Embracing Shamanism as a Gift

Sarah Petruno

I’m not gonna lie, when I first realized that my gift was shamanism and my path was to be a shaman, I was a little mad.

I didn’t fully understand what it meant at the time.  All I really knew was that it had something to do with spirits and energy healing.

And as far as I was concerned, I thought energy healing was a shit gift.

Yep, those were my thoughts.

I was mad that I didn’t have the gift of being a fun, flashy, medium who can see dead people clear as day, and talk to them like regular people, too. (I now know shamans can do this too).

That was the cool gift, I thought. That’s the one I wanted.

Instead, I felt like I was the lame twin who got the lame gift of energy healing.

Which, as far as I was concerned, was a BS fluff gift that was just for fun and kitsch, and had no real value or use in the world.

I thought shamanism, energy healing, and spiritual healing were throwaway gifts and worth nothing.

AND I wasn’t all that stoked of having to embody the image I had set in my mind of what a female shaman had to look like.

I didn’t want to wear hooded hemp ponchos. Or give up makeup and nail polish. Or wear those handwoven purses from the local head shops. Or go anywhere that I had to stay in a slightly damp camping situation.

I also wasn’t into drum circles or using the stereotypical spiritual language I’d heard used throughout college among my hippie friends.

I was angry about getting a useless gift, and feeling cringe-y about what this path meant for my own personal sense of self.

I didn’t want to abandon who I was, and I also wanted to do something with my life that I felt had purpose.

And, well, when I started, I didn’t feel that shamanism or energy healing had much of a purpose.

But, it became clearer and clearer that this was to be my path. So, I had some reconciliation to do.

If I was going to learn shamanism, I was going to do it my way. I’m aware that this is ego driven, of course, but this was the way my scientific minded, non-spiritual persona approached the learning of shamanism – in a controlled, scientific manner.

This meant that I practiced under a business name, to cover my real name, and I didn’t use any traditionally shamanic tools in my studies.  As a graduate student at the time, not fully ready to commit, I didn’t want anyone in my life to know what I was doing, of course.

I also needed to believe it worked and I needed to understand why it could work.

I wanted shamanism to make sense to me, scientifically.

My entire lifetime before shamanism was based in scientific training, and I walked away from a Ph.D. program to pursue shamanism, so “it” being scientifically plausible to the greatest extent possible, was a must for me.

To do this, I started to make the connections myself. I’d write and form the connections as I did.

I wrote blog posts where I’d channel my guides, and have them explain shamanic and energetic concepts from a scientific standpoint. This helped me see it as scientifically valid. I put the pieces together, and fundamentally, it made sense even if science had no way of validating it.

While I made sense of shamanism logically, I mastered, honed, and learned the craft entirely without the use of tools.

I didn’t own a drum or a rattle until this year, and I just received my first gift with feathers on it.

I also wanted proof that it worked. Early on, I wasn’t entirely convinced of its effectiveness.

I had clients that got upset that things weren’t working or were made worse, complaints that I now know are signs of a purge and indicative that it IS working. I’d receive validation here and there, but nothing powerfully and overly convincing to me.

But, slowly, all the reports of things “working,” began to chip away at my belief that shamanism was a fluff gift, and I began to see it’s power.

I started to change.

My perceptions began to shift. I’m not sure when, or where the turning point occurred, but somewhere along the way, I started to embrace shamanism and become its biggest cheerleader.

I can’t even say how it happened. But, I’m now at a point where I’m a devotee of shamanic healing and will default to asking the spirits, following the guidance, and healing myself through shamanism before anything else.

Western medicine, in my life, is a last resort.

THIS. From the girl who was disgusted by shamanism and considered it a laughable gift.

I’ve done a complete 180 from where I started.

But, I didn’t have to compromise anything.

My life is different now, and I’ve had to walk through many fires to get to this point, but, the parts I feared having to change, didn’t change.

I still wear makeup and nail polish. I don’t own any hemp or tassel purses, and I have not been camping in a damp tent (yet). To this day,  even with tools now, I have found that I actually prefer to do everything {mostly} without them.

Slowly, I became less embarrassed of shamanism and fearful of what people would think when I called myself a shaman.

I’ve come to understand how shamanism fits within a scientific worldview and landscape. And I don’t need science’s approval anymore.

I’ve seen too many instances of shamanism working in absence of the need to match things up atom for atom.

Over the years, and even more so now that I have a community within my The Shaman Life program, I’ve seen shamanic healing make physical, tangible, real-world changes in the lives of myself, my family, my clients, and my community.

It becomes more and more difficult to write something off as “well, maybe,” when the reports of success start to pile higher and higher at your feet.

But, nothing could have made me such a shamanic diehard, as seeing the changes and profound ways in which I and my family have been healed from dire situations, by shamanism.

Blood clots, liver failure, mastitis, seasonal allergies, my pets’ allergies, cancer, fever, swelling, viruses, infections, poisonous spider bites, and so much more have been healed by shamanism.

Things that western medicine would have you believe

A. Definitely require medical intervention, doctors, and drugs to treat

B. And/or, would cause you seriously bodily injury, harm, or potentially death without medical treatment

I’ve seen friends get offered jobs and pay raises the day after doing a powerful shamanic healing exercise.

I’ve known colleagues and clients to get pregnant after years of infertility, after a shamanic healing.

I’ve seen entire lives change as a result of shamanism. Symptoms disappearing and pain evaporating.

Shamanism has made me a believer. The spirits have shown me it works, over and over and over again.

Just by the fact that I continued to be an observer. I stayed the course, begrudgingly at times, but I stayed.

I kept paying attention.

No longer do I believe it’s a shit gift, the lamest psychic power of all.

I still get to wear nail polish. I don’t live in a tent. And I’m a badass healer.

It took a few years, but I came around.

Shamanism’s biggest fan,


The tunic in the picture above is from SivanaSpirit.com (aff link). Photo credit: Amanda Linette Meder

Last Updated: September 29, 2016