Shamanic Practice

Over the time of my career as a therapist I’ve been guided to different ways of working by my work with clients, my own needs and by developments in the profession.

There is an interesting and also unnecessary mystique about shamanism. Our culture has relegated imagination to be secondary to, rather than informing, reality.

Working shamanically, I have enough confidence that the imaginal world is as real as the material. If it suits the client I may enable them to discover their companion spirits, and learn to journey. It may also be that emergent from our conversations I journey on the client’s behalf.  It does happen that together we are able to re-story important aspects of the person’s life.

Over several years I learned from Howard Brockman and John and Caitlin Matthews.

Howard’s practice of Dynamic Energetic Healing is a robust integration of Shamanic practices, energy psychotherapy and Process Work principles. (www.dynamicenergetichealing.com/about.html )

John and Caitlin’s practice is rooted in Celtic Shamanism. Their publications can be found at http://www.hallowquest.org.uk.

In addition Arnold Mindell’s Quantum Mind: The Edge between Physics and Psychology (2000) and Birgit Heuer’s Discourse of illness or discourse of health: towards a paradigm shift in post-Jungian clinical theory in Dreaming the Myth Onwards: New directions in Jungian Therapy and Thought. (2008) Edited by Lucy Huskinson. Routledge and Healing in the Context of Quantum Research and Mysticism PhD Thesis, University Of Essex (2018) gave me additional theoretical understanding and support in developing my shamanic practice. 

I am blessed to have my roots in the culture of courage and open-minded curiosity established by Carl Jung.  He recognised the objective reality of the psyche, he had spirit teachers and companions with whom he would go on walks and hold conversations.

Shamanic work is, for me, a variation of psychoanalysis, each can educate the client to have a lively personal dialogue between intentions, and the autonomous creativity of the present moment. Analysis (coming from the German an lys meaning to unloosen) of the transference helps clear the debris of dysfunctional relationships and trauma that obstruct presence to imaginal reality. Referring to this as “ the unconscious” has not been helpful, all forms of psychodynamic therapy work on the premise that deeper forms of thought are happening autonomously in feelings, behaviours, sensations as well as dreams. Iain McGilchrist’s exploration of left and right brain hemisphere in The Master and his Emissary is a wonderful contribution to making this clear.

The theories and practices of energy psychotherapy are another variation of psychotherapeutic work that also gives direct credence to  autonomous intelligence and creativity as systemic to the whole person as well as to the interplay of physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions.

There is a consistency with which we in modernity encounter something extra-ordinary and super-natural with disbelief, or scepticism that generally displaces curiosity.  There are thresholds to the extraordinary in our every day experience, in words, conversations, dreams, prayer and meaningful coincidences.

One or other different ways of working on the website may suit you more, and may emerge in the alchemy of the therapeutic relationship to nurture capacities to notice, consider and respond freshly to experience.

The different ways are not discrete, separate. For me each has been it’s own path of learning, has become assimilated, and reappears as needed.

Colleagues John Cantwell and Karen Ward wrote the following in their Winter Newsletter. ” In moments of suffering, the Shaman will say “be where you are, but even more so”. In times of ecstasy, the shaman will say “be where you are, but even more so”. In times between suffering and ecstasy, the Shaman will say “be where you are, but even more so”. Celtic Shamanism practice gives us a sacred space “to be where we are, but even more so”. A place where we do not hide from our experiences in this remarkable time of pandemic. A place where we can courageously go into our experiences and crucially find the new territory to go beyond them, to breakthrough. This is the Shamanic wisdom of healing, born from the courage to go into life, but even more so and find for ourselves, breakthough.” johnandkaren@slianchroi.ie