Ancestral Healing practices are practices mainly known under the name Shamanism.
The etymology of the word shaman is very old and complex, coming from the Siberian area where the Manchu-Tungus and Sym-Evenki people lived; “shaman” refers to the spiritual guide as the “one who knows”.
Shaman is now a modern Russian noun meaning “doctor”, as shamans are doctors, sometimes referred to as “soul doctors”, or as I experience it, doctors of the Self, the Whole. With the rise of religions and other oppressive patriarchal systems, separation of Body & Soul has become common practice, an imposed belief system, that is still very present today. The myth of separation being at the origin of many of our dis/eases.
Practising ancestral healing modalities is about acknowledging Human Being as Whole and seeing Life in all that is.
This is why I prefer to refer to these ancients and still alive modalities as Ancestral Healing Practices, Ancestral Wisdom, Earth Wisdom, Spirits Communication, or like Mircea Eliade mentioned in his writings “shamanism as practices of Ecstasy”. That way I am using my own words, my own languages, my own cultures.*
Ancestral Healing Practices are imprinted in the cultures in which they are practised, linked to the Land the people live on, to the plants that grow and are cultivated, to the animals they live with and around, to the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Each of these practices have their own languages and songs, their own weaving techniques, their own representation systems, telling us something about their land, their culture, their traditions.
Anthropologist Michael Harner (1929- 2018), together with his wife Sandra Harner, founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, has met, observed and studied many of the still living cultures practising their own ancestral healing methodologies. His long studies made him realize that when the cultural context is being put aside, many of the techniques are similar from one tradition to another. Harner has then distilled these methodologies to their core, calling this practice Core Shamanism.
As our religious western culture has burned many of the wise ones, healers and midwives, for about 600 years ago, Harner’s wish was to restore these ancient healing practices back in our Society, back in our villages, back in our lives. Harner dedicated his life to creating curricula that would teach these modalities to the ones that feel the call. Through the foundation, he kept bridging and learning from the native civilizations to keep growing the acknowledgement of these cultures and their practices.
I have learned and practised these ways taught by my dear teacher Simon Buxton, a long-time friend and pillar of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. And here I am practising and sharing what I have learned and experienced in order to bring ease and release to myself and my fellows.
Engaging in Spirit communication, is engaging in a Path of direct Revelation, it is not about believing or not but rather experiencing, witnessing and engaging. We all have access to Spirit Realm, we just need a little shift in our consciousness and there they are all this kind and compassionate Beings wanting to help us, teaching us ways to engage and relate with Ourselves, our Lives, our Fellows and our Earth. Communing with Spirit we are able to feel and hear the Earth, to sing her songs, to dance her dances and to deeply engage in a spiralling life process of love, compassion and acceptance.
We are Spirit Embodied, we benefit the gift of the Body, we are able to feel, the pain and the joy, the hurt and the ecstasy. Engaging in this Ancestral Path is engaging in our Incarnation. It is about choosing our life on Earth, embodying our Whole Self, coming into the Body, acknowledging our Body, listening to them and being able to access ecstasy.
In the path of healing, the integration process is as important as the healing itself. When we shift something in the Spirit realm, the shift needs to happen in the Ordinary Reality**. Spirits guide us into new ways of Being, always closer to our truth.
For me, these practices are part of the Wise Woman Way, a practice of nourishing foods and traditions, a practice of simple herbalism, a practice of dance and singing, caring for our Body/ Earth, celebrating the gift of Life.
We are facing times of big challenges, times of extinctions. Extinction of bio-diversity on all level, social and economic bio-diversity, health bio-diversity, land bio-diversity… This vanishing of the subtle and yet important differences makes it difficult to stand strong on our feet, in our Uniqueness. Coming into allyship with Spirit and Spirits show us a way of strength and grace in calling back our power and being active participants for the change to come.
In grace and power, Caroline
*I was born in France, coming from a line of various cultures, I grow up with the French language and bathed in the Spanish one. I have been living in different countries throughout my early adulthood, using English as a way to engage with most people I have come across. I am now living in Germany and speaking German on a daily basis. I am aware and fully embracing my international English ways imprinted with notes of all the cultures I have grown in.
**Practicing Core/Classical Shamanism, one refers to our visible world as Ordinary Reality and to the non-visible/ spirit realm as Non-Ordinary Reality.
Practitioners of the ancient ways from all over the world have noticed common and recurring reasons for disease to arise, and in response to these, modalities guided by Spirits have been put in place to restore harmony in the hurt Being and/or Land.
Below I am listing some of these practices as a short introduction, for a better understanding of what we are referring to.
Many of the modalities can be performed in distance but some require person to person setting. Engaging in these ways, the notion of community is also a very important one. Having witnesses when the work is being done is of great significance: we are reweaving the village, calling our loved ones to be part of our healing process; they are the reminder of what has happened and support us in time of doubt and insecurities.
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when referring and partnering with Spirit and Spirits:
*Engaging with Spirits, we are engaging in a world of metaphors, some messages can be literal but most are metaphorical, using images and poetical references.
*Words are of great importance, the words Spirits use with us and the words we use to talk to ourselves and/or to talk to each other. What is sometimes referred to as the first word, “Abracadabra” means “I will create as I speak”, “I create like the word”.
*We have been taken away for generations and generations from our Spirits’ relationship and when engaging in the Healing Path, we are engaging in an on-going Path of Revelations, Understandings and Healing. Healing is infinite and non-linear, miracles happen yes, yet the Path to Wholeness is a life Path. Acknowledging what is happening is what makes us better humans.
Retrieval of a Spirit Ally/Guide in an animal form
In many native cultures when a child is born, her/his family knows their Spirits Allies. The relation with their Allies will be encouraged and tended as protectors and loving companions for life. In our culture, disconnected from the Earth and Spirits’ Wisdom, our children grow up on their own and as adults, we face the challenges alone. It doesn’t have to be that way. Re-engaging with the guides that came with us into this life is possible and gives us back strength to walk our Path.
NB: The term “Power Animal” is a term used by Native People of the Americas. I stand strong and firm in respecting and non-appropriating other culture’s practices by using my own terminologies.
When in shock, facing traumatic experiences, we tend to freeze, feeling at the brink of death. Instead of dying, part of our Essence that has been hurt is leaving our Body so that we are able to continue living. A constant life of traumas makes us weak and vulnerable to more sufferings.
Sometimes we, voluntarily or involuntarily, give pieces of our Soul away, think about when we say “I give you my heart.” “I give you my love.” “I could give my life for you.” In Spirit’s realm, Words have power, they are a manifestation of Spirit in the Reality. Sometimes people, again voluntarily or involuntarily, are taking away pieces of our Soul.
Engaging in a lifelong process of collecting back the pieces that have left us, brings us back wholeness, and each step in that direction carries the gift of joy within.
As permeable Beings we experience intrusions of many sorts: Bacteria and Viruses are forms of intrusions, the same way as an exchange of violent words will touch the integrity of our heart. Some of the objects of intrusions (bacteria, words, negative thoughts...) may stay within our Soul creating further pain.
When shamans/ wise women/midwives were still present in the life of the village, they were the guides from birth to death. When humans were coming to the end of their life’s journey, they were guided to transcend into the other realms, being sure to leave this reality. We have lost ways to support our Elders into their transitioning and reweaving the ancestral ways into our life can reconnect the generations and bring back a sense of harmony in the cycle of life.
Sometimes when overwhelmed by the divine chaos of life, unable to engage with our own guides or feeling disconnected for a reason or another, we seek for guidance that reminds us who we are and where we walk.
In a time of weakened self, our defences are low and the loss of power leaves empty spaces, still, our soul shines and attracts lost souls that wish to enjoy the experience of our body. When this happens, the lost souls should find their way back to the transcendental realm and the possessed human being freed.
In the power of words is the power of curses. We tend to regularly curse ourselves and others without being fully aware of the consequences. Some curses can be ancient and well-formed by maleficent beings, some from our daily inner dialogue, in whichever way they can be of great influence in our lives, and freeing ourselves from them will bring us back a sense of trust and strength.