Shamanism and Sexual Trauma
  Sexual trauma is one of the most profoundly life-altering events that a human being can experience. This is true, whether the individual experiencing it was a child when it happened, a teenager, or an adult. It’s true, whether the trauma was a one-time event, or was ongoing for years. Memories of sexual trauma can be continuous, or they can be recalled years later. They can come as a complete, often devastating surprise, sometimes surfacing only after years of therapy to deal with other issues. When sexual trauma happens very early, it can set a person's entire life on a different course from what it might have been, as their life energy flows towards surviving events they may not even know have happened. I am writing as a shamanic practitioner, and also as a survivor of severe and prolonged sexual trauma, to talk about how shamanism and shamanic healing can help support people in life-changing ways, as they make their way towards abundant and full recovery.


Shamanism is a form of healing work that has been practiced by our ancestors in nearly every indigenous culture, on every continent for tens of thousands of years.1 Shamanism includes many techniques used by shamans around the world, for connecting with compassionate spirits to bring healing, information, and empowerment to individuals. In western culture, a shamanic practitioner who has been properly trained and initiated, can interact with compassionate spirits to bring significant help to people struggling with major life issues, including the process of recovering from sexual trauma.

In the core shamanic2 paradigm, shamanic healing deals with the spiritual aspect of whatever is troubling us, including physical, emotional or spiritual issues. The problems that people struggle with are seen as coming from a lack of personal power, meaning exactly that sense of innate empowerment that is often lost, when sexual trauma occurs. All of us have known people, who seem to walk through the world untouched by trouble, bad luck, injury or other problems. Whether they seem like spiritual people or not, they definitely have their power intact. And, we've known others who seem to be under a perennial cloud of illness, injuries and mishaps. Most of us land somewhere in between, and survivors of sexual trauma often feel they land towards the more disempowered end of the spectrum. This means that from a shamanic point of view, many difficulties that sexual trauma survivors face, have a spiritual aspect that can be addressed successfully through shamanic healing.

1. Harner, Michael, The Way of the Shaman, HarperCollins, 1980, 1990.
2. Harner, Michael, Cave and Cosmos: Encounters with Another Reality, North Atlantic Books, 2013.

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