Shamanism and shamanic healing are probably as old as how long we human beings have existed on this planet. Every culture had (has) its own version of it.

I was introduced to shamanism through a friend. My journey started, as it so often does, with reading a book. The book was ‘Shaman Healer Sage’ by Alberto Villoldo. It resonated deeply with me.  At the time, Ireland was enjoying an economic explosion — what became known as ‘The Celtic Tiger’ — and what I saw as a fashion editor was a total  lack of consciousness as to sustainability and ethics in a global world by industry and consumers. The endless consumption for consumptions sake, though I worked in fashion for a newspaper, was something that I did not feel good about. It was through studying shamanism that I learnt why. Shamanism was about operating from the heart and having care for the planet and all its inhabitants for we are all one.

Fashion was not, then, interested in caring about anything other than the profit line.

The shamanism I began studying was derived from the Q’ero peoples, the last direct decedents of the Inca in Peru. Some believe their tribe originated from the Q’ero Apache Snake Clan in Central America.

To avoid the Spanish conquistadores’ massacres, the Q’ero retreated high, high up into the Andes Mountains where the altitude was too much for the marauding Spaniards. There, the Q’ero remained, hidden, forgotten, for 500 years until anthropologists ‘found’ them.

In fact, or so it was told, the Q’ero’s own prophecies held that they would share their knowledge of healing with the people of the West in the interest of saving Mother Earth. People like you and me.

Alberto Villoldo with Don Sebastian of the Q'ero nation in Sanctuary.

Alberto Villoldo with Don Sebastian of the Q’ero nation in Sanctuary.

Alberto Villoldo, author of several books including ‘Shaman, Healer, Sage’ was one such anthropologist. He founded a school of shamanism, The Four Winds Society, and it was with him I started to learn about this alternate way of viewing life, love, healing, the planet.

The Q’ero people believe that we, everything on the planet, are Spirit —  alive, and interconnected with the Mother Earth. We are children of Great Spirit, brother and sister to each other.

That ill health and suffering, usually, is a result of damage to, or the severing of, our relationship with Mother Earth. They would see all the storms and natural disasters we are currently experiencing as a consequence of our disrespectful relationship with Mother Earth. And Father Sun not being happy about it, either. We are currently, not good caretakers of our planet, not good children.

The Q’ero are in relationship with all of life. There is no separation, or domination. We are all one. They speak of plant, animal and mountain spirits, Father Sun, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon and are in relationship with them, especially when they talk of healing. The Q’ero call on these spirits to assist their brother or sister (we are all brothers and sisters to each other) to shed that which ails them and heal. They believe that through personal healing we become whole, and thus the world does, too.

What I love about shamanic healing is that it utilises the rich language of metaphor and archetypal stories, something humans have always loved and related to, along with the loving connection of the healer. It is all about connection and witnessing.

Salkantay as the clouds lift.

Salkantay as the clouds lift

Realising that we are not separate, nor alone, and that everything we do, affects every thing is key.

Thus every decision we make, every thing we consume, as people are now beginning to appreciate, has an impact elsewhere.

it’s about having a two-way relationship with life. Giving as well as taking. Loving and respecting.

Then, we walk in beauty with the Great Mother and Father Sky.