The Shamanic Worlds
Shamanism is on the rise in people's consciousness and is one of humankind's oldest and perhaps original form of spirituality. Early in human evolution, we began to look to the spirits of ancestors, animals, plants, elements and deities for help, guidance and sustenance. These compassionate beings assisted us by teaching humankind about how to live in the world and by offering inspiration and protection. The spirits taught ceremonies and rituals for hunting, agriculture, fertility and healing.
Connection with the helping spirits and beloved ancestorsprovided a framework and continuity that helped people to feel safer and to function well within their world. Spirituality, in a shamanistic sense, means having relationship with Spirit or spirits. It was observed that there were both compassionate and non-compassionate spirits in the world. Humankind sought the help of the compassionate spirits in order to shape their lives, their endeavors and their health with blessings and inspiration.
Certain people were observed to have strong affinities for communicating with these spirits and they became known as the shamans, the seers, healers, oracles and the mediators. The shamans served their community in many capacities. Some shamans were healers, seers or masters of ritual to ensure the success of various endeavors. Shamans were the ones whose job was to ensure that balance be kept between the seen and unseen worlds. Shamans also knew to keep connection with the Ancestors and the Ancestral Otherworld.
Practitioners of shamanism offered healing for spiritual illness, possession and soul loss. These problems afflicted people in earlier times and are still afflicting people in these times. Shamanic practitioners today can offer soul retrieval, extraction, compassionate depossession and blessings.
Shamanism exists today as the substratum of most if not all cultures and it exists because the relationships between the helping and compassionate spirits and people continue to exist. All of us have some sensitivities, abilities and capacities that will allow us to approach life shamanistically. The reward for reaching for the compassionate spirits is that they reach back to us and help and enrich our lives.
Modern shamanism is alive and thriving. Ann Drucker in Boulder, Simon Buxton in England, Christina Pratt in Oregon, Sandra Ingerman in New Mexico and I in Seattle, are part of the current crop of shamanic practitioners who are blending the old with the new to practice and teach an updated form of shamanism that speaks and lives in congruence with the 21st century.
Many people are discovering that connecting to and relating with the Helping Spirits is not confined to shamans, but is available to all of us in varying degrees. There is a resurgence of interest in shamanism as well as a remarkable rise in classes on many different types and aspects of shamanic healing and practices. As one practitioner laughingly and lovingly said, "It is in our DNA!"
Shamanic healing is spiritual healing that has two different spiritual components to it. The first component is that the work is aided and empowered by Compassionate spirits. The second component is that it can be a profound healing of the spirit of a person. From the shamanic model, many of our illnesses, problems or unhealthy patterns begin in imbalances of our spirit or energy. When these issues are addressed in the subtle or spiritual realm, the effect can translate to the physical. Shamanic healing may include the divination and healing of illness caused by possessing spirits, soul-loss or intrusions. Soul retrieval, compassionate shamanic depossession of beings,and extraction of intrusive energies, are common or usual forms of shamanic healing. Bestowal of blessings or power may also be experienced in shamanic healing.
Just as modern psychology recognizes that people can experience dissociation and fragmentation, shamanism recognizes that people can experience soul loss or loss of some of their vital essence. Soul loss can occur when someone experiences traumas, emotional loss, abuse, accidents, illness and injuries. Other people can take our essence. The loss of our vital essence occurs as a survival mechanism and coping strategy that we unconsciously employ when faced by events that are too painful or traumatic to be endured. This fragmentation happens when parts of our soul essence leave us in order for us to survive the experience with less pain. This reduction leaves us as a survivor. The parts of our soul essence that leave are not just random quantities of our energy, but are most often some of our most treasured aspects. It is not unusual for the soul essence loss to include our self-love, joy in life, our creativity, our confidence, our ability to bond in loving relationship, or our deepest connection to our self. One of the most beloved forms of shamanic healing is Soul Retrieval, a way in which these lost parts can be restored to us so that we might truly know our selves and be the truth of who we are.
Another possibility is that we could be suffering from a spiritual illness known as possession illness. This illness, when a dead person, animal or other spirit attaches to us and lives off of and with us, can cause a grave number of different manifestations. Possession is a form of overshadowing that can create physical illness, emotional and mental illness and subtle to dramatic character changes. Compassionate shamanic depossession is a form of spiritual healing that addresses this not uncommon issue.
Heart-Centered and Compassionate Depossession, taught by Betsy Bergstrom for more than a decade, is a form of shamanic work that helps those afflicted with possessing spirits in a manner that is definitive in terms of its effectiveness and compassionate in its methods. This focus helps the practitioner to be safe in the work and the client to feel the least distress while insuring that the being is cleared safely and non-phenomenally, unable to return.
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