I had set up a healing tent during the Squamish Farmers Market all year in 2013 offering shamanic and energy balancing sessions, selling crystal elixirs and sharing information about shamanism and my private practice. Many travelers as well as locals were drawn to the beautiful soothing space created within the bustling market atmosphere. Hanging saris flowing in the soft breeze, crystals, flowers, silks and singing bowls graced my table of elixirs, and tucked inside the tent was the massage table cozy with blankets and pillows, waiting with my sacred drum and Lia Mala medicine bundle ready.
On this particular bright and warm day while the music talent of the market filled the air with a sense of gaiety, John* approached my tent looking for a healing session. He had never experienced a shamanic session before and hoped to find relief from a deep sadness. I knew nothing more about his situation but I could feel his sadness. He lay on the massage table with a heavy heart, held in this gentle nook of the market place where we were afforded semi privacy; it feels like stepping outside of time and space.
I placed my medicine bundle over his heart to absorb any dense feelings he wanted to let go of and to share the supportive balancing, energetic and spiritual medicines that lie within it. I rested my hands on various points of his body while I felt myself tuning into the healing vibrations inherent within our natural world; reiki and other frequencies that I had been attuned to during a shamanic initiation ceremony a year prior. When I could feel his nervous system settle and a sense of relaxation wash over him, I picked up my drum and began the steady 3 beats per second rhythm that supports the human brain to journey into a deeply meditative state. Within this altered conscious state, a shamanic practitioner can access the unseen realm of spirit to bring balance, healing and information back into our day to day realm.
My shamanic journey begins on a beach that is close to my heart. There I find a log in the sand with an opening underneath it and I travel down, deep into the earth, until I come out into a place of healing that looks very similar to our day to day world. My helping spirit guides meet me and I can see John too, resting as he is in ordinary reality. A particular guide who I work closely with steps forward, this guide appears to me in the form of a harbour seal and is responsible for facilitating Soul Retrieval work. I know to follow him and I am lead away from John. We come across a small boy. This boy represents the part of John that feels included, connected, and loved. During a hard time in John’s life, this part of himself left to escape the pain that was happening and didn’t know it was safe to return. This was where I step in, and I sit to talk with this aspect of John’s soul. I tell him that John has been looking for him, misses him and is happy to have him come home. I tell him how wonderful it will feel to be reunited, welcomed and loved. The boy is relieved and takes my hand to walk back to where John is waiting. As we walk I ask him what he would like John to do to let him know that he is honoured. What does this soul aspect need to anchor this healing work? His answer is to play. To play and to blow bubbles in the sunshine.
When we reach John’s body in this non ordinary reality, he embraces the boy with exuberance and they melt into one whole person. It is incredibly moving and beautiful. I express deep gratitude to my helping spirits and journey upward from this lower world back to my special beach. From there I became aware of the market sounds around me, the ground solid under my feet, the breeze on my face, and I stopped drumming.
I connected with the feeling of the boy, the love, connection with family and friends, and the sense of inclusion that he represented and use a widely known shamanic technique called Camay, to blow the essence of this retrieved soul part through my medicine bundle and into John’s heart space with blessings. This is repeated into John’s crown as well. To finish the session I used a designated rattle to ‘seal in’ this healing work by rattling around his body. I gently brought John back to awareness of his body and the place he is in. I looked into his eyes and said, “Welcome Home”. When he was ready, he sat up and I told him the Medicine Story of the journey and healing work. It was very moving for both of us. It is not uncommon for tears of beauty, relief, and healing to come to those I work with.
A couple weeks later I ran into John. He was incredibly happy and his heart was full. He shared with me that a branch of closely related family members had severed ties with him and some of the others a few years prior over a disagreement, and that he had been mourning this loss. A great rift in the family had been experienced ad John had internalized feelings of hurt, anger, and disconnect. He told me that since our session, these family members had spontaneously contacted him and amends were made between him and all family members. The family had been enjoying a great reunion, and John had been spending time playing and laughing outside as a connected greater family with feelings of love, feeling fully included and connected.
John was instrumental in anchoring his healing work by following through with the remedy spirit had requested – playing and blowing bubbles. This sort of healing is not one sided, but a joint effort between the shamanic practitioner, spirit, and the client. When balance is made in our unseen realms, and integrated within the person, positive change begins to arrive in our day to day life. Recently John told me the session and subsequent reuniting of his family was “really a turning point” in his life.
I personally am overcome with gratitude that I can be of service to my community and facilitate their personal healing work. I am honoured to witness.
*Name has been changed to protect the family’s identity
A bean feasa of Gaelic heritage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.