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.





The Shaman’s Calling

7 07 2011

In the Nepali culture potential candidates to become a shaman are abducted by the “bon jhankri” between the ages of seven and twenty years of age.  The “bon jhankri is ” a partially human and partially animal Yeti type creature called a jungle/forest shaman. During the period of this dangerous abduction the candidate is introduced to the mysteries of his/her calling. Alternatively, and increasingly more rare are calling received by candidates “aph se aph” or by spontaneously receiving their mantra’s and healing knowledge. Either way, these candidates can suffer shamanic illness as they are attacked by bokshi (evil sorcerers) and lagu (the bokshi’s evil spirit allies). Even with its unique cosmology, this calling fits within the candidate’s world view and is thereby similar to receiving a calling in many traditional indigenous cultures. Their life struggles are often viewed as shamanic illness and as battles with the bokshi and lagu.

In our modern western culture people who have characteristics which would make them candidates for learning and using shamanic knowledge often don’t understand what is happening. Typically shamanic candidates function well in society and are successful in their chosen field. Then something happens which causes them to wonder “is this all there is”. Not everyone who reexamines their life is a potential candidate. However, some are. The precipitating event isn’t important, though there are amazing stories in this area.

My subject today is helping people who have unrecognized callings. Many times their lives contain struggles with shamanic illness and battles with evil which rise havoc but which seem bizarre and unfathomable.  It is important is that the candidate gains understanding of these events and finds a place that feels like home in which to learn to counter negative effects of the struggle.

The current issue of The Journal of Shamanic Practice, (Volume 4, and Issue 1 Spring 2011) has articles on “Taking a Teacher” and “Apprenticeship”. This post isn’t about that. It is aimed at helping anyone who might feel lost, off track, or who has through some participating event reached the bottom on the wheel of good fortune. When we reach this point where we question everything in our lives, even to wondering what is worth living for, learning about shamanism is one way to regain our sense of purpose in our life.

Many times I am visited by people within whom I see a shamanic warrior or potential healer who hasn’t found themselves. It appears that their calling is stalking them, often through shamanic illness.  It will continue to do so until they see and accept this calling.

I list the following sign posts that you might have calling though it is, by any means, an all inclusive list.  Have you had:

  • Ancestors who were healers/doctors, herbalists, etc.
  • A job in the healing field
  • The awareness of healing energy in your hands
  • Strong and correct intuition and the ability to “read” other people
  • A strong desire to spend time in alone in nature
  • An intimacy with animals
  • Imaginary friends or an awareness of spirits
  • Frequent déjà-vu
  • Vivid dreams and an awareness of their importance
  • Where you born with a caul (thin membrane) covering your head (My old Aunties swear this is a strong sign of a future healer)
  • Any physical, mental, or emotional abnormality that set you appear as a child (In Brazil there are hospitals which achieve wonderful results by training patients as mediums to treat illnesses like schizophrenia, paranoia, and depression. In the US these patients would be labeled and often receive powerful medications. I suggest that some of these people who could  be helped by exploring shamanism and the possibility that these illnesses could have a spiritual cause.  I have written on this subject before so forgive me for repeating myself.)
  • Surviving an illness, accident, or unusual event such as being struck by lightning, especially if this included a lengthy recovery or is of a chronic nature
  • An intense interests in learning about shamanism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Let the mystery find you

7 07 2011

 

There is an old story in which everyone’s problems are placed in a pile in the middle of the room. After seeing the challenges of their friends, each person gladly takes their own problems back.

As a shamanic practitioner I am constantly aware of my own good fortune. And yet, when I undertake to help another person I am also aware of a resonance of my patient’s problems and issues with aspects of my life. For example, during a diagnostic journey I recently saw what I thought of as an image from the American Revolutionary War. There was a line of British solders walking smartly down the center of the road in a nice neat line with white uniforms and red hats while a drum announcing their presence. Meanwhile, a rag-tag band of rebel soldiers hid behind trees and picked them off one by one.

In the context of my client’s inquiry, it seemed to be a warning to my client that he might be too rigid regarding that particular issue. After he left, I reexamined this powerful image for personal meanings. I am an artist and sometime referred to as a “raging creative” so I didn’t see an immediate connection.

Several days passed before I found myself in tears as it relevance occurred to me.  I was thinking of myself on a typical trip. When I travel my attention is too fixed on my plan. My desire for safety, economy, and achieving my goals, leaves very little room for deviation. My tears were because I realized that I had passed unaware by many wonderful discoveries because I was so set on my goal.

I vow to allowing space for the discoveries find me, to being more open to beauty and mystery, and to remembering the journey is more important than the destination not only during summer travel but during all of life’s journeys. Dear friends, enjoy these beautiful summer days wherever they take you.





Summer Shamanic Events

3 07 2011

WHEN: Wednesday Nights, July 6, 13, 20, 27

6:30 for visit, start immediately at 7:00

Finish by 9:00 sharp

My summer is as crazy as anybodies but it gives us the change to do shamanism outdoors. The only way to get it happening is to make it fit. If you want to join my shamanic work group, RSVP and be here. As much as possible, these activities will be outdoors so dress accordingly. A shamanic work group isn’t about cleaning the yard, it is about doing deep personal work to prepare us to help others. No fee but donations accepted.

Experience not required in this specific work however basic shamanic knowledge is required. If you need to get up to speed email me with a request. I can do basic training with small groups for a small fee.

 





If you are a post menopausal woman with poor health, is a past life the reason?

3 07 2011

In past ages, the cure for menopause was death. When people talked about the wise elders they were usually talking about people at the advanced age of 40. It is a modern phenomenon having “baby boomers” reaching retirement age in great numbers. This is an event of great magnitude. What does it mean apart from being a significant result of the industrial revolution and ensuing breakthroughs in: reduced physical work, better quality of food, and modern medicine?

Metaphysical books from the past each claim to be at a pivotal moment in history. Our current aging population is one thing that sets this time in history apart. It has not occurred before. It is a part of the macrocosm of time in history and has a great potential for good. It may be a financial burden for society but it is also an amazing opportunity. I, for one, am proud to be here to see it. Great things are possible in a way they have never been before.  Why am I so optimistic?

Most shamanic and spiritual events I have been involved with are most heavily attended by women. A typical breakdown is 70 percent women and 30 percent male. Of the women, it tends to be more heavily post-menopausal women. I guess this breakdown is also 70/30 favoring post menopausal women. It appears that with their child rearing, household, and income producing responsibilities reduced, they are giving attention to their spiritual needs. For some this means helping out at their church. For some, it means looking at alternative spiritual practices.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that we meet our primary before reaching for self actualization and transcendence. I can only be excited by having so many people reach a time in their lives when their primary work is to achieve a goal of being their best selves. Rather than facing retirement as an end, it is possible to see it as a new beginning.

It saddens me to see so many women whose vitality has decreased at this crucial time. As a trained fitness professional and long time student of aged healers in other parts of the world, I can tell you that the perception that we are suppose to be old and feeble isn’t valid. There are many fit and vital older adults in this world. The ideas is to reduce the time between decrepitude and death through healthy living rather than accept that is it all over and sit waiting for the inevitable.

We have more older Americans. There is no coincidence that this is happening when the world is in such dire need of champions. You, my friends, are these champions.

If you see that your vitality is not up to the task, I challenge you to ask why. Many of us are defeated by the limited thinking that our beloved society has set for us. Once we pass the golden age of youth we may cling to it with the latest beauty products or give up completely. Many of us have given up on being able to change health issues, weight problems, bad relationships, or bad habits. It is possible and actually, it easier than you might think.  Yes, you know some of the common tools, such as:

  • Not denying the problem – facing it head on
  • Not trying to do it alone
  • Setting a reasonable time frame for results
  • Making changes in a way that you can stick with

 The Most Important Tools

There are other tools equally or more important in changing a downhill slide into old age. They involve getting to the root of your issues. This can involve some deep work. Many people are afraid of this work or don’t even know it is possible.

It is possible to address these problems in many ways. Even psychologists and other western trained medical professionals are now realizing the validity of shamanic tools in reaching and relieving these deeply held issues.

If you suspect you way have such issues, think about one issue that you currently have then remember back to earlier times in your life when you can see this issue. If you can remember to where it started, you are ready to start changing it.

I have seen people whose issues where so deeply ingrained that I suspect they came into this life with them. I don’t believe or not believe in past lives but it certainly fits as an explanation of what I see. Regardless of whether the issue is from this life, or a previous one, there are excellent ways to eliminate them. Eliminating these issue will not only change how you live your life but will made a great deal of vitality available for you to do other things in your life which you care about. Is there something you want to do but just can’t find the time, willpower or energy to start? We can change that.

I am not promising you will live longer, though you might. Even if we just face our deaths better prepared, we have gained a lot. Who knows, it may mean we don’t have to come back here and suffer the same pains again. We will all be together of the other side of the veil soon enough, lets live with joy and help others while we are here.

If you are interested in learning more, email me and I will invite you to an event to hear more on this important topic.