Itzhak Beery, Shamanic Healer and Teacher
For Healing Initiative by James Hickey (Site Expired)
Where is your practice is located?
My practice is based in Greenwich Village in New York City, but since 2006 I have been frequently practicing and teaching in Europe, Istanbul, Israel and other parts of the U.S.
How would you describe what you do for people who are unfamiliar with it?
I was trained in the same healing systems that were developed over thousands of years by the indigenous people on the high mountains of the Andes, the lowlands of the Brazilian Amazon, and by other native traditions. It is a worldview that regards everything in our universe as alive with spirit. Trees, rocks, water, fire, metal, and plastic–everything is made of energy particles that move at different speeds and consistencies. An illumined matrix connects everything, thus each of us is responsible for the well-being of the Earth, our self, and our community.
According to this system, the world we are experiencing is a world of dreams and illusion. It is made up of energy that we can’t see, though we can experience or “see” it. Shamans learn to interact with this energy by summoning up unseen spirit helpers of animals in the Lower World, angels or teachers in the Upper World, or objects like mountains, rivers, trees and rocks in the Middle World. We do this on behalf of our clients, our community, or the planet to effect demonstrable changes and bring back balance and healing.
An individual’s well-being is reliant upon the amount of negative energy pollution that enters into the energy field surrounding them and their inner organs. Shamans are skilled at identifying, extracting, and removing negative energies and creating energy protection around their clients.
How did you become a shaman?
It all happened by “coincidence.” I never planned to be a healer. I thought that only very special people possessed these powers, not me. But in my late thirties I had a mid-life crisis and began asking myself the big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Is this all there is to life? It was depressing.
Then on a flight to Hawaii I found myself reading a book that “coincidentally” mentioned a shamanic workshop by Michael Harner. A few months later by “coincidence” I saw the workshop offered in a catalogue and decide to take it. I had an incredible visionary experience there in which by I “saw” my partner's trip to the Amazon.
Later I took a workshop with John Perkins. I didn’t know why, but I knew I had to go with him to Ecuador. Once there, I discovered that my workshop partner had taken the same trip with John, and there I met by “coincidence” the Yachak (shaman-bird man), who after several years of apprenticeship initiated me into the Sacred Circle of 24 Yachaks. Initially I refused to practice the ceremony, but he prodded me until I finally consented. When I performed it for the first time all by myself (as a birthday present to an insisting friend) it felt so natural, as if I was destined to do it.
Many years later I learned that my great grandfather was a known healer and Kabalistic Rabbi in Poland. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence after all.
What do you wish people knew about shamanism?
That it is not a religious or scary thing. It is a very practical way to live in harmony with everything around you. Also, that Western medicine has existed for only 200-300 years. It is a new experiment compared with the thousands of years that people have used ancient healing methods all around the planet.
There are spirits all around us. We are not alone. I can dream or see them as holograms and sometime I am able to bring accurate messages to my clients. Working with unseen energies and spirits is very intense and sometimes dangerous. Not all of them are benevolent. You need to be prepared and skilled to deal with that realm.
Tell me about some of the people you've met as a shaman.
I have been fortunate to meet incredibly wise elders, teachers, and shamans from almost every part of the world. I apprenticed with don Jose Joaquin Pineda, a powerful quechua Yachak from Ecuador who initiated me into his family tradition of five generations. I also learned for 12 years from the late Ipupiara Makunaiman (Dr. Bernardo D. Peixoto), a shaman of the Uru-e-wau-wau tribe of the Brazilian Amazon. John Perkins vision and message has truly been inspiring for me. I have also met amazing teachers as clients and students: lawyers, gurus, money managers, psychologists, authors, artists, healers as well as other shamans, fashion designers, top models and even Italian royalty.
What do you do when you aren't acting as a shaman?
I still keep one foot in the advertising and design world. I am an owner of an award winning boutique agency. Most of my teachers had a regular job to keep them grounded and so that they wouldn’t have to depend solely on the healing and spiritual work.
In 1997 I co-founded the NY Shamanic Circle and I’m an active core-member. Since 2007 I have published shamanportal.org the most visited shamanic resource website today. It brings shamans and a worldwide audience together and features all shamanic traditions, activities and knowledge without rivalry. My goal is to bring the message of shamanism to be accepted by mainstream Western culture. I’ve also practiced yoga for many years.
What is the greatest gift you’ve ever given yourself?
I have given myself the freedom to be an unconventional, curious person and really follow my heart. But my wife, three children, the grandchildren, my family and close friends, are my true gifts.
Who inspires you?
When I was growing up I looked up to Picasso because he was courageous, passionate and was not afraid to break old traditions. I also see this passion in Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic. What he does is exciting. It’s all out of the box and totally works. I’m also inspired by Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman and John Perkins and other shamanic practitioners who took marginalized ancient wisdom and made it relevant to our modern lives while giving indigenous cultures the legitimacy they deserve.
What empowers you today?
I am empowered when I see a client a year after I worked with her and witness a very different (happy) person. By a woman who came to me for help getting a divorce now living happily with her husband and their daughters. By a frustrated and angry husband now taking a risk to fulfill his spiritual calling with his family’s support. By a high school gang leader transformed in front of my eyes into his power animal while calling “Motherland (Africa) I’m coming back to you”. I am empowered knowing that I am in alignment with my life purpose.
What is your biggest concern for the world?
I am concerned about the future of humanity on the face of the Earth. Most troubling for me is the greed epidemic, which comes from the fear of scarcity of resources. This fear comes from a lack of trust and faith. The shamanic teachings tell us that Mother Earth has enough for all of us to share in abundance.
What advice would you give people looking to find a way to heal the world?
I’ve come to believe that we can’t heal the world all at once. We have to do it one person at a time. That is why we need more healers now. If you live in harmony with the earth, take responsibility for your life, and stop behaving as a victim, then people around you are freed to do the same.
What advice would you like to give people looking to be healed?
Ipupiara used to say that a shaman can’t take credit for the healing he performs.
80% of the healing, he said, comes from Mother Earth, 10% comes from the client, and 10% come from the healer himself. So when a client comes for a healing he has to have at least 80% faith in Mother Earth, 10% in himself, and only 10% in the healer.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Working with children and young adults is important for our future. We need to teach them to experience the world for themselves so they can grow into leadership positions untainted by the past. There is a huge surge of interest in shamanic practice all over the world. I see it wherever I teach. People are fed up with what the governments, the corporate media, organized religions and other societal institutions are telling them about how to live. They want to think for themselves. The shamanic movement today is providing us with creativity, hope and a reconnection to nature and our communities.