How do shamanic healings work?

The shaman can assist in healing any imbalances that are occurring for a person in their lives. Jez Hughes explains how this ancient natural practice  travels directly to this spiritual cause of illness to offer life-long healing.

Shamanism is as old as humanity itself. This ancient healing practice has been honed over tens of thousands of years yet remains as relevant and accessible today as when it first developed, for humans still become ill at ease and in need of healing.

From a animistic perspective, which shamanism arises out of, the whole universe is alive, made up of moving energy, or ‘spirit’ and everything within this universe has its own innate energetic intelligence, life force or soul. Because the shaman understands this simple truth; that at our core we are all made of the same energy, he/she is able to communicate with all things in the universe; be the invisible spirit of an illness, tree, rock or person. They are also able to travel beyond the confines of physical reality and into other invisible spiritual realities that have a profound influence on our own.

Through this process the shaman can assist in healing any imbalances that are occurring for a person in their lives, as outer symptoms will can often have a direct energetic root cause, being that that is what we are made of. The shaman travels directly to this spiritual cause of illness and assists in healing whilst also helping align the person with their soul; allowing them to tap into the vast storehouse of wisdom and healing there. This creates the opportunity for health. For, when we are alive and well in spirit, we are alive and well in life. 

There are several modalities that shamans use when supporting a healing, which I’ll explain below…


Through the process of everyday living we can quite often find ourselves absorbing and becoming loaded up with ‘spiritual intrusions’- energy that is having a damaging affect on our well being. Being constantly around situations with a lot of emotional charge can have this effect as can the suppression of our own powerful thoughts or emotions, which turn these powerful forces that need release back onto ourselves. Our inner ‘demons’ on the invisible level become a literal reality. This work is done in layers, as we can also store in our energetic bodies memories and traumas that haven’t been properly resolved and released. This can draw similar experiences to us as like attracts like in the invisible realms.

For example, if we are loaded up with unresolved grief or anger we can attract to us experiences that will provoke similar reactions, to give these stored up emotions something to feed off; literally ‘feeding our demons’. Or, there can be belief systems that hold the energy system in place- again attracting situations or life experiences that will uphold these negative beliefs about ourselves. This powerful work involves going to the heart of the problem, witnessing compassionately then releasing the emotional or energetic charge that is holding these intrusions, separating it from the thought form or belief system that has built up around it. This creates the opportunity for healing by enabling us to change the patterns and destructive aspects of ourselves that keep us in a place of ill health, be that physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.


We all have powerful allies in the invisible realms that protect and support us and are guardians of our spiritual health. When we are loaded up with intrusions we have generally lost a lot of our power by becoming disconnected from these helpers. We have lost part of our natural vitality, part of our spirit. Thus when the blockages have been removed, power is restored by reconnecting with these protectors, restoring the natural vitality of our spirits. The outer symptoms of such power loss can range from chronic misfortune to general low energy/depression to compulsive lying.


We inherit DNA. We can also inherit a lot of unresolved wounding that has been passed down our family line, often without realising. This being shown on a scientific level through the study of epigenetics. We live in a very psychological age and often look to experiences in our lives that may have set up destructive ‘patterns’ that repeat themselves later in our lives. However, sometimes the ‘patterns’ are set up before we arrive here, and may be then difficult to resolve through just the working out of our own problems.

The last century, with its unprecedented violence, warfare and destruction, has created a lot of trauma which is still affecting us on a grand scale. Family secrets, emotional and physical abuses and the breaking of taboos can also be passed down the blood line, causing further grief. There are a lot of ‘ghosts’ from the past that need laying to rest.

This powerful healing involves going directly to the source of the ancestral wound and healing it, thus freeing the person who has inherited this heavy burden. This also has the positive affect of allowing greater access to the ancestral gifts and talents that have also been inherited but may being laying dormant,


Psychopomp work may also be carried out for the release of deceased relatives or friends that have been unable to move on from this world fully and are still adversely affecting those left behind. The dead often need as much healing as the living, and by healing the dead we also heal the living.


Whenever anything traumatic happens in our lives (and trauma is always relative to the individual experiencing it) part of our essence can escape from us; we can fragment on a soul level. In modern psychological terms this process is called ‘disassociation’. It is a natural self-preservation method, similar to the flight or fight response, but on a soul level. Problems can arise when the part of us that has fragmented gets lost and remains disconnected from who we are. This can be due to the suddenness of the trauma, post traumatic stress disorder is a classic symptom of soul loss, or if this part of us refuses to come back when the situation is chronic such as ongoing emotional, psychic or physical abuse.

Alternatively, we can simply give away or lose part of our souls through difficult circumstances or even difficult choices made in life: ‘I left my heart in such and such a place,’ or ‘I’ve never been the same since such and such happened.’ ‘I don’t feel rightly myself’- these are classic signs of soul loss. Other symptoms of soul loss can be addiction (literally trying to fill the hole left in us); emotional dependency (looking for that part of ourselves in others); acute anxiety ; vague feelings of having lost part of ourselves; depression/ loss of direction etc.



In many ways the modern world is suffering soul loss on a mass scale, it has become something of an epidemic, hence the need to constantly fill our lives with ‘stuff’. This powerful healing tool always comes at the end of a healing, when the energy body has been prepared and cleansed fully through spirit extraction and any ancestral burdens have been lifted. The soul part then has a much greater chance of integrating, returning the person to wholeness and well being. Again, this allows for the possibility of new choices to be made that will enhance health, based upon wholeness rather than fragmentation.

Our teaching programme provisionally began in the woods in 2009 before finding its form in 2010 with the first Four Seeds course. This was after I had spent a long period wondering the land with offerings and asking what it was the spirits there required from modern day shamanic practitioners. How could we be part of healing our relationship with nature? It was also in response to being asked by several people who had been training in shamanism and had been around my work for some years to teach them some healing practices. My initial thought was I am not going to teach you anything before you undergo some initiations. The need for people to be initiated into a proper relationship with the land and their ancestors before learning any practices is central to our work at Second Sight. The following year (2011) saw the adding of the practitioner elements and the current training programmes have evolved organically from that initial vision and responding to these requests, to their current form. This process is ongoing as more and more guidance and information is received. In that way, the trainings stay dynamic whilst retaining that initial intention of healing the relationship between the human and their environment. 


Having lost our traditional lineages and practices in the West, it is my belief that the land still holds the knowledge and wisdom of the ceremonies and offerings that will help us to get back on track again, if we have the right ears to listen. This is married to the experience that comes from having performed healings on thousands of people from all walks of life, to understand on an experiential level what is out of balance from a spiritual perspective in the modern world. Combining these elements means the re-dreaming of practices that have the timeless quality that immersion in nature brings, alongside practical benefits for modern society and the humans it has created. 

In 2013, through a series of synchronicities (see the indigenous collaboration section) we hosted our first ceremony in the woods with a senior Marakame from the Wixarika tradition. During the ceremony, the Marakame spent the whole night talking with and listening to the local spirts of the land, as is their tradition. As the ceremony was drawing to a close he gave his ‘morning news’ from the spirit world and announced that the ‘spirits are happy with your work here, they are well fed.’ This then began an ongoing relationship between Second Sight and the Wixarika nation. The learning that has occurred from an unbroken tradition, which hasn’t been destroyed or transformed by the modern incursions of capitalism or communism, or influenced by the major religions such as Christianity or Buddhism, has shaped our work in a profound way. And continues to do so. This is something I am eternally grateful for. The Wixarika have become family.

In order to learn to become ‘shamans’- healers, diviners and ceremonialists that utilise trance states to access and commune with the invisible worlds of spirit for the benefit of their community- we must first have experience that comes from being immersed in an animistic culture. This way of being, of constant recognition and engagement with the invisible forces that animate nature, with the sacred, is what has been lost in our modern day, technocratic worlds. And the reconstructing of these traditions is probably going to take several generations. But that process has to begin somewhere, all we can do I believe is to begin to plant seeds for future generations. The seeds that have the most life, the most spirit in them, will germinate and grow for benefit of these future generations. This feeding of the sacred for the continuation of life, is the foundation Second Sight is based upon. 

At the heart of all of this is community. Which involves repairing the bonds that have been lost within human families and communities brought up in an era of rampant individualism. The healing of broken bonds between ancestors and their descendants. And, crucially, the reparation of relationship between human culture and nature. This is not easy work, much has been done to cause these chasms and it can’t be treated with the same mentality that caused the problems in the first place. That means, in my opinion, letting go of the idea of shamanism as some kind of self development path or something that will bring glamour and fame to individuals. Self development and spiritual growth may happen as a side effect of this path, but the focus needs to be on service to the whole. And the healing of the above conditions that have been created. 

Which is why training and guiding is needed. I am guided through the relationship with the spirits and my ancestors that has been built up over 35 years, alongside the close friendship with a culture who have retained their animistic and shamanistic ways intact. In this way I initiated Second Sight to offer a container for others who seek this shamanic path in the modern world. However, Second Sight has also evolved, and continues to do so, through the thousands of people who have come through our healings and trainings and then become part of the community. Hopefully, through this interaction, a thing of beauty is being created whilst, at the same time, constantly being renewed.     


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