Acupuncturist As Shaman

Who Is Shaman?

In response to my upcoming Acupuncturist As Shaman events, I received a lot of inquiries and questions from practitioners wanting to know more about shamanism and it’s application to acupuncture. Here is a little bit more on the subject.

Ancient spiritual healing practice of shamanism has been used in indigenous communities of many parts of the world, especially among Eskimos and American Indians for centuries. In Western culture, the practice of shamanism dates back as far as Ancient Greece. Eliade, for instance, compares the shaman to a priest, physician, magician, sorcerer or exorcist. The word “shaman” was first introduced by the Russians, who, upon contact with the Tungus nation in the 17th century, have adopted and spread the term far and wide.

So who is Shaman? Shaman is an observer and interpreter; someone who have mastered the spirits and has gained access to spiritual realm. Shamans may choose to enter into a trance and use their power over the spirits to help another person who was harmed by those spirits. Successful practice of shamanism requires one to be alert to the subtle signs displayed by the client and the important messages these signs carry. Shaman translates and interprets these signs according to the language and symbols of his or her training. He or she helps to reformulate the previously unexpressed conflicts in such way that their development and eventual resolution becomes possible.

The world in which the shaman moves, the world of the seance, is a strange one. The limitations of time and space are transcended. High in the heavens resides the God of the Sky. In the depths of the ocean or under the land is the Deity of the Underground. Rocks and stones speak. Men turn into animals and animals into men. It is a world replete with archaic symbolism, in which the shaman journeys the breadth of the universe or around the moon on missions of utmost importance to his people.

~Robert F. Kraus

The world of the shaman has a striking resemblance to the timeless and boundless, unconscious dimension of dreams where deep conflicts and contradictions get resolved. The essence of shamanic healing lies not only in experiencing emotional states of other people (which inevitably happens in the practice of acupuncture or bodywork anyway), but also in knowing how to interpret these states in the service of healing the patient.

In accordance with the tradition, any therapy that incorporates shamanism, be it acupuncture, bodywork or psychotherapy, will support emotional and spiritual development and work towards wholeness and integration rather than just alleviation of symptoms.

For details and locations of classes, please visit the Training page.

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