What is Shamanism

I am an energy medicine practitioner who utilizes some shamanic practice into my healings and personal growth. First and foremost, Shamanic practice is not a religion. In fact, I am an Atheist- I have no belief in a God or Deity. Shamanic practice is a spiritual practice. Shamanism is also not tied to any specific culture- There are Shamans all over the world, in tribes and indigenous peoples everywhere. A shaman is a healer of the soul.

Shamans believe that when the soul becomes sick it begins to manifest as physical illness. Many times that physical illness can be healed by treating the whole person, body with traditional medicine, soul and mind healed with inner personal work. Since a spiritual practice leads you within to your core self- your authentic energetic expression- it is often a journey that is lifelong. It presents every aspect of ourselves, good, bad, amazing, joyful and ugly. Your energetic expression is your unique self and our unique self is a combination of what we set out to be when we were born and all of our experiences combined. If we were meant to be perfect and unfazed by life and the emotional response that life makes us feel, we would not exist. We would be shells, robots, Stepford Wives or Daleks. That does NOT sound like fun to me. When we feel stuck, its usually because we have forgotten how to live as the unique individuals we are meant to be. We began to adopt others beliefs as our own without questioning why we should believe what others have told us. Why is there a man in the sky who is going to determine where I get to spend the afterlife? A spiritual practice allows us to determine what of our beliefs reinforce our authentic self and which ones limit our authentic self.

So, how exactly does a Shamanic practitioner or Shadow Walker work with the soul? What is that process? How do you even begin??

In the beginning of my soul searching, I found teachers who guided me in this. I now continue that journey on my own.

The first part of shamanic healing is often Shadow Work. Shadow Work is literally what is sounds like- finding the parts of us that we hide from ourselves. We are guided to work with the unconscious mind to see he parts of our personality we repress. When we are able to integrate those parts of us and accept them as parts of our personality that make up our unique and authentic self, we are able to understand ourselves better, understand our souls purpose and express our souls purpose in exciting ways. We are also able to see fully the beauty around us, within others and understand they are only expressing themselves in the best way they know how- because we see ourselves doing just that.

Additionally in Shamanic work, we work with the Inner child persona. Inner Child work leads us to the joy of remembering what made us happy as children, what made us fearful and caused us to stifle our unique energy and want to hide it and keep us safe. We all have childhood trauma and there are several child archetypes and different mixes of archetypes we could have within us. This work reminds us who we were before our world experiences changed us to fit a mold. There are often major wounds that stem from childhood so often the goal is to go back and reclaim our innocence and forgive ourselves and others.

We work on reclaiming soul fragments, pieces of ourselves we lost during our lives.

How exactly is this done in Shamanic work? This work can be done in many ways, through Reiki, therapy sessions, journaling and meditation, but most importantly through Shamanic Journeying. In journeying we learn to travel to three levels of Shamanic Consciousness. Your material world is an energetic expression of who you are and to get to the core of who you are and why, we journey. It is much like meditation but instead of meeting angels and light beings to guide you we introduce you to yourself.

The Shamanic underworld is underground. This is done by going into a meditation or trance using a drum or rattle and visualizing traveling underground via tunnel, cave system, stairs or boat journey. Often the first few times you journey you will meet your sprit animals and shamanic guides, your shamanic practitioner will often guide you in what you are seeking and assist you in asking the questions you need to for what you want to accomplish in journeying until you have the experience to go on your own. I am not going to lie- he first time I did this I was terrified. The drum hit me energetically in places I was uncomfortable, I could not settle my racing heart until I saw my spirit animal, my guide for that journey. It was an animal I already was attached to, an owl, so I gladly followed it where it wanted to lead me. This is the place of the sub consciousness.

Middle world exists right along side of us. During a journey to middle world you are often led out to a garden or forest. Here you can visit with the spiritual aspects of nature, the plants, trees, rocks and crystals as well as fairy energy. Middle world is where a Shaman might go to speak to ancestors, astral travel to another real place or to cross over a soul. Often times our soul travels here before death while the physical body begins to transition. This is especially common in long term illness. Here is where our rituals and intentions manifest. This is the place of human consciousness.

The upper world is directly above us. This is the place of higher consciousness and this is the place you travel to if you need to gain a higher perspective or need help with a difficult situation. You get there by climbing higher or with the help of our spirit helpers ( having a winged animal helper works wonderful!). Traveling to the upper world is pretty rare in shamanic journey when you are starting out. Often you go the under world first before being led to the upper world. Unlike regular meditation, a Shaman is looking to help you heal your soul, which takes place in the under world. We need to do some work first before our shamans lead us there or our spirit naturally takes us there. This is where the void exists- a place of nothing that could potentially express itself in any way imaginable.

In each of these worlds exists aspects of ourselves, our spirit guides, animal helpers and ancestors. They are here to guide and support our healing.

Photo by Tracy Malloy, taken at Freetown State Forest, Freetown Massachusetts.

The Shamanic practitioner generally has a foot in each world at the same time. A Shamanic practitioner is both a healer and a medium- but not all healers and mediums are Shamanic practitioners. We are here for you to heal yourself, not to communicate with your dead, though they will often pass along words of encouragement and guidance for you. During a shamanic healing or energy healing (this is not the same as a journey- this is similar to a Reiki or IET healing where you lay on a table and the Shaman works within your energy field to heal energetic wounds) you will be given information your healer experienced and be given an opportunity to share what happened to you during your healing for dissection and next steps to take. This is cool because you both get different things, visions or symbols- but they almost always coincide in some way. You will definitely be given homework! We cannot and will not do your work for you, but we will guide you on the next appropriate steps to take. This work takes time and can be a lifelong journey.

We have a lot of layers. Your work is never done because there is always more of you to discover.

Stay tuned for more information on Shamanic Healing.

Tracy Malloy

Energy Medicine Healer and Shadow Walker