Illness…from A Shamanic Perspective

Illness…from A Shamanic Perspective

Shamans look not at the physical, but rather at the spiritual aspect of illness. An illness might manifest on an emotional or physical level, but the shaman journeys to seek for the root cause of the spiritual imbalance or disharmony.

From a shamanic perspective, there are three classic causes of illness:

  • Power loss
  • Spiritual intrusion or possessing spirit
  • Soul Loss

And so, the shaman journeys….

The helping spirits of the shaman diagnose the cause and then help perform the required treatment for healing. The shaman acts as a “hollow bone” by merging with these helping spirits and calling upon the power of the Universe to channel healing energies.

Typically, a combination of causes happen to manifest an illness. Rarely, does one only have soul loss or a spiritual intrusion.

The helping spirits look down on the human world with a perspective that often cannot be seen by a practitioner. Therefore, shamans work in partnership with their helping spirits for healing work.

Power Loss
Power Loss occurs when a person has lost his power animal or a protective guardian spirit. Typical symptoms of power loss are chronic depression, ongoing suicidal tendencies, long-term illness, and persistent misfortune.

When a shaman is shown that power loss has occurred, a variety of ceremonies might be performed to retrieve a former power animal or guardian spirit to restore power and protection.

Spiritual Intrusions and Possessing Spirits
Often when a person is missing a guardian spirit or his vital essence has disappeared, there is an opening in the body. Since the universe cannot stand a void, something comes in to fill that space. Shamans might perceive a spiritual intrusion that has entered into a client who is missing power and vital essence.

Spiritual intrusions come from negative thought forms. In indigenous cultures, people understand the difference between expressing energy and sending energy. In the West, we often do not understand the difference.

It is important to properly express our “more negative” emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, etc. However, rather than express these in a healthy manner, we often send these energies to ourselves, others, and into the environment like a psychic arrow. These energies can create, what shamans call, “Spiritual Intrusions”.

The signs of a spiritual intrusion appear either on or within us in such forms as localized pain or some form of cancer. Since shamans do not distinguish between emotional and physical illness, a spiritual intrusion may also manifest in the form of chronic anger or depression.

In the treatment of this kind of spiritual problem, the shaman works with his or her helping spirits to diagnose the nature and location of the spiritual intrusion. The shaman then performs an extraction that removes the intrusion.

Shamans heal both the living and deceased by performing psychopomp work. This word comes from the Greek word psychopompous , which literally means leader of souls. When we die, there is usually a graceful transition into a transcendent reality. In shamanism it is understood that when someone suffers a traumatic death such as murder, accident, war, drug overdose, suicide, or in a violent and unexpected manner, there is a possibility that the soul may need assistance in crossing over into the transcendent realms. The reason is the soul may be confused at death and therefore, remains caught in what shamans call the Middle World.

A spirit stuck in the Middle World might wander into this, our world, or it may enter into a person who is missing his vital essence or power, causing a possession. From a shamanic perspective, this is one cause for schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders.

In such a case, the shaman would perform a de-possession—guiding the spirit out of the Middle World and into a transcendent reality.

Because psychopomp work is regularly done when people die in indigenous cultures that are accustomed to shamanic work, they do not have the kinds of emotional illness we experience in the West. Consequently, the need for de-possession work is well understood.

Soul Retrieval: How Shamans Heal Trauma
It is believed that whenever we suffer an emotional or physical trauma, a piece of our soul flees the body in order to survive the experience. In shamanism, the soul is defined as our essence, life force, the part of our vitality that keeps us alive and thriving.

The types of trauma that can cause soul loss in our culture are any kind of abuse, be it sexual, physical, or emotional. Other causes could be an accident, war experience(s), being a victim of a terrorist act, acting against our morals, being in a natural disaster (a fire, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, etc.), surgery and general anesthesia, addictions, divorce, or the death of a loved one. Any event that causes shock, could cause soul loss. And what might cause soul loss in one person, may not cause soul loss in another. Shamans believe that alarm clocks, because of their highly intrusive nature, can cause soul loss.

It is important to understand that soul loss is actually a good thing. It is how we survive pain. If you were about to be in a head-on car collision the last place you would want to be at the point of impact is in your body. Our psyches could not endure that kind of pain. Therefore, this brilliant self protection mechanism activates and a part of our essence (or soul) leaves the body so that we do not feel the full impact of the pain.

In psychology, this is known as dissociation. However, in psychology there is no talk about what disassociates or where that “part” goes. In shamanism, we know that a piece of the soul leaves the body and goes into a place in non-ordinary reality where that part waits until someone intervenes in the spiritual realms and facilitates its return.

Although soul loss is a survival mechanism, the problem from a shamanic point of view is that the soul part that left usually does not come back on its own. The soul may be lost, or perhaps stolen by another person, or it does not know that the trauma has passed and that it is now safe to return.

Thus, the shaman journeys and tracks down the soul part and returns it to the body of the client.

Some of the common symptoms of soul loss are when a person does not feel fully in his or her body nor feel alive and fully engaged in life.

Other symptoms include chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, post traumatic stress syndrome, immune deficiency problems, and grief that just does not heal. Addictions are also a sign of soul loss—seeking external sources to fill up the empty spaces inside with either illicit substances, food, relationships, work, or buying material objects. Anytime someone says, “ I have never been the same since (X)” (and its not positive) then soul loss has most likely occurred.

Look at our world today—we value money over life. Killing other life forms for material gains…feeling that buying one more car or material objects bring happiness…we see wide spread planetary soul loss today in how we behave towards each other and to those with whom we share Life.

In shamanic cultures, people who suffered traumas were given a soul retrieval within three days after a traumatic event. Today, because we have not been practicing soul retrieval, modern day practitioners often need to go back ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years or even more looking for lost soul parts.

In our culture, we are unaware that being out of spiritual harmony creates illness. Often, soul loss happens at such a young age we are not aware of the unconscious patterns that have been in place since followed. When there is soul loss, we always try to retrieve our soul by repeating the same trauma over and over again. The names of the people involved might change, but the story is often the same….

After a soul retrieval, people feel more present in their bodies and they sense the vibrancy of the world. Now engaged in their lives, and fully in spirit, they are more inspired to change their lives.

If the person has previously done personal work, the soul retrieval may bring an end of the work. If not, the soul retrieval will be the beginning of their Journey of Change.

Once any kind of shamanic healing work is performed, it is ultimately up to the client to use the returned energy and their new perspective to create their own positive present and future Life. From here, one now has the chance to thrive rather than survive. It is crucial to create long term healing after a soul retrieval or extraction work.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss how shamanic work may be helpful for you.

21 thoughts on “Illness…from A Shamanic Perspective

  1. I am a Reiki practitioner,also I practised qabala and pranic healing.I think Shamanism will be of great benefits to people especially at present.I would like to practice it,sincerely,an online coaching possible for me?


  2. i have learned reiki,pranic healing & a few more forms of healing but none has been helpful in curing my wife of rheumatoid arthritis ,will shamanism be able to do the needful ? is it possible to learn it on line ?


    1. Hi Rajiv,
      We would first look at the underlying (spiritual) reason/meaning for the RA. Personally, I have never connected to the Spirit of RA, though I certainly shall based on your inquiry. Much more to follow….

      Presently, we work one on one with students over the internet. We do have plans on putting together some online programs, though we greatly favor the intimate, face to face teaching Circles that we hold in our personal, live workshops.

      We are presently in India and are conduction of Fundamentals of Shamanic Practice in numerous cities. Do take a look at our 2014-2015 Tour of India page and see if we are near you.


      1. Hii I have not learned shamanism but am reiki grand master and a medium I connect with Egyptian God godess and connect with lots of animals and ancestors pls design an online program or a program in ahmedabad


    1. We have not put together an on line program as of yet…we are considering doing something though, so do stay tuned. Feel free to subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about Shamanism and such. Paul


  3. I do recognize now (with dense emotional pain(mostly unconscious) coupled with physical pain/congestion and my extreme resistance to be in the body (it is so natural habit of mine just to be in the mind and virtual reality) that there might definitely been some past trauma(S) which I am unaware of..Have been trying to feel the pain, listen to it the best I could, being in touch with my emotions, spending more time in nature, self love workshops, trying to catch the self critic and change the talk..)…but I still feel overwhelmed by the denseness of emotions and very challenging to be in the body (lot better than before …but I want that to be more easy and natural not so challenging). How does Shamanism help me and make it easier for me to be with myself and to be able to trust and be guided from within???


    1. Thank you for writing.

      I want to acknowledge you for your willingness to find answers and a solution.

      Your first sentence sums things up for you….

      1. Recognition now…
      2. Dense emotional pain (mostly unconscious)…
      3. Coupled with physical pain…
      4. my extreme resistance to be in my body…
      5. it is a natural habit of mine to be in my mind and virtual reality….
      6. there might definitely been some past trauma(S) which I am unaware of..

      As Shamanic Practitioners, we look deeply within. We learn to listen to the our inner voices. We listen to our bodies, allowing our “felt sense” to speak. The Mind is treated as an ally and not as the Captain of the Ship. We are Guided by our Souls. We live each day with gratitude and with our feet firmly planted on the ground. We walk with Spirit, connected to our Divinity.

      In shamanism, we let go of the past. Memories harbor both the good and the not so good. That which comes into our lives that is considered “negative” is born from memory. Our memories recycle events in our lives. Rather than focus on what was, we learn from what transpired, we forgive and we reclaim lost power. We move forward, not backward.

      Though the exact understanding of your situation is not known, (I have not journeyed on it) based on what you have stated in that first sentence, these are all the “classic” signs of Soul Loss. Take a look at our page: Illness from a Shamanic Perspective to learn more.

      Trust in ones Guides and with your Soul is developed over time. It is important to realize that your Guides also need to trust you. Connection and working with them builds the needed rapport. These are the most beautiful and profound relationships you can ever dream of. For some, it is effortless to Believe. For others, they need to first trust themselves. It can be done however. It requires commitment and dedication.

      Feel free to write me direct at

      Blessings to you,



  4. Hi Paul! Reading your page has perked my interest. We are based in Bangalore, India – a group of 4. We place immense faith in class room training than online classes. I am curious to know more, learn more. How can we work this out? Travelling out this year looks bleak. Are y’all in India in 2016?

    -Rachna and the other three.


  5. Hi Paul,
    My Nephew who is now 2 years old had been diagnosed with Autism ( borderline ) just a month back. I was quite curious about his illness as none of our extended family has ever had a history of any physiological illness. However, i read in some books etc that Autism is somewhere related to past lives karma. Can Shamanism provide him any relief in the long run for a normal lifestyle.


    1. Thank you for writing. We’ve been on the road, hence the delay in getting back to you.

      There is not black or white answer to your question. The reason for this is that we view health related issues at the level of the Soul. For example, what if his Soul needs to live this life with borderline Autism? What lessons need to be acquired in this lifetime?

      The again, perhaps this is for the benefit of the parents?

      The only way to know is to talk with his Soul. This is something that we can do Shamanically. For me to tell you it can easily be addressed would not be ethical as there is no “one cure heals all” type of process here.

      Blessings to you, the boy and his family.



  6. Hi Paul, have read your post. I feel stuck in my life. Like getting anywhere. Even depressed at times. Need healing how can I receive healing.


    1. Thank you for asking, Antonio.

      Presently, we are offering our Ancestral Healing program online, starting September 22:

      We will also bring our Dreams workshop online and I will conduct a course on Huna online in 2019.

      In addition, I do offer private instruction for some of our Shamanic Courses and also our 1 Year Mentorship program. Feel free to write to me directly from our website here:

      With Blessings,



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