Today’s interview is with Shaman and Spiritual Coach, Michael Burdick. Michael has traveled the world studying Shamanism. His practice focuses on integrating mind, body and spirit. Michael performs Reiki and shamanic healing techniques, and teaches breath work and firewalking throughout the Capital Region. You can find out more about Michael by visiting his website at Owlessence.com
Q: What is Shamanism?
A: Shamanism is possibly the oldest and most wide spread healing practice known to man.
The shaman is someone that walks the line between the physical and metaphysical worlds. Traditional shamans communicate with spirits in order to help clients and the planet heal. These days shamans can be found in almost all walks of life. Training to be a shamanic practitioner is a beautiful and humbling experience. Learning ways to heal yourself, others, and the planet is an extraordinary way to tap into your potential.
Q: What brought you to this work?
A: Ever since I was a kid I always had an interest in energy and nature.
I began reading about shamanic work and energy but never thought about putting it into practice. In 2009 I was planning a vacation to Scotland. A friend of mine recommended a retreat center there and suggested I go there for a massage and to relax if I got the chance. I went home and looked up the center and saw there was a training in Shamanic Journeying, so I registered for the weekend.
The training was fantastic and far beyond anything I could have thought. On the last morning, I had a half-asleep dream of the teacher, Stephen, speaking to me. He said “If you are going to do this, I will show you the way” and then he kicked me in the chest. The feeling was so real I woke up and thought a spring had broken in the mattress. Later in the workshop, Stephen was talking about the Shamanic symptoms of soul loss. Anger, rage, depression … all the negative things that had plagued me my entire life. As he was speaking, I began to cry, I knew he was talking about me.
After the training was finished, I asked Stephen if he would perform a Soul Retrieval on me. He agreed and I changed the rest of my vacation plans to stay near the center so I could see him two days later. After the session, Stephen said he was given the message that I had been called to do Shamanic work but I had not seen it. Shaman are usually called for many reasons, but the most well-known one is a near death experience. Which I had during a time in my life when I had attempted suicide. He told me that the message he got was that it was “time for me to bring the knowledge to the people” and that I could no longer keep people waiting.
That experience sparked a change in me that I cannot even begin to explain. I had a lust for life, an overwhelming need to help people, and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I spent the years after training with Stephen and his Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman, as well as with several other teachers from around the world.
I spent time training in California, Scotland, Peru, and Mexico learning everything I could about healing work and Shamanism so I could get to a place where I could not only do sessions for people, but also to help them learn how they can heal themselves and others.
Q: I am curious as to the differences you observed in the different countries as well as the strong thread that unites them?
A: The differences are few and usually are just different names for the same things.
A lot of Shamanic healing techniques center around the seven Chakras, while in Peru it’s focused on five main healing centers, which are remarkably similar to the Chakras. Regardless of the lineage, the basic methods of Shamanism and practices for illness are the same. Power Retrieval, Soul Retrieval, Extraction are all healing practices in all of the places I have traveled.
Studying with my teacher in Scotland was much more in depth. Stephen teaches Celtic Shamanism and the center he runs is at the base of a mountain called Ben Ledi. It is said that the druids used to hold Beltane ceremonies at the summit. The land there has a very powerful energy about it. Because of this I would say that some of my most profound and powerful experiences happened in Scotland. But that being said, I have also had powerful experiences all over, even at home, so it’s not like anyone needs to travel to find their medicine.
Q: Who seeks out this work?
A: I work with anyone from children to adults to animals.
I even once performed a Soul Retrieval on a client’s home for them. In Shamanism everything is alive and has soul essence and illness starts when this essence is lost or intruded upon. Most people seek help because they feel like “something is missing” or just not right. Others have come to me with depression, physical ailments, and PTSD. The thing I love most about the work, is that it really works. Every session feels like a new session and to this day I still have experiences that amaze me. In addition to Shamanic work, I also do sessions in Reiki and Breathwork and teach Firewalking and Glasswalking.
Q: What does a session like you look like?
A. Since every session varies in a number of ways, they are all different.
But in a typical traditional Shamanic session, I speak with the client for a while to get an understanding of them and their needs. Traditionally, some Shaman would live with their patients to get an understanding of what might be happening, but in this day and age, it’s not really an option.
After consulting with them, the client lies on the table or a blanket on the floor. Shamans use blankets as a bridge between worlds, I believe this is where the flying carpet mythology came from. I will then drum or rattle for a bit and lay down next to the client on the blanket or on the floor near the table. This is so I can journey to my helping spirits and power animals to ask for guidance on the client’s issue.
When I “return” from the journey, I move the energy into the heart chakra and sometimes crown chakras. This can be blown or moved with hand positions much like a Reiki session.
Q: How can the reader get started right now?
A: Visualization is a huge part in Shamanic journey work.
To start right now, try sitting comfortably with some relaxing music, rhythmic drumming or silence is fine. Close your eyes and try to visualize yourself in your favorite place in nature. Imagine yourself in that place completely. Feel the temperature of the air on your skin. Is it day time, is it night time? Feel the ground or a tree. Try and hear the sounds of the forest around you. Continue to sit in this spot as you immerse yourself into it fully. As you visualize, try and notice things around you, the just seem to pop into your vision without thinking about them. A person, a bird flying past, another animal? See the world around you take shape as you visualize. Then once you are ready, slowly begin to find your way back. The vision can fade into reality or you can visualize your body floating back to its physical form. When you have returned fully, relax and breathe and try to recall what happened in the visualization.
This is just a simple example journeying. With guidance and practice these experiences will deepen and become a profound base for enhancing your spiritual life.
In addition to the practice above, there are countless books and CDs about Shamanic work that they can explore. I would say if anyone is interested in helping themselves and others, to get out there and find their medicine and share it with the world. The planet needs more people sharing love and compassion.