by Katherine Skaggs
Nine years ago I stumbled across the shamanic path in search of healing after a shocking event in my life. Though I had been on a deep spiritual, mystical path for over 20 years already, something different was in need. My inner yearning led me to a four-day healing retreat in New Mexico with some multi-cultural, shamanic teachers. Oh yes, did I say, I also met two Peruvian jungle shamans and was enamored enough to want more experiences with them. Unbeknownst to me, my entire life was about to take an incredible shift in course.
As a result, I have traveled to the jungles of Peru to apprentice with the Shipibo the past eight years; I’ve been initiated into the Shipibo plant medicine diets, ceremonies and shamanic-based healing practices. Each experience has helped me restore balance and joy into my life.
Shamanism is an ancient earth-based spiritual practice, experience and cosmology, drawing upon the energy and wisdom of Spirit that lives within the natural world. Shamanism dates back as far as 25,000 years and is considered the first spiritual practice on earth. Basic premises of shamanism are:
- Everything is alive and has spirit, consciousness and awareness.
- Energy and matter are the same. Everything is vibration. Everything has an energy system, and exists within a greater energy system.
- Everything is connected within a web of energy, or life.
- There is an unseen/inner/spiritual world that affects the seen world of ordinary reality.
The Shipibo People
The Shipibo are a shamanic artisanal people one of 14 indigenous tribes living in the Amazon Basin of Peru. They have a deep connection to the natural world and are particularly known for their healing songs, or icaros; their woven song clothes (artwork expressing the visual form of the icaros); understanding and use of the plant medicines in the jungles; and their famous soul healing brew of Ayahuasca.
They know that everything is energy. Life giving energy is known as Sami (like prana or chi). Sami exists in all of nature and is what restores balance. Energy which creates illness and lack of harmony is man-made and is called Hucha. Fear responses, trauma, anger, jealousy, insecurities and fright are all examples of Hucha. When it is stuck in your energy field you become imbalanced and ultimately your physical body becomes sick.
The Shipibo use sacred song, plant medicines and other healing processes, perhaps extraction work, to release the Hucha patterns, and to then put in Sami to restore balance. Personal responsibility and inner work is always required in healing.
Many westerners travel to the jungles of Peru today to work with the Shipibo to heal what are considered untreatable illnesses in our medical world. Anything from depression, alcoholism and drug addiction to cancer challenges send people to the jungle to find answers and healing. It is the ancient cultural and spiritual wisdom, plant medicines, shamanic healing practices and particularly the Ayahuasca tea that calls these travelers.
When one heeds the call, you can be assured shift is about to occur.
(Sidenote: if you want to travel to Peru, or any country to work with Shamans, get a reputable referral!! Be cautious and informed.)
Katherine Skaggs is an internationally known visionary artist, intuitive and shamanic practitioner based in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is also the artist of the Mythical Goddess Tarot and painter of soul portraits. www.katherineskaggs.com