The following article has been written by my friend Michela Chiarelli regarding the Traditional Healing Techniques used in the Italian Shamanism (about which still very little is known let alone written!). But before I let you go on reading I felt a need to ask a few things about the role of the Priestess.
What is a Priesthood?
MC: It is a service to others and hardly anyone in the world today puts themselves in the position of being able to help others and not themselves.
One is born with these characteristics, I entrust few people with a grant and I would entrust even less people with a priesthood. Simply because, and I’m sure you agree with me, modern people are very focuse on themselves.
A Priestess is one who must possess the keys between the two worlds, be able to open the doors, recognize signs and omens, and not just make of some roles a source of pride.
Today there are no Priestesses who serve the people and the Divine…
Today there are no Priestesses who keep the fire burning.
Today is a job…
What did the world with the loss of Priestesses?
MC: The good magic, the brotherhood, the collective defense, the balance between light and shadow…
In everyday practices, in everyday life…
There is no more Balance.
Ancient Dynamic Techniques Of Healing
The significant difference is that in the Italian Ethno-Cultural tradition, the healing and the treatments are distinguishable from one another based on a complete and unique technique in the world, which studies the individual in all his aspects by participating with its ancient arts in every healing process.
The Rituals are the choreography that makes the Dance of Life so extraordinary… they are defined Dynamic Arts, in a mystic and material vision, because the recipient must actively participate.
The Ritual of Shamanic Healing
The ritual is the choreography that makes the Dance of Life extraordinary… in the Italian Shamanism the treatments are mostly manual techniques, or of sound and singing. The healings are true shamanic rituals to which one gets initiated since a very young age… beware of imitations.
They are usually interconnected: after a healing ritual, which is the revelatory part, comes the shamanic treatment which is the practical part. These two steps sometimes are interdependent and sometimes not.
Many times, during my experience, I’ve been asked how an Italian Shamanic Healing ritual takes place in practice.
The practice itself is personal and private! I can proudly say that every student of mine develops his/her gifts and abilities, and becomes a unique therapist.
Surely in an article I won’t be able to spread how an Italian Shaman’s works in reality, nor how the rituals are performed.
The Place is Nature
Above everything, it’s important to choose the place where to perform the ritual. Each Shaman Priestess chooses the appropriate territory. A place where the elements can be perceived in their fullness. The powers of nature make our Being vibrate strongly, through the contact with the Mother of all things our body vibrates and our mind is refined. Perceptions touch every creature and everything can be transformed. The cold wind of winter, or the warm wind of summer, the lashing of the rain or the scent of the grass, the sound of the waves and under your feet, the heat of the sand: all this gives power to the body, heart and spirit.
The place is chosen according to the possibilities of the recipient, the purpose of the ritual and to the most intimate intent of the Shaman Priestess. It is our very nature that merges with the solution before beginning to operate, only in this way it is allowed to Divine, See, Feel and Reconnect to wellness.
Communion must be created with the place where you are. The Shaman Priestess undresses of her Human being, remembers her creative power, experiences the Sacred of the Moon in herself, then sits on a stone, on the bare earth, on the sand, in her home, in front of the fireplace, a burning candle or a fire, and starts singing.
Gently first and intensely then she begins to clap her hands on her drum, or to slide the strings on her harp, making the void inside herself, leaving the rest of the world outside, and opening her soul to infinity, she begins to ask indications and fuses with the messages from the cosmo opening herself to Divination.
Inside herself she Travels, Sees, Discovers, Thanks, Cries, Loves, Heals, Solves, but it is FUNDAMENTAL TO MOVE IN NATURE FOR THE BODY IS OUR GREATEST TOOL.
She melts herself with the Creative Mother of everything. The Shaman Priestess becomes part of the Whole. To draw lessons from the wonderful world that hosts us, she collects wood, herbs, stones and feathers, then through the Divination of what her mind sees, she captures every aspect and every meaning hidden in her Loot. She asks for support to the flight of the birds, to the falling leaves, to the meeting with some animals, for a Moon Woman everything collaborates in the great Mystery of the Shamanic Rite.
The sacred place par excellence is our heart, our mind, our Room of projections, there where we can create change.
The Call of the Spirits
If you listen you will hear the voice of the wind whispering the truth you are looking for.
After practicing Divination, when the Ancestral Correspondences are favourable, we proceed to the next step of the ritual which is the calling of the Spirits of the Four Directions. The traditional names change, but basically they are the ones we all know: North, South, East, West. The calling technique, we’ll see later, varies itself from Memory to Tradition. The call itself is a declaration of intent, in which the reason for our action is manifested and a deep connection is invoked with with the world around us and with the Spirits that represent it, both as elemental forces and as elements themselves. Dancing, walking, swimming or simply lying on the ground our spirit flies and calls the closest Spirits!
Purification opens the mind to the song of the Infinite.
After the call of the Spirits it comes the time to Purify oneself, lighting the incense or herbs and letting them burn in the brazier.
Fumigation brings our being to a very high state of peace and purity, and for this reason it is a fundamental phase of the Rite to be practiced. With the Censer or the Brazier in hand, continuing from North to West, we pay homage to the elements, purify the place and create a circle of protection. This serves to regenerate, the energies of the places, to hunt away the evil spirits and to protect those who participate in the Rite, both the Priestess and any other participants.
The Dance of Animals
In movement in similarity we acquire divine characteristics.
In the complete fusion with the place that hosts us, after the Divination and a purification of our Being, we procede with the works that can open our awareness to the perception of the Divine that surrounds us. So we procede with the dance of the animals which is a set of rhythmic movements that induce a fusion of the Shaman Priestess with an animal. The aim is to obtain a deep connection with the place and with some Spiritual characteristics of the animal itself that can stimulate the Shaman’s perception by making her faculties more acute.
It is not a dangerous possession, neither a total possession, since the Shaman Priestess spontaneously opens the doors of her mind to the animal of power and maintains her clear conscience towards what she does.
It is very important and at the same time very difficult, since it is only a matter of initially imitating the animals, but then the door of oneself must be opened to the spiritual essence of the animal itself: the knowing essence of the secrets of the animals, full of instinct and divine vibration.
The interaction between Woman-Shaman and Spirit-Animal through the imitation of the animal’s physical movements is truly an important and magical experience. Feeling the spirit of the animal inside is a strong experience, a powerful energy exchange that only a Shaman Priestess is able to face; it is a very profound way of interacting with the animals, having relationship with them. This technique allows us to vibrate in synch with latent, or denied, instincts. It is a technique that strengthens the spirit and the mind, allows us to merge with the free and wild being, which can bring us back to the dawn of out lineage, where everything has started and where nothing can be separated in the sufferance and detachment.
The Shamanic Journey
To truly seek yourself, stand up and walk…
The shamanic journey is the first test that an apprentice must undergo on his/her journey in the body of Mother Earth. There are numerous works that offer guided visualisations for this purpose, each shaman has his/her own, handed down from master to student, received in a dream etc.
The shamanic journey is not, in fact, a simple technique, the body is conducted beyond its limits and resistances, but without the use of any type of psychotropic substance.
The true shamanic journey, experienced by me, does not happen in the mind. It is not a visualisation. It is done in Nature, in close contact with the elemental forces in the Belly of Mother Earth.
The body of the shaman is put to the hard test of initiation: loneliness, abandonment, fasting, cold, hunting, fighting, night defence, freezing baths. To obtain a prophecy we undergo heat sessions such as the ancient Pythonesses of the Temple of Apollo, in Greece, on the Delphic tripod. All this stimulates vision, clairvoyance and foresight, gifts of the mind and purification of the body, and does not necessarily and absolutely imply taking drugs. Indeed, precisely the absence of drugs, allows the Shaman Priestess herself to find and maintain control of the vision, to consciously interact in the world of Spirits and create a reflection in the world of Forms.
Everything that surrounds us is part of our Being, nature responds to what we are internally…
Inferior World THE CAVE: this is where the allied animal spirits meet. The Shamanic practice is purely personal. Shamans never talk about their allies in the spirit world, and not only because it weakens their power. The best thing would be to ask the animals or Spirit guides themselves if they want their presence to be revealed or not.
When the Shaman Priestess begins her descent into the lower world, she must physically head into caves, tunnels, ice caves, deserts, mountains, forests. Who practices shamanism, must know not only what lives in the world of ideas, in the mental world, but also and above all, what is found in the inner world. Below us, in our womb, lies the dark world linked to strong emotions and feelings. When you descend into the dark, passing through several tunnels, you also travel the path towards the unconscious, toward the unexplored parts of the personality. It is an important and necessary step, to learn to recognise sensations, to know how to discern non-ordinary reality from mental dream.
Middle World WATER: after the two physical worlds the body and mind of the Shaman Priestess open to the vision of the middle world. The middle world is a world very similar to ours, in which the Spirits of all those who live there meet. It is a fantastic way to communicate with plants, elemental beings, objects, people who live far away and above all to communicate with Nature.
This world allows you to meet the Mood, to explore her, to talk to her and to ask her to teach us to better understand our own cycles, our tides etc. It belongs to our terrestrial time, contrary to the other two. To find access, you have to go down to the lower world and ask the spirit-animals to accompany on the journey upwards. It is a complex world because inhabited by a crowd of lost spirits and souls, who perhaps do not even know why they died. It is never recommended to get in touch with them. Only an experienced psychopump, who guides the souls of the dead in the underworld, can interact and help. The realm of the dead is a dangerous realm for us, and if you are not a trained psychopump or you are inexperienced, you would drag with you into our world some wandering souls, souls who would generate great material difficulties and serious health problems. On the other hand it is very easy and interesting to find fairy beings fairies, elves and other elemental beings.
The Upper World THE HIGH MOUNTAIN: so beautiful that it takes your breath away… even just for a walk. The upper world is the world from which our souls originate, this contact can lead to getting lost forever because the world of high vibrations is full welcoming entities and often you may not want to return to human frequencies. Then when the Shaman Priestess will go to the Upper World, she will be so prepared for the management of her emotions, she will already have experiences on which to base herself. In the midst of the stars, among the clouds and the Gods, joy can be given to the heart. In this case, you go up to the high mountains and sleep outdoor near the stars.
Italian Medicine Wheel
Surround me with Light and Love and bring me where truth reigns… teach me to know the body.
Every way has been run across the children of Mother Earth, around and inside her maternal baby bump, here we have known the first circle, Container and Mystery Egg of Life, Regeneration and Rebirth. For Italian culture, the Medicine Wheel is the sacred place where we operate, it is not physically traced in predefined places, but travels with us, in our mind, in our heart and we take it everywhere to bless Mother Earth, our actions and our Sacred Rituals with immense Joy.
The Sacred circle where the following live: the North, the South, the East, the West.
THE NORTH EARTH: it brings the cold winds of winter, which purify the earth with their intensity and oblige everyone to spend part of their time doing nothing but warming up, lying down and renewing themselves.
THE EAST AIR: sends the warm winds of spring that dry out, torment and force you to open up to the illumination and wisdom, which are the gifts proper to this season.
THE SOUTH FIRE: brings the hot summer winds that open us up completely to growth, maturation, warmth and future fruits.
THE WEST WATER: it brings along the cold autumn breeze which invite us to gently return inside of ourselves, at the same time find additional resources, our inner strengths and weaknesses.