The work of restoring the Earth to a state of balance and well-being is one of integration. Shaman sickness matters because those who experience it are called to integrate their mind, body, and spirit in order to provide healing support to a world in crisis. The phenomenon of shaman sickness may be occurring now far more than we realize, and its call is urgent and important.
In indigenous traditions, shaman sickness is understood as a situation in which a person who is ill, often with a mysterious, hard-to-diagnose, lingering, life-threatening, or immune-related illness, only recovers when she or he recognizes and accepts a healing calling. (That’s not to say that allopathic, surgical, or herbal medicines aren’t also used for recovery, because they may be.) The person who experiences shaman sickness discovers that her healing depends on saying ‘yes’ to a soul calling that may be surprising or intimidating, but always is heart-centered and involves bringing healing to people, animals, or the natural world.
In one more way in which indigenous wisdom gets it right, the concept of shaman sickness explains why our bodies sometimes rebel when our mind-body-spirit system badly needs to get our attention. The body can be a vehicle for the soul’s voice.
You may be one of the many people whose life got much more on-track as you dealt with a challenging illness. You may be now in the process of finding that there is a relationship between your health problems and listening to your life purpose. Or you may know people for whom this has occurred. Prominent writers who have drawn attention to the experience of shaman sickness include life coach (and Harvard-trained sociologist) Martha Beck, energy healer Donna Eden (who recovered from life-threatening multiple sclerosis), Dr. Christiane Northrup, and Dr. Louis Mehl-Madrona, himself both an M.D. and a Native American shaman. I’m not sure whether Dr. Lissa Rankin uses the term, but her story of recovery from multiple health problems by re-adjusting her life in ways that honored both service and self-care is a classic one.
I suspect that we are seeing a great deal of this phenomenon now because both the Earth and human health need so much help. Many of our cultural systems are not conducive to creating Mutual Flourishing for people and planet, and our intellects, often so involved with those systems, may feel hesitant to get involved with widespread cultural change. Our souls, however, know of the need to transform human lifestyles in ways that honor the planet we live on and our own well-being.
Whether you are experiencing or observing shaman sickness, it’s tremendously important for our work to heal the Earth. Anyone with any form of shaman sickness has a calling to bring healing into a world that badly needs it. There are a lot of us right now because the needs are so great. And those whose physical suffering turns out to be part of their internal guidance system need support in finding clarity and wellness so they may offer their healing service.
A year or so ago I would have been embarrassed to talk about this in public, but that has changed. This Saturday, with my friend and colleague Lindsay Pera, I am offering a free webinar that explores the experience of shaman sickness, including Lindsay’s and my personal stories. We’ll share ways to find your highest and best path through illness, especially when you suspect it’s connected to your life purpose and the service you’re here on the planet to offer. I would love for you to join us, and I would appreciate it if you would invite a friend. To receive access details, sign up here: http://healingearthself.com/deephealingwebinar
To Flourishing for all,