Shamanic Doctoring & Shamanic Healing

Dear Nicholas,
     Since your visit and the workshop, I have been experiencing some incredible things and find my work with spirit deepening and becoming integral to my life. When I journey, I become /I am my power animal and as such experience the physical and emotional sensations connected with that client and with that journey. It seems I am a channel and not separate.... Do I need to work with any special protection because of this? It does not seem to have any ill effect on me although the client I worked with on Thursday had a cold at the beginning of the session and not at the end. Two days later I seem to have it and am tired.
     The other question I have is that I was taught to work with extraction, soul retrieval and power animal retrieval as separate things. During my work with clients these things do not stay separate and a session can be very full and combine any or all of these things. What do you think of this? I sit with the client at the beginning and we make a clear intent for the journey but this 'mixing' still happens.
     Thank you,
     ~Deidre, England

Hi Deidre,
     I do not have any "power animals" as I understand what people mean when they use the term, so can not speak about them.
     It is not our way to take on any conditions that a patient has. However, in some shamanic doctoring, we already have the condition that the patient has and the doctoring is accomplished by "curing" the condition within ourselves, and through that, "curing" the condition within the patient. But, I think that is somewhat different than what you described. So, stop taking on your patients' colds (smile). I can not suggest any particular protection in writing, but intent will help a lot.
     It sounds like you have studied "core shamanism" as brought forth by Michael Harner and his Institute for Shamanic Studies. I know that there is quite a group in the UK working these ways and a fellow who comes over from Sweden or somewhere teaching these ways also. Many, if not all, traditionals do not see things the way he has defined them. For example, what he has taught as "soul retrieval" we would define as recovering and transforming lost life-force held within the soul. (This was the purpose of the Spirit Horse Journey we did at the end of the Saturday workshop, albeit a totally different way of accomplishing it.) Most traditionals would define "soul retrieval" as recovering a person's soul or part of a soul that has been stolen by another. This type of doctoring can really only be done by someone who is shaman, as sufficient knowledge is only gained through the initiation. During initiation, one's soul is shattered and they must put it back together. While I could do the Harner type "soul retrieval" after a few years as an apprentice, it was not until I went through initiation that I knew enough about the soul to handle true retrieval or reconstruction. So, there is a semantic issue here that I wanted to point out. I am not saying that you should change your terminology, only recognize that some who are not familiar with Harner's ways might misunderstand what you mean. I have surrendered to the new definition of "soul retrieval".
     We also see the "power animal" thing that Harner has brought forth as actually a part of a person as opposed to a separate spiritual being. In other words, if a person finds an animal within their underworld (or lower world, as Harner has named it), what they are finding is an aspect of themselves, not some spirit that was walking by and jumped into the person's soul. (laugh)
     When a person comes to me and requests doctoring, they put their prayer for the doctoring--how they chose to be, strong & healthy, free from whatever, etc.--into the tobacco, and I send those prayers off to Creator on the wings of Eagle, that Eagle might return from Creator and tell me that which I am to do to assist the person in bringing their prayer manifest. I am shown the condition as well as the cause of the condition and what I am to do. However, sometimes I also see other things that are related in some way. It is not possible for me to doctor a person for a condition that I do not see--that I am not shown. Whatever I am shown, I do doctor, either at that time if appropriate, or we set up another session. Therefore, if you are seeing something, and you have the patient's permission, it is appropriate to handle all that you are shown. If in doubt, you can stop and ask the patient if it is ok to handle something that has come up during the doctoring before proceeding to doctor it. They do always say yes, but it is always good to ask if there is any doubt.

     I have heard you say something about Bear and Deer being complementary during a doctoring? Please could you explain more?

Dear Francesca,
     Think of a person as a forest. Their insides can be seen as trees and rivers, etc. The person is sick--something inside them is sick. Bear can go inside and find that which is out of place causing the illness as Bear knows where everything is in the forest. Deer knows where things are suppose to be, but not necessarily where they are. So Bear tells where the out of place "rock" or whatever is. Then with a flick of his nose or a touch of his hoof, Deer puts it back right--the dam in the river is released, the tree is put back upright, the rock is returned to its original resting place, like that.

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