by Cate Cavanagh

Many people have a limited view of what Shamanism is and who is a Shaman. Many of us restrict our perception of Shamanism to an image of a Native American Medicine Man or Woman. This is certainly true however Shamans are all over the world and have always been in every culture and every culture. Any person enlisting the aid of the dead is a Shaman. The dead also include animals. Shamans can traverse from “here” to “there” and visit the other side. They receive messages either unconsciously or consciously as mediums. They also heal.

The basic premise that a shaman utilizes in healing is that the body and spirit are mirror reflections of each other. If the body is ailing, then the spirit of the person will indicate the areas in which there is an ailment. Likewise if the person's spirit is weak due to trauma or loss or hardship the body will exhibit signs of illness as well.

Each Shaman has his or her own technique. For me, I can “see” the spirit of a client and see where the weaknesses or ailments lie by the absence of white energy. In other words I can see the darker spots on a person's spirit. Sometimes these deficiencies are gray or even black! I go into my meditative state in which I can “divide” myself from my physical location and go to the client's side in order to fill up the gaps in the spirit with different colors, depending on the need and then sealing the healing by psychically “sewing” up the afflicted area with white energy that I generate and send out.

As a medium, I see images as if on a screen in my mind. Over the years my spirits have been able to help me translate these images into words that I can then communicate to my client. Spirits have their own personalities. For example. I have one spirit, a woman, who was apparently rather high up in her tribe. When I have women clients who are simply refusing to learn or accept counsel she becomes very nasty through me! I always warn clients that if they are being resistive or return with the same issues this spirit may come through and voice her impatience. I once had to tell a woman to go away and never to come back because she simply did not want to do the work that was necessary to change herself and her situation. I have another spirit, also a woman, who is usually quiet. I have had rare contact with her and when I have it has only been in dreams. She has always protected me against deceitful men! On more than one occasion when I was younger there were a couple of young men I was interested in at different times. She gave me dreams in which I knew with no doubt they were double crossing, two timing cads! I learned to trust these dreams and had no need to ask for explanations. If I got the dream, I cut the men loose in a heartbeat. No questions asked!

Being a Shaman means learning to trust the messages! Sometimes they make no sense. Sometimes they are messages that others would question or try to rationalize but when one is a Shaman, one learns what is a true message and what might be doubt or insecurity or personal fear. It's the same thing with reading cards. As a reader one must KNOW to trust what is seen.

Shamans traverse DREAMTIME. Aborigines and Native Americans are most recognized with this term. Dreamtime is simply that space that exists during sleep. It can, but does not have to, lead to the other side. But, it is a form of astral travel. Oh, the places I have seen! I could not begin to describe them! However there were a couple of times I traveled to dangerous places or to future times in which devastation was all around me. Astral travel is not limited to our perception of time. It can have no time at all or it can take you back or forward in time.

Dreamtime can also take you to the other side. In my book, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, I go into great detail about my travels on the other side. For those who want to know, YES! THERE ARE ANIMALS THERE! Some of my most joyous travels have been to connect with beloved pets that passed away. When I lost my beloved mare she came for me during Dreamtime and I was able to ride her across the skies which was most exhilarating than all the beachfront gallops we had during her life with me.

Sometimes one can encounter dark, dangerous entities as well so atrial traveling is not for the novice seeking an adventure. One has to be able to be AWARE during such travels even if sound asleep. Many call this lucid dreaming and lucid dreaming is a wonderful tool in managing astral travel encounters. The ability to reason while traveling Dreamtime is essential especially if an unfriendly or threatening entity is encountered.

When I go to sleep I pray to my Goddess for protection and safety should I travel which is a good thing to do whether you are or even know whether or not you are astral traveling. I always ask for a safe return and to be awakened if I am going to be disturbed in any way.

Being a Shaman entails a responsibility as well. It means helping the unsettled cross and even exorcising spirits. It means prayer and communion for struggling souls that do not want to move on or for those who simply do not know how to.

Shamans often have hardships in their lives. I have never met a Shaman who did not go through horribly painful times in life for one reason or another. I am half Puerto Rican and “the gift” runs through the women on that side of the family. My mother used to tell me that if one is supposed to be a spiritualist/medium one must go through Las Puebas or “the work/trial” and one will have even harder experiences if resistant to using the gift.

Shamans also, while healing people, can take the illness onto themselves and unless one knows how to “flush” the illness away one should never seek to attempt this type of healing.

As an energy worker I can feel where affliction is within a client's body and only resort to taking on the illness onto myself only if other techniques fall short for one reason or another.

Being a Shaman means being willing to see, really see what is really there, not the fabricated images of entities one finds in paintings in museums. Some entities can be horrible to look at but the Shaman knows that looks do not define the character. Often seeing a higher being in its true form is very unsettling but seeing a true form does not mean it is evil. It means it is revealing itself as it really is. A Shaman knows not to judge an entity by its appearance for one with a dreadful appearance can often be one's strongest ally.

In working with herbs of any kind, for any reason, a Shaman is working with the spirit of that plant. If a Witch, as I am, a Shaman is also working with the protective hierarchy of the directions, north, east, west and south. Again, it is working with spirits and beings and entities unseen to most.

There can be hairy times and encounters but a Shaman is always clocked by the power of one's own knowledge and is wise enough to limit oneself according to one's weaknesses. In other words a Shaman must learn to know when it is best not to do the work. Healing can often be exhausting and when it is necessary to spend weeks working to save a dog's life for example (as I have) once successfully done I know I must withdraw and give myself time to replenish my own spirit power. As with all things magical is all about self-knowing and recognizing when one needs to heal the self first before moving forward with healing work.

In my opinion a person can have many mystical/magical gifts but not always that of a Shaman. Shamans are the heavy lifters when all else fails and put themselves at the highest risk on many levels but if one is supposed to be a Shaman, one will simply find out along a life path and learn how to be one.

Author's Bio: 

I am a published author, metaphysician and Witch. My first book, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, received rave reviews. My newest book, HER GODMOTHER, is consistently rated as a five star read and is a story particularly close to my heart. The main character, Allie, is heartbroken because her father is an alcoholic. As an adult child of an alcoholic, this is a topic I know personally and in HER GODMOTHER, tools for healing from the mystical point of view help Allie heal from her sorrow. A book for children and adults a like, HER GODMOTHER bridges all ages with its message of everyday magic as the secret to healing. As for me I am a mental retardation and disabilities specialist and have been a syndicated columnist in the political, spiritual and metaphysical genres. In addition I have also been a published print columnist in New York, political commentator for WJFF radio in New York and podcast commentator for Internet Radio Voices. My work appears in a number of new age publications including but not limited to Self Growth, Lightsource, E Spirit, Grannymoon, Witch's Voice. Circle of Stars and Pagazine.

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