The practice of a shaman: What exactly is it?
By Colleen Deatsman
Featured in the Lansing City Pulse.

Though shamanism is the oldest living path of spirituality and healing, many people have never heard of it, or don’t know what it is. Shamanism is not a religion, it is a method of healing and a spiritual way of living based in animism. Animism is the understanding that all things are living and have a soul – trees, animals, this magazine, the chair you are sitting in, and you and me.

The term Shaman has been adapted from the Tungus people of Siberia meaning “one who sees in the dark.” This name denotes the ability of the Shaman to journey out of space and time to diagnose and treat illness. The Shaman is the “middleman” between ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

Studying shamanism and learning basic journeying techniques does not make one a shaman. To become a shaman requires a deep, undeniable internal calling, intense self-exploration, initiations, and a lifetime dedication to study, training, apprenticing, experiencing, healing, and practicing. It is no easy undertaking and one that few ever consider. However, learning to use the shamanic journey for personal use is easy and powerfully healing and enlightening for many people. We all have a natural ability to connect with Spirit and the energy of the otherworlds.

Shamanically speaking there are three worlds, the middle world, the lower world, and the upper world. The middle world is the world in which we live that has both physical and spiritual aspects. It is both the ordinary and the non-ordinary worlds overlapped. It is the world of balance and integration. The upper and lower worlds are places of power where we directly access guidance and empowerment. The lower and upper worlds are non-ordinary worlds that have nothing to do with heaven or hell.

A shaman or journeyer enters a trance state in order to access the otherworlds in an ecstatic state that is commonly termed the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC) and/or non-ordinary reality (NOR). The shamanic trance is often entered into with the assistance of monotonous rhythmic drumming, rattling, singing or movement. Once the shaman enters this state of consciousness, they journey to meet with their Spirit Teachers and fulfill the intention of the journey whether it be for growth, guidance or healing for personal use or on behalf of a client. Spirit Teachers, commonly referred to as Spirit Guides, may appear as energy or may take the form of Power Animals or Totems, Angels, Religious Deities, Mythological Beings, or Ascended Spirit Masters to name a few.

From a shamanic perspective all illnesses, whether mental, emotional or physical, are spiritual imbalances that can be corrected with spiritual intervention. Individual shamanic healing centers on restoring spiritual wholeness, energy and power to clients, and establishing harmony and balance in the client’s world. Three of the most commonly used techniques for individual healing are soul retrieval, power retrieval, and extraction.

Soul Retrieval

Soul loss is a spiritual and psychological illness where a part of soul, or core essence of a person, splits off. This loss can cause symptoms such as: depression, addictions, numbness and inability to fully live life, a weakened immune system or frequent illness, and feeling empty inside. Soul loss can occur when a person experiences trauma such as: a child separating from a parent, an accident, surgery, break up of a relationship, substance use, witnessing a traumatic event, any type of abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc. To correct soul loss the Shaman journeys with their Spirit Teachers to the lost soul parts where they may be shown or told a story about why the soul part left. The Shaman then brings the soul part(s) back into ordinary reality and blows them into the energy field of the client.

Power Retrieval

Power loss occurs when a person becomes dis-spirited, losing connection to their Spirit Teachers. Symptoms of power loss can include: chronic fatigue, chronic illness, depression, weakness, on-going misfortune and problems. Shamanic cultures believe that everyone is born with guiding Spirits that protect and share power with us. This Spirit help may be lost for many reasons. The Shaman restores a person’s spiritual power by journeying to reconnect the client with their Spirit Teachers.


Extraction is the technique of removing obstructions from the energy body, called intrusions that block the free flow of personal life force energy. An intrusion is characterized by localized chronic pain or discomfort. A Shaman with the help of their Spirit Teachers journeys to identify and remove the intrusion.

Shamanism can be used to augment counseling, psychotherapy, modern medical treatments, and mind/body therapies and may provide the missing link to your recovery.