman Perspective
Have you ever found yourself walking on a single thread across the abyss of your mind?
And then falling off into the depths of your spirit?
This is a common event for a shaman.
For the most part, those who hear the calling of the wounded healer will have experienced a near-death experience at some point in their lives. I personally believe that such an experience ignites a deep insatiable curiosity to seek out answers not readily available within the mundane world.
As a student of shamanism, a journey that began in 1999, I also believe that many of the Great Mysteries of life reside within the depths of our being. It is this belief that lends itself to seeking out the answers to such mysteries through deep and personal introspection.
In essence, a shaman is a spiritual healer. But before one can begin to heal others, you must first attempt to heal yourself. And since such a healing is never a complete success, the term ‘wounded healer’ comes into play.
During this healing process of the individual spirit, one must be prepared to undergo a complete change in personality. Ones emotional and mental outlook will be altered for life. During this journey inward you will be expected to embrace your Shadow Self.
Carl Jung, a noted psychologist once said, “That when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and are torn into opposing halves.”
So it is with those who follow the path of the shaman. The shadow self is a collection of feelings, thoughts and experiences that are dark and negative and are stored deep within the psyche.
To become a spiritual healer, one must be willing to take a perilous journey inwards. And once there, to have the courage to face the shadow self and to come to understand and to embrace it. This lends itself to a balance within the soul.
When we try to balance the scales too far one way or the other then physical, emotional and mental illness are the result. A shaman learns to harness the dark energy projected by the shadow self and to balance it with the light energy that is projected by the ego or conscious state.
In order to do a healing, a shaman will follow a single thread of energy back into the abyss to see what is at the other end. Once there they can see what caused the problem to begin with and begin the healing process.
I would like to point out that one of the side effects of traveling the path of the Shaman is that it tends to make one extremely honest with oneself and those around them. Some folks may think that this is a very positive result. However it is not always so. We live in a society where subterfuge and dishonesty are the norm.
For instance how many of you have grown up with the adage “if you can’t say something nice to someone, then don’t say nothing at all”? This may seem like good advice but in all honesty (grin) it takes away from the polarity of life. Life is not all sugar and cream and to better appreciate life and indeed to grow spiritually we must be aware of this fact.
This brings us back to the lessons of how to balance the Shadow self.
There are many tools available to one who follows the path of the shaman. One of these is called a Soul Retrieval. This is where it is believed that due to a traumatic experience of either a physical and/or emotional event, which a part of the soul has broken away and is floating around either in this realm or perhaps in an alternate realm. The departure of this piece of the soul can once again lead to physical, emotional and/or mental deficiencies.
And so either the Shaman or in some cases the patient, seeks out and attempts to encourage the missing piece to return. I say, “encourage” because we cannot force the missing piece to return. The events that caused this event to occur must be addressed as part of the over all treatment.
An example may be that one was sexually abused as a child and a piece of the soul broke away. The trauma associated with the abuse must be addressed as part of the Soul Retrieval or the missing piece may refuse to return to its original place within the soul.
An alternative to this practice is called energy extraction. Sometimes a profound experience will leave a residue of energy within our soul that is not in tune with the rest of our spirit. A shaman performing an extraction will connect with their spirit guides or their animal totems and isolate and then remove the opposing energy. This operation allows for ones spiritual balance to return and thus lends to a healthier life both physically and spiritually.
Another tool or experience used by the Shaman is the Vision quest. This is a very personal experience where one seeks out a vision that is specific to the individual. This seeking is done through a variety of methods such as fasting, ingestion of certain herbs, physical deprivation, mental/emotional preparation and so forth.
During my first Vision quest, the spirit of my second son who had passed at birth appeared in a very vivid way. But he appeared as the age he would have been had he still been living within this realm. I won’t go into details of course, but the experience had a profound effect on my thoughts and emotions. I have never had such a lucid connection as I did during that quest. My personal understanding of what we know as life and death was expanded beyond my wildest dreams. As already mentioned, a Vision quest is a very unique and personal experience and will be so for each individual who undergoes such a trial.
Of course the path of the Shaman is not for everyone, even less so then the path of Witchcraft being open to all who seek it. But for those few who are able to withstand and indeed embrace the rigors of such a life, well, there is little that I can say, for you already aware of the spiritual rewards that await you within the abyss.
Amongst these gifts is the ability to connect with the spirits of plants and animals. Such ability is invaluable to one who seeks to become a spiritual healer. For many lessons are learned through such connections. A belief in animism is a basic tenet of shamanism.
There is also the ability to travel the threads of life to alternate realms. Within these realms one encounters wise teachers who are willing to impart their wisdom to such a seeker as a shaman.
There is much, much more to walking the path of the wounded healer, but I hope that this brief look into such an exciting path may inspire someone to seek what may be the path for him or herself.