THE SHAMAN'S TOOLBOX
By Coach Kat, April 17, 2019, copyright Bronwyn Katdaré 2019
Shamanic spiritual and healing practices go back roughly 40,000 years and can be found in nearly every culture worldwide. Anthropologist, Dr. Michael Harner, has studied Shamans in many parts of the world to understand how to open the gates between the physical world and the spiritual world in order to help healing take place.
By utilizing Altered States of Consciousness (ASC), the Shaman enters a state in which he can Journey to access the worlds of the compassionate spirits to receive messages, teachings, and healings. The Shaman knows these spirits through first-hand experience through this change in consciousness. While some cultures use plant medicine in order to achieve an Altered State of Consciousness, other cultures and Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS) believe you can reach the altered state through monotonous drumming (sonic driving at 220 beats per minute) or by using rattles.
My training in Shamanism has been through Michael Harner and the FSS. What Harner has done in his teachings is filter out the cultural or religious aspects of Shamanism so that it boils down to the Core methodology of Shamanic practice. This makes the practice accessible to anyone, regardless of their culture or religion.
“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. People ask me, ‘How do you know if somebody's a shaman?’ I say, ‘It's simple. Do they journey to other worlds? And do they perform miracles?’" ~ Michael Harner
Who are Shamans? Shamans can be thought of as the “medicine men and women,” those who act as physicians, psychologists, ceremony leaders, and those who forecast outcomes related to a particular question. Shamans believe that everything in the universe is connected regardless of time or space, and everything has Spirit. There is Oneness. The benchmark of a Shaman, however, is being able to work by taking action in the altered state with compassionate, helping spirits on behalf of another (or himself) in order to gain insight into a problem. Shamans work with complete certainty in the power to heal.
According to Harner, “What's really important about shamanism… is that the shaman knows that we are not alone. By that I mean, when one human being compassionately works to relieve the suffering of another, the helping spirits are interested and become involved.”
Shamanism can benefit health and well-being in a number of ways. Shamans have a toolbox of different practices for healing and divination but the method is often a part of a multidisciplinary holistic approach with other healers, herbal medicine, nutritional and dietary changes, ancient therapies, and conventional medicine in order to heal physically, mentally, and spiritually.
How do you know if you need the help of a Shaman? The Foundation for Shamanic Studies lays it out like this, which I am paraphrasing: A Shaman may make a journey for diagnostic purposes, to get information about the person’s problems from a spiritual point-of-view. From the viewpoint of the Shaman, people who are not spiritually “power-filled” are prone to illness, dis-ease, accidents, and “bad luck.” The Shaman restores the linkage to the person’s spiritual power. Anyone who has experienced trauma or feels like something is missing, may have lost some of their spiritual essence that is essential for life.
Other times, a person may need a Shaman because the root cause of illness or disease cannot be found by utilizing conventional medical or psychological means. Illnesses that present atypically or prematurely (ie., degenerative disease that normally occurs in old-age that presents in young adults, such as arthritis) have a spiritual aspect. Sometimes, community or land disharmony creates individual dis-ease or illness. Moreover, any illness can have a spiritual component regardless of whether it manifests physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally. Illnesses with a psychiatric diagnosis (depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, autism, addiction) certainly have a spiritual component.
The work of the Shaman directs and moves power to restore harmony within the individual, between the individual and the community, and between the individual, community, and the spiritual worlds. Tens of thousands of years of practice indicate that Shamanism is valuable in itself and for the world at large. Otherwise, it would not have survived.
If this is something that resonates with you or your circumstances or if you have questions about how Shamanic healing may be of help to you, please contact Bronwyn through her website or make an appointment at https://www.coachkathealth.com/services-page .
(Bronwyn Katdaré is a certified plant-based holistic health coach, specializing in lifestyle and functional medicine. She is a Shamanic practitioner, a level II Usui Reiki practitioner, and a facilitator of other energy-healing modalities. Bronwyn is a faculty intern with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and a graduate of the FSS Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing. She is also interested in quantum physics, astrophysics, transpersonal psychology, and ecopsychology).