REVIEW - Summer 2017
Shamanic Healing – Traditional Medicine for the Modern World, Itzhak Beery, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 2017, 226pp, $16.95.
As I began reading Shamanic Healing, I was stunned by the statistics. “the third leading cause of death in America is hospitals … mistakes and infections in hospital care [contribute] to the deaths of…between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year … if you live to be eighty-five years old you will have a 50 percent chance of having diagnosable Alzheimer’s … one in forty children is diagnosed with autism … Fifty-nine percent of all Americans…are taking prescription drugs daily…15 percent of all Americans take five drugs or more each day … 10 percent of Americans are depressed and 18 percent suffer from anxiety.”
To the contrary, when Dr. Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist, searched the rain forest of central Peru to find “the next big cure for cancer or dementia” for a Swiss pharmaceutical giant, he found no incidence of cancer, heart disease, or dementia.
Western medicine is a “sick-based model, profit-minded assembly line, speed-dating-like, impersonal” system that uses medicine “by trial-and-error methods.” Some treatments simply mask symptoms, and some medications cause toxic side effects that require more medication. As one doctor said, Western medicine “is treating the smoke and not the fire.”
Western doctors won’t ask “Where you are from, your emotional state, your lifestyle, your social and cultural beliefs, or what you eat…” They weren’t taught that the body is more than one symptom.
Shamanic medicine “sees the sick person as a whole complex environment and makes an effort to reinstate the person's overall health.”
We need to balance Western medicine with Shamanic methods. As Brazilian shaman Ipupiara explained: “Calming and balancing the physical and emotional bodies creates less opposition for the medicine, which allows it to work better.” This is called integrative medicine.
One thing Shamans do is tell stories, and Beery tells his story very well. I was so engrossed that I didn’t realize how much time had passed as I read.
Shamanic Healing is broken into four sections: 1) Beery’s journey and those who guided him; 2) What Is Shamanic Healing; 3) Healing Teachings, Ceremonies, and Techniques; 4) Healing Stories.
Beery’s journey is interesting, and meeting his teachers seemed somehow preordained.
An Ecuadorian shaman told Beery that “…the three most important principles of shamanic healing [are]: (1) be in balance with yourself, (2) be in balance with your family and community, (3) be in balance with Mother Earth … It is all about being in balance.” Simple, yet complex. I encourage you to pay close attention to this section of the book, as it explains where blocks to balance may come from and diagnosing and removing them so your energy once again flows freely.
In Part 3, Beery explains what a healing might entail, though each one is individual and geared to the client. He then goes over tips for self-healing.
Part 4 contains healing stories that are riveting. Although shamanic healing does not assign labels, the stories are organized into Western categories. It’s interesting how clients be-come their disease, as in “I am schizophrenic” rather than, “I am in an imbalanced state and want to change.”
Shamanic Healing – Traditional Medicine for the Modern World is an easy to read, easy to understand the book. I have recommended it to a few people who have an imbalance in their lives and are finding no solutions in Western medicine. I have also begun using some of the self-healing techniques.
Thanks to Destiny Books for sending this book for review, and thanks to Psychic-Magic for selecting me to review it.
- M. Lenahan