Healing States

 A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism

by Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D.

Foreword by Lynn V. Andrews, Author of jaguar Woman

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Book Details
 234 p
 File Size 
 3,919 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 1986, 1987
 by Alberto Villoldo
 and Stanley Krippner 

We each need our own unique healing. So often today
among people w ho are familiar with alternative health
methods , we hear of the " wounded Healer" -a person
who has lived through a life-threatening crisis and has
attained special healing power. It is true that each of us,
though maybe not a traditional or practicing shaman or
healer, is on a journey, seeking wholeness, seeking healing-
our own enlightenment. Perhaps this is the true reason
that we are on this mother earth, and perhaps
enlightenment is the one thing we are most afraid of.
There is a healing sound inherent in each living creature
in this universe . The challenge that we each face is
to create our own dynamic rhythm in our personal universe.
Healing States enables us to explore that possibility.
Much has been said about the integrity of modern
medicine versus the primal techniques of healing. It is
interesting to note that most of the prescribed drugs in
use today trace their roots back to medicine plants
known for centuries by indigenous cultures and their
shamans . If there is one rift between shamanism and
modern medicine that I would like to see bridged, it is
the one caused by modern medicine ' s elitism and refusal
to communicate. We need the merging of ancient wisdom
and modern science. Alberto and Stanley have written
a book that provides the accessibility needed for
communication between two outwardly disparate yet inwardly
common endeavors . That endeavor is the healing
of mind, body, and spirit-the healing of the totality of
the human organism.
As my teacher, Agnes Whistling Elk , has taught me ,
we all must make our own act of power in life. This act
is essential to provide a mirror for our own behavior and
to facilitate our involvement while we also heal others .
The art of shamanism is an act of power that long ago
initiated the use of healing plants and that teaches us to
choreograph the energies held within those plants and
within ourselves. We live in a time of vision, a time when
all of us are seeking not only new answers but also new
questions to help us solve the mysteries that confront us
as a species . In Healing States, Alberto and Stanley investigate
the sources of disease, not just the effects of
illness . In doing so, I believe they have addressed one of
the most important issues of our time.
Lynn V . Andrews

In 1971, Fred Swinney was told by his physician that he
had , at most, three years to live. He was suffering from
hypertension, heart disease, ulcers , and hypoglycemia.
Seeing a connection between his weakened physical condition
and his job pressures as an engineer, he entered
psychotherapy. His experience not only improved his
physical health but prompted Swinney to enter graduate
school in p sychology. He received his clinical certification
in Transactional Analysis in 1 975, and began seeing clients.
But S winne y ' s career change was only the beginning
of a new life direction. In 1 976 he was traveling by canoe
to James B ay in the wilderness of northern Ontario, Canada.
He was alone and had taken along only his sleeping
bag and a few supplie s . One night Swinney fell asleep
before his smoldering fire and had a dream in which animal
predators emerged from the woods and devoured him.

Awakening in terror, Swinney cast his gaze toward the
coals of the fire . Just beyond he discerned two piercing
eyes and the large gray form of a wolf. Swinney' s first
impulse was to run away but, transfixed by the animal's
eyes , found himself unable to move . Surprisingly, a feeling
of total surrender replaced Swinney' s fear, just as if
he were a wolf himself. In the few minutes shared, Swinney
experienced a deep union with the wolf. After the
wolf disappeared through the trees, Swinney still sensed
that he had become a wolf during their brief interaction .
Swinney left the wilderness renewed and grateful to
his inner wolf. He returned to his family and clients in
Michigan. But, he asked himself, how could he use the
wolf in civilization? As the weeks passed , Swinney attempted
to forget the episode as it differed so radically
from anything he had ever experienced . He completed
his Master' s degree in 1 980 and avoided any activity or
setting that would again evoke his wolflike nature .
Five years later, during a group therapy session held
while fire was flickering in Swinney' s fireplace , one of
his clients expressed extreme anger. Suddenly, Swinney
envisioned Libra, the Greek goddess of justice, holding
her balanced scales . He asked his client if she could relate
to this image. The woman erupted with emotion ,
telling the group how, during her childhood , her mother
had tried to treat her and her sister equally . When the
client did not experience this fairness in later life, it upset
her and she could not cope with other people very well.

Upon working through her memories of her early experiences
and subsequent expectations , the client was able
to accept the inequities in her relationships . Eventually,
she was able to terminate therapy. Swinney realized that
the appearance of the image resembled his experience
with the wolf. In both instances , he had been brought
into direct contact with his feelings, hunches , and intuitions.
Swinney resolved to learn more about wolves. Two
friends gave him books about wolves , even though they
knew nothing about his experience in the woods or his
resolution. His reading provided information about shamans
and how they often dream about being devoured
and reborn during their initiation rites or training periods
. Swinney also learned that shamans were the first
professional psychotherapists and that they frequently
have "animal guides" that assist their work with clients .
Identifying with shamans because of his own "animal
guide, " S winney took the name "Graywolf" and intra
duced shamanic elements into his work as a psychotherapist.
Graywolf shared these experiences with us over the
years, and we all planned to meet at the 1 984 convention
of the Association for Humanistic Psychology in Boston.
The program had announced a presentation on shamanism
by Stanley Krippner and Alberto Villoldo , but Villoldo'
s airplane was delayed and Graywolf took his
place . Graywolf told his story and led the group in several
breathing and imagery exercises that he found useful
with his clients . His contributions were well received by
the audience of several hundred people , many of whom
told Graywolf that they were inspired by his account.
This response lent confirmation to Graywolf ' s direction
and he continued to develop his unique approach to
psychotherapy. The three of us presented a program on
shamanism at another Association for Humanistic
Psychology meeting in 1 986. By this time , Graywolf' s
clients considered him a shaman as well as a psychotherapist.
S hamanism is a 100,000-year-old tradition of knowledge
that once permeated all forms of medicine and psychotherapy.
Shamans were the first healers, responsible
for the health and well-being of their community . While
today' s medical practitioners focus upon clients' physical
problems and psychotherapists deal with their mental
and emotional difficulties , shamans have always administered
to these aspects of their clients' lives as well as
to their deep spiritual needs . By "spiritual" we mean
those aspects of human experience that reflect a transcendent
quality, e .g . , an encounter with God , a feeling
of unity with all humanity, a connection with life in general
and with the universe' s creative processes.

The medicine men and women in North and South
America believe that all healing involves an experience
of the spiritual, where the ill person rediscovers his con
nection to nature and to the divine. For thi s , the patient
must step out of his ordinary state of awareness and into
an extraordinary or ecstatic state where the journey back
to health can begin. Don Eduardo Calderon, the Peruvian
shaman described in the second part of this book,
believes that ill people must also discover their own
power as healers , for it is the patients who heal themselves
, not the shaman or medical doctor. In this respect ,
the beliefs of the shamans coincide with those of the
spiritual healers , discussed in the first part of this book ,
who claim that we all have the potential to heal ourselves
and others once we discover our source of power and
healing in the spirit world and are able to transmit this
power to others .

Although the beliefs and healing systems of shamans
and spiritual healers are very different, they both believe
that we all possess awesome potentials and capabilities ,
many of which defy our definitions of the normal . They
believe that there is life after death , that the mind is able
to travel through space to obtain information or influence
events happening at a distant location , that one can
foretell future events and even change the outcome of
these events , that one can travel in dreams , and that one
can create one ' s own healthy body and mind .
The spiritual healers we have studied go so far as to
say that unless we develop and train the extraordinary
skills and unusual abilities of our minds, these abilities
can turn against us, creating psychosomatic disease. Indeed,
it appears that the extraordinary capabilities that
once were in the exclusive domain of healers , mediums ,
and shCJ.mans have become the birthright of everyone
alive today, for we humans are a vital and integral part
of the power that animates the cosmos , not something
set aside from it.

This shamanic vision has inspired both of us from our
earliest years , as one of us [Villoldo] grew up in Cuba in
a culture where " spirits" were omnipresent, and the
other [Krippner] was raised in Wisconsin where Native
American artifacts and traditions were constantly in evidence.
We met at the University of Puerto Rico in 1972
when Villoldo was an undergraduate and Krippner a visiting
professor. We met again a year later when Krippner
was a visiting professor at Sonoma State University in
California and Villoldo was studying for his Masters degree
in psychology. Eventually, Villoldo completed his
doctorate at Saybrook Institute where Krippner was a
faculty member.

Over the years , we have marveled at the shamanic
legacy that exists in North and South America, as well
as at the wisdom in traditions that contain shamanistic
elements. We have observed medicine men, medicine
women, mediums , and herbalists. We have witnessed
their healing sessions, and have attempted to understand
their worldview and their models of medicine and psychotherapy
. We have seen many of these healers change
their state of consciousness through dance, breathing,
music, heat, imagery , and herbal preparations , and have
sometimes entered these states with them. By " consciousness
, " we simply mean a person's overall pattern
of perceiving, thinking, and feeling. A " state of consciousness"
refers to the pattern that exists at any given
point in time . Some states of consciousness are said to
be especially conducive to self-healing or to the healing
of others ; these " healing states " require scrutiny
whether they involve shamanic rituals, mediumship , or
any other procedure .

In the pages that follow we document our journeys and
experiences with some of the most extraordinary healers
of our time and describe techniques of healing and ecstatic
trance that can be used to maintain health and for
self-healing. In addition, we have sought to present as
accurately as possible the shaman' s path to power and
knowledge, a path that is undertaken to enable a person
to achieve healing and wholeness. We did not always
share the healers ' interpretation of the events we witnessed
, nor do we necessarily agree with everything told
us by the healers . Nevertheless, we do harbor a deep
sense of respect for the practitioners we have visited and
the conviction that their wisdom is again needed on this planet.

Technology and industrialization have produced many
benefits for many people . But the earth has paid a price
as it suffers from exploitation, erosion, pollution, and
overcrowding. A spiritual price has also been paid by
those people who feel a lack of connection with anything
vibrant or vital in today' s world . After more than forty
years combined research with spiritual healers and shamans,
we are convinced that their healing and spiritual
traditions offer a direct and powerful path to the spirit in
which , by serving a vision of the vibrant human beings
and the harmonious world we can create , we finally learn
to take responsibility for the healing and continued evolution
of the earth.
Alberto Villoldo and Stanley Krippner

Table of Contents
Foreword ix
Introduction xi
Part I The Dimensions of Spiritual Healing 1
1 Life after Life 5
2 The Medical Doctor Turned Psychic Surgeon 26
3 The Spiritual Psychiatry of Dr. Mendes 39
4 Drum and Candle Ceremonies: Incorporating the
Spirits 55
5 The B uddhist Firewalkers 72
Part II A Journey of Initiation 83
6 The Shaman' s Journey 87
7 The Needle and Thread 78
8 Machu Picchu 1 05
9 Black Magic 1 19
1 0 Between Heaven and Earth 1 26
1 1 Initiation 1 36
Part III From Primitive Myths to
Planetary Healing 145
1 2 Shamanic Ritual , Myth , and Medicine 149
13 Models of S hamanic Healing 1 63
1 4 Healing and Ecstatic States of Trance 1 74
1 5 Toward a Healthy Planet 1 87
Notes 203

Healing States- A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism
Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
First Fireside Edition, 1987
Simon & Schuster Building
Rockefeller Center
1230 A venue of the Americas
New York, New York 10020
Originally published in West Germany in 1986 by Sphinx Verlag
Basel under the title Heilen und Schamanismus.
All photographs by Franz Ries unless otherwise indicated .
FIRESIDE and colophon are registered trademarks
of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Designed by Irving Perkins Associates , Inc.
Manufactured in the United States of America

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