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Shamanic Healing is Becoming Mainstream

Updated: Mar 29




My client, Lisa, the executive director of an NGO in Washington, D.C. is lying on the massage table, fully clothed, as I use my stones, rattles, breathwork, and feathers to encourage her energy body (that bubble of light surrounding and interpenetrating the physical body) to open. I then spin the most blocked chakras clockwise, so they release. After about 10 minutes, I journey into her subconscious to extract an unhealed trauma wound that is causing symptoms of anxiety and depression.


This constitutes the foundational process of a 40-60-minute shamanic energy healing—clearing heavy energies, removing the wound, and retrieving a lost part of self, sometimes coupled with a power animal and a gift.


It all sounds very woo-woo, yes?


Well, in fact, shamanic healing is becoming mainstream. Shamanism began to emerge more seriously in the 60s and 70s as a new spiritual and therapeutic movement in the West alongside western Buddhism. Since then, in England and Wales alone, the only countries tracking shamanism as a real religion, the census revealed that there was an increase from 650 in 2011 to 8000 in 2021. Based on the numbers of practitioners I have met and heard about since I started on this path at the age of 33ish (I’m now 63), I would venture to say anecdotally that the same is happening in the US and across Europe.


I am speaking specifically of people who, like me, have no Native or indigenous ancestry. I am not including in this number Native and indigenous peoples who may embrace the term “shamanic” to describe their cultural, therapeutic, and spiritual practices, or who dislike the word because it has been baselessly put on them by academics and other commentators. As a Euro-White woman who walks a razor-thin line even using the word “shamanism”, I stay in my lane and speak only about what I call “western shamanism”—something that I define to be a hybrid of western, Native American, and indigenous medicine, psychology, and therapeutic traditions, and “New Age” philosophies.


And please do not confuse my colleagues and me with the White, conspiracy theorist QAnon “shaman”, Jacob Chansley who, along with hundreds of others, stormed the Capital on January 6 and stood in the hallowed Chamber of Congress wearing an animal-headed outfit and sporting a staff topped with feathers (yes, I cringed and then was angry). Since then, I have wanted to set the record straight.


At the age of 46 in 2007, I was a tenured administrator and faculty member at the University of Virginia when I made the radical and inspired decision to leave and put up a shingle as a shamanic healer and teacher. By then I had 15 years of study with Native American and shamanic teachers.


Like me, the majority of my colleagues are grounded, sane, and intelligent people who have been born into or drawn to follow an earth-rooted, mystical spiritual path. Some have stepped up to be in service in a therapeutic modality that has some things in common with Reiki—itself becoming mainstream. You might pass us on a busy city, suburban or rural street without ever suspecting our religious, spiritual beliefs and affiliations from what we wear. We are of all races and ancestries.


Many people seeking out shamanic energy healing, like my client, Lisa, are highly accomplished, busy professionals. Indeed, the folks who have been coming to me for 17 years come from all walks of life and backgrounds. They are African, Asian, Black, European, Hispanic, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, White, and mixed race, among others. They are housekeepers, housewives and dads, psychologists, ministers, doctors, nurses, accountants, government employees and contractors, dog walkers, retail and restaurant associates, business leaders, military personnel—the list goes on. They are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims; they are non-religious or atheist.

Many of them explain to me in the intake portion of our session that they have struggled with anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD. Despite pursuing every avenue offered by mainstream medicine and psychology, they report that their symptoms have only slightly eased or are even worsening. They may struggle with difficulties in relationships, are looking to make a change in their career, or wish to remove the insecurities that stand in the way of finally pursuing their dreams to publish a book, start a conscious business, or become a recognized thought leader. They may have been divorced and want to get their energy, mind, and heart clean and clear so they can start dating more confidently. These are just a few of the reasons they seek me out. 

 

They often say to me, “I want something, well, deeper—more spiritual. I have a sense that there is something soul-based—and faster than what I have done so far.” They have heard about shamanic healing and are willing to take a leap and try something unorthodox and new.


It is time for this modality to be taken seriously as a powerful and effective treatment for trauma and other personal challenges. It can change lives. I know this personally from my own recovery from symptoms of PTSD using shamanic energy medicine and from the stories of my clients over 17 years.  


It’s time, as well, to stop saying that shamanism is “evil” or “superstitious”, ineffective, irrelevant, fringy, “hippy-dippy”, and all the other ways it is stereotyped, misunderstood, or made fun of. Because on a planet where the World Health Organization estimates that 70% of the population have experienced a traumatic event and with the rise of mass shootings, authoritarianism, war, and genocide around the world, we all need healing badly, from whatever source.


As a shamanic healer, spiritual teacher, sacred activist for peacemaking, and social scientists, I personally believe I am helping our troubled humanity one person, one soul, at a time.


Rachel Mann PhD is a shamanic healer, spiritual teacher, sacred activist for peacemaking, and social scientist committed to healing others and bringing peace to the world one person at a time. She is a member of the faculty at Atlantic University (www.atlanticuniv.edu). She can be found at rachelmannphd.com. Sign up for a Shamanic Healing Session here.


NOTE: Shamanic energy healing is not intended to replace medical interventions for physical or psychological conditions. Rachel's PhD is not in psychology; it is in the humanities.




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