What is Core Shamanic Healing?
(Re-posted from Michelle's 2009 Weebly blog)
By: Michelle Caron, RMT, CH, CYT, Core Shamanic Practitioner and Teacher
Shamanic Healing is an ancient art going back to the dawn of mankind. Every tribal culture in history had a "shaman" to assist them in daily life. Many still do. “Shaman” is now the semi-generic term that the Western world has given to a practitioner who goes by many names around the world that vary, depending upon indigenous culture and the responsibilities which that person has in the community, as well as language/culture, tribal beliefs, gender roles, etc. Most professionals who are not currently associated with a specific tribal lineage apply the name of "Shamanic Practitioner" or "Shamanic Healer" to themselves and their work. The process by which different indigenous peoples choose "shamans" varies greatly, depending upon their specific spiritual and cultural beliefs. Core shamanic healing and counseling is, in short, much of what is in common among most tribal peoples of the world for healing practices. This is a sacred ceremony where miracles happen. It is NOT a "reading" or other more "new-aged" concept. This is ancient, life-changing, empowering healing that all of our oldest ancestors would have applied to their lives when necessary.
Essentially, anyone who is in a shamanic role within the community is a public servant, doing work to better and guide the people. Regardless of their location in the world, shamanic figures in ancient times from most cultural groups did many of the same “core” activities to help others, even though they were thousands of miles away from each other. Although, there are specific, different activities and beliefs which vary and are dependent upon individual culture, too. Most of these individuals called shamans by the Western world use drums, rattles or bells as a central part of their work. Again, each culture called their shamans by different names, sometimes depending upon the specific work they were doing, whether specializing in Plant Medicine, communicating with spirits, conducting ceremonies, doing energetic healing work, etc. The word "shaman" is actually Siberian (from the Tsungus tribe originally), and means "one who sees in the dark." A true "shamanic" figure is typically one who is initiated within the community and works only for the good of others and the world around them from the heart with the help of the spirit world and various tools. Whereas a “sorcerer” is traditionally one who uses their skills for personal power and gain, sometimes at the expense of others. Anyone can do shamanic work. But, few (other than those in certain tribal communities) can traditionally call themselves a shaman or the cultural equivalent, unless they are chosen, trained, and initiated by an existing shaman within the tribal community. A shaman or shamanic practitioner is, in the most general terms, a person who uses trance and meditation/prayer, Earth energy and energy from Source/a Greater Power of some sort, guides, power animals, and various helping spirits for insight and to assist others in healing, to create miracles or to give heart-centered, life-changing advice. (It is interesting to note that much of the work done by famous religious and cultural figures, like Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Muhammad, Black Elk, and Buddha, was shamanic in nature.) A shaman goes through a period of difficult initiation, often begun during or after a crisis, followed by years of extensive training and testing. Frequently, various tools, like drums, feathers, rattles, bells, or crystals/stones, will be used to assist the shaman in the work of helping others. The tools used are dependent upon culture, training, and tradition. There are a wide variety of practices used by shamanic healers to restore harmony and bring about spiritual and physical healing of community members. Shamanic Practitioners are trained to treat all humans, animals, plants, elements, and all things on Earth with respect and reverence, being sensitive to individual needs and situations. There are both drug-free forms of shamanic work and others that utilize psychotropic sacred medicines, depending upon culture and tribal spiritual beliefs. Core shamanic healing is drug-free. Today, many shamanic healing and counseling practices have been adapted for modern times, and are being used as complimentary healing alongside traditional medicine and talk therapy. In particular, soul retrievals and other related techniques have had remarkable results in the empowerment and emotional healing of trauma and abuse victims.
The other practices many shamanic practitioners use include, but are certainly not limited to: •Journeying and Divination to Answer Questions •Shamanic Counseling and Dream Interpretation •Community Rites of Passage, Healing, and/or Initiation •Blessings, Creation of Sacred Space, Ceremony and Ritual •Clearing and Transmutation of Energy in Spaces and Objects through "smudging" (using smoke to purify), or using water, earth, fire, rattling, drumming, chanting, etc. •Extraction of Energetic Intrusions ( removal of energy that gets stuck in people or places, but doesn’t belong there) •Energetic and Spiritual Healing and Assistance with Paranormal Situations, Hauntings, or Deposession •Burning Ceremonies to Release Old Emotions/Habits and Bring Positive Change •Sweat Lodges (NOT a part of Core Shamanism, a culture-specific practice) •Cutting Energetic Cords to others •Power Animal Retrievals and/or Introduction/Explanation •Soul Retrievals to Bring Strength, Healing, and Empowerment •Use of Sacred Objects to Assist With Healing (ie. drums, bells, rattles, "medicine" or "power" objects, stones, crystals, herbs, etc. Again, this would be dependent upon individual spiritual and cultural beliefs.) •Psychopomp-the process of helping the dead and dying to heal and cross over & healing/returning lost soul/energetic parts…a large part of shamanic work. •Connection to one's higher self or to teachers, ancestors, guides, etc. •Guided Meditation/Trance There are many other ways that a shamanic practitioner assists the community. But, these are perhaps the most popular. If you would like more information about core shamanic healing/counseling, there are many websites and books that give sometimes conflicting information. I would recommend The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner as a start to learning more about the history, culture, and anthropology behind this type of healing work. Michael Harner created a non-profit organization called The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, which helps to teach about and to preserve the indigenous cultural histories of shamanic figures all over the world and to protect their rights. Also, to find out more about modern adaptations of core shamanic healing and counseling: www.shamanism.org Or, you can contact us with questions or to get more detailed information as well. Harmony Way also offers a core shamanic healing and counseling training course and private sessions for core shamanic healing and counseling.