Jonathan Horwitz & Annette Høst ©
The shaman's worldview sees everything as imbued with life. Everything that has life also has spirit and power. Spirit and power are the links between all forms of life, between people, trees, animals, rocks, wind and water, earth and sky. It is the shaman's job to communicate with other life forms, sometimes mediating between humans and other creatures. This is always done in close cooperation with the shamans spirit helpers, whether they are guardian spirits in animal form or teacher-spirits. No spirits - no shaman.
In most cultures, the shaman's training is long and intense, and can be a lifelong process of initiation. The shamans jobs include being seer, healer, problem solver, taking care of the balance between humans and nature, and taking care of the balance between the living and the dead. Some shamans fulfill all of these tasks, while others specialize in only one or two. Both in traditional shamanic societies, and in modern context, the main task of the shaman is healing.
understanding of power and healing
Traditionally, shamans understand that there are two main causes of illness. Either a person has something within him that should not be there (an intrusion of inappropriate power) or is missing something that should be there (power loss, or soul loss). The healing work is roughly divided into either regaining lost power or soul, or removing the unwanted power.
The symptoms of power loss may be that you become depressed or constantly become ill or get infections or everything goes wrong in life, what we sometimes call bad luck. In many shamanic societies these symptoms mean that you are not in contact with your guardian spirit or your power animal has left you. Healing consists therefore in finding the power animal or guardian spirit of the sick person and reconnecting them, or in some other way reuniting the person to the power of the universe.
Soul-loss means that we can not feel ourselves, our body, our emotions. It is as if one sees his life from the outside. Other symptoms include memory loss or the irresistible urge to fill the hole in your soul with substitutes for life, for example drugs or alcohol.
The shamanic treatment is to find the lost soul and bring it home again, thus uniting the sufferer with everything the soul left with. For some this integration requires effort and support which the shaman can also help with.
Once the practitioner has heard how the problem manifests itself in someones daily life, she consults with her spirit helpers to get their view of the situation and diagnosis, and to find out what to do. For that she uses drumming, singing, and making a ritual journey to the world of the spirits. The actual healing work is performed together with her spirit helpers and will happen in a changed state of consciousness.
are some of the basic ways shamanic assistance and healing is practiced
today. These ways are not to be confused with psycho-therapy or psychological
or medical treatment. The shaman realizes that we are not isolated units
and works to re-establish the links to the power of the universe.
The Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies offers workshops in
Shamanic Healing and Soul