Shamanic Healing Through the Past
“As the light in the garage flickered on, I almost soiled my pants at what I saw.
A naked man, bruised and battered, blood-stained from head to toe, stood there trembling. He seemed to be looking not at me, but through me.
His ghost-white hands framed a look of utter terror, hopelessness and desperation as he clutched his head.
A croaking whimper turned into a blood-curdling screech and his body suddenly twisted into a leap away from me.
‘Nooo,’ a terrifying scream as he tried to run.
That’s all I remember... oh yes, and it all ended with a loud ‘bang,’ like an explosion.
Then I woke up, sprawled out on the garage floor. My head hurt, I think I must have bumped it on something…
I was utterly confused…and terrified. What had I just seen?
I slowly got up and began to look around the garage. There was no blood. Nothing; there was no evidence that the man had been there.”
Reality or Illusion?
This is adapted from a journal I was reading a while back, where a guy was explaining a horrifying experience to his psychologist.
The interesting thing is that he didn’t experience it once. It happened a number of times, a few weeks apart, in exactly the same way.
He realized that he passed out every time the man turned to run and a loud bang rang out.
The poor guy was obviously in quite a state, realizing that what he was witnessing was something he couldn't understand according to his everyday frame of reference.
It fell outside the parameters of his world, and it terrified him.
Words such as ‘illusion,’ ‘hallucinating’ and ‘mildly psychotic’ came up, mainly from the psychologist’s side.
The guy used words like ‘super-natural,’ ‘ghost’ and ‘going crazy,’ which probably didn’t help his case.
Was it a reality, or was it an illusion? If so, who’s reality, who’s illusion?
There was no real conclusive end to the case study, other than the psychologist recommending he goes on medication and is monitored for ‘further psychotic behavior.’
A Variety of Viewpoints
I found the case interesting. There are many ways in which the situation can be viewed.
Science saw it as a mental illness; something not quite right in the brain chemistry.
I’m assuming here but I would think some religious sects would probably see it as demonic possession.
Others probably would say it was a ghost. Alternatively, some people would say it was substance abuse, the over-use of hallucinogenic drugs, and the like.
Harmony of the Opposites
Two broad perspectives arise the ‘rational,’ scientific view, and the so-called ‘supernatural’ view.
Yes, science is useful, it explains the mechanics. It does this very well, in fact, so well that it makes the assumption that the mechanical explanation is all that’s needed.
In a world without emotion, maybe, but for most people, it's only half the story. The part of ‘feeling’ is not there.
On the other hand, the supernatural view comes often from the deepest and wildest emotional passions of the artists of society; a space that can't always be relied upon for the efficient functioning of a community.
Which of the views is right? (Forgive me for venturing into the treacherous mire of right and wrong here).
Actually, they're both right, in as much as a chainsaw is a right tool for slicing bread.
I mean…despite the shrapnel, you’ll sort of get some usable slices for a rugged sandwich.
Heart and Mind
OK, seriously, the purpose of the scientist is to stand against the artist, and the purpose of the artist is to stand against the scientist.
How else would we appreciate the infinitely tender and raging beauty that art evokes or the wondrous and enlightening discoveries of science?
It’s the age-old struggle between the heart and mind
The value of something is truly appreciated once it's been mercilessly torn apart.
The Shaman knows this and realizes that true freedom and understanding can only be achieved when you bring the opposites together in a harmonious dance of the energies (think ofthe yin yang symbol).
Shamanic thinking knows there's more to the world than what meets the eye, and the unseen is just as relevant as the seen.
It appreciates that the seen is vital to the human being as a stable point of reference; a consensual reality. But it's only half the picture; or even less than half.
A person who sees a hunting bow for the very first time will have no idea what its purpose is. Depending on their level of curiosity, they could guess at it, but it would remain a mystery to them.
Bring in the arrow and the device will immediately become clear to them. They'll start to extrapolate what it can be used for: to hunt animals and shoot enemies.
Using only a physical framework to explain the mental and emotional dimensions of life is like seeing only the bow.
“It’s a neat little doohickey but heck knows what it's for. I can hit my brother with it and the sound of the string when I pull it pisses the dog off, but that’s about it…”
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," Aristotle said. I think he was onto something…
OK, Where Are We Headed Here?
Sorry, it seems, as usual, I've become a little side-tracked; maybe just a little, though, we’re still on the main road.
Where I’m headed here is that I don’t subscribe to the conventional thought around the story of the patient we read about in the beginning.
Convention explains his experience using either known and scientifically proven research, layman’s observations, or mystical and unknown ideas which we ‘feel’ are at play in the universe:
“His brain chemistry is faulty. Maybe he was dropped on his head as a baby; or maybe he snorted too much snow, who knows, he’s always been a bit unstable.
But now he’s seeing things…probably needs to be institutionalized.”
“He has issues…has since a kid. I know his daddy beat them around a bit. His mother committed suicide when he was eleven".
“He should turn to God, all those years in his youth hanging out with those heavy metals kids…the devil has got him. What do you expect if you invite demons and ghosts into your life?”
Now all of these are external causes, and yes, very likely one or more of them has played a role in what the patient is now experiencing. But they're all symptoms.
The beauty of shamanic thinking is that it discounts nothing. Everything exists. If it can be imagined, it exists.
Shamanism accepts that maybe the guy played with the idea of Satan a little too much and he awoke some energies (from inside himself) that can be scary.
It doesn’t discount the fact that the over-use of drugs such as cocaine can fry the brain a little and bring about some strange experiences. And it knows that having a disturbed childhood can have some serious psychological impacts on a person.
Shamanism doesn't discount any of these symptoms. But it's not concerned with them. For they're symptoms, they're not the root cause. Anything that's external can't be the root cause.
The modern, Western approach to healing focuses on the symptoms:
“Your daddy beat you as a child and now you’re messed up. Let’s talk about it to make you feel better and then you can take these pills.”
And still, the guy ends up an alcoholic as an adult, can’t hold down a steady job or a decent relationship.
Western healing doesn’t get to the root cause because it sees the person as broken; broken by external things in this lifetime. It barely scratches the surface.
The Shaman, however, sees the symptoms but knows they are only symptoms.
The Shaman is concerned with what's inside the person.
And What is Inside?
The Shaman sees the symptoms not as the undesirable effects of an illness, but as the indications of spiritual growth. What's important to the Shaman is that this spiritual growth needs guidance.
And secondly, the Shaman doesn't see you only as ‘this person, in this body, in this lifetime.’ She sees you as a soul, and a soul is vast.
Now in the shamanic world, the soul is vast…I said that, didn’t I?
The soul is a galaxy.
A galaxy consists of innumerable stars, dust clouds, particles, gases, and so on.
This I know because science has told me. I did say science is useful…and forgive me for believing in something that my eyes can't see…it’s called faith.
The soul consists of consciousness, and we remember that consciousness is grown by us in the physical form of love. So essentially, the soul is love.
Your soul sends your spirit to a planet to manifest in the ‘particle’ form, the physical. Your energy slows down to the point that you become physical.
It does this because it wants more consciousness. You have to give and receive love in order to do this.
Consciousness is growth and expansion.
Your spirit isn't an entity on its own. It’s part of your soul. You belong to a soul, your soul.
Your spirit (you in ‘wave’ form) carries all the consciousness that exists in the soul, every experience and learning that has been contributed by all the spirits that make up that soul.
All the stars that make up the galaxy. Phew, there are a lot of spirits that share your soul with you.
Are you still with me? Just checking. I hope so.
Our physical bodies die, and when this happens, you in spirit form carry all the consciousness that you have accumulated in that particular lifetime back to the soul. The more you have learned and grown, the more love there will be.
‘We die to remember.’
That consciousness consists of all your memories, good and bad, from that lifetime. The joy, the ecstasy, the sorrow, and the trauma, the anger and shame. They all come back to the soul. They're remembered.
When our soul sends us again to a planet, we come with a clean slate.
‘We are born to forget.’
However, our collective unconscious (see Carl Jung) still retains all the experiences of the soul. This is why we have talents, interests, preferences, likes, dislikes, phobias, prejudices, and virtues or vices.
You’re good at playing the bagpipes, you like airplanes or you’re a compassionate person. These aren't just coincidences. They're recent soul memories, fresh experiences brought back to the soul at the same time your spirit manifests into the physical again.
Now the joy, happiness, the good things, are with you. A puppy is cute, you fall in love with it immediately.
And likewise, the dark things: an angry person is frightening, you fear them.
And so begins your next lifetime, your continued experience of growing consciousness, love.
However, seemingly inexplicable things can happen in life. Things we call coincidences but are actually well understood from a shamanic point of view. In shamanic thinking, there are no such things as coincidences.
Take the guy at the beginning of the story. What he experienced, again and again, was frightening, confusing, disturbing. Modern healing couldn't explain it to him, so it took the symptoms and applied them as the cause of the illness.
The Shaman doesn’t see this as an inexplicable coincidence. The Shaman sees it as an alignment. An alignment of energies is an opportunity for growth.
Let me explain (since you are reading this, I assume you have an open mind; this is a shamanic perspective...let me say my shamanic perspective).
The guy in the scenario from the beginning of the story…let’s give him a name…I like Sergio…. OK, Sergio happens to be living in the house that was inhabited by another spirit from the same soul as him, forty years before.
Don’t scoff…it’s quite possible…your soul consists of millions of spirits. Granted, many of them haven’t ever visited this planet, but there are at least a few thousand here at the same time as you and many thousands are here at any given space or time.
It explains the attraction you have to certain people. It’s a soul recognition, a soul knowing. The feeling that ‘you’ve been in this place before.’ It’s a soul memory.
OK back to the shamanic explanation.
The previous spirit who lived in this house, let’s call him Chris, was involved in some seriously dodgy deals with the Russian mafia. Unfortunately, Chris thought he was smarter than them and got a bit creative with the proceeds of the deal.
Unlucky for him, he was caught out. So, the mob paid him a visit. They promptly disposed of his family and took him into the garage. There they stripped him down and proceeded to beat the heck out of him and torture him until he confessed and gave up certain information.
Once they’d got what they wanted, they pointed a gun at him and killed him.
Now let’s take Sergio. He’s living in that house now (forty years after Chris).
As it happens, Sergio is having a bad time. He was fired from his job for insubordination a few months earlier, his wife moved out because of his ‘difficult and stubborn behavior,’ and now his son has just been put into a coma after a football injury.
In addition, he’s let the depression get the better of him and he’s in a dark place, a place where he wonders whether it’s worth carrying on.
He’s feeling desperate, trapped, angry, and afraid; close to desolation. Interestingly, the same emotions Chris was feeling about 20 seconds before the bullet put him out of his misery.
So as Sergio enters the garage, in the same place and same emotional state as Chris was, the alignment of their energies results in a snippet of Chris’ experience manifesting itself in Sergio’s mind.
It is essentially an illusion, a reflection of the sun on a moving mirror in your eye, but Sergio sees it. And if Sergio sees it, it’s real, illusion or not.
And continually over the next few weeks, as Sergio enters the same garage in the same emotional state, the energy manifests itself again and again, until he decides to see a professional.
He confesses his disturbing ‘visions’ to the professional, who, unfortunately, doesn't recognize or understand what it means. Sergio runs the risk of being labeled psychotic.
Enter the Shaman
A Shaman would recognize it immediately; and she would know that it’s a past memory, a past trauma, that needs to be healed.
She would know that the past trauma is aligned with the present trauma; aligned in a way that understanding and forgiving the past trauma would help to understand and forgive the present trauma.
Here’s the catch. Sergio will have to believe in the Shaman and be open to their ways of thinking and healing, for the Shaman to help him.
This is one of the tragedies of the Western way of thinking. It has replaced the shamanic ways and so dis-empowered us to be responsible for our own healing.
The result: a lot of spiritually barren people, mentally and emotionally distraught, unable to understand their true purpose; driven by false purposes imposed by loveless mechanisms of control.
OK, let’s say Sergio does believe in the Shaman and he goes to seek help after seeing these terrifying ‘visions.’
Shamanic Healing Through the Past
The Shaman would tell him that a past life experience is in need of healing.
The healing process would involve Sergio giving some background to his situation, his trauma, and the events leading up to thevisions.’
The Shaman, through knowledge and understanding of the human condition, would identify Sergio’s role in his current situation and how his own behavior and actions have worsened his circumstances.
Then the Shaman would cross the boundaries between the worlds, going into the middle world or spirit world.
To strengthen Sergio’s identification with the ‘past life’ that needs healing, she would probably say that the man in the ‘vision’ was Sergio himself, in his previous life.
In the middle world, she would make sense of Chris/Sergio’s’ situation, his actions and decisions, and why he did what he did. She would explain this to Sergio, highlighting the reasons why he did what he did, and ask him to forgive ‘Chris/Sergio.’ Essentially to forgive himself.
The reasons why ‘Chris/Sergio’ did what he did would be analyzed and understood. Parallels would be drawn between that situation and Sergio’s current situation.
Sergio would be shown that he's made similar decisions to ‘Chris/Sergio’ and these have landed him in his current distressing situation. And there would be a parallel drawn between the reasons.
‘Chris/Sergio’ made some wrong choices because he was driven by insecurity, arrogance, fear of not having enough money to look after his family, and fear of losing the comforts he had accumulated.
The Shaman would reveal that the same fears, insecurity, and arrogance have caused Sergio to be on the brink of losing his family and considering suicide.
Fear, arrogance, and Insecurity caused him to be fired from his job and lose his wife. And now the cycle of fear has brought him to a space where he could lose his son.
If Sergio doesn’t do something urgent to address his current fears and insecurities, he will be terminated in the same fashion as ‘Chris/Sergio.’
Healing to Bring About Change
At this point, it’s hoped that Sergio takes the message to heart and realizes that the ‘vision’ was sent to motivate him to change. A past self has intervened to put him back on track and heal his situation.
The practical steps to start changing his situation begin with acceptance, taking responsibility, and working on himself. They lead to ever-increasing levels of consciousness and love.
And thus, the Shaman brings about change using the art of story-telling; identifying a past life experience, and using it to bring understanding and acceptance to a current challenge.
If you’re still with me, well done! I’m barely still with me…
“Hold on!” you say, “story-telling?! So, did the Shaman just make up the story about Chris/Sergio to convince Sergio that he’s the problem and he needs to change?
…good question. What is meant by ‘making up?’ Fabricating? Bull.....ing?
I’d prefer to use the term ‘Intuition.’ The Shaman ‘intuited’ it.
Sergio'svision’ didn’t come from nowhere. Hallucination, illusion, a product of a damaged brain, call it what you will, it was real for Sergio. And if it motivated him to see a Shaman for healing, I rest my case.
It’s up to you whether you believe the Shaman’s story or not. As for me, the utter wonder of what I don’t know far outweighs the comfort and satisfaction of what I do know.
PS: Just an afterthought, but one worth mentioning. We all have these soul memories, these so-called past-life experiences.
If we quieten our minds enough and go deep within, we will start to catch glimpses of them.
Unfortunately, our upbringing has relegated the imagination to the bottom drawer of 'fantasy' and 'silly dreams.'
We distrust or don't even listen to our intuition, and so the very tools that have been given to us to understand ourselves and our place in the world have been all but discarded.
But everything you experience, everything you're going through, has its roots in soul memory.
You're not just you, that person sitting there reading this article. You're a culmination of countless lifetimes that have taken place and will take place in the universe, past, future. It doesn't matter, because all there is, is NOW.
If this interests you, I can recommend the book Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss.
This post was originally published on February 26th. 2021, and updated on April 11th, 2022.
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