Healing Trauma through Shamanic Practices: Michael Harner’s Approach


Discover the transformative power of healing trauma through shamanic practices. Explore Michael Harner’s approach to find wholeness and inner peace.

Healing trauma is a complex and deeply personal journey that requires a comprehensive and holistic approach. Traditional methods of therapy have their merits, but there is increasing recognition of alternative practices that can complement or even surpass conventional techniques. One such approach is shamanic healing, which taps into ancient wisdom and spiritual practices to address the deep-rooted wounds of trauma. In this article, we will explore the transformative power of shamanic practices in healing trauma, with a focus on the influential work of Michael Harner.

Understanding Trauma

Healing Trauma through Shamanic Practices

Before delving into the realm of shamanic healing, it is crucial to understand the nature of trauma. Trauma is not limited to physical injuries; it encompasses emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds that can profoundly impact an individual’s well-being. Traumatic experiences can disrupt the delicate balance of the mind, body, and spirit, leading to a range of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and feelings of disconnection.

Shamanic Practices and Healing

Shamanism, a spiritual practice that dates back thousands of years, has been utilized by indigenous cultures worldwide to address various ailments, including trauma. Shamanic healing operates on the belief that trauma disrupts the harmony between an individual and their environment, causing a loss of power and soul fragmentation. By accessing altered states of consciousness, shamans aim to restore balance, retrieve lost soul fragments, and facilitate deep healing.

Read About: How Trauma Can Be a Surprising Power of Personal Growth?

Michael Harner’s Approach to Shamanism

Michael Harner, an anthropologist, and author, is widely regarded as a pioneer in bringing shamanic practices to the Western world. Harner conducted extensive fieldwork and research among indigenous tribes, including the Conibo people of the Peruvian Amazon. His interest in shamanism led him to study and learn from indigenous shamans, seeking to understand their healing practices and spiritual traditions.

His groundbreaking work in core shamanism, a system that distills the common elements of diverse shamanic traditions, has made shamanic healing accessible to a broader audience. Harner’s approach emphasizes the power of shamanic journeying, power animal retrieval, and soul retrieval as effective tools for healing trauma.

Core Shamanism

At the heart of Harner’s approach is core shamanism, which focuses on the universal elements found in shamanic traditions across cultures. Core shamanism does not require specific cultural contexts or rituals but instead emphasizes direct personal experience through altered states of consciousness. This approach allows individuals from any background to engage in shamanic practices and experience their transformative potential.

Power Animal Retrieval

One key technique within core shamanism is power animal retrieval. Shamans believe that power animals are spiritual allies that provide guidance, protection, and healing. Through shamanic journeying, individuals can connect with their power animals and establish a relationship that aids in healing trauma. Power animals offer strength, support, and wisdom, helping individuals navigate the challenges of their healing journey.

Soul Retrieval

Soul retrieval is another central practice in Harner’s approach. Traumatic experiences can cause soul loss, where parts of an individual’s essence dissociate to protect themselves from further harm. Soul retrieval involves the shaman journeying to retrieve and reintegrate these lost soul fragments, restoring wholeness and vitality to the individual.

Read About: Haunting Memories: How to Cope with Painful Experiences?

Shamanic Journeying

Shamanic journeying is a foundational practice in shamanism that enables individuals to access non-ordinary reality and receive guidance from the spiritual realms. Through rhythmic drumming or other methods of inducing trance-like states, practitioners embark on inner journeys to connect with their spiritual allies, ancestors, and higher realms of consciousness. In the context of healing trauma, shamanic journeying provides a safe space for exploration, insight, and healing. It allows individuals to confront and release past traumas, gain profound understanding, and receive guidance on their path to healing.

Healing Trauma with Shamanic Practices

Michael Harner’s approach to shamanism offers powerful tools for healing trauma. By combining core shamanism techniques such as power animal retrieval, soul retrieval, and shamanic journeying, individuals can address the deep wounds of trauma at a spiritual and energetic level. Shamanic practices provide a unique avenue for healing by working with the spiritual dimensions of trauma, addressing not only the symptoms but also the underlying imbalances and soul fragmentation caused by traumatic experiences.

Benefits of Shamanic Healing for Trauma

benefits of shamanic healing for trauma

Shamanic healing for trauma offers a range of benefits. Firstly, it allows individuals to tap into their innate resilience and inner resources, empowering them to take an active role in their healing process. Shamanic practices provide a sense of connection, meaning, and purpose, helping individuals regain a sense of self and restore their relationship with the world. Furthermore, shamanic healing can facilitate profound emotional release, leading to a deep sense of relief, inner peace, and wholeness.

Integrating Shamanic Healing with Modern Psychotherapy

Shamanic healing can be integrated with modern psychotherapy approaches to provide comprehensive and holistic treatment for trauma. Many therapists recognize the value of incorporating shamanic practices into their therapeutic work, as they offer unique avenues for accessing and resolving deeply rooted trauma. By combining talk therapy with shamanic techniques, individuals can benefit from both the insights and processing of traditional therapy and the transformative potential of shamanic healing.

Read About: A Guide to Humanistic Therapy: A Versatile Approach to Mental Health

Ethical Considerations in Shamanic Healing

While shamanic healing holds immense potential for trauma healing, it is essential to approach it with ethical considerations in mind. Practitioners must ensure proper training, experience, and cultural sensitivity when working with individuals who have experienced trauma. Informed consent, respect for personal boundaries, and ongoing support are crucial elements of ethical shamanic healing practices.

Limitations and Criticisms of Shamanic Healing

As with any therapeutic approach, shamanic healing for trauma has its limitations and may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals may have cultural or personal beliefs that do not align with shamanic practices, while others may prefer more conventional therapeutic modalities. Additionally, shamanic healing is not a quick fix and requires dedication, commitment, and active participation from the individual seeking healing.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Healing Trauma through Shamanic Practices

1. Is shamanic healing considered a religious practice?

Shamanic healing is rooted in indigenous spiritual traditions, but it is not necessarily tied to any specific religion. It is a practice that focuses on personal experience, connection with nature, and the exploration of spiritual dimensions.

2. Can shamanic healing be combined with other therapies?

Yes, shamanic healing can be integrated with other therapeutic modalities such as talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It is important to work with practitioners who are experienced in integrating different approaches and can provide a comprehensive treatment plan.

3. Can shamanic healing replace traditional therapy?

Shamanic healing is not intended to replace traditional therapy but rather complement it. It offers a unique and holistic approach to healing trauma, addressing the spiritual and energetic aspects that may not be fully addressed in conventional therapy.

4. Is shamanic healing only for individuals with a spiritual or religious background?

Shamanic healing is not limited to individuals with specific spiritual or religious beliefs. It is a practice that can be adapted to individuals from various backgrounds and belief systems. The focus is on personal experience, connection with nature, and accessing inner resources.

5. Are there any scientific studies supporting the efficacy of shamanic healing for trauma?

While scientific research on shamanic healing is still limited, there is growing interest and some preliminary studies showing promising results. However, it is important to note that shamanic healing is often considered complementary or alternative therapy and may not have the same level of empirical evidence as conventional treatments.

6. How can I prepare for a shamanic healing session?

Preparing for a shamanic healing session involves setting intentions, creating a safe and comfortable space, and being open to the experience. It is important to communicate any specific concerns or goals with the practitioner beforehand and to approach the session with an open mind and heart.

7. Can shamanic healing bring up difficult emotions or memories?

Shamanic healing can sometimes bring up emotions or memories associated with past trauma. This is a normal part of the healing process, as the practitioner and the individual work together to address and release these stored energies. The practitioner provides support and guidance throughout the session to ensure a safe and nurturing environment.

8. Can shamanic healing be effective for complex trauma?

Shamanic healing can be effective for complex trauma, as it addresses the multidimensional aspects of trauma and works at the spiritual and energetic levels. However, it is important to work with a skilled and experienced practitioner who is knowledgeable about complex trauma and trauma-informed care.

9. Can I learn shamanic practices for self-healing?

Yes, it is possible to learn shamanic practices for self-healing. Many practitioners and organizations offer workshops, courses, and training programs that teach individuals how to engage in shamanic journeying, connect with power animals, and perform basic healing techniques. Learning these practices can empower individuals to continue their healing journey independently.

10. How do I find a qualified shamanic practitioner?

Finding a qualified shamanic practitioner involves research and due diligence. Seek recommendations from trusted sources, inquire about their training, certifications, and experience working with trauma. Trust your intuition and choose a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable and safe.

Disclaimer: Please note that the content presented in this article is meant solely for educational purposes and is not intended to replace the advice of trained medical or psychological professionals.


Ignite your personal growth journey with our handpicked collection of inspiring content. Sign up now for a life-changing dose of motivation and wellness.

You may also like...