Should You visit a shamanic practitioner?

12 06 2014

I encourage you to visit a practitioner if you want to. What is holding you back?

For most Americans a belief in magic, evil, and/or demons is considered:

  • Primitive
  • is associated with lower income or status
  • is foolish
  • is irrational and unscientific
  • a good way to be victimized by unscrupulous charlatans

Primitive – It is certainly true that the people most connected to undiluted shamanic practice are found in the most remote areas of the world and certainly don’t live by modern western standards. They may or may not have historic records of their civilization going back centuries and have complex medical, social, and political histories. It is very likely that they have not been fully involved in our narrowly defined “western civilization” so I’m okay with primitive so long as we don’t think it means less than, just different. They live in the natural world far more than we, often with access to traditional knowledge we have lost.

Lower Income and Status – Let’s face it, who needs control over their lives most, the wealthy and successful or those of us who struggle with economic reality. Shamanic healing isn’t covered by health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance maybe you are more open to other possibilities. Also, many of our immigrant poor carry shamanic experience with them to our shores.

Foolish I don’t think it is foolish to listen to your intuition, learn from nature, seek an authentic spiritual life, and not allow others to make you fearful of the unknown. If you are afraid of looking foolish just don’t tell anyone.

Irrational and Unscientific – Many things are irrational and unscientific. The scientist who thinks of the answer to a difficult question while standing in the shower doesn’t question it, nor does the composer who has a breakthrough during a daydream, nor does someone who falls in love, or you when you just know your sister is going to call just before the phone rings. I’m okay with that. I believe old knowledge has been lost in the pursuit of all that is new and scientific, especially spiritual knowledge.

Unscrupulous charlatans – they are out there. This work is difficult, often thankless, and a service not a business. Those who seek to brand “their” methods and find followers may make better teachers than healers.

The Last Resort

The most common words I hear from someone entering my door are, “I’ve tried everything else”. They have usually been to doctors, therapists, and an amazing assortment of practitioners before, as a last resort (their words); they came to try something they didn’t believe in. Most likely a friend has referred them after having spoken about their own skepticism, experience, and change of heart. I respect their hesitation because I was there once too.

The Two Foot Rule – If you visit a shamanic practitioner it should feel safe. If it doesn’t, use your two feet to walk away.

 

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Is Shamanism Scary? Is this practitioner a Real Shaman?

12 06 2014

In the past shamanism was the only spiritual practice or “religion” of most clans/tribes/nations of people. Today it considered a practice that can co-exist with whatever religion a person follows. For people who do not follow a particular religious path it may be a way to live in harmony in the world without giving allegiance to a large, centralized authoritarian institution.

Modern views of shamanism range the gamut from visions of a bucolic gathering of peace pipe smoking natives too one of a raucous fireside gathering of sweaty bodies dancing to the feverish music of drums. These both exist but the practice is much more diverse than that so the answers to the questions above are too.

Shamanism is alive today in many forms. I want to distinguish two of these; those practiced in cultures with a continuous heritage of shamanic practice and those available in the “West”.

Shamanism in Traditional Cultures

Shamanic practices are extremely varied around the world. For example, among the Kung people of Africa shamanism is a practice shared by all in the village. Within a healing ceremony all can offer healing to another. In other societies practitioners may work together or individually, publicly or privately. There is local knowledge of who is most effective for what type of work. There are specialists in the many different types of heaings or services such as divination, mediumship, ceremony, etc. If you find yourself in one of these places asking a few questions from people you trust will get you to an appropriate practitioner. Be aware that there is often competition among practitioners. With a few basic questions you can ascertain their prejudices such as a willingness to perform black magic.

Shamanism in the West

If you find yourself in the western world, the knowledge you need to choose a practitioner is a little different. The very fact that shamanic practice is decentralized, fairly unknown by most, and that any certificate or credential is meaningless (as far as efficacy of their work is concerned), you need to be cautions. Personal referral from a satisfied customer is a very good resource as is your own intuition.

Beyond that, what you are seeking help with will determine your choice of practitioner. There isn’t only one “best” or “right” choice. I see a curious lack of “specialty” among shamanic practitioners I have met. Perhaps it is because of the scarcity of practitioners that most will work effectively in a number of different areas and are reluctant or unable to make referrals.

What help are you seeking?

As I said, this will determine who you should see. It is a common phenomenon that a client/patient will come to see me after seeing many practitioners such as doctors, massage therapists, herbalists, yogis, etc. I do not consider these competitors though I do consider them capable of similar healing success with the client/patient. I find that all these forms of healing work together, just as all the things that have happened to a person in the past prepare them for healing in this moment.

I will simplify an overwhelming variety of reasons people see a practitioner into the following:

  • To learn and deepen their individual healing practice
  • To heal a physical, mental, and/or emotional wound, for help with a specific entity causing difficulty today, divination/psychopomp/ mediumship

I’ve made this simple, healing or learning. This isn’t a complete list but should do for now. I invite you to email me at any time if you need further information.

To learn and deepen their individual healing practice

There is a significant difference between doing the work and teaching wonderful shamanic knowledge that is needed by all. There are many fine teachers about. I encourage all to explore with a variety of these before chosing the tradition with which one resonates for them and then sticking to that path. Those who seek to brand “their” methods and find followers may make better teachers than healers. No one’s way is the only way.

To heal a physical, mental, and/or emotional wound, for help with a specific entity causing difficulty today, divination/psychopomp/ mediumship

I believe it is much harder to find an effective healer than it is to find an effective teacher. The work is difficult, often unrewarding, and low paying. The practitioner also has to recognize and admit when they can’t help a patient. There isn’t any glory, recognition, or even appreciation. Plus, and this is important, not many are really good at it. By good at it, I don’t mean they have any power except the power to be available to the power which does the healing.

There can be healing from anyone, whether or not they have studied, apprenticed for 10 years in a village somewhere, or come from a lineage passed from father to son for generations. There are many “so called” healer who’s only qualification seems to be that they were raised in a shamanic culture, though they never actually practiced shamanism in their home country or because they successfully completed someone’s course and have the certificate to prove it . But to repeatedly have success with more and more difficult challenges is a calling. One has to walk the path of the many unsung heroes who have gone before us. This isn’t a typical mindset of most Americans.

It is worth the search and for those doing the practice. It is done without expectation of adequate reward but in the hope that each client heals and also helps change the perception of what is possible.

 





What causes the trouble in our lives?

16 02 2014

Dear Friends-
Welcome to those of you who are new subscribers to my website. I value the time you take to read this and hope you find the content helpful.

It has been longer than expected since I blogged last. A wedding, the flu, and now catching up on stuff I postponed while I was sick, have kept me away from my computer.

While I was sick I heard messages I do not hear when I am in the normal rhythm of my life. On one hand I wished to be available to do the things I love, and even some of the mundane chores like cleaning the house seem important and luxurious. On the other hand, I observed how well things went on without any participation from me. I considered a number of topics to blog about and found my thoughts trivial. I ruminated on the question: what does one really need to do to be a worthwhile member of society?

Then I recovered and rushed happily to catch up on cancelled appointments and obligations. Among these appointments I had a number of shamanic healing sessions. As is often the case, I saw clients with a variety of problems who seem to have one important thing in common. It is so common to see clients with a “theme” that I believe it is my focus and not something they bring. That, however, does not prevent specific and unique treatment for their individual conditions.

The theme I am currently observing is that clients seem to intently focus on their personal failings. The events currently causing trauma in their life are viewed as a result, challenge, or perpetuation of their personal failings. This become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But more important, it prevents one from seeing beyond their current perception and leads to them feeling guilty about and responsible for what is happening in their life. They often say something like, “I can’t change because I haven’t been able to in the past, don’t deserve anything better, am depressed and lack the energy.”

Their questions seem to be about how they got where they are, even though they are usually able to explain that to me in detail. There is probably shamanic help for their situation in so far as it involves things outside their control.
But something else is needed that they can only do for themselves.

Self Forgiveness
The important thing is self forgiveness. Focus less on how one got here and a focus on nurturing one’s self, forgiving one’s mistakes, and giving one’s self the loving kindness one would give to a beloved child. That is so easy to say and so hard to do. It is a practice worth a lifetime of work and one that will lead to so many good things.

So, begin this practice despite the difficulties, and keep giving yourself that forgiveness, kindness, and compassion as many times as it takes. If we even think we have mastered it, life repeatedly givens us opportunities to practice. As you practice this, also try to become the observer of yourself. With even a little detachment you may start to see other possible interpretations of your life events. Perhaps life is a still precious gift full of infinite grace if we can just lift ourselves out of our sick bed of self-criticism and see beyond our narrow focus. Treasure yourself. Somewhere within, you are a bright, powerful, important, worthwhile person even if all you usually see in the tarnish of life that has obscured that light.





Shaman School

30 06 2012

I wrote the following is response to yet another student who wants to learn but doesn’t have the funds to do so. It is based on my experience but I believe it is nearly universal.

Nobody has the money for shaman school.  All spiritual callings are like a burning itch which progressively gets more severe. If you don’t have the money to see a doctor; you can try to ignore it, apply baking soda, other home remedies, or cortisone crèam, or anything else you can think of.  Eventually you just go see the doctor because you have to.

The timing is not important. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but if it is your path, one day you will have to take care of that itch. It isn’t as simple as going down the street to the shaman school but gradually a plan will form and a way appears.

The good news is that before the itch gets too bad (as your personal calling become clearer) there are books, drumming circles, and workshops available to give you a taste of what is possible.

Books require no commitment. It is like being a fly on the wall. You don’t have to tell anybody what you are reading or why. Don’t worry, the steps that bring a spiritual seeker to the shamanic path aren’t typically as dramatic as books often suggest. But, books are the gathered wisdom of others who have faced similar desires to learn. Find a bookstore or library with a decent selection of spiritual books and trust your intuition to find the right book.  If something doesn’t resonate with you today, don’t be surprised if it does resonate next month or next year.  I regularly re-read books I have retained from the many I have encountered along the way and find greater depths of information.

Drumming circles can be found in most cities with a simple internet search. Many are open to beginners and are generally run by kind, often knowledgeable, people who proselytize the shamanic way. You can claim “just looking” status. Many sweat lodge ceremonies are similarly available.

A workshop is a learning opportunity with a clear expiration date. They are a change to try on this unique way of life with like-minded individuals for a day or two without commitment.  You won’t instantly become an expert but you will learn and you specific interests will become clearer. Much can be learned which will help you understand and develop your personal abilities. Sometimes you learn what is possible, what questions you can ask, and/or where you can find answers.

What path should I take?

I often say “one water, many wells”.  It doesn’t matter to me which path you choose. Going deep in one tradition is typically more helpful than doing a survey of many traditions. However, as a beginner learning about various possible paths is beneficial. You will learn to discern what resonates for you. Shamanism is experiential.  You judge based on what is personally helpful for you.

Am I called to heal others? Don’t worry about that. Every healer must first heal himself or herself. Eventually you may find trusted friends to practice on.  Be clear that you are practicing to  learn.

 

 





Autism and Shamanism

17 03 2012

Theologian turned geologian Thomas Berry postulated that the western humans had become “autistic” in relationship to the natural world as a result of viewing the world as separate from ourselves. I was in awe of the accuracy of this diagnosis and stunned at its profound implications.

If you haven’t thought about autism recently, I looked up numerous and differing definitions. However, a basic definition is that it is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Anyone who has interacted with an autistic child, and these days that is nearly everyone, realizes that they may act as though others, even loving parents, didn’t matter. The analogy to how we treat the planet is so similar. I immediately visualized a loving mother giving her child everything he needed but he just does not respond. Then I thought of that Mother being the Earth. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my drift.

It goes a long way to explaining why we feel drawn to vestigial tribal people who live close to nature.  This isn’t just sentimental and romantic.  These people have so much to offer us if we can just find a respectful way to learn it.

From the Macrocosm to the Microcosm

This alone would be a worthwhile thought to share but I can’t help but find a parallel between this macrocosm event and the microcosm many families are facing today.

I just looked at the Autism Society webpage and found the following statistics:

  • 1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 110 births.
  • 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Fastest-growing developmental disability; 1,148% growth rate.
  • 10 – 17 % annual growth.

Thinking of this, I remember Frost’s poem, Fire and Ice from my high school English class.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Autism may have a scientific explanation. Undoubtedly autistic people have much to teach us. They certainly live in this moment.  However, what if so many children are born with autism that society cannot function?  Could that be the ice Frost proposed? Whatever the cause, and benefits, the call for living closer to nature by recognizing our mother, loving our mother, and meeting her needs are imperative. That is probably the greatest gift the resurgence in shamanism has to offer this world.

Help for Families

With so many parents looking for help for their autistic children it seems appropriate to address the question, can shamanic healing help these children?

There seem to me to be three main opinions about the effectiveness of shamanic healing.

  • The first, and most common in this autistic age, is that it is foolish superstition and has no validity.
  • The second is that shamans were the  precursors of modern psychologists and could possibly be of some help with emotional or mentally based issues. Their answer would likely be no, shamanism could not help decrease the unwanted symptoms of autism.
  • The third group, my group, recognize that healing, magic, or spiritual power, does exist. Individuals may define this as a gift from God or as a natural expression of this universe which our ancestors know and used (back when they lived in harmony with nature). It is still available today.

The answer isn’t simple. Any action taken has to respect the individual gifts of the autistic person and even then, in every case, the practitioner can only go to the compassionate spirits and ask for help. Still, there is the possibility of help.

If you are a parent seeking such help, here are some suggestions for finding a practitioner:

  • First, trust your feelings.
  • Only go to a practitioner that you know, feel good about, or who comes highly recommended by someone you trust.
  • Be aware that most practitioners have the desire to help, whether or not they have the ability, experience, and power to do so.
  • The practitioner cannot promise anything but their best effort.

I am aware that organic diet, some vitamin supplementation, and interactivity with nature such as through animals has provided help to some autistic people.  I prescribe time in nature for all of us.   I also send my prayers to those whose lives are so profoundly affected.





Three Levels of Self Protection

8 02 2012

“How can I protect myself?” I am frequently asked.

Level 1

The first advice many people receive is to visualize a energy shell around themselves. The color of this energy varies depending on who you listen to.   I call this level 1 self protection. This  easy method reminds us we can chose what to allow into our mind, body and spirit.  The most important part of this plan is holding the intention to be protected.  When we focus on an intention with enough power nothing else is needed.

Level 2

As I continued to see the variety of human suffering I became aware of another way to visualize self-protection.  When confronted by evil entities or energy I wanted help.  I realized that we can connect to great power through many spiritual practices. Connecting to this power we are metaphorically connecting to a 1000 watt light bulb. Any evil that touches it is repelled as though it was a bug touching a bug zapper.

Level 3

Eventually I had trouble using the word evil. I think of events and energies which don’t service us an abuse of power. The power itself isn’t the problem.

I do my healing work in my home. I began to think of my home as a goldfish bowl filled with water. The water being the air in the house. I thought of the water as pure loving kindness.  If anyone brought evil into the house I saw them speak and visualized their words as though breathing red food coloring into that water of loving kindness. The water transformed that breath and the water became clear again. Eventually I visualized the earth and its atmosphere  as this same bowl of loving kindness. Perhaps we pollute the earth’s loving kindness as we pollute its oceans.

And yet, how beautifully simple.  Animism and physics both tell us that all things of this world are constructed of the same particles.  Shouldn’t we view them as filled with the same great mystery which created us? More about animism and evil later.  In the meantime, I hope  you can use something here to protect yourself.





New Happenings at My House

2 11 2011

Announcing two activities:

I have just completed a two month  process of helping my Mother:

a. recover from surgery

b. move

c. Sell and empty her home of 32 years

I also completed my first participation in The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz Open Studios during that time.  I am in the process of posting some of my art at my at my other website: LindaNadeau.com

Wow! There was so much to think about besides shamanism.  Later I will post something about how my practice of shamanism helped me take care of myself during this difficult process.

As I drove home from my most recent trip North, my mind was flooded with ideas for writing about and direct sharing of shamanic insights   and the desire to participate in a shamanic community.

Perhaps one reason for this was that I put out a call for assistance in Portland at one point in this process. My Mother said, “you haven’t lived here for three years. No one will come to help.” She may have been surprised but I wasn’t. Six  of my friends came to help and others offered other sorts of support. Their kindness flooded my heart with gratitude. Yes, a shamanic or spirit based community doesn’t forget so easily.

ACTIVITY ONE

In the spirit of community I invite those interested to bring your drums and rattles to a gathering at my home on Friday Night, November 18. 6:30 for tea and 7:00 for circle, sharing, and shamanic activity. No experience necessary, only a desire to learn and participate.

ACTIVITY TWO

A one day workshop for beginning shamanic practice. I have had so many people ask me about various classes. In order to have participants able to benefit from these classes, it is important that they have rudimentary knowledge of shamanism. This class is to help anyone new to the practice achieve that knowledge. For more information please email me. It will be Saturday, November 19 from 9:00 to 4:00 and the cost is $60.