Shamans throughout the world have been involved in healing for thousands of years, dating back to Paleolithic times. The shamanic tradition involves healing through personal transformation as well as healing our family, community and environment. Central to this healing tradition is the belief we must heal and honor our Mother Earth viewed as a living conscious organism. Shamans say the earth, which nourishes our very existence, must also be nourished with our prayers and ceremonies.
The Huichols of Mexico are said to be the last tribe of North America to have maintained their pre-Colombian traditions. I feel fortunate to have been an apprentice for 12 years under the direct tutelage of don Jose Matsuwa, the renowned Huichol Indian shaman-healer who died in 1990 at the age of 110.
Shamanism is based on the concept that all life is mysteriously inter-related and sacred. When the shaman prays, he prays not only for himself but also for his sacred relatives: our mother the earth, our father the sun, our grandfather and giver of light, the fire, our grandmothers the eagle and other winged ones. Don Jose often told me never to forget that my relatives are the earth, sky, rivers, birds, animals, stones, gems, mountains, caves, springs and lakes.
Embedded within the traditions of shamanism and healing are techniques of achieving ecstasy. At ceremonies, the Huichol shaman calls upon his ally or spirit helper, Kauyumari, the magical deer spirit person, to assist him in the task of transporting the ceremonial participants through the nierika (doorway), into the realm of ecstatic joy and harmony. The “Dance of the Deer”—a most beautiful and sacred dance of the Huichols—is employed to encourage participants in the ceremony to enter into a trance-like ecstasy.
Pilgrimages to “places of power” (caves, springs, oceans, mountaintops…) form an important aspect of shamanic healing. Pilgrims are meant to leave offerings of prayer at these places of power to empower themselves and to heal the earth. The wisdom of ceremonial celebrations, pilgrimages to sacred places and a lifestyle that achieves a balance between our environment and ourselves as human beings, has been lost to many people of the modern world. For this reason, don Jose adopted me as his grandson and trained me in the ancient art of shamanism and healing. “You are an educated person who knows and understands your world,” he told me.
“Now you will know our world too and use the two so that modern people may once again know what we have tried never to forget: there is balance between our two worlds, grandson,” he said. “That’s the way it is.”
Brant Secunda, a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition, will hold seminars in Japan in August 2007 where he teaches participants the healing traditions of the Huichol Indians, reconnecting people’s hearts to the natural world. Participants will learn dream exercises, visit sacred places in nature, experience ceremonies and Huichol Indian art and learn the sacred Deer Dance. Brant will also teach participants a regular exercise routine that promotes a sense of balance and well-being as people of the earth. For more information, or to join his ceremonial journey through Japan, please contact The Dance of the Deer Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.shamanism.com