An Exploration of Spiritual Healing
Throughout time, mankind has constantly been seeking ways to maintain their health and to cure those that had not been so fortunate in that task. Just about everything has been experimented with as a cure for some type of illness; whether physical or mental. There is also a third type of illness that can and is addressed, which is healing on the spiritual plan. According to research, most of the spiritual healers are concentrated in primitive societies and undeveloped areas of the world. However, there are still undertones of reliance on spiritual healing in modern medicine today and there are some in civilized, well developed parts of the world that have rejected modern medicine all together and adopted alternative healing methods. Even a person who does not believe in a higher being actually takes part in this type cure simply by allowing the chemical medicines in his/her body to mend what is wrong. No matter what class of society a person is in, no matter how advanced that particular country is, there will always be traces of spiritual healing if not all-out practicing of it; and it is and will continue to be a significant part of any healing process, large or small.
There are numerous names for spiritual healers, but for simplicity's sake and the fact that the concentration is on American Indian Medicine, all spiritual healers will be lumped together as Shaman' unless otherwise specified. This does not mean that all healers will hold the same beliefs, or that a particular belief is not even held by a group known as Shamans, but rather a different type of healer. The grouping is just so that a detailed and confusing explanation of all the subsections of healers. If necessary, there will be specifications. Again , for clarification, definitions are provided to clear up any confusion. A Shaman is a person anchored securely in both the physical world and the spiritual realm-- a mediator if you will(Shamanism 1). Therefore, Shamanism is a way of life revolving around interaction of the spiritual and physical worlds(Shamanism). The Shaman does not solely exist as other humans do; they lead a totally different life in conjunction with their earthly duties within their tribe. The two are not separate by any means; one has direct impact on the other, or so it is believed by those who study this form of healing. Mr. Mircea Eliade voiced the idea of one (wo)man wearing so many hats at one time: "For, of course, the shaman is also a magician and a medicine man; he is believed to cure, like all doctors, and to perform miracles of the fakir type, like all magicians, whether primitive or modern. But beyond this, he is a psychopomp, and he may also be a priest, mystic, and poet(Shamanism)." Illness, according to shamans, all begins on the spiritual plane(Griffin). If left unchecked, then the spiritual disturbance manifests itself as a physical malady. A large part of the healing process is to remove barriers within the body to allow the impurities to leave the body, and to incourage the body to heal itself. The energy is channeled through the healer from a higher source like a conductor into the patient and in turn the malevolent entity/ disturbance is pulled into the healer to get rid of, as described by a certified healer in witchcraft(Griffin).
To remove the disturbance, different shamans have different techniques. However, the purpose is identical and the end result usually come out about the same frequency of success to failures. There are countless documentations of a shaman sucking an evil spirit from the body of the affected person. Depending on the shaman's particular style, the spirit may be spat out in the form of saliva or a small mass, sometimes with blood on it(Vogel 16). Along those same lines, bitter medicines are administered to the patient in order to make the body an unpleasant living environment for the evil being and so it will...
Cited: Gelfund, Michael. Witch Doctor. New York: Fredrick A. Praeger, Inc., Publishers, 1964. 132-33.
Griffin, Michelle. Personal Interview. 18 November 1997.
Magic, Witchcraft, and Curing. Ed. John Middleton. Garden City, New York: The Natural History Press, 1967.
Vogel, Virgil J. American Indian Medicine. Oklahoma University: Oklahoma University Press, 1973.
"Shamanism: a definition of sorts." Earth Dance Society. n. pag. Online. Internet. 17 Nov. 1997.
"What is Shamanism?." Global Spirituality. 1.1 Online. Internet. 17 Nov. 1997
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