We all experience illness, imbalance, trauma, or other difficulties at some point in our lives. Working with a professional shamanic practitioner allows us to explore new paths for understanding and addressing these challenges. Shamanic healing offers us an opportunity to look at healing and illness from a new perspective, one that may be quite different from conventional, culturally conditioned models.
Shamanic practitioners work with helping spirits to facilitate healing for their clients. The shamanic model of health and healing asserts that illness originates in the energetic or spiritual dimensions before it manifests as physical symptoms. Shamanic healing is an ancient way of working with that originating spiritual malady to facilitate the healing and well-being of individuals, as well as the sustainability of the community at large. Professional shamanic practitioners are able to tend to these originating symptoms by working with the unseen world in non-ordinary reality. When the shamanic practitioner tends to the spiritual wound in non-ordinary reality, she is initiating healing, not only in spiritual realm, but on the gross physical dimension as well.
Soul Retrieval – Shutting down emotionally is a common experience, and one that can be helpful to survive difficult, traumatic or stressful experiences. However, if we continue to remain shut down, numb, or stuck in trauma, essential aspects of ourselves may be sacrificed. Often, imbalances occur when we cannot integrate the painful experience and return to wholeness. Shamans define this fragmentation as “soul loss” or “power loss.” If left untreated, we may remain in a state of arrested development, limiting our growth and ultimately compromising our well-being.
Common Symptoms of Soul Loss
Missing memories, chunks of time
Feeling disassociated, spacey, ungrounded, empty, lost, incomplete, shattered and/or numb
Feeling stuck in your life, that you cannot get past where you are
Feeling like you have a difficult time being silly, playful or childlike
Feeling like you have never felt the same after a traumatic event
Feeling like someone took a part of you
Feeling like you have tried ‘everything’ (e.g. therapy, healers, doctors, etc) without success
Feeling a pervasive and chronic sense of insecurity, low self-esteem, “I’m not good enough.”
Experiencing suicidal ideation
Experiencing grief that will not resolve
Experiencing chronic physical or emotional illness
Experiencing wounds that won’t heal properly after surgery or fracture
Experiencing great difficulty in ceasing compulsive numbing behaviors (e.g food; alcohol; pain-killers; gambling; spending; “cutting”)
Diseases Sometimes Associated with Soul Loss
Generalized chronic pain and/or Immune deficiencies (e.g. Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Chronic Migraine Headache; Temporomandibular Joint Disorder; Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Post-traumatic stress Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
Substance Use Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder
Persistent Grief Disorder
The treatment for soul loss is soul retrieval. With the assistance of helping spirits, the practitioner undertakes a shamanic journey and retrieves the fractured and missing soul part(s) which are residing outside of ordinary reality. The practitioner then returns to ordinary reality with the soul part for the client and gently initiates the process of integration and healing.
In 2012 Kaiser Permanente studied soul retrieval as a means for alleviating chronic temporomandibular joint pain. Overall the sample felt less pain and were higher functioning due to the intervention.
Foreign Energy Extraction – Extraction is a remedy for energetic intrusions. Soul loss and disempowerment often create a vulnerability that allows intrusive thought-forms and energetic enmeshment to attach to an individual. These unwelcome energies may be generated by ourselves, others, or from the collective unconscious. While they are typically not malevolent, intrusions are opportunistic in their very nature, which is why they seek to fill the opening produced by a soul loss.
Symptoms of Intrusions may include:
• Localized pain
• Localized disease or illness
• Prolonged state of rage or depression
The treatment for energetic intrusion is extraction. The practitioner will merge with her helping spirits who guide her in identifying where the intrusion exists in the energetic and physical body(s). In this merged state the shamanic practitioner will remove the intrusions and offer the foreign energy to the divine in a process of transmutation. When the intrusion is removed, the client feels open and spacious. The shamanic practitioner may then lead the client through a visualization on how to fill up with her own light and provide guidance for avoiding energetic enmeshment and transmuting foreign energy in the future.
Cord Cutting – Cord cutting is the remedy for energetic enmeshment. Cords are energetic connections between two beings. Oftentimes, we are unconscious of cords that exist between ourselves and another person. Unconscious cords divert energy from our life force and can leave us feeling drained. When your energy becomes enmeshed with others, you can lose perspective, become overly concerned with what others think about you, or modify your behavior in ways that compromise your mental and spiritual well-being, as well as your physical health. Sometimes, people unconsciously hang on to old cords because they are trying to meet an unconscious need they have. In professional cord-cutting, the practitioner locates the physical or energetic space (chakra) where the cord is connected, and severs the cord with the assistance of their helping spirits. Once the cord(s) is severed, the life force belonging to each party is returned to them, so that they can become autonomous and empowered by their own energy.
Symptoms of Energetic Enmeshment may include:
• Feeling overly tired, drained, or burned out
• Feeling like you can’t say no
• Feeling responsible for the actions/outcomes of someone else’s choices
• Spending inordinate amount of time thinking about someone else/feeling obsessed with someone else
• Feeling like you are being psychically attacked by someone else
• Feeling emotions that do not seem like they belong to you
Curse Unraveling – It is common to hear someone say they are feeling cursed, and they are usually right. A symptom of a curse may be a string of “bad luck” accompanied by feeling heavy or depressed, or, an unrelenting negative pattern that one cannot overcome regardless of having tried every conceivable method, like chronic over-spending or infertility. Curses fall into several categories: unintentional curses, malevolent curses, and ancestral curses, to name a few. Old curses often root from competition for real estate, employment, and eligible partners. Whatever the source of the curse, a professional shamanic practitioner calls upon her helping spirits to accurately diagnose the curse. She then engages her helping spirits in unraveling the binding elements of the curse. Once the curse is unraveled, the practitioner may facilitate a healing and restorative journey for the client. The effects of having a curse removed can feel profound, especially if you have been living with the curse for a long time.
Psychopomp – Death is mysterious. Where we go when we die is not something we can fully understand while we are alive, although we do get glimpses from our dreams and imaginations, and from those who have had near death experiences (NDEs). Laura works from the theoretical perspective that there are two major transitions involved in dying. The first is when the body dies and the soul becomes disembodied, and the second is when the disembodied soul fully reunites with its Source. For the sake of discussing psychopomp, Laura uses the terms “death” and “ascension” to characterize and differentiate these transitions. The role of the shamanic practitioner as a psychopomp is to simply accompany the soul through these passages. This may take the form of a practitioner connecting with a client as they die, and continuing to journey with them until they have fully ascended. Sometimes clients who have already died seek the assistance of a shamanic practitioner to help them finish the journey. A client in this state may seek out the shamanic practitioner directly, or through the help of a loved one who is able to perceive the whereabout of the client in non-ordinary reality.
Shamanic approaches to death and dying help us to resolve our emotional material while we are alive. They also teach us how to help our ancestors and loved one to complete old business, facilitating miraculous healing up and down the biological and spiritual lineages, benefitting our ancestors, our descendants, and ourselves. Learning to face death shamanically means we can approach death consciously, and our helping spirits meet us to practice surrender and rebirth over and over.
Depossession – In modern society, where death is perceived as a failure to thrive rather than a beautiful, natural transition, and the sacred rituals of death have been lost, possession of living people by deceased souls is disproportionately high compared to other times in history. Possession occurs when a deceased person doesn’t ascend successfully, and remains in the middle world. In order to feel alive, that soul may attempt to inhabit the energy field of a living person. The protocol for Compassionate Depossession entails, first, decoupling the deceased soul from the energy field of the living host, and, next, facilitating a successful ascension (psychopomp) for the deceased soul. This differs from other widely used depossession methods in that the deceased soul, whether benign or malevolent, is treated with respect and compassion, not merely banished or exorcized from the environment of the host. For more on this topic, please read Overshadowed, an Interview about Possession.
Symptoms of Possession may include:
• Addictions including substances like drugs or alcohol or behaviors like anorexia or abusive relationships
• Awareness of a continuous mind-talk – the living host often assumes this is their own internal conversation, only to discover it is actually the possessing being’s commentary
• Feeling overshadowed or immobilized by desires and fears
• Spontaneous sexual stimulation
• Intimacy and partnership issues
Do you have questions about shamanic healing? Please book a complimentary fifteen minute phone session with Laura here.
Resources for Further Investigation:
Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing: Shamanism by University of Minnesota Professor Karen Lawson, M.D.
Could Shamanic Healing Be The Answer You’ve Been Looking For? by Laura Eraser, Prevention Magazine, January, 2014
Long-term Outcomes of Shamanic Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders by by Vuckovic et al, Kaiser Permanente Journal, Spring 2012