Shamanic intervention

© John Russell -Møller 2006

The shaman's job is to create and sustain harmony and balance in life. As healer, it is his job to help people obtain and sustain harmony and balance in their lives. I believe it is generally accepted by most modern shamans that two of the most common problems the shamans patients have, are things that are in the soul that should not be there, and things that are missing from the soul. Modern shamans talk about intrusions and loss.
Traditionally most intrusions are considered to be evil spirits of various kinds that bother the patient's soul in different ways. The evil spirit does not necessarily have to get inside the patients soul, sometimes it sits on top of the soul or sticks to the side of the soul, or walks behind a person etc. In any event, it is intruding into the life of the patient creating spiritual illness.
In modern clinical shamanism there are two kinds of loss that are considered the more significant – power loss and soul loss. There are many other kinds of loss i.e. fate loss, dream loss, and shadow loss, and they overlap to some degree. In modern clinical shamanism the shamans believe, that most loss is caused by other people, or certain events, that have injured the patient's soul i.e. aggressive conditioning – and physical and psychological traumatic events

I acknowledge that a lot of loss is caused by other people or events, but in my experience most loss is caused by selfish actions the patient has done to other people, or to himself – destructive behaviour and self destructive behaviour. The truth of the matter is that people are both victims and victimisers. In my opinion it is problematic to only relate to the patient's perception of himself as a victim of other people's poor behaviour, or of circumstance. Obviously, we must listen to the patient's pain, complaints and history, but I believe it is important to also take an interest in the way the patient behaves towards other people. For example, victims are often 'over attention seeking' witch is a way of stealing power from other people. In fact - many victims can be quite abusive.
From a shamanic perspective, a person's abusive behaviour is, more often than not, caused by an evil spirit that is talking into the person's brain. “Do this – do that”! In our culture we are taught that it is our own voice talking, and not someone else's, and we are not taught how to tell the difference. Occasionally the voice that is talking into the brain of a person is a piece of soul from an abusive (or evil) second person, who has possessed the vacuum that has been left by a lost piece of soul witch has been lost because of a traumatic event. The intruding harmful power (evil spirit) now tries to influence the first person to do abusive actions that cause more soul loss. When we harm others we loose some of our soul.
If the shaman retrieves power or soul to an abusive patient, the result may well be, that the patient uses the power to be even more abusive to other people. The reason why is simple. The evil spirit consumes the new power or soul and grows and becomes more powerful, and gets a stronger grip on its victim – the patient. The shaman must be careful not to feed the evil spirits.

If the shaman's goal is harmony and balance, he must pay equal attention both to his patient's victim side and victimiser side – and the shaman must deal equally with the intrusion of evil spirits and the various kinds of loss.
If a patient, who is possessed by a nicotine demon, wants to get well, it is not sufficient to give him a power animal or lost peace of soul – we must also help him get rid of the demon that is making him smoke. If you cure an alcoholic's liver he will just drink more.
In my tradition it is part of the shaman's job to teach people the social and spiritual skills they have lost or did never learn. If the patient does not learn the necessary coping skills, so he can live a healthy spiritual life, the situation will soon be the same again. Prophylactic shamanic soul work is important, otherwise the evil spirit will return, and the retrieved power and soul will leave. This is one of the reasons why the good results, of otherwise fine shamanic healing, sometimes does not last.


And now for the controversial part.

Let us say, that a woman seeks the shaman, because she believes she has lost a part of her soul. Her husband beats her, and she feels she is becoming more and more disconnected from her self. The modern shaman will then do a soul retrieval healing and give his patient back a piece of lost soul – possibly a part she has lost during one of her beatings. The woman gets much better, but returns three months later with a black eye and a cut lip. She feels 'out' of herself because of new soul loss, so she wants a new soul retrieval. The shaman does another soul retrieval and collects his 80 $ and the woman leaves. This continues on a regular basis for a couple of years and the shaman makes a lot of good money. One day he reads in the paper that the woman has been killed by her husband, who is sent to prison for life.

In the physical world, we have doctors who repair the damage that is done to the woman's body - but we also have police officers whose job it is to intervene, and prevent the husband form beating his wife. We have anger management treatment for the husband and social services to secure the wife and children, and courts to deal with violent criminals. From a shamanic point of view, the husband is possessed by an evil demon that is influencing him do what he is doing. Let me emphasise, that it is always the possessed person's own responsibly to get rid of his demons – alone or with the help of others. If he doesn't, he must suffer the consequences society inflicts upon him. Society has a right to protect any person from any violent criminal. If the husband will not accept a suspended sentence with the condition that he attends anger management treatment – other measures must be taken to protect the family from further violence.

But what about spiritual violence? Who polices the spirit world? What about spiritual intervention? Should the modern shaman use his skills to try to prevent the evil spirit from influencing the husband to beat his wife?
I believe the answer is yes.

What do I mean by evil spirit?

Let me begin by mentioning a few fundamental things I believe most shamans agree on. Everything is alive! Everything has soul!

I believe everything is a person – so there aren't really any 'things', only people. I believe a Pine tree is a person just like you and me; I believe a Raven is a person who has feelings, dreams, and thoughts like everyone else. I also believe intangible 'things' are alive and have soul. I believe a Ghost is a person just like you and me. You might say it has a ghost body. We may do the same with abstractions. I believe a Relationship is alive and has soul – it is a person. It has a relationship body. It has dreams, feelings, and opinions.
A good spirit is any intangible spirit person, (or the intangible spirit part of a physical person), that is good for us (benefits us), and an evil spirit is any spirit that is bad for us (harms us).
Thus, the flu is an evil spirit that has a flu body. A carrot (organic) is a good spirit that has a carrot body. A neurosis is a bad spirit that has a neurosis body. Our conscience is a good spirit that has a conscience body. In shamanism we can personify every'thing' – and we do so, in particular, when it best serves our purpose.

A spiritually healthy person has many good spirits in and around his soul and few or no evil spirits. A spiritually unhealthy person has many evil spirits and few good spirits. It is important to realize, that a person is not his spirits. Me and my spirits are separate individual people.
Michael Angelo was once asked how he made the David statue. He answered: “Well, I saw this big piece of marble and inside it I saw David. I then chipped all that away witch wasn't David”. If you want to know who you really are, then chip all that away witch isn't you – and you'll find out!

So! First of all the shaman needs to recognise the existence of evil spirits. From the beginning of time, shamans all over the world have recognized the existence of evil spirits. Secondly the shaman needs to recognise the enormity of the damage done by evil spirits. Just think of the evil spirits that possess drug addicts, people with eating disorders, compulsive gamblers, co-dependents etc. etc. All of these conditions are major spiritual illnesses in our society, and they are all caused by evil spirits who talk into the brain of the sick person, and persuades him or her to do things that are destructive or self destructive. Evil spirits also like to convince people that evil spirits don't exist. Indeed, many modern shamans are reluctant to believe evil spirits exist. And thirdly the shaman must realize that if he intervenes spiritually, it is the evil spirit he is treating, and not the patient who is possessed. In fact the shaman is helping the abusive husband, whom the shaman prefers to assume, in his hart of harts doesn't want to hurt his wife.

But the husband has not asked for any healing! So, can we treat him without his consent?
I believe that under certain circumstances this can be justified. We pray for other people all the time, and prayer is powerful healing. Lots of violent people are treated against their will. We don't do it for their sake, but for the sake of their victims. The intervening shaman does not fight the husband's evil spirit for his sake; he does it for the wife's and childrens sake. Under certain circumstances the right of one person to not be abused, must go before the rights of the person who won't stop being violent. If the spiritual crime that is being perpetrated is sufficiently serious – the shaman can and should intervene.

I am not going to offer a lot of techniques other shamans can use to do shamanic intervention. Each shaman can discuss this with his or her own spirit allies and teachers. Nor am I going to give away any of the recipes for potions I occasionally give to women to slip into their violent husbands coffee. But I suspect, most modern clinical shamans will prefer to journey to the abuser's evil spirit and try to persuade it to leave – witch is a very good approach, by the way.


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