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Shaman Elizabeth HerreraI never thought I would be a healer, much less a shaman. I enjoyed a successful life as a graphic designer and an owner of a small design firm—and the perks that went along with it. But, it seemed the Spirit had other plans for me.

In my early 20s, I lost my faith, which left a hole in my heart that I didn’t know how to fill. My faith had always been important to me, which is why I was surprised that I would lose it because of the profound impact of a single book.

The book, "The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth," by Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor, explored the religious traditions and cultures of humanity since the earliest known worship of the Goddess and Mother earth.
After reading the book, I had a much better understanding of the tragic impact of patriarchal religions throughout history and came to believe that too much of what my religion had proclaimed was a lie. I further rationalized that if religion was a lie, then so was God. I was too young to see that religion and God did not have to go hand-in-hand and, subsequently, lost my faith in both.

However, my life began to change again in 2002 when I read the bestselling book "The Four Agreements" by Don Miquel Ruiz. In the book, he mentioned that he was a shaman, a medicine man, as was his mother and ancestors. Being of Hispanic and Native American descent, shamanism intrigued me. I thought perhaps it was a Mexican religion I had never heard of and vowed that if I ever got the chance to learn more about it, I would.

A few months later, I received a newsletter from a local hospital offering a workshop on shamanism, in addition to their usual classes on diabetes, high-blood pressure, and healthy living. Although it seemed odd that a hospital would sponsor a class on shamanism, I took advantage of the opportunity and signed up.

The class was comprised of eight students, all new to shamanism. The teacher worked as a social worker during the day.

The first night, she taught the history of shamanism, which included an overview of spirit guides, power animals, and shamanic journeying. She explained the different spirit realms, the purpose of power animals as guides and protectors, and the benefits of building relationships with spirit guides. I learned that shamanism is still practiced by indigenous people throughout the world today.
After an hour-and-a-half, her lesson seemed to be drawing to a close, so I was caught off-guard when she said, “Well, let’s shamanic journey!” I had not even considered that someone other than a shaman could attempt this.

For six weeks, we journeyed to the spirit realm and shared our discoveries. The workshop turned out to be so much more than the history lesson I had expected!

A week after the workshop was completed, my family and I moved from Michigan to Florida. Since I didn’t know any shamanic teachers in the area, I continued to shamanic journey on my own. Every few weeks, for reasons I didn’t understand, I would hear a call to shamanic journey that was too strong to resist. I would wait until the house was empty, play my drumming CD, and journey to the spirit realm.

After shamanic journeying for several years and relocating to West Palm Beach, I saw an advertisement for an upcoming event at a local metaphysical bookstore. A man named William, who claimed to channel an enlightened being, was offering a group reading.

Intrigued, I drove to the plaza where the metaphysical store was located. Melodious chimes greeted me as I walked through the entrance and saw a wide array of New Age books, jewelry, crystals, and artwork. I proceeded to the back where rows of chairs had been arranged to face the raised platform on which William would be sitting while he channeled messages. I chose a chair in the front row and waited to see what would happen.
William walked onto the stage and sat down. He closed his eyes and, after a short while, he opened them and pointed to a woman. He told her she was trying to sell her house. She nodded in agreement. He gave her a time frame and instructions on how to best handle the sales offer. Another man was told that the software he was developing would be successful and not to give up—he was going to make a lot of money in addition to helping other people. Needless to say, the man diligently wrote down all the details.

After an hour, it seemed that most of the participants had been given a message for dealing with the realities of their lives. There were only a few people still waiting, and I started to worry that he had overlooked me.

I waited anxiously as William paused between messages and wondered who he would choose next. Suddenly, he opened his eyes, pointed his finger at me, and shouted, “You are a healer!”
I honestly looked behind me, but when I turned back, he was still looking at me. Then he said, “One day you will be up here where I am, healing and teaching others.”

The spirit he channeled told him that I had hidden from the role of being a healer because I had been persecuted for my talents in past lives. The channeled message continued for nearly 10 minutes—much longer than the other readings. I felt myself becoming embarrassed at the amount of time dedicated to describing healing abilities that I doubted I possessed. But, the message made an impact on me, and somewhere in the back of my mind, the idea of being a healer churned.

A few months later, “Jessica,” a friend who suffered from clinical depression, was having a mental breakdown. She’d had many such episodes in the previous years, and each one resulted in a minimum stay of a week at a psychiatric hospital while they reviewed her medications and sometimes performed electroshock treatments. It would then take her a week or two to recover at home.

I thought, “Why not shamanic journey to request a healing? After all, I am supposed to be a healer.”
Since it was the first time I had requested a healing, I asked my power animal to show me the way. He led me to a spirit guide who accepted the healing request for Jessica.

Instantly, the spirit guide and I were at the edge of Jessica’s bed. The spirit guide symbolically opened up the top of her head and began to spin her brain. He called it a “spiritual lobotomy.”

I asked if he could do anything for her pain. He sprinkled a white powder inside her head and said, “Just a little something to take the edge off.”
I thanked him for doing the healing, but still the vision did not seem real.

The next morning, I called Jessica and was shocked when she answered the phone. When I told her I was surprised, she said she was too! In fact, earlier that morning, she and her therapist had tried to analyze why she woke up feeling so good, but Jessica couldn’t think of anything she had done that contributed to alleviating her depression.

Excited by the healing’s success, I began performing healings for sick friends and family members who came to my attention. And, it worked every time—even though most didn’t know I had journeyed for them.

My life as a healer had begun, but I had not yet received the title of Shaman. However, it seemed fitting that my initiation as a shaman would be linked to my first healing.

Two years had passed since my first healing for Jessica when she sent me an email describing an amazing dream she’d had the night before. She said the dream was so vivid that it had to be real—an unusual statement from a woman who didn’t practice any sort of spirituality or metaphysical activities.

In her message, she wrote that my spirit guide had come to her and said, “Today, we are celebrating Elizabeth becoming a Shaman!”

He asked her to join him and the other spirits as they celebrated my initiation. Jessica watched as the spirits danced around a fire and was mesmerized by the beauty and love of the ceremony. She saw them place a beautiful purple headdress on my head and proclaim that I was now a Shaman!

Jessica didn’t know that earlier that day, I had gone to a metaphysical bookstore and healing center to offer my shamanic healing services to the public for the first time.

We all play a part in each other’s lives, and no healing ever affects just one person. The very definition of a healing is two people recognizing their oneness.

Book excerpt from "Shaman Stone Soup."