Shamanic journeying & healing
Imagine yourself traveling down into the earth and emerging in a beautiful, peaceful otherworld of forests, lakes, and plains. And now imagine that in that beautiful world, you meet a power animal—a spirit being—who has been waiting for you all your life, ready to guide and support you.
What if this wasn’t just in your imagination? What if, as nearly every indigenous culture on Earth teaches, these spirit realms are just as real as the ordinary world you already know, and filled with compassionate spirits—wisdom teachers, power animals, and healers who already care deeply for you and for the world?
And what if you could learn to journey there whenever you wanted, to ask for healing and help for yourself and your community, and to develop deep friendships with these compassionate spirits?
For many thousands of years, in every place on Earth where humans have lived, people have been practicing in this way. You can too.
Learning to journey
I practice in the tradition of Core Shamanism taught by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS). If you’d like to learn how to do shamanic journeys for yourself, I can teach you the basics. It’s very safe and there are no drugs involved, just a steady drumbeat that helps your mind shift into a more meditative state. (You can also take an introductory class through FSS, either online or in person.)
Divination (a.k.a. asking for information)
Divination is simply asking the helping spirits for information and guidance. If you have a question or issue you’ve been wrestling with, I can journey to ask my spirits for their advice and any information they believe will be helpful to you at this time.
If you’re interested in healing, before I do any healing work for you, I will do a “divination journey” to my compassionate helping spirits to consult with them about what kinds of healing would be most beneficial for you. Then, I’ll let you know what they advise and ask for your permission to do the work for you. (Occasionally, if the work they suggest is beyond my skills and training, I may refer you to another practitioner.)
If you’re feeling off lately, if you get sick a lot, or if you’ve had a lot of bad luck recently, many cultures teach that this may mean your personal “power” (energy, vitality, mojo) has been depleted. Though this is not a substitute for medical treatment, it can be helpful to go to a shamanic practitioner for a healing session, where the practitioner journeys to their own helping spirits to ask for power and healing for the client. Here are a few ways that can happen:
Power animal retrieval
I can journey to find a power animal for you. If the power animal is willing, I’ll bring them back to you and invite them to stick around with you for the long term, offering you friendship and renewed strength and vitality.
Especially if you’re empathic or highly sensitive, it’s easy to end up with energetic gunk from other people that’s glommed onto you and drains your own energy. I can ask my helping spirits to do what’s known as an extraction—basically, taking out all the gunk that doesn’t belong to you, and filling you back up with healthy spiritual energy.
Shamanic cultures teach that when you go through trauma—whether acute, like a car accident, or chronic, like an abusive relationship—little bits of your soul can break off and get separated from you. When you lose too many soul-bits, you tend to feel tired and sick a lot. But I can ask my helping spirits to bring back those soul-bits for you, so you can be whole again.
A note of caution here—normally I would never suggest that another person can make someone else whole. That’s not cool. But I have personal experience with soul loss & retrieval that has taught me this practice is extremely powerful and beneficial. I’m not the one “making you whole”—I’m just here to facilitate your own healing in partnership with Spirit.
Psycho-what? This is a Greek term that means “one who guides the souls of the dead.” Core Shamanism teaches that the souls of humans and other living beings continue to exist after death. When we die, our souls will often move on to compassionate spirit realms where they can be helped to continue on their journey. But sometimes a soul gets stuck here–for example, if their death was sudden and unexpected–and needs help to move on.
If you are concerned about a loved one who has died, I can work with my compassionate helping spirits to look for the soul of your loved one and guide them, if they are willing, to the compassionate spirit realms where they can receive healing and help.
But wait, isn’t this cultural misappropriation?
This is such an important question. Cultural misappropriation happens when people from a dominant culture adopt cultural practices, symbols, knowledge, etc. from another culture without permission. This includes traditional rituals, prayers, or religious practices (for example, the sweat lodge). It is not OK for a White person to steal the religious practices of a Native American group and call themselves a shaman.
The Foundation for Shamanic Studies strongly emphasizes respect for indigenous cultures and high ethical standards in the work. The practices taught in Core Shamanism are not specific to particular indigenous cultures; they are a synthesis of practices learned with permission from traditional healers in many cultures.
And in my experience, shamanic practices are widely found in Western religious cultures too, especially among the Christian mystics. To name just a few…
Howard Thurman (1899-1981)
Thurman, the great mystical theologian of the Civil Rights movement, wrote in his autobiography about the spiritual friendship he formed with the old oak tree in his backyard, echoing the experience of shamanic practitioners all over the world that everything is alive and conscious:
“Eventually, I discovered that the oak tree and I had a unique relationship. I could sit, my back against its trunk, and feel the same peace that would come to me in my bed at night. I could reach down in the quiet places of my spirit, take out my bruises and my joys, unfold them, and talk about them. I could talk aloud to the oak tree and know that I was understood. It, too, was a part of my reality, like the woods, the night, and the pounding surf, my earliest companions, giving me space.” —With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman
Julian of Norwich (1343-c. 1416)
Many shamanic cultures teach that someone becomes a shamanic practitioner, able to connect with helping spirits, only after a serious illness or near-death experience. As a young woman, Julian fell gravely ill and was near death when she had a series of powerful visions. In these visions, Jesus came to her and taught her about divine love and the meaning of human life on earth. She recovered, wrote down her visions, and became a spiritual teacher in her community.
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus himself can be seen as a shamanic healer. The stories tell of his healing people with a touch, or even at a distance. He cured illnesses and freed people from spirit possession (“casting out demons”)—classic ways of working shamanically.
If you’d like to learn more about shamanic journeying & healing or set up an appointment, let’s talk.