You Say You're a Shaman

Thunder Cloud learned healing, which, as we see, is nothing but exhaling the breath of life on the person to be healed…. In tribal society, the healer experiences the illnesses that he cures, often initially in his own body: he takes on the ailments of his patients and then heals himself. It is of the essence of the primal healer that through a deepening of his inner consciousness, he is linked with his body and the illness, with himself and the patient. Our modern culture has little understanding of this extraordinary receptivity; for us, the blazing reality that predominates in the consciousness of the natural healer has been lost.

Holger Kalweit in Shamans, Healers and Medicine Men

This one struck a major cord with me today as I sat in Outerlands, alternating between eating, reading and watching the slowly falling rain out the window.

I’ve been getting asked the question more and more what I do for a living, what my work is, what the hell CranioSacral Therapy means. I normally go into the standard ‘oh, it’s bodywork’ or it’s a healing modality or it works with the CSF, the spine, the skull, the prana… or whatever happens to come out of my mouth at that moment to describe the indescribable of what happens on my table and off.  And this is almost always met with blank stares of confusion or outright questions of ‘have you lost your mind?’

Yet I’ve always known deep down inside of me that the work I do is something primal, something tribal, something beyond description that can only be experienced. I’ve known it since the first time I received the work, and walked out of that hut at Esalen transformed and transfixed on a world that looked somehow- different. Somehow had been altered. Or was it me who had been altered? Had I dropped into another state, only to come out a different person, seeing the world through brand new eyes?

After that first experience, I flip flopped between the two worlds for two years, truly believing that I could go to other states, other places simply by dropping in and listening to the true beat of the universe, found within my own heart. And other times completely ignoring it, wanting only to party and numb the feelings of loss and disconnection that plagued and haunted me.

But what I was really conflicted about, I now know, were these feelings of being something other than what I thought I was. I always had this deep, almost scary connection to ancient times, and I always felt like I could feel the pain of others. And not knowing what to do with it, I took it on as my own. Having no way to handle that pain in a healthy way, I numbed myself- sometimes to the point of oblivion, of blacking out, of blocking out the world around me, so that I couldn’t feel it anymore, couldn’t take any more on. Couldn’t see the things that I saw or feel the things that I felt were not my own.

I was a shaman in a woman’s body who had no idea what to do with the gift. And I certainly could not understand that it was a gift. For a long time, I felt it was curse.

But as every story goes in this path, inevitably, it all had to come crashing down, and I had to come to the realization that I was something else, was someone else from what I had created, had constructed. The old ways of being and the old ways of identifying myself had to all fall away, so that the truth could come out and be revealed.

It was in the rice fields of Bali, after giving a massage to a wise wise woman, that I was told what I am, and was sent on a path to discover it for myself. I of course resisted, couldn’t understand, couldn’t comprehend it all at the time. And even today, I still sometimes can’t. Even today, I’m reluctant to admit any of it, to really state to the world who I am.

A good friend recently joked that I am a ‘reluctant healer’ and I can see the truth in that.

Except now, that reluctance is falling away, in pieces and huge chunks. With each piece of my old self, my old ways of being, my old ego that falls away as I dive deeper and deeper into my own consciousness, I move more and more fully into that often scary yet thrilling world of being a healer- in the truest sense of the word.

And what this has afforded me is a greater ability to do just as the opening commentary describes- to help others by feeling their pain, experiencing their inner world, determining how I would heal it within myself, and then- offering that as my gift to them.

See, it really is as simple as seeing the person in front of you as they really are, without blinders and without a mask hiding them or you. And then simply breathing that all important “breath of life” (as both William Sutherland, the founder of CranioSacral Therapy, and many shamans refer to it as) back into the person before you. Of course it may not be literal breathing on the person, but the essence of whatever treatment is correct remains in that core of healing truth.

Why can something so simple be so hard to grasp within modern culture? Maybe it’s why I have always felt I belong in sometime in the ancient past. Maybe it’s my Cherokee blood, or whatever past lives I’ve encountered. But it all makes perfect sense to me.

It has always freaked me out, this ability of mine to almost read someone’s mind, to know before they tell me what ails them, what haunts them, what they dream about and are scared of. To look at a person and know their deepest desires, their deepest fears, their deepest pain, the deepest truth of who they are.

I didn’t know how to handle it for 30 years of my life. I often hid, hid behind the guise of being shy or quiet so that I wouldn’t have to address it, or even admit to myself that I saw it.

The last several years of my life feel like a sort of death and rebirth happening simultaneously. Many of my old ways have died away, many of my old conceptions of how the world is and where I belong in it have shriveled up and faded away. While at the same time, who I really am has been slowly emerging, slowly taking shape, and each day feels like a new day to explore the possibilities more. To experience life through fresh eyes and determine where I stand within it all.

To pierce the veil and emerge a new woman.

A wise woman.

A servant and a goddess at the same time.

A healer.

No longer reluctant.