As I feel indebted to the shamans who saw themselves in me and helped me understand why I have always felt like I don’t belong in mainstream medicine, the intention of this article is to respectfully honor the shamanic tradition, and not to violate it in any way.
Because modern culture doesn’t have a role for the shamanic archetype, many people who grow up outside indigenous villages are shamans and don’t know it. Many naturally wind up in overtly healing professions, such as medicine, psychology, or life coaching.
But some wind up in professions where they may feel like they don’t fit in at all. Even those who enter the healing professions may feel out of place, because the systems of Western medicine and psychology leave little room for a shaman to practice his or her natural healing art.
But many will wind up in various forms of sacred activism, healing the planet, for example, rather than healing people.
Are you a shaman and you don’t know it? Here are some telltale signs that you might fit the archetype.
1. You sense that you’re meant to participate in the global shift in consciousness that is currently underway
We can all feel it, this impending shift that New Agers have talked about for decades. But those with the shamanic archetype don’t just feel it, they feel it pulling them, like a magnet, towards leadership positions that help facilitate this transformation of human consciousness and evolution of the species.
2. You’ve been through a difficult initiation, which has prepared you for this leadership role
In indigenous cultures, the village knew who the shaman was because he or she was struck by lightning and survived. In modern culture, you may not literally be struck by lightning, but you may have survived some other life or heart-threatening ordeal. You may have experienced childhood abuse, sexual violence, a near-death experience, or some other trauma that put you through the crucible and forged you into the healing earth shaman you are becoming.
3. You are an introvert
Shamans are multi-dimensional beings who dance between the realms of the seen and unseen worlds, so if you’re of the shamanic archetype, you may have a hard time navigating the 3D realms of this dimension, which may cause you to withdraw into yourself so you can visit the realms of consciousness where you feel most at home.
4. You feel most at home in nature
The shamans of a culture are the bridges between nature and humans, serving as translators between the mountains, oceans, rivers, animals, and people. You may sense that nature is talking to you or that you get your most tuned in downloads when you are surrounded by the natural world.
5. You’re very sensitive
You may feels things others don’t feel, see things others don’t see, hear things others don’t hear, smell things others don’t smell, and sense things others don’t sense. This may make it hard for you to be out in public, where you may feel accosted by over-stimulation of your senses. If you embody the shamanic archetype, it’s likely that you’re the kind of person others may feel is “too sensitive.” But this sensitivity is a blessing. It’s part of your gift.
6. You feel a sort of spiritual calling to ease the suffering of people, animals, and nature
Many health care providers are called to medicine the way priests are called to the priesthood. But you don’t have to be a health care provider to have the shamanic archetype. It may transmute itself into healing service to animals, sacred activist causes, or conservation of Mother Earth.
7. Physical ailments that fall under the category of “shaman sickness.”
In the indigenous cultures, shamans who have been called to service but haven’t yet said “yes” to the call often wind up struck with physical ailments. In modern culture, these shamanic sicknesses may fall into difficult to treat categories like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme disease, chronic pain disorders, and autoimmune disorders. Acceptance of the call to shamanic service often resolves the symptoms of shaman sickness. If you’re suffering from one of these illnesses, ask yourself, “Am I a shaman who hasn’t said yes to my calling yet?”
8. You tend to have vivid dreams
The unseen realm may be communicating with you through your dreams, so try analyzing your dreams. Pay particular attention to any animal totems that may appear in your dreams. Google search the animal and “spirit totem” and see if you can find any messages from the animals in your dreams. Or try a Jungian analysis, like the one described here.
9. You may discover unusual spiritual superpowers, or what the yogis call “siddhis.”
You might be psychic. You might get healing visions like the one in my previous post about the meeting of Western medicine and Shamanism. You might realize that you can heal people with your hands or that you can telepathically communicate with animals, people, or even inanimate objects.
10. You’ve always felt like you don’t quite belong anywhere, because you are a bridge
Shamans tend to live on the outskirts of the village for a reason. They are not like the others – and this is a blessing! In village life, this is understood and recognized. But in the modern world, it may leave those with the shamanic archetype feeling like they don’t ever fit in. But don’t despair. You DO fit in. Your role is essential. You may find that you fit in best with others who share this shamanic archetype. Among your fellow shamans, you will feel like you are with family.
Embrace Your Bridge Work
Because shamans are always operating between worlds, you may find that you’re connecting mainstream culture and the culture that wants to be born in the new consciousness, and this may feel uncomfortable, as if you don’t quite fit in. When I realized that I am a bridge between mainstream medicine and the new world of medicine that is being co-created by others who share the shamanic archetype, it brought me such a profound sense of relief!
This relief is shared by the health care providers who participate in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, which I founded for doctors and other stealth shamans. If you’re one of those bridge workers, please know that you belong with all the other stealth shamans in this program, designed to merge medicine and spirituality, and we’re enrolling for the 2016 class now.
In our culture, it can be quite challenging to be a stealth shaman. Yes, it’s a blessing to have the opportunity to help people end the story of separation, to dissolve the apparent duality into Oneness, to fulfill our callings to bring the worlds together, to heal people, animals, and the planet.
But it can be lonely and disheartening and scary and isolating. I sense that many of us stealth shaman bridge workers have scores of past lives during which we were persecuted for our attempts to connect the worlds, so no matter how much we know in our hearts that we are all One and we DO belong, we have cellular memories of past traumas, during which we were literally killed because we refused to fit in. So it takes tremendous courage to come out of the spiritual closet as someone who embodies the shamanic archetype. In order to keep being brave, we need to feel safe. To feel safe, we need to foster a sense of belonging so we don’t feel isolated on top of feeling scared. In order to feel safe enough to keep bridging, we need each other.
Are you a shaman who is still in the closet? If so, please know that there are many of us, and we hold you close in our hearts while you muster up the moxie to claim your place in the world.