Shamanism is considered to be the most ancient spiritual healing practice ever known to man. In fact, shamanic healing dates back to more than 100,000 years and its practice has been carried out all across the globe, even before the possibility of our current technologies of communication.
What Is A Shamanic Healing?
In shamanism, true healing is spiritual healing and it is believed that it cannot be performed on a physical level. Healing means returning to wholeness, which is purely an inside job. Spiritual healing deals with the root — the spiritual — issues that have resulted in the illness or dis-ease.
More than everything, the most important belief in shamanism when it comes to healing is that their great accessibility to the spirit realm is not as important as giving in to all healing, which is self-healing. Whatever a shamanic healer does, true healing has to take place inside the individual’s spirit. Individual’s willingness and readiness to take full responsibility for their healing is more important.
What has made the shamanism and shamanic healing idea so predominant and present all through the world? This is based on shamanism’s healing practices or its approach to healing illness and diseases. One of these popular healing practices is the incorporation of plant medicine, which brings us to the use of psilocybin mushrooms in shamanism.
Plant Medicine In Shamanic Healing
While spiritual journey (deep meditation technique that gives access to non-ordinary realms for healing) is a very common practice associated with shamanism, plant medicines is another route people can go through to achieve their healing by gaining access to the non-ordinary states.
What makes spiritual journey difference from plant medicine is the fact that the powerful plants used here serve as the vehicle by which an individual rides in to get to the non-ordinary realms. There are many shamanic plant medicines and some of them include Peyote cactus, San Pedro cactus, Ayahuasca, Iboga and psilocybin mushrooms. One of the most popular plant medicines that help to guide people that practice shamanism in their spiritual journey is the psilocybin mushrooms.
Plant medicines are well respected and generally believed to have been brought into awareness through the previous communication of shamans with spiritual entities.
Shamans have also reportedly explained that these powerful plants themselves reveal their own powers to them. The plants are loaded with highly psychedelic properties and most of the time regarded as spiritual entities, — for example, the psilocybin mushroom.
What Is The Psilocybin Mushroom?
A psilocybin mushroom is also referred to as psychedelic mushroom or magic mushroom, is a polyphyletic fungus that consists of psilocybin and psilocin. These psilocybin mushrooms are generally gilled and dark-spored. They grow in woods and meadows of the tropic and subtropics.
There are about 200 species of this type of mushroom and most of them can be found in Mexico, while others are known to have been found in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. Examples of these mushrooms include Psilocybe, Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Pluteus, Pholiotina, Panaeolus and Inocybe.
History of Psilocybin
According to archeological evidence, mushrooms have been used by many cultures all over the world, mostly for sacred and ritualistic practices. The earliest revelation of the consumption of mushrooms in shamanism was in a cave painting in the upper Tassili plateau of northern Algeria, which dates back to more than 5,000 B.C.
The use of psilocybin mushrooms was notorious among the native Central American people for healing divination and communion. History also reveals that the Aztec spiritual leaders used these mushrooms to communicate with spirits and their gods.
While the Catholic missionaries discouraged the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms plants after the Spanish conquest of South and Central America, believing they allow people to discuss with the devil, people still continue to use psilocybin mushrooms in certain remote areas.
The first Westerners to ever engage in an indigenous mushroom ceremony practice were Gordon and Valentina Wasson. The Wassons later encountered Maria Sabina in their research and learned from her overtime. Maria was the shamanic tradition carrier of the Mazatec and made use of psychoactive mushrooms in her healing practice.
Gordon Wasson he returned to the US and shared his experience in an article for Life Magazine (Wasson, 1957). The story resulted in a sensation that led the early hippies to Mexico in search of psilocybin mushrooms. During the 1960s and 70s, the large scale production of “magic mushrooms” and the use of LSD gave rise to a great cultural movement in the US.
The widespread recreational use of these items was the reason why they became illegal and considered Schedule I drugs in the United States (on par with cocaine and heroin) to this day.
The Use Of Plant Medicines – How Psilocybin Mushrooms Are Traditionally Used
In terms of entheogens, the preparation of psilocybin mushrooms appears to be the simplest of all, because all that needs to be done to them is picking. One just needs to be careful and make sure they actually choose the right mushrooms when searching for them. This is because there are lots of poisonous lookalikes. According to history, mushrooms were traditionally eaten together with honey at night.
Plant medicines such as psilocybin mushrooms are meant to be experienced in a ceremonial context along with a trained shaman. The job of the shaman, during the ceremonies, is to accompany his or her client in their journey, protect, guide, hold a safe space and intervene if necessary. Also, the Shaman helps the client understand, interpret and integrate their experience.
The modern mushroom ceremony is usually an all-night séance that is sometimes done with a curing ritual. The shaman’s chants and frequent rhythmic clapping to the chant accompany the ceremony. The mushrooms are collected in the forest by a virgin girl at the new moon time and then taken to the altar of the church to briefly remain there. This makes it seem like the Mazatec tradition has imbibed some Christian influences since the Spanish inquisition.
The feeling of being called — not forced is important to participate in a psilocybin mushroom ceremony. One needs to be able and ready to make a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual change. It involves being able to surrender completely to the plant and allowing it to take them anywhere they need to be. The spirit of the plant is believed to know the exact thing one needs to feel, hear, see, learn and experience.
Due to the powerful components of the plant, the shamanic cultures refer to it as a spiritual entity or God and Goddess
Psilocybin Mushrooms-Shroom effects
30 to 60 minutes after the psilocybin mushroom’s ingestion, noticeable changes to the tactile, auditory, visual senses may become apparent. While some initial anxiety may occur, users report euphoric sensations- eliminating depression, emotional clarity-feeling the oneness of God and the universe, and great mental clarity-so that you insight, hand site, and foresight are clear. As the drug gets stronger, vivid auditory and visual hallucinations (although they are not really hallucinations) occur.
The physical effects can include, uneasy stomach, increased heart rate, pupil dilation. The whole journey tends to last 2-7 hours. A 1962 Harvard Study by Walter Pahnke sheds more light on this.
Higher doses of this mushroom can be very intense and tend to result in talking to entities, loss of self or near-death (loss of ego) experiences. The mushroom is particularly famous for the phenomenon of invoking the hearing of strange voice in users. This voice is described as old, male( considered the mushroom king) , slow-paced, low-pitched and low of volume and the transmitted information can vary but the experience is described insightful, healing and positive. Some reports suggest that the voice belongs to the mind of god or the voice of the earth. Several users of psilocybin mushrooms reports encounter with elves, spirits, extraterrestrials, fairies, and deities after ingesting it.
Other scientific studies that support the mystical effects of psilocybin mushrooms are MAPS Rick Doblin (in 1991) and Johns Hopkins University study by Roland Griffiths in 2006.
Psilocybin Mushrooms as Mushroom Medicine
A study report on the spiritual significance of psilocybin mushrooms by Johns Hopkins University shows that one-third of the participants reported having the best spiritual experience of their lives while on this mushroom. 79 percent of the respondents reported increased well-being after the study and several months later, 39% mentioned that it was the single most significant experience of their lives.
Apart from the transcendent experiences that come with the ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms, researcher studies have revealed that it can be used in the treatment of different behavioral and mental disorders. Scientific studies reveal the effectiveness of these magic mushrooms when it comes to reducing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Other studies such as a Johns Hopkins Pilot study and Concord Prison Experiment have suggested that the administration of psilocybin mushrooms in a supervised environment can be highly effective and powerful tools that can help people quit addictions. The University of South Florida reveals that the mushrooms also lead to the growth and repair of brain cells for effective treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in humans.
Plant Medicines-mushroom Drug
In recent years, the increasing curiosity Westerners concerning plant medicines and the indigenous cultures that are involved has reached its peak. However, recent attention towards plant medicine has also been accompanied by some misconceptions about the medicine, the associated experience, and immense healing properties that come with it.
In shamanic culture, the plants used are considered sacred medicine. They are not drugs and are highly respected. In shamanism, it is believed that these powerful plants have a deep connection with the Spirit. It is also believed that these plants can reveal the non-ordinary realms where people can attain knowledge, accelerate their growth and benefit from true healing.
Shamanic Healing – Shamanism’s Perception Of Illness
The sufferings of life come in the form of illnesses. While is it popularly believed that bacteria, viruses, and microbes cause illness to our body and an imbalance of brain chemistry results in emotional and mental illness like depression and addiction, it is not the same with shamanism.
In shamanism, it is believed that all these illnesses and their causes mentioned above are the ‘effects’. True healing does not just suppress or mask the symptoms or effects with medications but addresses the root cause of the illness which is far beyond bacteria, viruses or brain chemistry. It comes from the internal realm that isn’t visible to the eyes — the spirit.
In shamanism, there 3 classic causes of any form of illness are the loss of power or disharmony from losing an important connection to life, fear which is responsible for emotions like stress, jealousy, anxiety and anger, and soul loss due to a traumatic experience.
Other symptoms of soul loss include addiction, blocked memory, suicidal tendencies, feeling fragmented (not all here), chronic depression, emotional distance and lack of motivation, joy or enthusiasm. Shamanism believes real healing needs to mend the root of the problem, which is the wounded spirit.
Is Shamanic Healing Right For You?
A shamanic healing session may be greatly beneficial to you if you want some clarity about a difficult situation or have gone through a traumatic experience or just feeling ‘lost’ in life. While anyone can go on shamanic healing themselves after some training, it takes a shaman to visit other worlds with intentions and healing knowledge. They connect you to your guides in other realms while ensuring the safety of your soul all through the process.
For thousands of years now, psilocybin mushrooms have been part of human culture. Its reliable ability to produce a mystical experience is known to both ancient cultures and modern science.
These mushrooms have been used for vision quests, healing and divination by cultures all through the globe and the scientific understanding of the effects of the psilocybin mushroom is increasing growing as the year passes by. There is no magic pill involved in one’s spiritual body.
While a shaman can provide you with outstanding teachings, they can’t give you all the answers you want. Shamanism and shamanic healing shouldn’t be used as a substitute for conventional psychological or medical services. It should instead be used with an adjunct.