The basics of shamanic extraction healing
Relax. You have come to get healing and you know that you are in good hands. You know this person and the whole process that you are going to go through has already been explained to you. You feel comfortable. The shaman places their body beside yours and works with their chosen tool— maybe it’s a drum, burning herbs, or even a feather. They go into the spiritual realms, asks for the help of their guides, and peacefully work to bring you back to wholeness.
That’s how an ideal shamanic extraction session would go, in my book. I believe it is important to be as informed as possible when going through a healing ceremony. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the performing or on the receiving end of it. This is a little, quick guide to help you understand what we’re talking about when we say “shamanic extraction healing” and why it’s so important!
Of worlds and energies
Sometimes, we feel like if we start talking about energy, people will just look at us like we’ve gone round the bend. Nothing further from the truth! The world we see is energy itself. Life, heat, vibrating molecules extending far beyond what our physical eyes can see… If we think of every presence in our everyday world as a manifestation of energy, it’s not so difficult to understand that there are other energetic realms that we’re not always able to perceive.
However, even if we don’t perceive them, these realms and their phenomena still affect our daily lives, our mental and our physical health in many ways. The problem is that, in our society, we’ve grown used to only think of the everyday physical world as real. But, no matter how much we ignore the energy of the other, juxtaposed worlds, it still affects us. And, as long as we don’t have an effective way of moving energy, the effects will be unmanageable!
Fortunately, our ancestors (as well as many living cultures around the world) had the cultural tools to do this: they are what makes up shamanism. A shaman is, as you probably know by now, someone who walks beyond ordinary reality and into other, spiritual realms. They do this with the help of trained techniques and spirit helpers and, when moving between realities, can work on crucial quests such as healing and integration both for themselves and others.
Your physical body and the spiritual dimensions
When you have stomach flu or a broken arm, it’s a good idea to visit the doctor or a trusted herbalist and get treatment. No one wants to be in pain! However, as we have already explored, we tend to forget that our makeup is more than just bones, blood, and flesh. There is more to our being than what doctors are able to heal.
For example, mental illnesses— which are, fortunately, treated more and more like physical illnesses— such as depression and anxiety can cause a myriad of physical problems that often leave health professionals stumped. That’s why it’s important to work with a mental health specialist to heal those parts of ourselves.
But there’s still more: our spiritual beings are interwoven with our minds and physical bodies in such a way that a shift in this dimension will definitely have effects on the other two.
What is an intrusion?
Just like our mental and physical areas, our spiritual bodies are vulnerable to attacks, illnesses, and imbalances. For example, we have already talked about soul or spirit loss. This occurs as a result of a traumatic event or series of events that force the soul to get fragmented. This situation does not let the person live a centered, fulfilling life. In those cases, a spirit specialist— enter the shaman— will perform soul retrieval to help the person integrate the missing part back with the whole.
It’s also important to be aware of the occurrence of intrusions in the spiritual being. What are these? We use that name to talk about negative or parasitic energies that latch onto our spiritual being and harm it actively or passively. These energies can come from the outside world (feelings, thoughts, soul parts that belong to other humans or beings) or be created by long-term negative patterns (such as self-harm, self-deprecating thoughts, addiction). You are more vulnerable to suffering from energetic intrusions that deplete you when a part of your soul is missing.
All good and well, but how does an intrusion happen and how do we fix it? Your spiritual being can get energetic intrusions as a result of being with people or spaces full of negative energy (especially if it is directed at you, aka. someone is being aggressive towards you), of storing unprocessed negative emotions over a long time, a traumatic relationship or relationship fracture, or even a common physical injury.
The key thing to understand, though, is that the energy of intrusions is not bad per se, just misplaced. Its effects are similar to what would happen if you poured your perfectly good morning coffee onto an electric panel. It hurts you because it is not supposed to be there, and can cause physical as well as emotional trouble. Intrusions have been known to cause inflammation and weakness. I’ve even seen cases in which an injury just wouldn’t heal until an intrusion was dislodged.
Spiritual healing: shamanic extractions
What the shaman, our spirit specialist, does is remove the misplaced energy and release it to its proper place in the world. This is called extraction healing, and it helps you heal and move on from what was ailing you.
So, what is the process like? Every shaman and tradition has its own particular methods and techniques. Even further, a particular shamanic practitioner might follow specific directions from their spirit guides that make their process unique. However, there is a general outline that tends to stay the same.
First, the shaman and their spirit guides will— usually— perform an assessment of your energy and spirit. This tends to be a shamanic journey in and of itself, and it will require the practitioner to go into an altered state of consciousness. During this assessment, they will determine whether there is soul loss or an intrusion and, afterward, will inform you. You can work with your practitioner to determine which is the best path to follow. It’s important to remember that your spirit is a whole: you can’t just perform an extraction without retrieving a lost soul part, for example, or you are simply opening the door to more misplaced energy.
The shamanic extraction healing session
The core outline of a shamanic extraction healing session can be summarized, though every session will be different. Generally, it will take place either in a quiet natural spot or in a calm indoor space that contains natural elements (running water, candles, plants). This is important to help both you and the healer stay grounded and fully present.
The patient will be asked to sit or lie down in a comfortable position they can sustain. They may be asked to wear special clothing. This can be for spiritual reasons (for example, wearing the same clothes you were wearing when you were injured) or, perhaps, the shaman will be working with smoke and require dark colored clothing. The shaman will, then, enter an altered state of consciousness, which can be achieved by singing, drumming or rattling (by themselves, a track, or an assistant), breathing or movement exercises, or simple meditation.
They will call on their spirit guides and, probably, those of the patient. With their help and wisdom, the shaman will detect where the intrusion is lodged. This can be a particular place of the patient’s as well as a specific memory or past event. At this stage, the shaman might touch the patient, if they have previously agreed that was all right. Touch can help relax the patient, as well as find and dislodge the intrusion. Some shamans perceive the intrusion as heaviness, black smoke, or dark masses. It will always be clear. It’s likely that the practitioner will communicate with the patient as they go.
The session ends when the shaman merges with their spirits to pull out the intruding energy and either free it or place it in a chosen object (such as a stone). After the extraction is complete, they will heal the void in the patient’s energetic being by performing a power animal retrieval together, a soul retrieval, or knitting it together with healing energy. After the process is complete, the shaman and the patient can talk together to review the process and determine how to avoid another intrusion in the future.
Some tips for before and after
- Before undergoing a shamanic extraction session, it’s good to talk with your practitioner about your expectations and boundaries (for example, not wanting to be touched).
- It’s just as important to be as relaxed and centered as possible. Try engaging in a meditative practice beforehand.
- In the days or weeks leading up to the session, as well as after it, it’s a good idea to document your thoughts and feelings. Journal! No matter how unimportant a sensation seems at the time, it might make a difference later.
- Pay attention to the energies that move around you and through you in different situations. Notice how your gut feels. Are you comfortable? Are you reluctant to do something?
- Take care of yourself. This is always important, and particularly so before and after a session. Some ideas: wear comfortable clothing, don’t use drugs or alcohol, drink lots of water (take a bottle with you).
- Take someone with you to the session. This way, if you feel overwhelmed (or just out of it), there will be someone who makes sure you get home safe.
- Ask questions of your shaman. They usually have lots of knowledge that they might not share outright for fear of overwhelming you.
- Talk with your shaman about nurturing techniques to protect your energetic being. These might include creative visualization, talismans, or even prayer.
Further resources on shamanic extraction healing
As I always say, you can never have enough knowledge! Especially when it comes to a subject as deep and marvelous as shamanic healing. If you are serious about learning more on the specifics of energy healing and extraction, working with some books that have been written by experts is always a plus. But, with the enormous deluge of information there is out there, it can sometimes be hard to figure out which resources are the best and most comprehensive.
Here is my list of the best available resources on shamanic healing and extraction! Enjoy.
Medicine for the Soul: The Complete Book of Shamanic Healing – by Ross Heaven
For those starting out on the path of shamanism who are particularly interested in healing, I’d recommend Medicine for the Soul: The Complete Book of Shamanic Healing by Ross Heaven. While no book on this topic can be truly complete, this one is an excellent place to begin learning.
It gives an interesting account of shamanic healing across cultures and guides you through the tools of the craft in a compelling way. Medicine for the soul will help you understand this path better!
Shamanic Healing: Traditional Medicine for the Modern World – by Itzhak Beery and Alberto Villoldo
Do you ever wish you had more context in which to situate your shamanic practice? If you can answer “yes” to this question, Shamanic Healing: Traditional Medicine for the Modern World by Itzhak Beery might make a good purchase or self-gift. The author takes you along for a trip through traditional shamanic practices of different peoples, in a respectful way. It provides a viable framework for practicing shamanic healing in our modern world, but it does not stop there! This book is an essential resource to develop crucial aspects of your shamanic path, such as psychic and spiritual protection, healing cases that address many different conditions, medicine tools and techniques, and lots more. I count it among my favorites ever!
The Book of Shamanic Healing – by Kristin Madden
If you are looking for a solid, well-rounded and practical volume to keep on you at all times, The book of Shamanic Healing by Druidic writer and scientist Kristin Madden is a pretty good choice! This book dwells on instructions to carry out different tried and true methods of shamanic healing interventions (think song, drumming, color work). It’s like a handy manual without being boring or overbearing, has history snippets and useful case experiences, and is full of interesting suggestions.
It is a perfect choice if you want to have an arsenal of tools at the ready, but also if you are just interested in learning more about the craft!
Awakening the Energy Body: From Shamanism to Bioenergetics – by Kenneth Smith
Shamanism and science? What? Yes, that is exactly the premise of the book. While a lot of its assertions are experimental (science-wise, of course), it provides a deeply interesting window into the possibility of an integrated Western worldview.
If achieving that, or even if you just like the appeal of a good scientific book, Awakening the Energy Body: From Shamanism to Bioenergetics can become your new best friend! Turn to it for a mix of traditional Toltec shamanic practices and pieces of quantum theory. There is practical stuff too! Here you can explore the energetic dynamics of the spiritual self and how to manage them: essential pieces of the shamanic healing practice!
The Art of Psychic Protection – by Judy Hall
As you know by now, your spiritual self can experiment shifts in health just as much as your physical one. You need to tend to both, and that is exactly what Judy Hall’s The Art of Psychic Protection teaches you to do. In these pages, there is a lot of information on different techniques to guard your mind and energetic body that is useful for shamans and for those undergoing shamanic sessions. No need to stick with everything the book tells you to do: you can just cherry-pick whatever works well for you!
Hopefully, with these additional resources plus all the information contained in this post, you will be able to be aware of your energetic body and boundaries, to know how a shamanic extraction session is conducted, and what, exactly, you can expect to get out of it.
Here’s to lots of successful and interesting reading, energetic cleansing, and many years of spiritual and physical balanced health!