The Way of Healing

(A letter to Bear Sisters)
At our gathering in September, 1996, there were three evenings in which we formed and focused ourselves to be a 'healing Circle' and tend to those who were requesting some type of healing. During these sessions, those of us acting upon behalf of others may have been bringing through 'healing' based on methods we have previously learned and/or some of us, not having learned such methods or not using them in these instances, may have been simply responding to directions from the Spirits about how or what to do on behalf of the other. It was after our first session that I began reflecting on using this year's regional meeting to focus on what I am calling The Way of Healing.

This regional will be a true exploration into both processes and methods that characterize Shamanic healing. As far as I know, no one has attempted to teach this healing path in a way that combines spontaneous Spirit healing with core Shamanic methods.

There are numerous definitions of healing. Often a distinction is made between healing and curing. In the broadest definition, healing is the term applied to those methods or activities which help people regain their connection to the Whole. Disconnection is manifested in myriad ways from chronic illness to abrupt events which leave one feeling dis-located from self and others.

Methods that some of us know about, either through experience or reading, are extraction, soul retrieval, possession (techniques that focus on either 'removing' or 'restoring' some part/entity). For those not knowing about these methods, I recommend reading about them in Michael Harner or Sandra Ingerman's books: (Way of the Shaman, Soul Retrieval, respectively). At some point during our gathering, we may want to discuss these methods. However, I will not be teaching the Foundation's specific methods here. These can be learned together some other time or by taking one of the Foundation's courses.

I am interested in teaching the fundamental 'ways' that are connected with Shamanic healing (this is different from a specific method). This will involve focusing our work in these, and other, areas:

  • the nature of Shamanic healing
  • what are the ways we discern or perceive dis-ease, or illness
  • how do we gather power; that is: how do we call and make ourselves a conduit for the Spirits to do healing work
  • what tools can be effective in our healing work (drums, rattles, crystals, song, dance,....knowing, of course, that our own beings are the primary tool)
  • what might be the role of the natural landscape, its inhabitants, in healing activities
  • what is the role of ritual and ceremony in Shamanic healing

Our format will address these issues through combining discussion, journeys, embodying activities, and healing sessions.

In addition to our journals, masks, drums and rattles, each of us should bring any other tools we use in our healing activities

Finally, a word about the aspect of both learning and doing healing work together. Often when courses are taught in Shamanic healing, there is a note to the effect that this workshop is not intended to provide 'healing' for the participants but to teach methods.

I understand the reasons this distinction is made in courses open to the general public. However, in my own teaching and in our Circle, I don't see how this distinction can be maintained. In order to learn, we need to experience - both as those healing and those being healed. An assumption is sometimes made that when one needs to be healed, then one is unable at the time to do healing work on behalf of others. Although in extreme cases this may be true, most of us are always people who can benefit from more healing and people who can do healing work for others. Learning how to shift from one role, one reality to the other, is an important task. Equally important is to remember this is a partnership with Spirits and with clear intention, open heart, nearly anyone can be a conduit for this partnership. So we should anticipate that we will both be learning together and healing together. That's what being in Circle, walking, working, and learning together is all about.

Love, Carol

© Carol Proudfoot-Edgar 1997

This page was revised on February 27, 2000