How I Became a Shamanic Healer, by Ishtar Dingir
Sometimes I get asked about why I became a shamanic healer, or how I became a shaman, and I would like to try to describe something of the process here, despite the fact that my path towards becoming a shaman began before I was even aware of any kind of process taking place. So it’s only in looking back that I can see many classic shaman apprentice landmarks along the way. But I wasn’t aware of what they meant at the time.
The definition of a shaman is someone who journeys in trance into other dimensions to receive healing, guidance or information from the entities (otherwise known as spirits) which he or she meets there, and then brings back those gifts for their tribe or, more likely these days, for individuals.
The dimensions which the shaman journeys exist outside of place and time, and so it is possible to get back into the past. In fact, you can get so far back into the past that you can get to the moment of your birth … and then, even further back. So one of my first journeys was to the point where my soul was just coming into incarnation, just coming into the embryo. The reason I did this was because I knew I would be carrying the essence of my life path, and all the targets and ‘appointments’ I had set for myself … the reason why I was taking on a human body. I wanted to ‘talk’ to myself as I was then, to find out what my destiny was. When you travel into the heart of this entity – the essence of you – it’s like flying into the heart of a nuclear explosion. It’s enormous and very bright and colourful. Here’s something of what it looked like, as I flew into it. It looks like a huge nebulla explosion.
Exploding psychedelic egg
I flew into this exploding, multi-coloured psychedelic egg and then, by what shamans called ‘instantaneous transmission’, I was given the purpose of my life and my life’s path. And then I could see that everything I was then doing in my life was part of what I had already planned to do, before I even took a body. So although it may have seemed strange that I was on this path before I even knew that I was, it was only because until about 12 years ago, I hadn’t been in touch with my soul body. So I didn’t know why certain things were happening to me, and the order in which they were happening. I didn’t know that I’d already organised it before coming into incarnation.
For most of my life, I was really out of touch with this part of me, the real me – I was blinded to it by so many things. It was like the part in Plato’s cave before you actually start to make the “ascent from the cave”, or even know you that can, or even know that you are in a “cave”.
One of the things that blinded me was that I was very attractive when I was younger, and so there was always a man around who wanted to look after me. I never had to develop my own power because I could always rely on the power of my male partner. So I was very much limping in terms of empowerment, but my destiny had to carry on regardless, as I had planned it that way. So my life unfolded in such a way for me to meet the right people and learn the correct spiritual practises that would eventually get me in touch with my soul body. I had various gurus and tried different forms of yoga and meditation techniques, none of which appeared to be doing much apart from giving me amazingly low blood pressure and people always said how calm they felt around me. However, I wasn’t after lower blood pressure. I wanted to know the meaning of my life!
Anyway, after what seemed like a long time of struggling and not getting very far, something must have worked because by about my mid-40s, my soul body was really making its presence felt and I felt dissatisfied with my life, to such an extent that I gave up my job as a journalist, and sold my house, and went to India. It was an act of renunciation, I suppose. It was a way of sending out a very loud signal, as if to yell out: “Hey guys, I’m not doing this crap anymore, so can you start bringing on the real stuff please!”And that’s when they started bringing it on in wheelbarrows.
Realms of the Dead
But even then, I found (and I’ve noticed that others say this too), that the whole progression towards becoming a shaman doesn’t happen in an ordered way, like you would expect it to. I thought I would study the theory and then gradually be taught the practice. But no, they don’t like to do it that way. They like to do everything upside down and inside out. And also there’s an element of that John Lennon line: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.” So half the time, you’re concentrating on something going on in left field while the real thing, the thing that’s going to impact on you, is happening on the right. Or, other times, you experience it first, but you don’t know what it is that you just experienced until your path develops enough over time for you realise what it was you experienced at that time.
Perhaps an example will help. My first initiation as a shaman was followed by being in total darkness for four days. During this time, I found myself in the Realms of the Dead. I flew over the heads of all my ancestors who were standing, stretched along a river bank for miles upon miles upon miles until I reached some quite archaic looking people. Then I flew back the other way until I ended up in remote viewing my cousin’s funeral. But no-one told me, at that time, that I was in the Realms of the Dead and it wasn’t until more than a year later, when our teacher, Simon, was training us to go into the Realms of the Dead, and I ended up there again, that I recognised it.
Well anyway, I’ve had several initiations by now, including a death-rebirth one almost exactly a year ago. I really enjoyed that first one, though, being in the dark for four days, and would like to do it again. I learned more about life in those four days than in the rest of my life. I read in Eliade’s book that in Siberia, the apprentices would be kept in the dark of a cave for nine months. I would really like to do that, if only I could find a nice, warm cave and someone to bring me my meals!
At another of my initiations, I had to dig my own ‘grave’ and then lie buried in it overnight. I can’t say I enjoyed that initiation very much, but not because I didn’t feel safe. I did feel safe. I had an air hole and my teacher stayed awake all night and I could him hear him walking around and drumming, and I hear the fire crackling comfortingly on the surface. I was just scared that some worm would slither across me or a rat might jump at my face. By the way, this initiation of being buried alive is not just to be horrible to you, to test you. That’s not the reason for it. It’s purpose is to be completely surrounded by Mother Earth, to feel enclosed within her womb. This was an important initiation and I did slip into a very deep trance and when they dug me out, the next day, I cried like a baby, coming out of the womb.
Another typical process the apprentice shaman goes through is dismemberment. This is done entirely during the journey to the other dimensions which are places of no pain, which is just as well as you are torn limb from limb and then all your body parts are usually placed in a huge cauldron and they boil it up … and then they put you back together with a new body.
So how do you know when you’ve become a full-blown shaman? Well, I don’t know if you ever do. It is gratifying, though, when you gradually begin to realise that the stuff you’re doing is working – that you ask for something, and you get it. I don’t mean like the winning Lottery numbers… that’s not what we’re given these gifts for. But I ask for ‘outcomes’ shall we say, that are to put things back into balance – whether it’s a person or something to do with the state of the Earth — and I get those outcomes almost instantaneously.
Ishtar Dingir (with The Shift Doctors– a.k.a. Tracy Latz MD & Marion Ross PhD).
Ishtar can be contacted via her website: Ishtar’s Gate, where there is also information on shamanism within prehistoric times.
-Reproduced by kind permission of The Therapy Book, the online one-stop-shop for complementary health therapies from aromatherapy to zero balancing and everything in between. 🙂
-Find out more about “The Shift Doctors”, their books, videos and meditation CDs at: http://shiftyourlife.com/shift-store/