Emailing Shamans, Critical Thinking, and Retrieving Souls

On Tuesday I emailed a shaman. That is a very bizarre sentence, when I say it aloud to myself I can’t help but chuckle, but the 21st Century is a very bizarre time and you can indeed contact them through that medium. I was interested in doing a soul retrieval, something I had first read about in Elena Avila’s bestseller Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health. The basic idea is that when you suffer a trauma or susto (fright) a part of your soul leaves your body leaving you disconnected or lost. This is very similar to psychotherapy’s concept of disassociation, but the difference is in therapy the focus is why and in soul retrieval it is where. Both interpretations seem valid, but from personal experience in psychotherapy, the constant rehashing of wounds and wrong doings can become rather self-indulgent. It seems that the shamanic practice is less concerned with why and focuses more on the practicality of bringing those pieces back together. It is difficult to say if analyzing the hell out of why we are dysfunctional facilitates the process. I don’t think in my case it hurt, but I also feel that most people who seek out therapy have a fairly good idea of why their lives are falling apart and maybe a soul retrieval would save a lot of time and grief. Continue reading

Questions on Healing

This entry may be a bit of a ramble…bear with me. Do you ever have that feeling that you may have just stumbled upon something, but can’t name it? I’ve been feeling that a lot lately. Life is becoming a huge and confusing revelation.

If you read my last post then it probably comes as no surprise that the idea of healing would become important to me, but that is only part of the story. Last year I began working with refugees and my main responsibility was to administer a virtual therapy project. What began as very promising only produced moderate results which was at first disheartening, but got me to thinking. Was it a problem with psychotherapy or the fact that therapist and client were not able to be in the same room? Does the healer/needer of healing relationship pose a problem in terms of power dynamics? How can we mitigate that without blurring boundaries? How necessary are bounderies? Our refugees tended to be from the same region…what does collective healing look like? If the problem was psychotherapy then what would be a more meaningful alternative? What role can nature play? What role does ceremony play? What role does activism play? Does sharing one’s story in this context help or harm? Can that even be measured? Continue reading

Herbs I’ve Been Digging Lately…

Hello friends! I’ve been super busy lately and the days are flying by, but I told myself I was not going to let this blog die so I came in for a quick post. It is all part of my master plan to gain discipline which is definately a skill that can be learned even by the most undisciplined (like myself).

I’ve been taking a fairly intensive herbal medicine course for the last three months and have learned so much about the natural world and myself, but I’d say the key element in this process is turning yourself into a human guinea pig. How can you recommend an herb you’ve never tried? This is a list of five herbs that I am absolutely loving right now. Many of them I have not been taking for very long so I am still uncertain of whether I’ve gotten the full effect, but just having them in my life has made me happier which is good enough for me. Continue reading

What’s in a Name?

Currently, I am reading Women Who Glow in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health by Elena Avila, a registered psychiatric nurse and curandera. The book is about her journey from a young, poor Mexican American growing up in El Paso, Texas to one of the most respected curanderas (faith healers) in the United States.

Curanderismo is something I have been drawn to for awhile now as it integrates the whole body, mind and spirit into the treatment of illness. It’s history is fascinating and comes from the blending of indigenous, African, and European cultures in the “new world”. There is a heavy emphasis on plants, the natural world, spirituality, community and tradition (ancestors) and when done correctly it is really quite effective.

Much of the book has resonated with me as I too grew up on the border of two cultures and faiths and have struggled with my own path/identity. I could babble on about this topic forever so if you have an interest feel free to message me, but for the sake of the blog I want to focus on one thing that really caught my eye: the power of names.  Continue reading