How Shamanism (may have) saved my life

How Shamanism (may have) saved my life

In honor of  St. Patrick’s Day, and Spring Equinox, I was going to catch you up on Celtic ritual, but last night I saw a very good documentary called HEAL.  It explored the power of alternative healing and remission in a variety of disease states through first hand interviews with patients and some of the cutting edge practitioners involved in integrative healing today.
Many of you know that I had an aortic valve replacement in November. I took a little bit of a Sabbatical while I allowed my incision  to heal and attended cardio rehab. It helped, of course, to have a gifted surgeon, a great team and a nurturing, supportive hospital, but that is just the scientific side of things.

By all accounts I had, and am having, an amazingly fast and pain free recovery. I try to practice what I preach, so as a holistic wellness counselor and shamanic practitioner, I decided to take my own medicine.

Prior to my surgery I underwent a Shamanic Healing with Peter Clark from The Shaman’s Flame in Vermont. Just before going in for surgery I had an Donna Eden Energy cleansing and re-balancing with Carmen Smith of Northern Lights Holistic here in Portsmouth, RI. Once I got out of ICU and was moved to the step down unit, I began doing Reiki on myself every morning and utilized EFT tapping along with the recitation of Healing Codes shared with me by Fire Reiki practitioner Diane B. During this time I had absolutely no pain and just minor discomfort that comes from restricted movement (you can just imagine the tubes!) I also had a wide web of support from clients and friends who sent prayers and Reiki.  When I had my final follow up with my surgeon, he also commented on how I had improved so rapidly. When I responded that I believed it had alot to do with the energy of the prayers and Reiki and other integrative support, he smiled knowingly and actually agreed with me! Smart doctor.

I am four months into my healing process and have continued to advantage myself of alternative healing.

Since change in medications and diet has played havoc with my gut, I had a session with Spiritual Healer Andy Pietro at Northern Lights Holistic. Andy spent an hour with me and visioned what he described as a short circuit in the stomach area. After performing some “psychic surgery”, within 24 hours my IBS spasms stabilized and I haven’t had issues with them since.  As I was experiencing a little post op depression and lethargy I thought having another Shamanic journey might be helpful so I went for a session with Paul Desegna of Energy-n-Elements in East Greenwich. Paul, like myself, is a Michael Harner trained practitioner. During my session Water Buffalo appeared urging me to get back in the water (which I have , doing daily water aerobics) and to eat a more plant based diet. After the session I also recalled that up in our attic were two Water Buffalo horns, which I promptly reclaimed and put in my office. Into my fourth month of healing from open heart surgery and I have to say I am feeling strong, well and optimistic.


So why do all this, you may ask?  SHAMANIC HEALING is the original form of ENERGY MEDICINE. As the vignettes in the movie HEAL pointed out, science is just beginning to understand the connection of Energy, Mind, Body and the Spiritual. It is beginning to recognize how attitude and thought, emotion and Spiritual belief have the power to advance the healing process of the physical body positively. This is something Shamanism has always addressed.


The Shaman works in the realm of Spirit, calling upon a cadre of Compassionate Spirits to assist in the re-balancing of the subject’s Soul essence. By moving the subject back into right relationship with their  physical and Spiritual community, they return them to a dynamic of healing and health. When a physical body is violated through an operation, and by that I mean cut open, invaded and manipulated, (this can be in a benign way as in childbirth or as disturbing as recieving chemo or radiation or an operation), one can “lose power” and thus “lose one’s soul”, opening our selves to the invasion of pathogens, imbalance and depression. In Shamanism the Energetic Body is just as important as the Physical Body.


Noted anthropologist Michael Harner, founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies noted that the emotions we hold, like anger, love, or despair, take on a energetic power to harm or to heal. And it is generally accepted that one’s psychological state of mind can adversely affect our physical body. Noted scientists and doctors like Larry Dossey, Jon Kabat Zin, Stanley Kripner and Jean Achteberg have continued exploring the implications of “Spirit Medicine” in the 20th century with great success over th past three decades. As an Holistic Counselor I believe that the power of the interface of the Spiritual with the Phsyical is obvious. There is an old adage, “As Above, So Below”. Shamanic practices emphasize the connection of all things to all things. In healing our Earth and climate, foods and waters, in healing our inner thoughts and outer actions we become a community of healers and return ourselves and all around us to vibrant health.