In a previous article, I shared my first experience with a Shaman , which I hope you found intriguing and helpful. As a follow-up, I’d like to go into more in-depth detail about the intricacies of the session, including the Shaman’s tools and the rituals performed. Hopefully, this will serve as a cursory guide to the Shaman experience.
Cleansing the Sacred Space
First off, the word Shaman, from an ancient Siberian language, translates to “the one who knows.” The role of the Shaman is thousands of years old. In ancient times, a Shaman was considered a social, psychological, medical and spiritual healer. There were no doctors or hospitals centuries ago, so the Shaman provided these services to their tribe.
Today, the Shaman serves as a spiritual and psychological healer, whose skills alleviate a host of ills. It is believed that Shamans aid in spiritual healing by building bridges between the material world, the astral underworld, and the energy realms of the sky.
Typically, the Shaman begins a session by standing in the center of the room, and calls on the spirits of the four cardinal directions: South, West, North and East, as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky. This ritual serves to create a sacred space which allows us to enter our quiet, inner world where healing can begin. The Shaman faces in each direction sequentially, blowing scented water from their palm while the archetype for each direction is summoned. These are primordial energy spirits with their own qualities and powers. The archetypes are identified as: South (the serpent), West (the jaguar), North (the hummingbird) and East (the eagle). The last step in creating the space is when the Shaman summons Mother Earth, touching the ground, and finally, Father Sky, as they reach to the heavens.
Opening the Chakras
Shaman rituals typically use smudge stick incense, a wand made of various dried leaves or herbs, which produces fragrant smoke when burned. The shaman ignites the pointed end of the stick and holds it over a bowl of sand. Blowing on the glowing surface creates the fragrant “smoke,” which cleanses the sacred space, strengthens energy and helps to balance the Chakras.
Tradition holds that there are 7 major Chakras in descending order: the crown, brow, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and base Chakra. Each is linked to different core issues, where we hold our emotional, genetic and karmic histories, retain our fears and traumas and experience the loss of our true power and voice. A blocked Chakra can cause us to “disconnect” with ourselves and others, and make us physically and/or psychologically ill.
Shaman’s Tool Bag
If a Chakra is partially blocked, a quartz crystal is placed on the area where the energy is obstructed. Shamans use different types of crystals for Chakra-balancing and healing. In my case, I believe the Shaman used double-terminated crystals, which have natural terminations (points) on both ends of the cylinder shape. Double-terminated crystals are thought to move energy in two directions at the same time, therefore unblocking negative energy and creating balance.
Bird feathers also appear in the Shaman’s bag of tools, and are believed to gather unwanted energy from the body and whisk it away. Feathers provide our connection to the “air” forces, in relation to the four elements — earth, wind, air and fire. The Shaman chants in a low voice, while making arced motions with the feather while hovering over the chakra, as if to ‘scoop out’ any negative energy which might obscure the flow.
At the end of the session, the Shaman closes up the chakras one by one, and thanks the spirits of the four cardinal directions. This closes the sacred space. It’s interesting to note that even with all the medical advancements we’ve made, many still rely on ancient wisdom as a tried-and-true practice.