Shamanism Views on Depression


Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field (West African Shaman Malidoma Patrice Somé).


How Do Shamans Perceive Illness?

With life, there is suffering in the form of illness. We believe that is it microbes, viruses, bacteria, and injuries that cause our physical bodies illness. In the same respect, we believe that it is primarily an imbalance of brain chemistry that causes mental and emotional illness, such as depression, addiction, and so on.

Shamans, on the other hand, perceive these as the effects. They believe that, for true healing, one cannot simply mask and suppress these effects, or symptoms, with medication — they believe that we must address the root cause. The root cause is something far beyond viruses, bacteria, and brain chemistry; the root cause comes from the internal, non-physical realm: the spirit.


Six Causes of Illness

From a shamanistic perspective, there are 3 classic causes of mental, emotional, and physical illness:


Disharmony (Or Loss of Power)

Disharmony, or the loss of personal power loss, oftentimes occurs when someone has lost an important connection to life, or when life seems to lose its meaning. This can happen either subtly or catastrophically; either way, we experience a loss of livelihood and meaning, and experience disempowerment in the process. This loss of will, or life power, strongly and directly affects our energetic matrix, and can cause us to become quite vulnerable to illness.

A common, yet tragic, example of this is when there is an elderly couple who have spent most of their lives together and one of them dies. The survivor oftentimes goes into a life crisis upon the loss and, shortly after, incurs an illness (such as cancer) and dies — that’s disharmony.



Fear is the most common cause of illness. Fear is responsible for emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, jealousy, etc. Scientists and researchers also heavily agree that when these stress-producing hormones are present, they quickly begin to disintegrate the protective mantle of the body’s immune system, as well as its overall energetic matrix. Illness, as a result, is inevitable.

Half a century ago, the Renaissance physician, Paracelsus, honorably noted that “the fear of disease is more dangerous than the disease itself.” Shaman’s would surely agree with Paracelsus’ findings.


Soul Loss

Soul loss is the most extreme — yet, sadly, still common — cause of illness; in fact, it is the most serious diagnosis and a major cause of severe illness and even premature death.

Soul loss is most often experienced after a traumatic experience takes place, such as fighting in a war (an all-too-common trigger of PTSD), a bitter divorce, or intense bullying. In some cases, these experiences can be so shattering that one’s soul can begin to fragment and dissociate. In the most extreme and overwhelming cases, these soul parts get too far lost and fail to return.

We have heard people say things like, “I have not been the same since the incident,” or “a part of me died that day.” These remarks are red flags for soul loss. As well, the following symptoms are also commonly present:

·         Feeling “not all here,” or fragmented

·         Blocked memory

·         Emotional distance, or complete apathy

·         A lack of joy, motivation, or enthusiasm

·         Addiction

·         Suicidal tendencies

·         Chronic depression and negativity



Entanglement is often the result of power or soul loss. It occurs when we take on energy that isn’t our own—this may come in the form of intrusions, attachments, cords, or even possessions.

Symptoms of entanglement vary widely. You might have localized pain with an intrusion or enmeshed relationships that are sustained with energetic cords between you and another person.

Basically, some sort of spirit becomes enmeshed in your field with varying degrees of influence on your personality and life. It is an amazingly healing process to decouple from this outside influence and reclaim your sovereignty through shamanic healing.


Lineage Patterns

Much of what we experience has actually been passed down through our lineages. Three main types of lineage healing:

·         Blood lines—this is the lineage held in your DNA, your genetic makeup

·         Milk lines—similar to blood lineages, milk lines incorporate other influential relationships, such as adoptive or step-parents and important caretakers

·         Light lines—this is your own spiritual lineage, comprised of the many lives you’ve lived and all the vows, beliefs, influences, and experiences you carry from them

Shamanic work can help you uncover not only unhealthy patterns and curses, but also the hidden gifts within your lineages. It can also help you heal ancestral trauma in ways that serve generations to come.


Disconnection from the Natural World

For most of human history, our daily survival depended upon being in right relationship with the natural world. We recognized the spirit in birds and trees and rocks and rivers—in Mother Earth herself. We honored the sun, stars, and moon.

This need for intimacy with the natural world runs deep in our blood, yet we’ve largely forgotten how to nurture this relationship. As a result, we’re collectively becoming more and more out of balance with our environment.

The effects of this on our planet are clear—I won’t go into a laundry list of environmental destruction here. But what does this mean for us? What soul-level illness might be occurring because we’re missing out on some of the most important relationships in our lives?

Shamanism doesn’t ask that we all go live off the grid. But it does recognize that healing our relationship with nature is essential to the survival of our species and the planet.


What Is Shamanic Healing?

In the shamanic perspective, true healing — spiritual healing — cannot be done on a physical level. Healing means to return to wholeness; and returning to wholeness is purely an inside job. Spiritual healing addresses the root — the spiritual — problems that cause dis-ease.

It is important to note that shamans believe that despite their great accessibility to the spirit realm, all healing is self-healing. A shamanic healer knows how to move and manipulate the energy of another’s body and can pass wisdom through from the spirit realm, but true healing must take place inside the spirit of the individual.

In other words, a person must be willing and ready to take full responsibility for his or her own healing— there is no magic pill that lies outside of one’s spiritual body. A shaman can be an outstanding tutor but will not give all of the answers. It is also important to note that shamanic healing is not to be a substitute for conventional medical or psychological services but is to instead be worked with adjunct to.


Healing Depression without Drugs

The healing of depression without drugs is entirely possible through the use of shamanic healing techniques. Shamanic healing works on the concept of energy, in particular, the concept of an “energy body” or aura, which surrounds our physical body. The health of the energy body determines the health of the physical body, NOT the other way around. The energy body feeds light energy to the physical body and therefore it needs to be kept clean and clear. It is kept clean and clear by positive thinking, good food, being in nature, exercising, having a full and balance life and of course, addressing our healing needs, whether from this lifetime or past lifetimes.

However, trauma, stress, worry, negative emotion, shock, ancestral issues and past life issues, along with lack of good food and regular exercise can all affect the “health” of the energy body. Instead of being radiant and light, it gets clogged up with “heavy energy” which we call hucha. This heavy energy makes the physical body then feel similarly heavy. This is why it is common that we put on weight when we are depressed! And of course, with the mind-body connection, we then feel heavy-minded, or as we call it, depressed.

Prescribed medication may give you a little lift, but it does not clear the energy body, so the depression continues and is simply being masked by the drugs. The vibration of the drugs also reduces the vibration of the energy body, clogging it up even further.

In addition, it is important to remember that depression is often utilized by the body or mind as a form of buffer. Let’s say, for example, that a woman was sexually abused in childhood. The memory of this, along with the anger, rage, guilt, shame, fear etc, will of course be distasteful and unpleasant to her, so her mind will most likely create a great big lump of depression which will sit between “her” and her difficult past, the memories of which reside not only in her mind, but also in her body, because we carry memories in each cell of our being. So, in some ways, depression itself is a form of self-protection against things which we find hard, unpleasant, or downright scary to deal with.

Once the reason for the depression is gone, the buffer is no longer required, and the heavy energy of the depression easily disperses. Because the heavy emotional energy is removed out of the energy body, the physical body feels much lighter and the mind then feels more positive and happier. This enables the person to make any changes they would like to see in their life and to start to move in a more pleasant and positive direction.

In more advanced healing sessions, soul retrieval can be carried out to further help bring the person back to a state of wholeness and happiness. Of course, it takes a lot of courage to go on a healing journey and face up to our past in order to put things right. But very quickly we can find ourselves feeling much better than ever and more in control of our lives, going in a direction that we want to go in rather than just accepting the cards we feel that fate has handed us. Whatever has happened to you is in the past. You do have control over your future. Yes you may have to come out of a very uncomfortable comfort zone which can be a bit scary, but you will never regret moving forward so you can create a life you love!



Timothy Leary’s popular 1960s slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out” is not hanging on many walls today. In fact, psychedelics, like LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, and ayahuasca, are now being reconsidered with a new weight. In what’s been dubbed “the psychedelic renaissance,” the scientific dossier on mind-expanding drugs has been reopened, building upon a massive body of research dug out from under decades of stigma, fear, and prohibition. Evidence suggests that used carefully under the guidance of shamans, licensed therapists, and other experts, psychedelics may be promising and powerful therapeutic agents. They’re being studied for their potential to address hard-to-treat mental health conditions like PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, even end-of-life existential anxiety.

Scientists like UCLA’s Charles Grob—one of America’s leading clinical researchers in the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy—have been on board for decades. “I think we’ve come a long way from the sixties,” Grob says. “We’re able to look at these compounds in a far more fair and objective way than in the past.” Minus the theatrics of counterculture psychologist Timothy Leary and the moral panic of the Nixon administration, the contemporary uptick in psychedelic research has been—and should continue to be—a boon to our understanding of the human brain, mental health, and pharmacology.

All that considered, Grob says, the science doesn’t stand alone. In order to fully understand these compounds, we need to understand their anthropological contexts. Certain psychedelics—ayahuasca and psilocybin included—come from shamanic traditions. And Grob argues that understanding their ritual use is vital to understanding the drugs themselves. “There are cultures that have been using these drugs for millennia,” he says. “They know how to use them.” That is to say: Don’t try this at home.

We will explore the particular psychedelics to be potentially used for treating depression in the future posts.



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