Shamanism is the most ancient form of healing, practiced by humans world wide. Through a change in consciousness, Shamans enter “non-ordinary” reality to request healing and advice from compassionate animals, humans and other spirits. Spiritual healing is complementary to modern medicine, therapy and training.
There is archaeological evidence that shamanism was practiced all over the world for at least 40,000 years. However many anthropologists believe that the practice dates back over 100,000 years.
The word "shaman" in the original Tungus language refers to a person who makes journeys to non-ordinary reality in an altered state of consciousness. Adopting the term in the West was useful because people didn't know what it meant. Although the term is from Siberia, the practice of shamanism existed on all inhabited continents.
Shamans are often called "see-ers" (seers), or "people who know" in their tribal languages, because they are involved in a system of knowledge based on firsthand experience. Shamanism is not a belief system. It's based on personal experiments conducted to heal, to get information, or do other things. In fact, if shamans don't get results, they will no longer be used by people in their tribe.
In many cultures, shamans are often given gifts for their work, but they will return all the gifts if the patient dies which is a commendable innovation that might help us with the costs of health services today.
One of the most common and universal techniques a shaman employs is retrieval of a lost soul part. Soul loss occurs when we experience trauma, shock, pain or loss. A part of the soul, an essence, leaves the body as a natural defense mechanism to avoid the pain of a particular situation.
Symptoms of soul loss include chronic depression, disassociation, addictions, illness, prolonged grief, PTSD, memory gaps, and disconnection with the body. Causes for soul loss can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, including a pet, loss of job, financial loss, childbirth, divorce or separation, hospitalization, surgery, any kind of abuse, illness, accidents, natural disasters and war. The shaman's job is to find the lost soul part/parts and return it to the client.
Another major technique in shamanic healing work is extraction. Extraction involves removing a spiritual intrusion. Just as there can be infections in ordinary reality, so there can be spiritual intrusions. We don't mean that "evil" spirits have entered. It's more like termites in a wooden house. If you've got termites in your house, you wouldn't say those termites are evil, you'd say, "I'd just like to get them out of the house." In this same way the shaman works to remove things that interfere with the health of the body, such as spiritual intrusions, and extract them. This is not done through journeying. It's done through working here in the Middle World in an altered state of consciousness.
Symptoms may include localized pain, sudden anger, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Misplaced energy in its most extreme form would include possession and the shaman's job is to remove the possessing spirit from the client.
Shamans believe that each of us has a spirit guardian whose job it is to protect and empower us. These guardians may take the form of an animal and help us with power, protection, energy, and vitality. Each animal has great wisdom and brings specific gifts, talents, strengths and purpose in helping an individual. Power animals choose people; shamans don't make the selection. The shaman brings back to the client his/her power animal and shares with the client what gifts this spiritual ally brings to that individual to help him/her.
Symptoms of power loss can be similar to the symptoms of soul loss and can include: chronic illness, chronic misfortune, long-term victimization, long-term depression, and suicidal ideation.
The word 'psychopomp' is derived from Greek and means 'leader of souls.' The shaman assists a person who has died to cross over to the Light. For a variety of reasons, some individuals remain earthbound after death instead of crossing over into the Light. Some situations which cause an individual's spirit to remain on earth after death include, a sudden and unexpected death, a deep attachment to a person or family or a strong desire to complete some remaining unfinished business. A shaman's job is to help that individual soul move out of this dimension upon death, and take it to the Light.