Written By: Shaman Cougar
A shaman is a practitioner of a spiritual belief system in various societies who is able to diagnose, cure, and sometimes cause illness because of a special connection to, or control over, spirits. Shamanism is based on the belief that invisible forces and spirits that affect the lives of the living permeate the visible world. Different forms of shamanism are found around the world, and the healing areas of shamanism are as diverse as the specialties of modern medicine. A shaman is similar to a modern doctor because each shaman has a specialization where his or her gift or talent is strongest. Although some cultures use the same title for all shamanic practitioners, they still have their specializations. These specializations generally break down into a few general categories: channeling (or possession) for the purpose of guidance and healing, divination, dreams, energy transfer (sending or drawing healing energies), funerary (which is dealing with the spirits of the dead to ensure they go where they need to go), plant medicines, and spirit communion (working with spirits). No one is capable of performing all of these, and few are capable of performing more than one. Like modern medicine, traditional aboriginal shamans work in a healing community of shamans, through which a client has the best chance at finding the most appropriate healer for their particular situation.
What the dictionary definition leaves out is that there are good shamans and bad shamans. Shamans can manipulate spirits to diagnose and cure victims of witchcraft (witchcraft in these societies was much different than the New Age witchcraft of today, it was a title to identify one who performed curses and made deadly concoctions to poison victims). In tribal societies, witches are the shamans’ mortal enemies. Some societies distinguish shamans who cure from sorcerers who harm, others believe that all shamans have both curative and deadly powers.
In traditional shamanism, a shaman is distinguished from all other types of spiritual practice through the use of the ecstatic trance-journey. “Ecstasy” refers to an altered state of consciousness that goes beyond physical awareness. While in this state, the shaman often loses awareness of the environment, and control of their body. Instead of experiencing the ordinary physical world around them, they feel themselves traveling in a journey into alternate realms, where the spirits and ancestors dwell. The experiences of this journey often engage all of the shaman’s senses as fully as if they were in the physical world. The shamanic trance is most often achieved through the use of herbs, psychoactive plant medicines, bodily pain or discomfort inflicted on oneself, sleep deprivation, fasting, isolation, or rhythmic sounds such as drumming or rattling. The trance state often involves extreme physical discomforts such as violent purging, or psychological discomforts suffered from the plant medicines. Traditional shamanic cultures consider these techniques necessary to break down the barriers, which keep the practitioner locked into physical awareness, thus allowing them to be open to spirit and achieve contact with the spirit world. Shamanism requires specialized knowledge and abilities, which are obtained through heredity or a supernatural calling.
In traditional shamanic cultures the society often sees themselves as dependent upon the shaman for their survival as a whole, making the high-risk techniques justifiable. The possibility of harm to the individual pales when compared to the harm that is believed will come to the community if the shaman does not intervene with the spirits on behalf of the community. Traditional shamans are initiated and trained by experienced shamans, creating a continuity of tradition, methods, and culture. Likely candidates are identified and trained, and a shamanic death is observed. Through this shamanic death experience the initiate learns to travel and work in the spirit world while still under the tutelage of a seasoned mentor. Death and resurrection is a recurrent theme of shamanism – and in most cultures, experiencing it is part of the shamanic initiation. The shaman must experience death, travel to the realms of the dead, conquer death, and finally return to the world of the living, resurrected and possessing knowledge and power over those realms. This experience might result from a life-threatening accident or illness, it could be induced by the spirits, sought after by taking great risks, or elder shamans through a variety of difficult rituals might induce it. But even when ritually induced, it is not symbolic – it is experienced as real.
A shaman acquires his calling through different means. Among the Siberian Chukchi, one may behave in ways that Western society would call psychotic, but which they interpret as possession by a spirit demanding that one assume the shamanic vocation. Among the South American Tapirape’, shamans are called in their dreams. Native Americans would seek a communion with spirits through a ritual called a “spirit quest”, and anyone who showed signs of having shamanic ability during this rite would be discovered and become apprenticed to an accomplished shaman or brought into a shamanic society. Shamans often observe special fasts and taboos particular to their vocation. Often the shaman has or acquires one or more helpers, usually spirits in animal form, or (sometimes) of departed shamans.
Unlike current New Age belief, a shaman was traditionally paid for his services. The fee often depended on either the hazards involved with treatment or the severity of the condition. Today, many shamans in aborginal cultures still charge for their extraordinary gifts and talents. Shamans, when called upon to deal with spirits, often utilize their gift or powers to not only see the energy of an entity, but also to manipulate it for curing, controlling, capturing, and sometimes conjuring. I have a saying, “just because one can see spirit does not mean one can ‘handle’ a spirit”.
The shamanic knowledge of ghosts and spirits can be a very helpful tool in paranormal investigation. Curious findings in photographs, videotapes, meters, etc., do not necessarily signify that a ghost is present. Many anomalies such as orbs, mist, bright lines, and vortexes are significant paranormal events, but are not ghosts. They are documented encounters with spiritual energy. After ruling out any physical causes such as camera straps, cigarette smoke, or rain mist, this type of evidence should be classified as energy. Everything in existence has energy. Some energies are physical (such as electric fields), some energies are living (such as auras and chakras), some energies are earth-based (such as ley lines), and some energies are spiritual. Energy is always affected by other energies, positively as well as negatively. No two energies are exactly alike. Some are similar. Some are compatible. Some can enhance. Some can manipulate. Spiritual energy is very common and can be found anywhere, even in places that are not haunted. There are certain instances where spiritual energy can be attracted to a location due to the presence of certain physical energies (for example, a vortex of earth energy or a ley line may attract spiritual energy in that location).
Ghosts are often an imprint in the energies of a particular location. In many cases a ghost may be a “recorded” re-enactment of a specific event from a physical lifetime (such as time of death), or could have an emotional connection to a particular place or event. Perceiving this type of ghost can be a brief moment when two “worlds” overlap. This type of ghost usually does not sense the current physical reality. Ghosts that do perceive the current physical reality are classified in shamanism as spirits. Spirits are energy with consciousness. Consciousness is a power that can cause the manipulation of different types of energy, and even physical matter. It’s important to note that in shamanism a spirit is the soul of a deceased person and a ghost is a supernatural being.
Apparitions encountered by shamans are classified by their “potential energy strength”. Potential energy strength is the apparition’s ability to affect the physical surroundings or their energies. A spiritual apparition can be benevolent or hostile. A hostile apparition threatens life or limb.
The most common condition for the appearance of apparitions is “energy recognition reaction”. When this happens, the apparition’s energy recognizes a familiarity in the energy of a person, location, or object. The apparition’s appearance will most likely be only in one location, however, it may not necessarily be only the location’s energies that attract the apparition – it could be a combination of the three. The location is most often connected to the apparition in some way. The tragic death of a person may trap their soul there due to a number of reasons, such as an unwillingness to leave, or becoming confused or lost. Someone or something may also purposely trap it there. A number of means is possible to do this, most often by way of acquiring a sample of the intended victim’s person. Hair or fingernail trimmings are commonly used. Containing a sample of the intended victim’s energy by way of a containment vessel is another method. A stone programmed for the purpose, or creating a mannequin of the person out of wood, bone, or clay are examples of containment vessels.
Spiritual apparitions vary due to their energy essence. These variations are categorized into six conditions, which define the reason behind the apparition’s presence. The six conditions are defined as follows:
The “lost soul” is a result of circumstances related to the individual’s death. Usually the soul is confused due to the shock they received involved with their demise, and are unaware that they are in fact, dead.
The “trapped soul” is usually a result of circumstances that took place at the location of their death. Their energy essence is often trapped into the natural energy field of the location, either by accident or by purpose.
The “soul unwilling to depart” is again connected to the time of death. Often, the soul feels as though their death was untimely – that they did not accomplish something necessary to their life path and will remain earthbound until it is accomplished. Or, it can be a soul that is unwilling to accept death.
A “vengeful spirit” is either one whose death was the result of murder and will not rest until it has been avenged, or in life the soul endured hardships caused by another, and will not rest until it has been avenged.
A “summoned spirit” is one that has been brought forth from the spirit realm by way of ritual, and is contracted by the summoner for the accomplishment of a desired deed or action.
A “spirit power” is a spirit that is either a higher spiritual element, a helper, or a guide. It can be of either good or evil influence.
Note that sometimes a spirit can perform a manipulation of energy called “shapeshifting”. A shapeshifting spirit (as opposed to a physical shapeshifter) has the ability to manipulate its own energy and change its appearance into a completely different form. In many cases, the spirit does this to hide its true identity. Its actions are meant to influence those who see it in a positive or negative manner, depending on its intent. Examples of this are: A totem spirit of a bear may present itself in a smaller stature to be less imposing. A demonic entity may appear in the form of a child. A threatened spirit not wanting attention from the physical world may pretend to be aggressive or frightening.
Traditional shamans work with spiritual energy for the purpose of interacting with those energies that we are investigating. Many shamans not only have the gift to see spirit, but are also trained in how to identify many different spiritual attributes, such as what causes a spirit’s energy to be held to a place – for example, the spirit may actually be connected to an object, not necessarily the building it is in. A shaman can interact with entities on another level through the manipulation of spiritual energies, and can direct an entity to a particular place to aid in documentation or to trap it in the performance of an exorcism.
Possession is a condition in which a person experiences some form of involuntary loss of control while under the influence of another entity or spirit. People who suffer from depression are often susceptible to possession. An exorcism is a battle, and is the only true means of combating possession – not prayer, and not emotions. Prayer can assist and comfort, but emotions such as love do not make good weapons in combating an invading entity, and emotions such as fear feed them. The best approach is to be dispassionate when doing an exorcism. One should not assume that someone is possessed by a spirit unless the possessed person shows signs that distinguish him or her from those who suffer from other conditions such as mental illness or some physical disease. The most common signs indicating the presence of a possessing spirit are: Speaking in an unknown language or understanding someone who speaks in a language unknown to the person. Revelation of distant and unknown matters. Or manifestation of powers beyond one’s own natural abilities.
Shamans as exorcists must have a powerful totem or other spiritual helpers, and must be fully trained in such procedures. The location and manner of an exorcism must be selected in accordance with spirit and human dignity. The procedure is performed as a sacred ceremony, and is not held lightly. The Great Exorcism Rite in the Rituale Romanum, the Roman Catholic Church’s manual of exorcism, is 23 pages of mostly prayer and commands to exorcise demonic possession. A combination of energy manipulation and trickery is the best means of overpowering the possessing spirit, and the outcome of this ritual is to capture the possessing spirit so that it can be dealt with later in a safe, protected environment. I have often experienced entities in a demonic possession literally pleading for their lives. They do not wish to be sent back to where they came from as a “failure”. They often have to report to a higher entity, and these spirits have no compassion.
When any exorcist is called upon to help an unfortunate victim of possession, the first thing the exorcist should realize is that he is dealing with two individuals, the possessor and the possessed. No matter what has to be done to separate the two, the life and well being of the possessed individual comes first. In the past, this was not always done, and was frequently altogether neglected. Many unfortunate victims of exorcism died as a result of overzealous exorcists who were more concerned with the objective than the victim. Here are ten rules any exorcist should remember.
– Use only what physical force is minimally necessary to separate possessed and possessor. Possession is a spiritual state and can only be resolved through spiritual means.
– Prior to beginning an exorcism, it is important to establish the history of the case.
What personality traits have changed over what period of time?
When did the seeming possession begin?
What was the nature and character of the individual possessed before?
Such research includes not only family background, economics, religious convictions, and physical condition, but should also include temporary states such as extreme fatigue, nervous tension at a given moment, unresolved problems, hostilities, strong bonds of friendship, and anything else out of the ordinary routine life of the individual that might have been the starting point for the possession relationship.
– On the basis of this information, the exorcist can begin to evaluate the case, whether or not it is indeed possession. Depending upon the feelings and convictions of the victim, the exorcist must proceed without offending those convictions. The method of the exorcism must be adapted to each and every circumstance, and there is no hard and fast rule applying to every case.
– The exorcist must not permit himself to become emotionally involved. This kind of involvement would only be harmful. This is not to be confused with lack of compassion or interest. Just as a doctor should have a warm relationship with the patient and care whether or not he succeeds in healing him, so the exorcist must take a strong and natural interest in the success of his mission. But this must not go beyond the boundaries of an impersonal relationship, no matter how friendly and warm it may be.
– The use of words is only as practical as the meaning behind them and the emotional state given to them when they are spoken. Even the exorcism of the church becomes useless when it is intoned without the full conviction that it will work. Belief in one’s powers and success are an integral and important part of the exorcism.
– The importance of the ritual cannot be underestimated. Performing certain steps –whether physical movements, intonations of words, or groups of words, or a combination of both, perhaps with the additional emphasis of olfactory stimulants such as smudge or incense, or auditory effects such as rattling or drumming – has a strong effect upon the bonds existing between the possessor and the possessed. In other words, each and every means at the exorcist’s command should be employed, if the means seem likely to loosen those bonds, whether or not such methods can be rationalized or accepted in terms of modern psychology.
– In most cases of possession, when contact is established with a possessor, whether through the entranced victim or in some other way, it is important to keep in mind that one is dealing with a full personality, even if that personality may be demented. Under no circumstances must one pretend that one is really dealing only with a split-off part of the victim’s own personality and should therefore not humor some non-existent person, when in fact, one is dealing with two separate individuals.
– Any notion that the victim’s own characteristics, moral standards, and likely behavior will apply to the actions of the possessor is an illusion, and a dangerous one. By the same token, the victim must in no way be made to feel guilty of being possessed or blamed for the extraordinary actions undertaken by the possessor who holds the victim’s body and mind. Clear distinctions must always be drawn between the two separate individuals.
– There is a deep and basic difference between a person experiencing a haunting or communicating with a dead individual, and a person being possessed by someone from outside of the body. With hauntings, or even with spirit communication, there remains the choice of the communicator either to accept or to reject the communication. Even with the severest hauntings and ghostly visitations (including the physical manifestations known as poltergeist phenomena), there is the choice of leaving the immediate area of the events and moving elsewhere. Ghosts do not usually follow people around. This is not so with possessing entities – the possessed takes his tormentor wherever he travels. In addition, hauntings and ghosts indicate merely a desire on the part of the trapped individual to find a solution to his confusion, or perhaps to communicate his continued existence or to have someone finish unfinished business for him. There is no desire to take over body or mind of anyone for the purpose of continuing an earthly existence. With the possessor, a takeover is the prime motive, and the unfinished business a secondary one.
– Fear or hesitation on the part of the exorcist is completely incompatible with the task at hand. Not only would the possessor notice such weaknesses immediately and capitalize on them, but by exhibiting doubts, the exorcist himself might be endangering the success of his mission. Firm in mind and body, the exorcist must presume to be superior to whatever force he may encounter in the body and mind of the victim.
– Matter and energy are essentially only different forms of the same force. One can be changed into the other, and the two forms of the same force can express themselves in various intermediary stages, as well as influence each other. Modern physical sciences, and especially atomic physics, are only on the threshold of understanding the nature of man and the structure of the universe. Psychic research has long suspected that seemingly unorthodox interactions are possible between mind and matter. It would be dangerous to assume that a possessing entity without a physical body might be unable to perform a physical act.
The thought force still inherent in the possessing entity is quite capable of materializing three-dimensional tools, both spirit forms such as other entities, and manmade objects such as weapons. The possessing entity can dissolve these tools when they are no longer needed. This includes manifesting the possessing entity’s spirit body, if required. We must therefore not assume that being in the next dimension excludes the possibility of an occasional intrusion into our three-dimensional world. When the possessing entity prefers to mingle completely with the personality of the possessed and operate the victim’s body from within rather than merely influencing the possessed from without, we have a situation comparable to an automobile being driven by a madman or drunk. The car looks the same, but the performance is different.
With both forms of possession, direct and indirect, we are faced with problems requiring great skill and compassion on the part of the exorcist, lest in his enthusiasm he come to hurried and false conclusions as to the nature of the situation. Exorcising a possessing entity from the body and mind of the victim is not a game, nor should it be attempted by anyone not properly trained in exorcism or shamanism. One should remember that the possessing entity that uses his victim’s personality and body to perform violations of spirit with ease and lack of moral inhibitions would just as easily destroy the physical life of his vehicle once it becomes useless to him. It is therefore very important to make sure that the separation of possessor and possessed is final and complete, and that no ties remain between them, no matter how tenuous.
In conclusion, I would like to briefly mention the current and upcoming events that involve paranormal activity. We are in what is called “The Time of the Cleansing”, or as the Sioux call it, “The Great Purification”. The Cleansing is basically a period of re-balancing for not only the planet, but for all life upon it as well. We will see a great deal more “earth changes”, including but not limited to weather and weather related disasters such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and unusual weather, and also disasters such as, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. These things will happen not only in areas where you would expect them to occur, but also in unexpected areas as recently demonstrated by tornadoes touching down in California. Along with unusual weather, man will also be affected. A significant rise in hostilities will continue to occur, including violent crimes, riots, wars, etc. Man will become increasingly hostile as the earth becomes more and more out of balance. As the saying goes: we are all connected. Much of this has been predicted from many sources for many years – paranormal as well as scientific.
However, what has not been made so apparent is that what we call the “thin veil” that exists between the natural and supernatural worlds will tear wide open, and there will be more spiritual activity during the remainder of the cleansing then there has been in the last few hundred years or so. This activity will not only cause hauntings to become more hostile, but there will be far more cases of bonafide possessions and demonic activity. This will also give rise to a great deal more incursions into this physical world from supernatural races such as the Lxunia’e of Chinook Indian legends as well as the Fomorians of the Celtic Legends, which I believe to be one in the same with the Lxunia’e. This will all add to the imbalance that will continue over the next 20 to 50 years – the approximate remaining duration of this cleansing, which will depend on how quickly we as the dominant species on this planet make the proper responses to the imbalances we are for the most part responsible for creating.
This is a time when shamans, spirit warriors, and such trained people who are knowledgeable not only in seeing spirit but in “how to handle” spirit, will be of utmost importance. I have noticed that in general, many psychics who can see spirit do not have the knowledge or training to “handle” spirit. Often they perform exorcisms or what is commonly called “clearings” that have little or no effect – or worse, have the opposite effect by actually strengthening the invading entity’s connection. If you believe you are having a problem with a ghost, or are experiencing signs of a haunting, it is most important to understand that even though the spirit may be benevolent at present, it can turn hostile if threatened, and it can be a beacon for other spiritual energies. I have been performing exorcisms since 1990, and have seen things that most people only believe happen in the movies. DO NOT try to intercede on your own behalf. Seek the guidance of a professional who is trained in this area and is able to effectively deal with spirits.