Archive for the ‘Shamanism’ Category

Some Prayerwork for Healing

January 10, 2009

Some Prayerwork


I’m currently working with a couple clients who are pushing back hard and brilliantly against illness.

In my dreamwork invocation the other night, I asked, “Please give me a prayer that can truly help CURE illness.”

Just before I fell asleep, this is what I heard:

Help me love myself.

Help me love my life.

Help me treat life lovingly.

Help me treat my life lovingly.


Of course, then, if you wished to make affirmations of this, you might try


I love myself.

I love my life.

I treat life lovingly.

I treat my life lovingly.  


Brightest blessings!

Shamanic Journey? Wossat?

November 29, 2008

The Shamanic Journey:

A Brief Introduction


Shamanism has been called the first spiritual practice of humanity.  For tens of thousands of years, its ways have helped with personal and community evolution, intuitive development and divination.  It has been effective in work to heal the self, the community and the planet.  Shamanism is a generous and caring path.  Its power is to be used respectfully and only for good.  It can support and sustain positive personal growth and enhanced spiritual connectedness.  


What It Is


An element of the sacred traditions of peoples from every inhabited land, journeying is a powerful meditative state.  It takes us into a very special level of consciousness that helps us work more deeply with intuitive and spiritual guidance. Prolonged hypnotic drumming is used to promote relaxation and the experience of a trance-like visionary awareness.


Why It=s Done


Through journeying, we may find that our normal world is not the most Areal@ world we can experience. The alternative realms of Spirit, of our visions and dreams, also can be real, accessible, tangible.  Spirit travel can open the door to an awareness that there are other realities, other worlds.  These other worlds are sources of the energy, creativity, passion and love that power the everyday world we know.  Finding our way there can be a blessing that brings us wisdom and self-empowerment in a positive, healing way.


How It=s Done


Journeying is often done lying down, with the eyes closed.  It also can be done while sitting, standing, walking, running, dancing, singing, chanting, or any combination of the above.  It has been said, AIf you can visualize, you can learn to journey.@


While in a trance-like state, a Journeyer Atravels@ to other realms.  There are generally three types of journeys that can be undertaken.  One is to a destination called the Lower World, a place of deep, beautiful earthy energy.  Lower World can be a dimension of healing and self- empowerment.  The second type is to a destination called the Upper World, a place of light bright energy.  Upper World can be a place of wisdom and teaching.  The third destination is the Middle World, a place that seems very much like our own reality, here, now.  But in Middle World, Spirit is tangibly present and ready to work with us.


As You Begin…


1.  Be comfortable.  You may lie down, sit or stand.  Breathe easily and deeply.  Close your eyes.  An eye cover may be helpful.  Allow yourself to be enfolded and carried by the rhythm of the drum.  If you like, you may softly pray, chant or sing as you begin.


2.  Focus on a specific intent or mission such as A I want to meet and ask advice of my Spirit Helpers@ or AI want to talk with my Guardian Angel@ or AI want to work on healing for myself@ (or for the planet).  Calmly but firmly broadcast your intent ahead of you telepathically.


3.  In journeying, let yourself begin by focusing on and going to a favorite safe, sacred place.  It doesn=t have to exist in ordinary reality.  Many people choose a beautiful or powerful outdoor setting.  From there, look around for an access way, an Aentry port@ into the realm of other realities B or the realm of Spirit, or your alternate universe B whatever you choose to call it.   


To Travel to the Lower World…


Simply look for an entryway into the earth.  There are countless options.  Some Journeyers enter through a cave or animal burrow.  Others fly in through a hollow in a tree.  Some dive into water and swim or walk along the bottom until they find their personal opening Aportal.@ Some even go in via manhole covers, elevators or the cones of volcanoes.  All these ways and more are right if they are right for you.


The entryway often leads to a tunnel that leads Asomewhere else.@  That somewhere else B whatever it may be like B is the Lower World for this journey.


As you are carried by the sound of the drum, let yourself explore this wonderful place, all the while seeking your Spirit Helper(s).  Lower World often has a loving, earthy feel.  Some find it helps connect them to an ancestral tribal heritage.  It is frequently inhabited by Spirit Guides who are deeply connected to Mother Earth: natural and Amythical@ animals, indigenous peoples or elfin creatures.


When you encounter a being in your traveling B whether human, animal, angel or other spirit B ask it if it is in fact your Spirit Guide, Helper, Teacher or Power Animal.  If it replies negatively, ask if it can direct you to your Guide.  If it is your Helper, ask its name, what wisdom it has for you, why is it in your life, what you can/should work on together.  Then, let your Journey proceed, doing as your Helper directs.  


To End a Journey


When you hear the callback rhythm of the drum B a sound like four insistent rappings on a door B or when you feel you have completed your Journey=s intent, tell your Helper(s) that you must return to ordinary reality.  Thank them for their assistance and care.  A series of light, rapid drumbeats will follow.  During this rhythm, allow yourself to drift easily, gently, fully back into your body.  Reverse the path you took during your spirit travel.  There will then be a second series of the four Arappings on the door.@  That=s the time to let yourself really reconnect with your body.  Have a good stretch.  Slowly, gently open your eyes.  Come back into ordinary realty.


To Work in the Upper World…


Begin by following steps 1-3 above.  Then, simply look for Aa way up.@   Some people turn into mist or smoke and rise.  Some climb a great tree and step off at the right branch.  Some travel on magic carpets or are lifted by great birds (or tiny birds).  Some simply float upward.


Most Journeyers encounter a thick cloud gate or other boundary that must be pushed through.  This is the wall that separates Upper World from ordinary reality.  For some, it takes a bit of work to get through.


The inhabitants of Upper World often appear as beings of light, angelic beings, or saint-like teachers.  They may take the form of departed people or beloved animals who have wisdom to share.


As in Lower World, when you encounter a being, ask if it is your Spirit Helper.  If it=s not, ask for direction to your Guide.  If it is, ask what its wisdom is for you, what its purpose is in your life, what you need to work on together.  And, in your Journey, begin the work.


When you hear the callback rhythm of the drum, repeat the process to end the journey outlined above. 





To Journey Well


Learn to work with your Spirit Helper(s).  They have infinite wisdom and infinite power to guide and protect you in the realm of Spirit.  Never undertake spirit travel without an intent, or mission. (Your intent need be nothing more than to visit with your Helper.) Always try to connect with your Helper as soon as you reach the spirit Realm.  Always ask your Helper=s permission to work on the particular intent you have set.  There may be times when you find the mission you propose is not possible or not permitted at this time.  Always honor such guidance.


If you ever feel threatened or challenged by Spirit Beings, simply try to walk around whatever blocks you.  If the challenge persists, retrace your steps and begin again.  If the challenge is repeated, assume this is a signal your mission has been denied, for this journey.  If, however, you have already connected with your Spirit Helper in the journey, ask how to handle the challenge, and carefully follow the advice you are given.


Your intent should be clear and fairly simple.  It can be to seek the answer to a question or to request help with an area of self-empowerment, personal growth or healing.  If your intent is to find information, don=t ask simple yes/no questions.  Instead of AShould I take this job?,@ ask APlease show me what my life will be like if I take the job.@


Spirit travel is one of the most beautiful, powerful, sacred gifts offered to humanity.  It can bring new depth, joy, clarity and hope to life.


May your travels be sweet!  Bright blessings on your path.


Recommended Reading


Soul Retrieval – Sandra Ingerman

Welcome Home – Sandra Ingerman

Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide – Sandra Ingerman

Conscious Dreaming – Robert Moss

The Way of the Shaman – Michael Harner

Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life – Tom Cowan


If you feel you=d like to explore spirit travel through guided imagery, look for my CD, Shaman’s Path, Guided Meditations. (If nowhere else, it’s available through New Leaf Distributing Company at


© Stephen Neal Szpatura 2003, 2006, 2008


Circles and Networks:Always Upgrade

November 28, 2008

Circles and Networks:

 Always Upgrade


In her wonderful book, Your Sixth Sense, Belleruth Naparstek has a chapter titled, “Specific Things You Can Do to Cultivate and Maintain Psi,” Psi being psychic ability.   The third thing on her list of things is, “Keep like company.”  In other words, hang out with others who have the same intense interests and goals as you.  Whether your passion is for intuitive development, artistic creativity, entrepreneurial achievement or whatever else, Belleruth’s insight is a valuable ground rule to set for yourself as you make plans for networking and gathering in circle during the holidays and the New Year to come.

In fact, I’d suggest you take things a step farther.  There’s an old saying: You become what you behold.  So find ways to be in the energy you are striving to become.  Be among those who have accomplished what you hope to achieve, in all the ways you seek to achieve it. 

If growing your intuition is important to you, be with people who have shown a clear, consistent, demonstrable and clean (non-manipulative) psychic ability that is significantly beyond your current capacity. 

If artistry calls to you, be where the kind of art you aspire to create is present and accessible, and find ways to be among the artists who have achieved the kind of work that is most meaningful to you. Join in their circles. Become their student if you can. Go to their shows so that you can become more familiar with them and they with you. 

If owning and running your own SUCCESSFUL business drives you, network with those who are where you hope to be five, ten, twenty years from now.  Purchase their products when you can. Join groups in which they have memberships. See if you can engage them as mentors.

It’s all pretty basic stuff, right? 

So how come it can seem so hard to do? 

Wellllll…  One reason is that it really may be necessary to see and accept − without being judgmental − that your current circles and networks no longer nurture you, assist you or serve you.  That would imply that you have to let go of something old, familiar and oh-so-comfortable in order to go after what your heart and soul seek now. 

In fact, if you’re honest with yourself, you may decide that you have to scramble away from the good ol’ crowd as fast as you can ─ a realization that can have a lot of tugs involved in a lot of directions.  It’s something that’s sometimes just not easy to do.

But look.  We all have to evolve.  Even I had to give away my favorite old pair of Beatle boots (Oh yeah. It still hurts to even think it!) when I finally admitted to myself that my arches had fallen about a mile and I was more than a full shoe size bigger than during the British Invasion.  And besides, the boots looked like hell with Cargo shorts.

So letting go can be the first roadblock to deal with in the process.

Next, you may have to really wrestle to the ground all those decrepit worthiness issues so they stop cutting you off at the knees. After all, you deserve and are intended to continue your personal growth and development in all the ways that are for your highest and best.  Therefore, you are entitled to access the finest teachers and mentors life can offer at any given time. 

You just have to be the one who screws up a little courage and finds a way to break the ice. And most good people and worthwhile circles will be open to the development of a connection if you begin and proceed in a considerate, caring and respectful way.

So accepting that you deserve to go after your dreams biggertime may be a hurdle to be jumped.       

 Then there’s the step where you realize that, as an artist, a healer, a writer, a consultant, an entrepreneur, a person, you are always spiraling upward, and that even the new connections you are hoping to make and the circles you are striving to join or create are destined to become things of the past.  Always be aware that you have the right to examine whether any teacher, any circle is truly meeting your evolving needs.  If not, and there seems little prospect that they can, it’s up to you to continue exploring and move on.

How do you know whether a teacher or circle is right for you ─ or is still right for you?  There are a few simple elements to consider.  The most important is how you usually feel after having been with them:    

~ Truly uplifted, filled with light, energized, hopeful, more accomplished, and at least generally positive? That’s good!  Keep the good energy flowing!

~ Darker, angry, jealous, demeaned, less capable, hopeless, worthless or just really stuck? That’s bad.  They’re Beatle boots, and it’s probably way past time to drop them in the Goodwill bin.

Of course, the implication in all of this is that you’ve done some homework and have begun to develop a strong, pretty clear sense of where you would like to go and how you would like to grow and evolve over the next few years.  If you haven’t, then you might want to begin by identifying and targeting networks and circles that will help you with those aspects of your quest.

Think of it this way: You are a wonderful, shining ever-evolving being.  You exist to spiral upward to higher and higher goodness, creativity, health and achievement for the highest and best of all.  This holiday season and New Year, let yourself find more and more ways to connect with more and more people who resonate – and help you resonate − with hopeful, happier, more profound, more beautiful, more healing vibrations. How can you settle for less?                                                                

Brightest blessings!

©2007, 2008 Stephen Neal Szpatura

An earlier version of this article appeared in Balanced Living Magazine,

Black Magic: Had Yours Today?

October 13, 2008

Daily Doses of Dark Magic?


Each of us assumes we’d never ever go over to the Dark Side, not even to get out of debt, or even to win on American Idol, so it usually comes as a bus wreck to our egos to discover that we spend one hell of a lot of time (and I use that phrase consciously) performing nothing less than dark magic.  Most of us in Western culture do it almost all day every day.


“Whaddya mean?” you say. “Couldn’t be!”  “Not me! Not me!”  Or “I.”  Or whatever.


Okay, let’s examine a few basic human tendencies.  Indulge me for a minute.


Do you ever have little psychodramas or arguments with someone who’s, how shall we put this, not even there?  Like the clown who dinged your new Prius?  Or the lame-o husband who fixed your toilet SO well last night that it leaked and collapsed the kitchen ceiling two days before everyone’s due over for Thanksgiving?  Ever replay in your mind experiences that were hurtful or distressing?  Maybe you change them around so that you come out “the winner?”  Maybe you keep them going even further, harder, to punish yourself by reminding yourself what a loser you really are?  Ever keep thinking over and over (as you’re on your way to Brangelina’s pool party) how much you really really, really HATE your butt?


(I feel like I’ve been slimed just writing this stuff.)


Now, if we explore, let’s say, that hackneyed old Hollywood idea of what “doing black magic” would be like, it would involve wizardly things like focusing the mind, altering the breathing, grounding and centering the physical body, and ultimately sending a stream of energy or malevolent intent at whatever the target might be.

Right?  When you’re having an internal argument, or even one out loud with that absent spouse who just won’t understand, or that invisible coworker who just keeps screwing everything up and never gets even a wrist slap − someone who’s not even there − all those wizardly things are happening.  Think about it.


You are REALLY there.  And your intent is REALLY focused.  Your emotions are REALLY channeled.  And you send energy bursting out like a supernova, just to keep it from building up any further and developing into a migraine.  If you put that much intensity and focus into positive prayer, moment by moment, you’d practically be able to levitate.  (Actually, as it happens, learning to put that much intensity and focus into knowing and sending the LIGHT is what a Wizard does to keep the world spinning, moment by moment.)


So if any of that does in fact seem just a tad familiar and your life, not to mention your world, doesn’t seem to be going the way you’d like it to, don’t you think it might be useful to do things differently? 


First, you need to become conscious of what you’re doing.  As you begin to catch yourself going into one of those moments of your own personal dark magic, recognize what you’re up to and make yourself take a moment to pull back, to shift your perspective, to acknowledge that it would be much more useful to change the energy you’ve been sending into something uplifting, even healing. 


This process is sort of like doing judo on your own dark side.  You  can take that torrent of negative energy − which is really what it is − and, because you’re more fully aware of what you’re doing, take responsibility for what you put out into the universe, make a different choice and humbly but firmly flip it so that you will send positive, hopeful, healing essence into the world.  Sandra Ingerman, the brilliant shamanic teacher and practitioner, has written beautifully and powerfully about that in her books, Welcome Home and How to Heal Toxic Thoughts.


Then, as you stay conscious more and more, you will get into the habit of becoming as consumed with sending LIGHT as you have been, all unawares, with sending, um, merde.  And you will find how satisfying it is to put just as much power behind the good stuff as you used to do with the bad.  This is real!  You will understand that you are either polluting the universe − and yourself − with what you are putting out, or you are lifting and healing it all.  That will make your life and our world much more wonderful for you and for all those you care about.


Start now.


Bright blessings!



© 2008 Stephen Neal Szpatura

Shamanism? What Is That?

October 9, 2008

            What Is Shamanism?

People who seek a balanced life often find that nurturing a personal spiritual connection is helpful —perhaps even essential — to their quest. Science has begun to support this idea by affirming the benefit of a strong spiritual connection in maintaining health and fostering healing. Shamanism is often described as “the first spiritual practice of humanity,” with traditions and techniques that can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Evidence of shamanism has been found in every culture and on every continent throughout the world since the dawn of mankind. More importantly, its legacy, methods and belief structures can be useful today in personal growth and healing.


It has been said that the English word shaman comes from the name given to traditional tribal healers of the Tungus people of Siberia, and it roughly translates as “one who sees in the dark.” This description is due in part to the fact that many shamanic practices involve meditation, often with eyes closed  (sometimes in a deep trance state) to help discover the nature of a problem and determine potential solutions. The shaman “looks” into dark places in the person, the community and the planet, and finds how to bring them light, hope and healing. In many cultures, a shaman is a healer, counselor and spiritual director all wrapped into one.


The most basic tenet of shamanism is that everything has a significant spiritual component. In fact, a shaman believes everything exists as Spirit in its ultimate nature: Every person, every animal, every tree, every illness, literally every single thing that exists. Moreover, this Spirit can be accessed, engaged or encountered in ways that bring about positive change to enhance the quality of life, relationships and health. Modern shamanic practices also consider the importance of eating healthily, getting plenty of rest, engaging in appropriate exercise and having solid emotional support. Beyond all those things, the shamanic path recommends that we stay “pumped up in Spirit” so that we can really live well.


The Shamanic Practitioner


As in many areas throughout the “undeveloped” world, it is possible to find and work with shamans in contemporary society. They may be members of traditional tribes or cultures, or modern urban persons. They will have apprenticed for years if not decades with an acknowledged tribal shaman.  It is, however, more likely that one will connect with a shamanic practitioner who has studied neo-shamanism or core shamanism. Such practitioners honor the various traditional teachings, ceremonies and religious beliefs of the native shaman. But in their own work and study, they employ core world views as well as practices that are universal across many shamanic cultures, rather than exclusively embracing a particular path such as the Hopi way or the Aboriginal Australian way. 


There is a rule of thumb that warns, “If a person calls himself (herself) a shaman, run!” By most shamanic traditions, such a person is lacking in appropriate humility. In other words, they are taking credit for the good work that Spirit performs in the lives of others. A Cheyenne frind of mine told me that a true Native American medicine man is unlikely to ever call himself by that name, even if he is known to be so and is formally recognized by his entire community.



The Shamanic Journey


The shamanic journey is the basic technique one employs to initiate his/her personal spiritual connection and then to access ever deeper and higher levels of spiritual guidance. Journeying, as it is commonly called, is generally done while lying down with eyes closed, guided by the sound of a beating drum or other traditional percussion instrument(s). The journey frequently involves opening into a trancelike state similar to that of deep meditation. The experience often results in striking visual and somatic imagery full of archetypal themes, visions and intuitive knowings. 


Journeying is undertaken to enter into what author Carlos Castaneda dubbed non-ordinary reality, the realms of healing, wisdom and empowerment accessible by great mystics, teachers, artists and healers. The journeyer is able to meet with and learns to work with personal spirit guides or helpers commonly thought of in our culture as guardian angels. The journey can offer profound intuitive and spiritual guidance. Moreover, shamanic traditions teach us that work done while journeying (in alternate or spiritual dimensions) can lead to functional and effective change in ordinary reality and can improve our everyday life.   


Shamanism, Illness and Healing


Just as shamanism teaches that there is a spiritual component to everything, it also suggests one or more spiritual elements exist at the center of every illness. Therefore, there is a functional spiritual aspect to any physical and emotional recovery or healing experience. Shamanic practitioners seek to assist their clients in cleansing, strengthening and/or renewing their vital life force or spirit. One’s soul essence can be depleted or damaged through trauma or ongoing abuse or distress. The shamanic practitioner often works with clients in one or more initial sessions to bring them back to a state in which they may experience deep inner strength and balance. Further exercises, study, meditations, prayerwork and/or ceremony may be recommended to be performed by the client alone or in community.  This additional work is intended to further the process of spiritual growth and repair, which also helps with physical and emotional growth and repair.      


Our culture already embraces one principle which is shamanic in nature: People who are always negative or constantly in a negative environment often become ill. One shamanic “antidote” might be to find ways for the sick person to be very positive to help manifest wellness. In shamanic practice, negative energy and its effects are called “spiritual intrusion.” The shaman performs what is called a “shamanic extraction” to remove the negative energy from the client’s system. From a shamanic perspective, people who constantly look in the mirror and think thoughts such as, “I hate my butt,” dump negative energy into themselves, wounding their spirits. In turn, this creates a field of negative energy around their rear end, which magnetically draws more negativity to it. The cycle can go on and on until it is broken by a more powerful, personal spiritual shift. A shaman can help facilitate that shift.




In his book, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, internationally renowned anthropologist Mircea Eliade concludes that shamanism is the foundation for all the world’s spiritual traditions. Shamanism can coexist comfortably with, support and even enhance all spiritual paths. Just as importantly, it can coexist with and holistically support all other positive healing methods − including modern medicine and its complementary modalities – and spiritual paths. In the spirit of shamanism, this coexistence is the most natural and balanced thing in the world.


© 2006, 2008 Neal Szpatura


Earlier versions of this article appeared in “Balanced Living” magazine  


and on my web site,         


Brightest blessings!