As I sit in the healing space with my mentor and watch the old medicine man work with a member of the local community who is ill, I am struck by how little he moves and appears to do. I see him close his eyes and perhaps lift a finger from time to time, as his patient lies near him. He rises and places a small stone on the man’s belly. Sometimes I hear the sound of his breath; he appears to be in a conversation with an unseen world.
In fact, he is in conversation with an unseen world – the world of Spirit.
Throughout the years it has been my great honor to sit with many indigenous shamans of the jungle and the high mountains, and what they all have in common is deep love and connection to our Mother Earth and to Spirit. During years of study with my mentors I learned how to enter this unseen world, to step outside of time, into sacred space where all possibility for health and wellbeing exists.
Shamanic work involves a dance between the shaman, the one seeking help, and the Source of all healing. We enter this non-ordinary reality to transform the energies and information encoded in the LEF (luminous energy field) – the blueprint for the body’s state of health and well-being. As we learn and practice this art of walking between the worlds, we have a variety of tools to help us do our work until the time comes, after years of practice, that we too need only lift a finger to help our clients achieve the change they so desire into their lives.
One of the shaman’s basic tools is his mesa, or medicine bundle. This “bundle of stones” is built during training as he experiences his own healing journey. The mesa is connected, through ceremony, to a lineage of medicine men and women throughout time, allowing constant access to their healing wisdom. Among the many uses of the stones in the mesa is to help move and transmute energies within a client’s LEF and physical body. A shaman also commonly uses a rattle or drum to help take them out of ordinary reality and into a trance-like state where they “journey” on behalf of their client. This allows them to more easily see what’s behind the physical manifestation of a client’s illness, as the shaman knows that all physical ailments are the result of disturbances in the LEF. Both the drum and rattle are used to break up and dissipate stuck, or heavy, energies in and around the body – as well as when opening sacred space.
Another tool in the shaman’s kit is a knife, used to help cut strong cords of energy that might be draining a client’s vitality, or for removing crystalized (solid) energies found in the body. Removing these energies can bring great relief to a client who is experiencing physical pain. The knife is used exclusively for this purpose, and kept separate from the kitchen or camping gear!
Another basic shamanic tool is a double-terminated, clear quartz crystal. The crystal is as essential to the shaman as a stethoscope is to the medical doctor. The crystal is used to hold energies once they are removed from either the physical or luminous body. It can also hold energies found in a client’s “underworld,” that place where things can unconsciously inform our daily life. The crystal houses these energies safely until they can be returned to the Earth.
The shaman uses his breath to animate the physical objects of healing. The breath, along with spirit water, is used for opening sacred space, for moving energy, and for clearing space. The breath – the essence of life, our connection to Spirit.
The most important tool used by all shamans – both of ancient and modern times – is our connection to Spirit and our ability to see all mankind in a healed and healthy state. It is a skill that is cultivated diligently over time.
It took many years, and many humbling encounters with shamans far wiser than I, to develop a mastery of the fundamental healing practices. I invite you to read my book, A Shaman’s Miraculous Tools for Healing, to learn more about the healing tools and techniques used to assist my clients, as well as their own personal work that brought them both peace and healing.