The Role of the Modern Shaman, the Medicine Woman: Tracking the Shamanic Healer’s Role from Traditional Societies to Today

The term Shaman is ancient.

Modern practitioners honor the wisdom and traditions of the Shamanic Pathway.

Shaman Historically Helped With Personal, Social, and Environmental Issues

In ancient cultures, the shaman tended to the health and well-being of the greater society. Shamans were called upon to help with personal, social, and environmental issues. Uniquely, the shamanic way does not separate personal, social, and environmental issues. Shamanic philosophy teaches that a balance in the natural world impacts the balance of the people, and vice versa.

Many indigenous shamans are still serving their communities today

The ancient shaman practiced rituals, provided healing, and promoted connective living. In some cultures the shaman did not live in the general population, they kept their dwelling outside of the community and joined when necessary. In addition, If you needed healing, you would go to the shaman’s dwelling. Shamanic lineages in some cultures were familial and within a matriarchal or patriarchal system. Furthermore, indigenous shamans are still serving their communities today and teaching their healing ways.

Ancient Wisdom Brings Healing to our Modern World

We are blessed as healers to study and practice shamanic healing interventions. Using the word shaman, however, is a tough call given its origin and the respect we hold for shamanic communities. As a result, we now lean into using terms like “shamanic interventions” or “Medicine Woman or Man.” Titles are important. Names have power. With whatever name we choose, we are only able to practice shamanic work when we are taught by a true teacher and gifted with the ways and knowledge. Furthermore, we are not the power innate in the shamanic work, we are the willing vessels, the heart, soul, and intellect which have answered the calling to do shamanic work.

Shamanic work is a calling

First, I will share a small piece of my shamanic journey which I hope may inspire you on your personal journey. This is part of the story of my calling. In 2007 I was working as an intuitive and looking for a new teacher. In addition, I was new to California and could no longer work with the Medicine Woman based in my former home, Colorado. Through a series of synchronicities, I attended a workshop with two teachers. It was a two-day event, for which we all fasted in preparation.

My Calling

At the end of the last day, I approached one of the teachers and plainly said “I’m going to study with you, in the program you are about to teach.” I did not know of any program, had just met her, and I did not even know that the house we were standing in, where the workshop had just taken place, was her home! She very kindly replied that she was not teaching any program and she had no plan to in the future. I just smiled and said, “No, you are going to teach a program and I am going to take it.” Additionally, I added that I was going to organize it!

I was speaking from my expanded intuitive selfhood

Amazingly, I did not have a conscious thought process about any of this, because I was speaking from my intuitive self, which we refer to as our “double.” I was in an altered state after the two-day workshop and was seeing into a future that the teacher did not yet know. Two weeks later she called me and told me that she had just been approached by a teacher of her own and asked to create a five-year program in Mystic Shamanism which they would teach together. 

Five Years of training started a lifetime of Shamanic Dedication

We started the program in 2009. During the five years of Shamanic dedication, I also studied Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy and other therapy modalities. After my beloved fellow tribe members and I graduated from the intensive five-year program, that same teacher asked me to teach mystic shamanism with her. I taught two three-year programs with her, many energy work classes and workshops, and traveled on several pilgrimages to sacred places like Nepal and Peru.

Shamanic Study is a Lifelong Endeavor

The shamanic study does not end, it is a lifelong endeavor.  I cherish the many years I studied and collaborated with my shamanic teacher. She likes to remind me that without my vision and offer to organize, she would not have been able to answer her teacher’s exceptionally large request. A five-year program in Shamanic study is quite an endeavor. We both feel I was meant to attend her workshop and provide the support that my vision brought. Together, with the greater guidance we acknowledge, we created something much bigger than ourselves. I am grateful to have been named the lineage holder for my tribe. When I was given that designation, I altered my life.

Further Study 

I moved on to study at Pacifica Graduate Institute in a unique integrative Ph.D. program and to study with other indigenous teachers, mediumship and animal communication mentors, and Depth Psychology, and Spiritist Psychology professionals. Following a calling means listening to the messages of synchronistic events and always, always learning.

Personal Journeys are Healing, We Need to Share Our Experiences!

I tell this personal piece of my healer’s journey to hopefully illustrate how our intuition, our inner wisdom, helps shape our lives and the lives of others and to further illuminate the role of the modern shaman or medicine woman in our current culture. During the formal five-year training, we learned and practiced many rituals. I will always remember the last fire ritual of the formal five years. The fire ceremony became a presence and energy beyond all of us, I then truly awakened my understanding of the deep power of ritual.

Ritual is the Heart of Healing

We have so little ritual in our contemporary culture. In fact, we are hard-wired to desire and benefit from ritual. In shamanic work, ritual is at the heart of healing. If you are interested in knowing more about ritual, you might like to read the late Malidoma Patrice Some’s book entitled Ritual: Power Healing and Community.

What Does the Medicine Woman/Modern Shaman Do?

As a contemporary shamanic practitioner, I use ancient shamanic traditions and interventions for the purpose of healing. Like most shamanic traditions I will travel in different realms, offer soul fragment retrievals, teach and officiate rituals, journey, meditate, use sound, plant, and other healing resources from our planet, and interpret signs and symbols using various systems.

We follow Ancient Practices to Bring Healing to the Current Times

I work with my intuitive and expansive Self and I am helped by allies with whom I have special and powerful relationships. This work is very much outside the realm of modern healing systems like the most offered therapies. In addition, I integrate depth psychology, somatic psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, and other aspects of the therapy world. I bridge the gap between the ancient healing systems and the most current therapies and help my clients benefit from ancient healing systems and the most current information in the realms of psychology and neurobiology. 

Bridging our Modern Knowledge with Our Ancient Systems

The modern shaman or Medicine Woman is a bridge. Honoring our shamanic and Indigenous teachers we use the knowledge imparted to us in concert with the more contemporary findings in the related sciences, trauma, and other areas of mental and spiritual health.

Through our work, we wish to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors. We wish to promote connective living, living in harmony with the planet and with the ethical considerations required for peace and well-being among all peoples and sentient beings. 

A group of drums in a basket which are used during Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA.
A shaman and a guide sit together representing the journey taken with Shamanistic Healing in Pasadena, CA.
Andrea-Marie sitting cross legged on the floor while practicing Shamanism in Pasadena, CA.
A group of people embarking on a shamanic retreat. Shamanism in Pasadena, CA offers a holistic approach to healing and spiritual growth.
An individual walking a path in Nepal during a Shamanic Healing journey. Shamanism in Pasadena, CA is here to help you on your journey to healing.
Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA taking place in an outdoor setting. Gain healing through Soul Retrieval, and Shamanic Extraction as part of Shamanic Healing.
Group of friends starting their physical climb to a temple for the purpose of spiritual healing. Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA can guide you to peace and spiritual understanding.
A fire pit with tied offerings to be burned in a ritual. Learn more about Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA and begin your journey to spiritual awakening.
A group of people embarking on a shamanic retreat. Shamanism in Pasadena, CA offers a holistic approach to healing and spiritual growth.
A wooden bridge representing the purpose of the Shaman in the process of Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA as a guide through the Shamanic process.
Various tools used in Shamanic Healing in Pasadena, CA arranged on a disc in preparation for use in shamanic healing rituals.

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Other Counseling Services offered by Andrea-Marie Stark in Pasadena, CA

In addition to Shamanic Healing, Andrea-Marie offers a wide variety of holistic and spiritually driven services. These include Depth PsychologyTrauma CounselingSomatic TherapyReiki HealingIntuitive Counseling, and Mindfulness. If you are stuck and in need of a supportive and nonjudgmental place to rediscover yourself, reach out today!