Monthly Columns

Helping Depression from a Shamanic Perspective

While we are all dealing with the Covid pandemic what is getting little attention is the other pandemic, depression. Those who already suffer from depression are at risk for worsening of their illness due to isolation, stress and degrading of their support systems. While medication and therapy can be helpful we can also find great support and coping methods within spiritual practices such as Wicca and Shamanism.

My son, one of my brothers and many friends have suffered from depression which has inspired me to find ways to help them with my spiritual/magickal work. I am a Wiccan priestess, have many years training in Shamanic practice and other energy healing modalities and I was a nurse for 30 years (now retired). Last year I developed a six week course called: Shamanic Support for Depression and Anxiety which has been running consecutively since that time because of the great need and demand. When we were no longer able to do in person classes I started giving the course online although I was not sure that it would be as helpful as an in person group. I was surprised and happy to see that it worked well online and will continue to offer it on an on-going basis. Please see the link below this article if you are interested.

In Shamanic Wiccan practice I have come across certain spirits that are energetically aligned to help people with depression. Wicca is an animistic spiritual system meaning that we believe all things have a spirit and that we can converse and connect with these spirits. There is a spirit of the river, the land, the mountains, the trees and so on. In my course each week I teach participants how to work with different helping spirits, each one with a specific energetic resonance. I start off with the Willow. Sitting under a willow tree can greatly reduce feelings of loneliness. It’s bark and leaves contain a substance like aspirin used for pain management and dried willow leaves are often burnt to invoke the ancestor spirits at Samhain. Perhaps it is the pheromones in the bark and leaves that are mood altering but as a Wiccan I also know that the presence of this healing spirit makes a difference. Even if you can’t sit under a willow just imagining that you are under a willow tree can help because it can create an inner sacred space.

There are multiple causes for depression and someone suffering from it may have more than one at the same time. One cause that might surprise you is empathy. In every class I have given in which I give a test for empathy not one person has received a low score, they are all empaths! This means that unless they have been taught psychic shielding and are very good at it, the sadness and despair of the world are impacting them. In other words, the depression you are feeling might not be yours! One of the most helpful spirits of protection against psychic pain is the Bee Deva. She is the collective spirit of all the world’s bees. Burning a beeswax candle and eating honey are both mood elevators too so the very substances that bees make are medicine.

Drumming is also an important technique for helping relieve depression. Many times I hear people recommend meditation to help with stress and anxiety that are part of depression but unless you are a very accomplished meditator, trying to learn how to still your mind when you are anxious and depressed is impossible. It’s not a new skill that you can learn at this time. That would be like asking someone with a broken leg to take up running to strengthen their leg muscles so they can heal faster. Studies show that drumming can positively impact depression by altering the brain waves in the same way as deep meditation.

As we believe that everything has a spirit, there is also a spirit of depression resting within your energy body. Removing this spirit is a shamanic technique called ‘extraction’ and we explore this in the course. I will give some references at the end of this article so you can read more about this practice. We work with our helping spirit allies to extract the spirit of the depression and banish it into the earth where it can compost its energy and be dissolved into something more positive.

These techniques such as drumming or sitting in the sacred space of a willow are not faith based but rather backed up by research. If a technique helps and continues to help every time it is used we begin to compile evidence to support our theories and healing practices. Depression is a life threatening illness that is reaching epidemic proportions and can be more dangerous than Covid. Please don’t ignore the symptoms of depression which could include: hopeless outlook, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, sleep disturbances and fatigue, irritability, anxiety, uncontrollable emotions, and thoughts about suicide.

Reach out to your support systems and take this illness seriously. Your life could depend on it. I wish you all the best on your journey of well-being and recovery. My course is available on line for a low fee but it is also sliding scale so I won’t turn any one away that wants to take it and can’t afford the cost. I wish to support all of you who are reading this article and reassure you that depression may feel like you are being buried in darkness, but there is light just around the corner.

If you are interested in taking this course here is the link: www.sacredcauldron.ca

 

References and further reading:

    1. Recognizing Symptoms of Depression https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/recognizing-symptoms#getting-help
    2. Sacred space and the healing journey. Ann Palliat Med 2017;6(3):284-296. doi: 10.21037/apm.2017.06.09
    3. Study on how drumming helps depression: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790847/
    4. Visualization for stress reduction: https://www.mentalhelp.net/stress/visualization-and-guided-imagery-techniques-for-stress-reduction/ Extraction Healing https://lifeasahuman.com/2010/mind-spirit/spirituality-and-religion/shamanic-extraction-healing/

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About the Author:

Meri Fowler is passionate about teaching Meditation, Celtic Shamanism and Wicca in Cornwall and Summerstown, Ontario. She is also available for Tarot readings and Celtic Shamanic healing.
Meri is the founder of the Wiccan Sacred Circle network, the Sacred Cauldron Center and the Greenwood Celtic Shamanic Wiccan Tradition.
Click here to read more about this Tradition.

She is an Elder and Initiated as a 3rd degree High Priestess by Lady Rhiannon of the Coven of High Oaks (Hived off from Silver Wheel Coven), American Welsh Tradition, has a black belt in Ninjutsu and a Bachelor of science in Nursing. She studied Shamanism with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies for 14 years and is also a Celtic Shamanic Practitioner. 

Although retired from a 30 year nursing career, specializing in Oncology and Palliative care, Meri continues her commitment to compassion by offering spiritual end of life accompaniment incorporating her years of nursing experience and her expertise as a Shamanic practitioner. She lives with Bran and all her animal friends in Summerstown and is trying to finish her book!