To Heal or Not to Heal: Shamans in the New Era

Posted by on 26 Mar 2010 in Essay | 4 comments

“Rivers know this; there is no hurry, we shall get there some day.” – Winnie the Pooh

“Too many times we confuse motion with progress.” – Albert Einstein

A growing pain in the maturation of neoshamanism is the instinct to heal everything, that where there is energy imbalance it must balanced. Imbalance can occur in a person, a place, an animal, or an era. The inclination to heal at all cost can be viewed as a proactive model of health and wellbeing, no doubt the mindset many modern shamans bring to soul work. To indigenous healers, the ‘must heal’ mindset is very modern, and it embodies fear, isolation, even aggression. Because of its emphasis on the healer, the instinct carries with it arrogance, presumption, and idealism; thus is incomplete. It perpetuates the notion that imbalance is something to be viewed as broken, something unnatural, ideas that disregard the constantly changing state of Earth consciousness and experience. We are always in flux, and most of us realize profound growth not from balance or being out of balance, but in the process between the two. A task of the modern shaman is to embrace the full circle of Life, and in doing so, to impart that while perhaps uncomfortable, no facet of it is unnatural.

PageLines- peacock_feather_300_rotated_small.gifThe starry promise of restoring full functionality throughout daily life omits Shadow. Shadow is no one thing. We tend to think of it as bad and what should be avoided, as western culture has demonized anything that doesn’t dazzle with quick results. In fact, Shadow is usually the thing we most need to address in order to progress in the creation of ourselves. In the case of the ‘go-fix-resolve’ mentality, Shadow is forgetting to allow. Allow what? Whatever. No object is needed, when we are open to whatever is needed most. In that passive receptiveness the seed for healing blossoms into its unique destiny. We often forget how challenging it is to be passive, and those who practice it in meditation understand that to be passive doesn’t mean to do nothing. It means to allow, not to stand in the way of. The full spectrum of everything must be honored, and frequently the best way to honor it is to stop naming specific outcomes. When the emphasis becomes a specified outcome, the focus is on the healer, not on the highest outcome for the client. The ego pursuit of assuming that something needs to be done usurps the passive healing power gifted us by the Multiverse. The notion that everything broken must be fixed separates us from our connection with All, implying not only that we can control everything and should attempt to, but that undesired outcomes of our actions are failures, mistakes, or weakness. In some cases, the best prescription to resolve symptoms, release pain, or balance the etheric field is death. Yet many modern shamans still view death as the result of healing methods not working. In many modern practitioners, the natural healing properties of death are considered failure.

There are schools of thought that all energy or spiritual healing is good. While the argument is strong, it’s not that the work is good or bad. What is in question is the intent behind it. When we assume work should be done for a client based on intuitive observation–which for some shamans occurs instantly without journeying–lacking the consent of the client and/or impeccably clear direction from the client’s guides to do that work, we are operating outside the connection of All That Is. Outside that bond, nothing good can come. In some cases, if energy is shifted without examining the wider picture, more harm is caused than good. For instance, if a client has a terminal illness, just extracting the illness can make the “sick” cells more aggressive. The body, in this case, has forgotten how to function without the offending cells. Other supportive healing must be done first, and if it becomes possible, the imbalanced energy can be removed. Soul retrieval is another example. Returning soul aspects the individual is not ready for psychologically or emotionally can exacerbate the reasons the retrieval was done. In such situations, active intervention actually diminishes healing.

Some argue that the question of intent is, in part, why we have passive healing modalities such as Reiki, the Japanese healing art providing passive rejuvenation of life force, and hosts of spirit guides to call upon for aid. These are approaches to healing in which we express need to them then step aside, allowing their work to be done. They are an opportunity not to have to control everything, to honor the connection with All, and allow Multiversal support to work as it will.

Ultimately, healing isn’t about what symptoms go away, what miracles happen, or what death occurs. It’s about being connected to All Things and having a sense of peace that regardless of what occurs, we are well, we are in good company, and we are loved. As shamanic healers, we are often a final destination along a client’s path toward healing. Traditional modalities, even more accepted alternative ones have been tried with little or no results. It is sincerely challenging to look into the eyes of someone who has struggled to find healing and tell that person that all a shaman can do is facilitate allowing, between the client and All That Is. Yet that is our express obligation. We guarantee no specific outcomes, only that All listens and delivers. In the connection, we know when our influence is needed and when we should refrain from acting. The cradle of healing rests in that balance and that is the best comfort we give.


  1. Kelley, this is a beautiful article and I wholly agree. Many in Western society seem to forget that the Huntress, Death, is also the Great Balancer. I like to say that sometimes inaction is indeed action, which is a Daoist principle. I’m sharing this with a couple of practitioner friends. Brightest blessings to you!

  2. This is beautiful, I’ve been telling myself ;) that the answer to changing the world isn’t in brush strokes, it really is about a steadily elevating belief as a conscious whole and slowly moving towards that societal evolution as the answers come to us. The same holds true for our health lives, I have a belief that we don’t need to live only 100 years if we understood that this was just a human conditioned understanding, we can cure everything in the world that is a problem. I guess Shamans are the ones who will be facilitating this change in conscious, along with spiritual internet people like usss!! Bless your souls and much love

  3. I was just surfing around the net looking for ideas to write some articles about and came across your site, good stuff you have here thanks for the info.

  4. Great read and I agree totally. Contemporary Shamanism is about empowering the person to find their own recipe and connection with All that is not sorting it all for them with a ‘fix’. And if you dont take time to build the core self and the spiritual grounded support, getting a fragment back can be more traumatic than being without it. Blessings Odette


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