by Marc Felix, PhD .
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is a powerful, time-honored, cross-cultural system of:
- spiritual growth
- restoring, maintaining and enhancing personal power
- gathering new or lost information
From a shamanic point of view, all things in our lives have their source in Spirit.
Shamanism is a holistic system, seeing everything and everyone as interconnected, interdependent and mutually supportive in the great Web of Power.
Why is so little generally known about Shamanism?
One reason is that shamanism was suppressed by centuries of religious intolerance. Another reason is that in technologically advanced nations, shamanic wisdom has been lost and forgotten.
Political, industrial and social changes have urbanized our ancestors and disconnected them–and us– from nature, our shamanic roots and our deep selves. We have been “educated” away from nature and into scientific, materialistic belief systems.
Why is Shamanism now beginning to receive more attention?
In this “New Age” many people are feeling more compelled than ever to find their spiritual path and discover their True Nature and Purpose. We want to expand our awareness and develop our Inner Vision to see beyond the surfaces of people and things. We want to wake up from the sleepwalking that passes for ordinary consciousness.
Others, suffering from chronic symptoms, turn to shamanism as they discover the limits of Western medicine in reducing their suffering; or the limits of modern psychology to help them create real happiness.
What does a Shaman do?
The shaman can see, move through and work in the usually hidden invisible world of non-ordinary reality. In shamanic reality, the shaman can see our “energy bodies” (which include the auric field and chakras.) If necessary, the shaman can repair the energy body. He or she can remove harmful intrusions or restore lost vital energy.
Soul Loss/ Soul Retrieval
Many people don’t feel totally whole, don’t feel as if they are “all here.” One common cause of this spiritual illness is partial “soul loss.” Soul loss means losing part of our vital essence.
What are the symptoms of Soul Loss?
- a feeling of not being completely in your body
- a sense of alienation from life
- a sense of watching life rather than living it
- difficulty staying present
- feeling numb, apathetic, deadened
- chronic depression
- memory gaps
- looking to external things to fill an inner void or emptiness
Soul loss can also manifest as a sense of powerlessness to change destructive patterns in your life or relationship. Or leaving a relationship and feeling as if you’ve left a part of yourself.
When any of the above symptoms persist even after extensive psychotherapy, 12-step programs or medication, then partial soul loss is a likely diagnosis.
Just as people intuitively feel the truth of shamanism, they intuitively know when they have lost a part of themselves.
What causes Soul Loss?
Soul loss can occur from anything a person experiences as traumatic (such as incest, abuse, surgery, accidents, injury, illness, addiction or high stress situations.) Often we hear people talk about how they watched themselves be hurt. When we experience such a trauma, part of us sometimes separates from us to escape the full impact of the pain.
What is Soul Retrieval?
For thousands of years, the shaman’s calling has been to journey to the Spirit World to do various kinds of healing, to obtain information, or to retrieve lost souls. In soul retrieval, the shaman tracks the lost soul part and brings it back to the client. Through a very specific process, the soul part is “put back” into the client.
Often the client will have a flood of memories return from the time of soul loss. As the soul part is reintegrated right after the retrieval, the client may experience any thing from nothing to a great sense of wholeness to an intense rebirth. Afterwards, symptoms often disappear very dramatically. The process of soul retrieval is a celebration! The “lost child” has returned home!
How did I come to Shamanism?
My first entry into the world of shamanism was when I was in college and had a spontaneous psychic opening. My third eye, what shamans call the "strong eye", opened. The experience was quite distressing at the time because I didn't know what was happening and there was no context for it. I saw my own energy body and the energy bodies of everyone and everything around me. After awhile in this timeless state I "normalized" and didn't even speak about that experience for many years. Back then I was too embarrassed to say anything. Then in the mid-1970s I met Michael Snow Leopard, an Apache Medicine Chief. I apprenticed with Snow Leopard till the mid-1990s when he left his physical body. During those twenty years Snow Leopard taught me how to manage the clairyvoyance that had happened spontaneously back in college. He initiated me into his spiritual lineage and taught me how to be a bridge for healing between the physical world and the spiritual realms. For a long time I kept my shamanic work and my profession of psychotherapist quite separate because shamanism wasn't "scientific". But gradually this created a painful split inside me. I began bringing some shamanic techniques into my office and was thrilled by how powerfully effective they were. This accelerated the process of therapy enormously. I began a decade-long process of integrating shamanism and psychotherapy, my two loves, into the blend that they are for me today.