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A Complete Guide To Shamanism & Shamanic Healing

As a Shamanic Healing Practitioner, naturally I get asked various questions about shamanism. Here, I’ve collated all the questions I’ve been asked and taken the time to carefully answer each one. 

After reading this guide you will have a sound understanding of how shamanic healing practices work, can benefit you and so much more. If you have any questions or comments – or would like to share your own shamanic healing experiences – I’d love to hear them. Please pop them in the comments below so I can get back to you.

What is the meaning of shamanism?

Shamanism is the oldest form in which humans have connected to the spiritual world for access to wisdom and healing. It is the art, tradition and science of gathering information from spiritual reality, and grounding it in physical reality to support personal growth & community well-being.

Shamanism is not a belief system or a religion, but rather a way of healing, based on direct communication and personal experience with Spirit.

In sum, shamanism can be described as a family of traditions focused on voluntarily accessing “non-ordinary” states of consciousness, to bring back information that empowers individuals and communities.

shamanic healing rituals

What is a shaman and what do they do?

A shaman is someone who can enter and exist spiritual reality at will, with the intention of gathering useful information for healing purposes. He or she is able to see beyond physical reality into the realms of energy, potential, and intention. As an energy healer, a shaman signs a contract with Spirit: “When I call, Spirit listens. And when Spirit calls, I listen.”

Like in ancient times, one can consult with a contemporary shamanic healing practitioner to embark on a journey of personal healing and growth. Modern shamans utilise ancient wisdom teachings in their practice to locate and remove energetic blockages, restore energetic pathways in the body, remove ancestral and karmic karma, recover soul parts, and expand the realm of possibilities available for love and a life of purpose. This is what we call shamanic energy healing.

As many shamans refrain from giving themselves the title of ‘shaman’, I will use the term shaman and shamanic healing practitioner interchangeably.

Hear me talk about “Understanding & practicing Shamanism” in this podcast episode (click the play icon to begin listening):

Where did shamanism come from?

Shamanism is the oldest form in which humans have sought connection with nature and the creative forces; there is evidence that shamanism has existed for at least the past 20,000 years and ancient traditions carry shamanism even further back into our collective past. The practice of shamanism has been documented on every continent and seems to have been a common tradition amongst all hunter-gatherer and indigenous communities, suggesting that it may have emerged as an evolutionary ‘tool’ of the brain for survival. 

What is meant by a shamanic journey?

Shamanic journey is a practice common to all shamans throughout history in which the shaman enters an altered state of consciousness to retrieve information from helping spirits. Using a form of rhythmic percussion such as a drum or rattle is the safest and most accessible way to reach this state of consciousness. At the rate of about 4 to 4 1/2 beats per second the brain is able to enter a theta state, the state in between being awake and asleep where clairvoyance and creativity can be fostered.

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Can you share a beginner’s guide to shamanic journeying and meditation?

Firstly, you don’t have to be a shaman to engage in a shamanic journey; it as a practice that is accessible and empowering for all.

A simple way to begin your shamanic journeying is to:

  1. Find a quiet space
  2. Set an intention
  3. Play a recording of a shamanic drum beat or drum/rattle for yourself
  4. Visualise yourself entering nature to find information that will help you in terms of your intention/request.

A great starting point for setting an intention is the question: What do I need to see right now? Over time you may develop connections with helping spirits, power animals, angelic elements and other ‘teachers’.

With time you will find a specific shamanic journey method that works best for you. While there are very few ‘rules’ in shamanism, there are two important guidelines for shamanic journeying. These are to always journey with:

  1. An intention
  2. A spirit guide (you can ask to meet this guide on your first journey).

shamanic healing practitioner - Mona Moon

What is ‘shamanic healing’?

While shamanic journeying can be used by anyone in order to get answers to personal questions, shamanic healing on the other hand, is practiced responsibly only by those who have undergone training with a shaman and are ready to utilise a vast array of traditional shamanic techniques in the service of others.

Shamanic healing involves a shaman using appropriate shamanic techniques to assist a client in moving through various stages of life to find more purpose, clarity, and balance. A typical shamanic energy healing session includes:

  1. Conversation with the client to determine where the client is on their soul’s journey and what can be done for their highest good
  2. Shamanic journeying to find the energetic roots of their current state, an energetic release
  3. Closing conversation to ground the spiritual work into reality for practical results.

See also How Crystals Can Help You To Live Life To The Fullest

What (and who) is shamanic healing good for?

Shamanic energy healing is appropriate if you:

  • Desire to create more meaningful relationships with yourself and others
  • Want to create genuine change in your life but feel ‘blocked’ and are unsure as to how to move forward
  • Are ready to move beyond old patterns, habits, and belief systems that no longer serve you
  • Feel called to explore new levels of self-awareness and seek a deeper relationship to nature and everything around you
  • Feel helpless, lost, confused, or discouraged and seek genuine self-inquiry to move into greater emotional health, clarity, and balance.

Often in Western society we struggle with the common feeling of there’s something missing. Without proper resources, we can stay in this mindset of scarcity and sadness. Shamanic healing provides the support and tools for genuine healing through the muddy waters of confusion, doubt, fear, depression, and overthinking.

Since we are continuously on a healing journey, working long-term with a shaman is a responsible and empowering choice to remain committed to personal and spiritual development. Amongst the community of shamanic healing practitioners it is common to get a healing session from another shaman at least once a month to remain dedicated to personal ‘work’. 

shamanism and shamanic healing rituals

What happens in a shamanic healing session?

In terms of what to expect during a shamanic energy healing session, it’s important to note that every shaman has a unique way to practice shamanism. However, there are a few elements that you can generally find in a shamanic healing session:

  • The creation of ‘sacred space’ i.e. a safe space devoted to healing and energetic/emotional release. Physical touches and tools to create sacred space may include candles, the lighting of incense or palo santo (holy wood), an altar with stones or crystals, a comfortable massage table or mat to lie down on, and soothing music.
  • A conversation regarding your soul’s state at the present moment. Expect the shaman to ‘hold space’, i.e. actively and neutrally listen allowing you to discover and release any available energy. A well-trained shaman may say very little; their presence and ability to nurture sacred space will inspire you to dive deeper into your story to hunt for truth and healing potential.
  • Energetic work involving assessing the various energy centers of the body. This may include accessing energetic information about the chakras to see where energy is being stored and where there is potential for releasing stagnant energy and cultivating empowering energy.
  • The shaman journeying via rattle or drumbeat to access ‘non-ordinary’ reality and retrieve information to help you in your healing journey

The most important thing is to have no expectations. Every healing session is different, even if you have a long-term relationship with a particular shaman. Even the shaman cannot expect what will arise in a shamanic healing session.

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How do I prepare for a shamanic healing session?

In terms of preparing for a shamanic healing session, on a physical level it is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothes to comfortably lie down and sit, as well as layers since body temperature changes as energy shifts and is released.

The rest will unfold in the session. Most importantly, do yourself the gift of showing up! 

What are shamanic healing rituals?

There are various shamanic healing ceremonies and rituals that one can incorporate into daily life for more joy, clarity, cleansing and grounding. These rituals can include:

  • Burning palo santo (holy wood) in the morning and any time you need grounding to connect you to the present moment and remind you of your connection to nature
  • Burning sage when you feel the called to energetically “clear” a space or energy field – inviting the archetypical energies of animals into your life (For instance, inviting hummingbird to teach you selectivity, or the serpent to teach you the shedding of the past)
  • Honouring the full and new moon by setting intentions on the new moon, and releasing energies on the full moon
  • Learning to track emotions in your body; for instance, if you feel a strong emotion, ask yourself – where do I feel this in my body? Then, see if you can describe the physical sensation of this emotion. This cultivates mind-body connection and begins a journey into understanding the roots of emotions.
  • Beginning to communicate with the natural elements. This can mean engaging in conversation with trees, with the wind, with the sea, with the Earth. You’ll begin to notice that nature has been talking all along. All you have to do is listen!

shamanic healing techniques and ceremony

Does shamanic healing work?

Shamanic healing only works if the client is ready and willing to undertake the personal work it takes to create genuine change. The shaman cannot ‘will’ a client to undergo a personal transformation. True change happens from within; the shaman’s role is to guide you along this journey.

As for the after effects of shamanic healing work: Spirit works in mysterious ways. You will notice the side effects of your healing session at various moments throughout the day. Remain open – and trust!

Everyone’s experience is different but as a guide, you may feel:

  • Lighter and brighter
  • A greater connection to your intuition or at peace with old pain
  • Tired from the emotional release after energy healing
  • Sick after energy healing.

Know that this all of is all normal as you release what no longer serves your body, shift into a new mindset and expand your capacity to honour your truth.

Are there any dangers of shamanism?

Shamanism is a very safe form of healing. It is recommended to research the shaman who you choose to work with and trust your intuition in regards to suitability for your healing journey.

A danger of any spiritual practice is to fall into the trap of ‘spiritual bypass’, or becoming so entranced by spiritual reality that one forgets to live in physical reality. Shamanism is a tool to enhance your physical life on this planet, thus the goal is to bring back relevant and effective information for the improvement of your life. Using shamanic techniques to journey into spiritual reality without intention or purpose is wasteful and ineffective.

meditation and shamanic energy healing

How do I find a shamanic healer?

You may be surprised to find a shamanic healing practitioner living nearby as contemporary shamanism is a growing field. As mentioned, it is best to do research and trust your intuition before committing to engaging in personal work with a shaman.

Because shamans work in the energetic world, it isn’t necessary to live close to a shaman in order to experience shamanic healing. In fact, ‘remote’ healing sessions (via video or phone call) are equally as effective as sessions done in person. I offer this option and highly recommend it for clients to experience the profound capacity of humans to connect energetically across distance. You’re welcome to visit my website or email me at [email protected] for further information about working together.

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How do I know if I am a Shaman?

Wondering how to tell if you are a shaman or shamanic healing practitioner? Shamanism may be part of your soul’s journey if you:

  • Experience moments of profound connection to the natural elements and feel like you have an innate ability to access wisdom from all that is around you
  • Feel drawn to ancient traditions and indigenous cultures
  • Prefer contemplation, introspection, and self-inquiry over societal habits that include the numbing of our human experience
  • Feel inspired to embark on a lifelong commitment to your own personal development that includes the shedding of old belief systems and patterns; it is only with this commitment that you can then serve others

As a side note, it is not a valid reason to become a shamanic healing practitioner only to ‘help’ others. A true shamanic healing practitioner realises that the true journey is his or her own personal healing work. It is from this humility that the true capacity to hold space for others grows.

shamanic cacao ceremony

How do I become a shamanic healing practitioner?

If you’re interested in learning how to become a shamanic healing practitioner it’s necessary to study with a shaman. The Naughty Shaman Center for Shamanic Arts in Connecticut (USA) is a beautiful example of a healing center dedicated to teaching shamanic techniques, plus they cultivate highly trained and ethical shamanic healing practitioners. There are various other institutions around the globe offering similar programs. You can study one-on-one with a shaman as well. The teacher appears when the student is ready.

There you have it! If you have any questions or comments please share them below. For more on shamanic healing, stay connected with me via Instagram, for soulful tips and inspiration.

P.S. Do you know someone interested in what happens during a shamanic healing session? Be a pal and share this article with them now. They’ll thank you for it later.

P.P.S. Have you downloaded the (free) Natural Remedies eBook yet? If you’re interested in taking steps to living naturally and in wellness, this is a great resource to have handy. It’s a complete A-Z guide of natural remedies using naturopathy, traditional Chinese herbs, natural medicine and nutritional healing principles. Grab your copy here.

*Main Photo Credit: John Tyczkowski Photography

Mona Moon Shamanic Healing Practitioner

Mona is a shamanic healing practitioner, yoga teacher and workshop facilitator specialising in ceremony. After spending two years traveling through the Peruvian jungle to Venezuela's Caribbean Islands and learning from the land and studying from elders' Mona returned to the United States and found her first teacher of shamanism, who initiated her into the Q'ero lineage of mesa carriers. Mona continues to use the Q'ero teachings as the foundation for her healing practices. In 2016 she traveled to Guatemala to study with a shaman who introduce her to sacred plant medicine. Since then she's enjoyed working with cacao as a powerful heart-opening medicine.

SHOWHIDE Comments (14)
  1. Thank you for sharing this introduction Mona. I had zero idea what shamanic healing was until reading this. I was wondering what to expect when I read the title, and am now keen to learn more. I love creating sacred rituals so would love any advice on how to hold a meaningful ceremony for full moon and new moon. And is this best done solo or can you do it with friends? Love, Leigh.

    1. Dear Leigh,

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading the article!

      In terms of rituals, the beautiful aspect of shamanism is that it is based on a direct connection to Spirit, so there are no hard rules on how to hold ceremony. I would always trust your intuition and begin to create your own unique rituals. That being said, for a full moon I hold the tradition of releasing what no longer serves me. I sometimes write the pattern or fear I am releasing on a paper and burn it. For the new moon I like to call in intentions for what I want to bring into my life.

      I create the ambience for these letting go / calling in rituals by:
      – calling in the four directions and my ancestors
      – creating an altar with my favorite stones, flowers, and sacred objects
      – lighting candles
      – drawing a card from a tarot deck to see what message my “guides” have for me

      You can see examples of altars that I create on my Instagram: @miss.mona.moon

      With love,
      Mona Moon

  2. It sounds like a really beautiful experience Mona. I’m not sure of any shamanic healing near me, but will research. I’d definitely want a practitioner that resonates, to allow myself to be completely free in this spiritual experience.

    1. Dear Alyssa,

      You’re right – it’s very important to have a practitioner who works with integrity AND who you feel comfortable with so that you can get the most out of the experience.

      See if you find anybody in the area. I do offer remote sessions via video which are magical and equally as effective as in-person sessions. If you feel called, I offer a complementary consultation via video so that you can get a feel if it’s for you or not!

      Feel free to reach me through my website or e-mail [email protected] to explore possibilities.

      Sending much love for your journey!

      With love,

  3. Hi Mona, thank you or sharing what to expect in a shamanic healing session. I was wondering, and don’t feel like it’d be such a scary (for want of a better word) experience now. But rather something more beautiful. The healing rituals and ceremonies sound really beautiful and sacred.

    1. Hi Jenn!

      I’m so glad that received relevant information from the article. Stepping outside of comfort zone is scary, and it’s nice to have background information so that you know you are stepping into a new space that resonates with you. Healing rituals and ceremonies are incredibly beautiful , fun, and effective. I’ll be writing an article on cacao ceremonies soon. Watch out for it!


      Let me know if there are any specific types of ceremonies that you would be interested in learning about 🙂

  4. Mona, I FEEL I’VE FOUND WHAT I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR. My heart started to beat faster the more I read. I started practicing Reiki a few months ago. I’ve learned about the Chakra system and picked up crystal knowledge on my own. There are no coincidences. God gave me the gift of healing hands. Spirit has lead me to see my bright green aura around my hands. AMAZING. I’m new to this awakening but things have happened fairly quickly with me. I pray for patience. During meditation Spirit revealed to me( 3 weeks ago) that “something BIG was getting ready to happen to me. Is this it ???? My heart says yes. So happy I was lead to your article !! Thank you for posting. God Bless

    1. Dear Tracey,

      HOW BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations on taking the plunge into your soul’s path and your soul’s calling! What an exciting time, truly.

      Enjoy every moment of your journey remembering that there is no rush – all of the wisdom is already inside of you waiting to be discovered!

      Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions you have. I offer shamanic trainings and immersions if your heart directs you to study shamanism formally.

      Many blessings for you sweet one,

  5. Hello Mona, I really enjoyed your article(s) and how you view nature (and intricately our connection to nature as those who experience). I am falling into my life as a Shaman and medicine man; my ritual at the moment is one of simplicity: conversation, sharing of knowledge, recognizing how I express myself and who is open for my gifts–and the recognition, gratitude, and reverence of others and their innate gifts (even if I, they, or we don’t see them, yet).

    My question is one of expansion: how do I begin to broadcast my skills, knowledge, and gift–as a shaman, spirit runs thru my veins and I am the plant. How do I open myself (sharing within this society) to allow others to commune with the connection(s) I have made throughout my Self-discovery, introspection, and this wild, wild, wild curious, magical journey?

  6. Wow. Thank you for this informative article!! Ive been doing a lot of research and this by far spoke to me the most!! So much so that while reading, one paragraph from the end even though i was not in meditative state I believe my spirit animal approached me! Last night was my first journey to find it and for whatever reason I jus couldn’t get to a meditative state which is rare for me. Being that I’m new to this although I’ve had “healer” spoke over me since childhood, where would you direct my path from this point? I have no idea on any local connections or anything. Personally id enjoy having a mentor to help because I’m a very deep person and tend to get further early on when im guided. Again thank you so very much and i look forward to hearing from you!!

    1. Dear Steven,

      How lovely to connect! Congratulations on such a powerful encounter with your spirit animal – this is something to celebrate 🙂

      If you feel called to the path of the healer, a time period of initiation is traditionally recommended. In the past, this would mean working with a healer 1-1 for a long period of time, often many years, until he/she felt you were ready to serve the community. Nowadays, there are different options that integrate more smoothly with the culture of our times.

      You can certainly go the traditional route, and seek a wise elder to work with. There are online programs as well. The most respected and well-known online shamanic training is run by Alberto Villoldo at the Four Winds. I’ve heard only positive experiences from colleagues mentoring with Alberto and his staff.

      If you are seeking more of a 1-1 mentorship which is organic and personal in approach, feel free to send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I do not advertise mentorship opportunities, but do welcome new students when they are called.

      The most important thing is to set the intention to progress along your path with loving and supportive guidance. Perhaps create an Earth Altar for this intention, and trust that Spirit will hear your prayer. Then watch … new opportunities will arrive to answer your prayer.

      Blessings for your path,

  7. Hello, Douglas!

    I’m so sorry that I have not seen this comment up until now. Alas – all in perfect timing!

    The answer is simple. Set the intention for sharing from a space of humility, trust, and authenticity.

    When you are ready, invitations will appear. It’s up to you to see them, and to say yes if it feels right.

    What’s important is to release expectations and any of the ego’s projections of what sharing looks like, which the Internet is quick to condition amidst its overtaking of the spiritual marketplace. Breathe into your own center, and trust the flow of life.

    Maybe the invitation is in writing for a blog, like this one. Maybe its through volunteering at an elderly home, or inviting your own relations to participate in a ceremony.

    With grounding and wise attention to your center and your surroundings, you will learn to decipher Spirit’s unique beckonings for YOU versus for others. We are called to show up in creative, unique, spontaneous, and myriad ways in this age. Our paradigm has shifted from ritual in the wilderness to all sorts of urban shamanism. Don’t be afraid to be different, unique, and absolutely yourself. The medicine is most powerful and most potently heard by others when it is most real and authentic.


  8. Thanks Mona for the lovely article . I am sure I came across this article for a reason .I feel my life is in transition and my soul journey has just begun .this phase is beautiful and equally frustrating for me I don’t know all the answers but I am also excited to unvail the unknown .

    I don’t kw where my path will take me but I am glad that there are healers like yourself to guide us on our path .

    I wish you all the best and hope our paths will cross in this lifetime 🙏 .Lots to learn

    God bless

    1. Dear Ashita,

      Congratulations on your the beginnings of your soul journey! What a fruitful time to embrace the unknown and allow spirit to carry you to greater love and understanding.

      May your path be full of ease, joy, alignment, and illumination. Remember that the elements are always available for guiding you and offering you their wisdom.

      Please don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any questions.

      With love,

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