In the last couple of blogs I have written about our energy bodies and the causes of energy intrusions. In this blog we will take a look at the actual process of a shamanic extraction. In closing I'll give you a couple of resources in case you would like to work with energy healing but the shamanic approach doesn't resonate with you.
To perform a shamanic extraction most shamans enter an altered state of consciousness, the same state that you enter when you take a shamanic journey. The shaman will then look at the body to find the misplaced energy. Some shamans that I have visited with "see" the energy as a black cloud or black sludge, or as a snake, others smell the negative energy. I tend to feel it as a weight that is pulling me in.
After finding the misplaced energy, will then merge fully with her or his guardian spirits or power animals. This merging augments the shamans power and protects the shaman from absorbing the energy into her or his own body during the shamanic extraction. The shaman then pulls the energy out or extracts it from the body (which ever energetic shell the intrusion has attached to.
The shamanic practitioner will dispose of the removed energy in various ways. She may transmute (transform) the energy into a more positive life enhancing energy. He may place it in water and have the water neutralize it. Some blow it away or send it deep into the earth to be absorbed and recycled. The extraction can leave an energetic hole in the body, much like the small hole that is left in your finger when you remove a sliver. The shaman will either fill the hole with neutral energy or close the hole so that the intrusion site can heal. It is poor practice to leave the hole and trust that it will be filled with random energy.
I like the idea of energy healing but don't feel called to the shamanic path, so what can I do? Here are a few books that I really like and that you might find useful:
These are all good books to get you started and they are available from Amazon and other book sellers. I have been practicing Qi Gong since 2001 and so that is the non-shamanic healing path that I prefer. However, please don't follow my path blindly; find the path that resonates with you (and I hope that you find my blogs helpful on your path).
Most of all, find peace,
Dr. Dave, ND
My last blog introduced the idea of shamanic extraction and I wrote a bit about the energy bodies that surround our physical bodies. This blog is about energetic intrusions. There are two sources of energetic intrusions, us and them. They are both important because, as you know, your emotions affect your health. What most people don't realize that emotions are energy. And by the way, we chose our emotions. Other people don't, can't, make us experience an emotion. We always chose the emotional response to events. If it is a knee-jerk reaction it was chosen by your subconscious mind because of repeated use of that called-up script.
Sometimes we cause our own energetic intrusions. Have you ever been so sad that you could physically feel the sadness? What about stress? Can you "feel" stress in your body? Of course you can, it might be a knot in your stomach or a tension headache. Our strong emotional responses to events are stored energetically in the body. That stored energy, if it is dysfunctional, can cause emotional, psychological and even physical issues down the road. So, we unintentionally cause energy intrusions when we unconsciously store negative energy in our body. And remember, you body is not just your physical body but all the energy shells that surround it.
What about others? Remember there are two sources of energy intrusions, us and them. So let's talk a little about "them". You live in a sea of energy. Ever wonder if a fish knows that it is swimming in water? I sort of doubt it because water is the fish's environment. We are constantly being bombarded by energy; energy from the sun, moon, and planets, energy from the cell tower down the road, energy from the wireless router you installed in your office, energy from ubiquitous electronic devices, even the wall warts. And most importantly, energy fields from other people.
Take a minute and visualize how big your body really is. Not the physical body that you can see and touch. If you don't remember then go back and reread yesterday's blog. How big are you when you include all of your energy shells? When you include all of your energy shells your body extends meters on all sides around your physical body. Guess what happens when you wall down the hallway at work or school? Your energetic bodies interact with all of the energetic bodies that you have just intersected with. I bet that you have stood outside a conference room before entering for a meeting and felt the bad energy emanating from room. You were getting ready to immerse your precious energy body in that toxic sea of negative energy. Those kinds of events can stab your energy field with spears of negative energy.
Then there are the special "them". Some people thrive on the energy of others. These people are energy parasites and they will consciously or unconsciously try to attache a cable to you to "suck your energy". You have probably been around people that, while they feel upbeat and strong, leave you feeling total exhausted and sapped of energy. Often that's because they took some of yours and if you interact with them frequently they may leave an energetic intrusion where the connect to and deplete your energy.
I don't want to leave you today on the somewhat negative note so here are two things you can do the protect yourself from energy intrusions from "them". Every morning, and I do this in the shower every day, envision yourself surrounded by a blue translucent egg, an electric blue egg, that only allows positive energy in and allows energy back out. Keep this egg around all day long as you go about your daily life. Toss into the trash at night before you go to bed. I also carry a small black tourmaline crystal in my pocket every day to absorb negative energy. I place it on a window sill at night to let the light of the moon and stars cleanse it .
Be aware today of the energy that you create and the energy the surrounds you, and until next time, find peace.
In a recent blog I wrote about contemporary shamanism and listed four activities performed by contemporary shamans. Subsequently I wrote about soul retrieval. In this blog I'm going to address another one of the key activities . . . shamanic extraction.
You are probably familiar with the babushka dolls from Russia. We picked up a couple of sets when I was a consultant there years ago. I still love to play with them. Babushka means "grandmother" in Russian and although the dolls are sometimes called Matryoshka (a common name for a female peasant in Russia) nesting dolls everyone in that part of the world seems to call them babushkas. I still like to unstack and stack the dolls up.
If you are still with me then you are probably wondering why I'm writing about dolls, no? The babushka dolls are a perfect illustration of our body. You physical body is the inner most, solid doll in the set. And yes, unlike the other, hollow dolls, the inner most doll is solid. Just like you.
Different philosophical systems have different versions of the bodies that surround the physical body, just like the babushka nesting dolls. Here is a common, although not the only, version of what those bodies are:
Energy can become attached to any of these levels of the body. Shamans work with the spirit or the soul as in soul retrieval, and they work with energy. Shamanic extraction is energy work, work with misplaced energy. Energy isn't good or bad, but it can be functional or dysfunctional.
When energy is displaced or dysfunctional it isn’t in accord with the environment that it has attached to or become embedded into, the human body (any of the layers of the human body and not just the physical) or the body of land. This brings illness to the environment. Shamanic extraction is the removal of displaced or dysfunctional energy, sometimes called an energy intrusion.
Tomorrow I'll write about the causes of energy intrusions and if the blog isn't too long, I'll write about how to perform a shamanic extraction. All of this may require two more blogs.
Until tomorrow, find peace and joy,
This is going to be a short blog today because I'm near the end of a book that I am writing, only a couple of chapters to go, and I really want to get it finished.
I was thinking about revelation this morning. Most of christianity thinks that revelation ended with Christ and that no more revelation is needed. A few churches give lip service to the idea of continuous revelation but rarely seem to practice it, either on an organizational or personal level. While shamanism is usually viewed as a tool that could conceivable fit into any belief system it can also be viewed as a spiritual path, and that is how I tend to view it. Why? Because it's a path of personal revelation.
As shamans we believe, no, we know, that communication with helping spirits, and you can call them whatever you want, is possible. You might call the helping spirits power animals, or spirit guides, or guardian spirit, or guardian angel. It doesn't really matter, they are spirit entities who are concerned about us and want to help us. Some "shamans" with a background in psychology have tried to sanitize the helping spirits by calling them part of the Jungian collective unconsciousness (1). The shamans that I know and that taught me in Andes knew that the helping spirits were/are real, and so do I. The good news is that this means that personal revelation, the very best kind of revelation, is possible and, I think, necessary.
You can illuminate your self-determined path with personal revelation. Your path is yours, no one can chose it for you, no one else can walk it for you, you must be the light-bearing trailblazer of your path. However, helping spirits can help you light the way and shamanic journeys are the best way that I know to find that light and to keep it burning.
(1) Some time in the future I might write about what I see as the new-age, touchy-feely, soft-and-fluffy, let's all sing Kumbaya approach to shamanism that would have you hold your hand over your heart center and feel the spirit within corruption of honest, in-your-face, hard-core shamanism that my teachers practiced in the Andes. But I'm too happy today to get pissed at those who would water down shamanism and turn it into yet another approach to talk therapy. Oh well, now you know how I feel.
Your Soul Is Free
The body is temporal, that means that it is impermanent. The only part of you that is really real and permanent is your soul. That’s why so much attention is placed on the soul in shamanic work and shamanic healing. In fact, during a shamanic journey part of the shaman’s soul leaves ordinary reality and travels to the upper world or the lower world. This demonstrates that at least part of our soul can leave the body.
Part of your soul leaves your body when you dream. Your soul may also leave the body to protect itself from emotionally or physically damaging. Usually the soul fragment, the part that left, returns but sometimes it doesn’t. If the soul fragment doesn’t come back on its own, a shaman must intervene and return the soul essence.
Some of the more common reasons why a soul might fragment include:
These soul fragmentation events were healthy protection mechanisms at the time of the causal event but if the fragment fails to return the absence can result in long-term issues. Often the soul fragment will return on its own. However, sometimes it doesn’t realize that it is safe to return, or even know how to return.
Soul Fragmentation Symptoms
I think what a shaman would call soul loss or soul fragmentation my counselor/psychologist wife might call disassociation. While we may have different names for similar conditions the way the situation is approached is different. A psychologist might use talk therapy with the disassociated parts or gestalt therapy. A hypnotherapist might use parts therapy. A shamanic practitioner goes on a shamanic journey, finds the fragmented part, and brings it back for reintegration.
Some of the symptoms that could indicate soul fragmentation to a shaman include:
The Soul Retrieval Process
Shamanic soul retrieval is often a three-step process. The shaman first goes on a shamanic journey to discover if there is a soul fragment that needs to be returned. If so, the shaman will then talk with the client about soul retrieval and make sure that the client will accept the retrieved soul fragment. If so, the shaman takes a second journey to retrieve the soul fragment(s). Upon return the shaman will blow each fragment back into the client’s body of the client.
Do It Yourself Soul Retrieval
While you can ask a shamanic practitioner to perform the soul retrieval for you I think that it is empowering for individuals to learn to undertake shamanic journeys and do their own work. If you are not sure that you want to deal with a shamanic practitioner and don’t want to learn to journey then you might try the following:
First, always be open to the return of a soul fragment. If soul fragmentation occurred when a person was young then the soul fragment may feel like the lost, young child. We are all different and so feelings and responses to successful soul retrieval are unique. Don’t expect that there is a textbook response that you should feel. Some people feel great joy, some people sadness, some people feel fuller, some people feel lighter, some people feel nothing. Remember there is no “right” way to feel.
I all cases when a soul fragment returns and you feel new wholeness then celebrate. You are more whole than you were before and that is always cause for celebration. Celebrate the return of your vital essence just like you would celebrate the return of a long lost loved one. It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where soul fragmentation never happened. A world so full of love and kindness that all of us always felt completely loved and supported. Unfortunately that’s not the world in which we live and so soul fragmentation is sadly common.
Take care of yourself . . . Take care of each other,
My son, Ernest, ran in the high school Mid State Invitational indoor track tournament on Saturday (1). While he was warming up for the 300 meter sprint I walked over to the t-shirt vendor and bought him a t-shirt. You know, been there . . . done that . . . and I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it. The back of his t-shirt has a great message, “You don’t get what you wish for; you get what your work for.”
Is your spiritual practice helping you change the world? Is it helping you wish for a better world or work for it? The world is always changing, it never stays the same. It is either getting better or it is getting worse. The world gets a little bit more peaceful every day or it becomes a little bit more chaotic and violent. Sometimes the change is so slow that we don’t notice it and then we wake up years later and ask ourselves, “How on earth did we get here?”
Most spiritual traditions, at least at one time, taught that everything manifests in the spiritual realm before it manifests in physical reality (read the creation myth in Genesis and if you read it carefully I think that you will even see it there). This is really important today because our thoughts change our perceptions and our perceptions change our reality. We create our own reality with our thoughts and our dreams.
I think that there is something that is even more important than what we dream, think and perceive, and that is who we are becoming. It is who we become that changes the world today and in the future. My kids have told me that their friend’s parents have told them that I’m just an old hippie and that means that I still live by the dictum, “Think global, act local.”
If your spiritual practice is helping you change, helping you become a more peaceful, more loving, and more compassionate person and if it brings you joy then for you it is a good path. How do you change the world when you change? Think local. Is your family better? Is there more unity and love at home? If your children feel more unity and love then how will they treat their friends? And your change starts to ripple outwards. If your children feel more unity and love how will they parent and how will that affect future generations?
The kind of person you are today matters now and in the future. Follow a spiritual path that helps you become your ideal of what you can and should be.
Be Well . . . Live Well,
(1) If you are curious, he was seeded in the middle of a group of 75 runners for the 300m and he won his heat and set a new pb.
(2) Guilty as charged. I was born in the early 50s and am a product of the 60s.
You read the title so I'm sure that you know that this blog is about being a contemporary shaman. That's something that you can do/become if you are interested and dedicated. All shamans are contemporary to their society. I guess that might mean that the description of someone as being a "contemporary shaman" is meaningless. But actually I don't think that is true. To me someone who is a contemporary shaman does two things. He or she uses healing methods and techniques to connect with Spirit that members of her or his society find meaningful; that's the "contemporary" part. The contemporary part makes it possible for shamans to connect with members of their culture, and connection is necessary for shamanic healing. Second, the individual uses spirit-connected methods that work, and that's the "shaman" part.
Contemporary shamans often seem just a little bit different. They think about things that don't enter most people's minds. For example, if you are out for a walk and look at tree and have the sudden urge to hug the tree, talk to the tree and expect an answer, or the thought enters your mind, "I wonder how Tree Spirit is doing today?" Then you might have the seed of a contemporary shaman inside of you.
Contemporary shamans believe that communication with spirits is possible and necessary. We believe that healing can take place by connecting with Spirit. The shaman doesn't heal but is a "hollow bone" through which Spirit can work. I believe this so strongly that I stay far, far way from shamans who assert that they can heal. The body heals and Spirit guides . . . that's all.
Now the question might be, what methods are meaningful today in the West? I think that there are several that are relevant. Here are some of the most important:
I may go into these four modalities in future blogs. Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading!
Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania marmot who claims he is the only true weather forecasting ground hog woke up Thursday morning, crawled out of his hole and saw his shadow, took a look around and decided that it was just too cold so he went back to bed. Another six weeks of winter? Could be, the groundhogs here in Central Virginia are smarter then Phil, they stayed in their holes; I haven't seen one for months. I'll know that spring is on its way when I once again see them grazing by the side of the road.
Watching nature is a great way to learn divination. By paying attention to the signs that are present in nature we can learn simple things like "forecasting" how many hours until sun down, changes in the weather, and even directions. Back in the early 1990s I was living and teaching in Lima, Perú. A good Peruvian friend, Alex, and his wife and I went into the center of Miraflores in Lima one weekend for lunch. I guess that Alex thought that I would be lost so he asked me how to get back to his home and I gave him directions; that was easy. Then he said, "Well then, in which direction is the ocean?" We were in the center of a busy city and far enough away from the coast that we couldn't see or hear the ocean waves. Remember that Lima is a big, bustling, modern city of about 10 million people. To answer his question I walked out into the center of a busy intersection and slowly turned around in a circle. I then dodged traffic back to the sidewalk and pointed to the ocean and said, "It's that way." He was amazed because the crazy North American was right. How did I know? Tell you at the end of the blog.
Now back to Phil. Groundhog Day comes to us from earlier celebrations held on February 2. In Ireland it is still known as Brigid’s Night. Brigid is the Celtic goddess of poetry, birth, weddings, blacksmithing, and healing. It is also know as Oimelc (milk) and Imbolc (In the belly) in Scotland, and in England it is called Candlemas. This ancient celebration was most likely used to divine the coming of Spring. Animals give birth around this time of year in the Northern hemisphere; they are still in the belly but will soon be born, and milk is needed as soon as that happens. In an agrarian society the end of winter and the coming of spring was important, not just for warmth (at last) but also for survival. Divination of the weather and the change of the seasons was vital.
German settlers brought the groundhog day tradition with them to the United States. They looked for hedgehog activity in Germany and I suppose that a groundhog was a good substitute. Other animals that are smart enough to sleep through a cold winter include bear and badger. I don't expect that waking up a cold, hungry bear or badder to see if it could see its shadow would be good for your health, groundhogs are much less aggressive, so we have groundhog's day and not bear's day.
Anyway, one of the joys of being a modern druid or a contemporary shaman is listening to the heartbeat of nature. Listen to the sounds of nature and learn. Nature has much to teach us. Sometime (oftentimes) divination isn't magic, its just paying attention to the signs that are present and learning to understand them. Try it.
I hope you find joy on your path and stay close to Pachamama.
PS: Oh, how did I find the ocean? There was a slight breeze but most of it was blocked by skyscrapers so I slowly turned around in the intersection and took deep breaths figuring that I could smell the salty air of the ocean being carried inland by the breeze. I could.
Also, want to know about how much time is left before sunset? Extend your arm fully and count the number of finger widths between the sun and the horizon. Each finger is about 15 minutes, which means each hand width (four fingers) should be about an hour. Not exact because we all have different sized hands but it gives a pretty good estimate.
Finally, I was in a light trance state earlier today conducting a shamanic training workshop on another plane and someone called me David Dos Santos. Curious. I'm going to have to journey to see what that was about.
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.