What is a Shaman?
The term “Shaman” (pronounced SHAH-MEN or SHAY-MEN) is a loan from the Tungusic word “Saman” which is defined as “priest of the Ural-Altaic peoples.” In order to become a Shaman, one is first ‘called’ to Shamanism through a long-term illness which in failing to heal in the physical world must be instead healed through other Shamans in the spiritual world. The anthropological archetype of the wounded healer is the basis of the experience: The young Shaman first experiences sickness pushing him to the brink of death – where he passes into the spiritual world to receive healing and come back with the knowledge necessary to return at will to non-physical dimensions in order to affect the healing of others – as well as vital information that can affect the entire tribe.
A guide of souls
The Shaman can act as psychopomp (literally, “guide of souls”), healer, story-teller and mediator within his or her culture. The Shaman communicates with the spirits on behalf of the community – including the spirits of the deceased. The Shaman speaks with both living and dead to alleviate unrest, unsettled issues, and to deliver gifts to the spirits on behalf of an individual or the community as a whole. As a story-teller, the Shaman preserves and transmits the history and traditions of his or her peoples to teach the young and remind the old of past lessons.
The Spirit calls
It is worth noting that the viewpoint that Shamans enjoyed a more luxurious life and lived off the village is far from true. In point of fact, the male or female called to Shamanism did so as more of a part time position, as they were still responsible to fulfill their usual role within the community. Payments to the Shaman were (and are) usually in the form of goods and useful items – food included; and although this was welcomed, it did little to improve the daily life of a Shaman as opposed to any other community member. The call to Shamanism is a spiritual calling and certainly does not equate to a life of luxury, but a life of healing and giving of oneself.
Illumination: The Shaman’s Way of Healing guides us on a healing journey of our own, forged by the timeless wisdom of indigenous cultures and the latest theories of neurobiology. Throughout the stages in our path to becoming our own Shaman, we come to realize the causes of our suffering and are shown how to free ourselves from the pain and drama of our unhealed emotions and their effects on our programmed responses. Life itself invites us to be initiated through many means-the possibility of love, the loss of a parent or friend, the birth of a child, or a serious health crisis. True initiation is empowered by facing personal challenges and experiencing the spiritual rebirth or illumination that follows.
A joyful goodbye
Completing this book is the sacred process of transforming toxic emotions into sources of power and grace. Illumination shows us how to bid a joyful goodbye to the people and places we have met, discovering a sacred space where the spirit inhabits, and uniting the body and soul. When we learn to let go of difficult situations and problems, to accept our lives as they are, we can begin to identify with a self that is eternal. Recounting his own experiences, tracing the mythologies of an array of cultures, and expanding his inquiry into the field of neurobiology, Alberto Villoldo shows readers how they can benefit from these sacred practices.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., is the author of several books, including Shaman, Healer, Sage: How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the Americas; The Four Insights: Wisdom, Power, and Grace of the Earthkeepers; and Mending The Past & Healing The Future With Soul Retrieval. A psychologist and medical anthropologist, Villoldo has studied the healing practices of the Amazon and Inca shamans for more than 25 years. While at San Francisco State University, he founded the Biological Self-Regulation Laboratory to study how the mind creates psychosomatic health and disease. Dr. Villoldo directs The Four Winds Society, where he trains individuals in the U.S. and Europe in the practice of energy medicine and soul retrieval.
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Illumination: The Shaman’s Way of Healing
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Hay House (Feb 15 2011)