A shaman is a man or woman with a special calling to live in two realities at once

by Susan Seddon-Boulet
by Susan Seddon-Boulet

A shaman is a man or woman with a special calling to live in two realities at once— the ordinary world we all know well and a deeper, higher reality, both transcendent and profoundly interior, where everything has a spiritual meaning. The shaman sometimes carries a ladder to symbolize the comings and goings between these worlds, and the drum, one of the tools of his trade, may have markings that show the two worlds within a single circle. With his visionary ability to see the spiritual nature of an illness and perceive deep stories hidden within events, a shaman heals and advises his people.

A shaman is schooled in entering strange in-between worlds of imagination. He is a healer and a teacher, a guide of souls. He speaks as though this ordinary world has a richer, hidden dimension. Through music, trance, and prayer he finds his way into areas of inner space that most people are never aware of. He may call this deep interiority the otherworld or the land of the ancestors. He could call it the kingdom of heaven.

The shaman speaks in poetic language, the only way to describe what he sees on the other plane. He may use metaphor, parable, image, story, song, dance, masks, costumes, and props. He leads rituals, heals spiritually, and serves as the messenger to his community from the otherworld.  — Thomas Moore, Writing in the Sand

When it comes to understanding the psyche it’s often helpful to use many different models. Below are posts that deal with the distressed psyche from a shamanic interpretation or similar.

The biggest problem in our society now for those who get diagnosed with any sort of “psychosis,” is that they are most often met by professionals that do not even believe that healing can occur, let alone deep transformative growth. Deep transformative growth, could be the norm, if those claiming to be healers actually knew what was involved in the individuation journey. Meeting the dark underbelly of the psyche as those of us who have been labeled psychotic at one time or another is a calling and an act of heroism. One that is rarely encouraged in society. I might add that it’s to the detriment of all society that we are shut down and often tortured rather than supported.  Many of us are healers trying to be born, just like Malidoma Somé says here: What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital

There are many ways to find healing.

From Jung's Red Book
From Jung’s Red Book

●  Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening: Phil Borges at TED

●  The sacred science: shamanism, plant medicine and spiritual ceremonies

●  Multiple Worlds Anusuya StarBear: Madness Radio 

●  What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital 

●  Introduction to the Shamanic Journey  

●  Shaking Medicine with Bradford Keeney

●  Psychiatric drug withdrawal, kundalini and shamanic initiatory illness

●  Crash course in urban shamanism

●  The descent experience: metaphor for serious illness

●  Psychosis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Story as a Vehicle of Healing

●  Spiritual awakening journey

●  Soul in Crisis: why cultural healing must replace the “mental illness” fiction

●  When we feel depressed, anxious, or distressed, are we mentally ill? Or are we spiritually confused?

●  Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

●  Why are the strengths and abilities of those who are sensitive called “mental illness?”

●  Schizophrenic or shamanic experience?

●  We have come to be danced

●  Spiritual aspects of psychosis and recovery

●  We are all shamans in training

●  An Intimate Walk through the Labyrinth of Madness and Mysticism

●  A woman’s journey through madness and mysticism

More: Psychosis recovery: stories, information and resources

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page.  

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