on December 31, 2004
This book has completely changed my life, as well as the lives of the many people I have touched, since reading Shaman, Healer Sage in late 2003. After finding myself (totally unexpectedly) on the path of shamanism, I found and read this book. I will admit, I did have many reservations on much of the books teachings. Frankly, it just didn't seem possible that such a profound level of healing, could be so simple. I mean, if it was this easy, why hadn't I heard of it before, or come across someone who was a shaman and could do these wondrous things. At 50 years old, I really didn't know what a shaman was, short of the 1992 Sean Connery movie "Medicine Man", in which the diminutive shaman (who Connery had made very angry) scared the hell out of me. Not a good start for me.
Anyway, I had just spent several months, looking for someone to teach me about shamanism. After reading his book, I decided that the good Dr. was probably a very good place to start. I read two more of his books, just because I'm an eternal skeptic, then I reread Shaman, Healer Sage again. Did I mention that I'm a skeptic???
I began formal study with Dr. Villoldo and his staff of shaman instructors in July of 2004. The work of the south was true to the teachings of the book, and I saw (and experienced) healing work that I still find unbelievable. The teachings are just as simple and eloquent as the book that led me to these classes. I found the same to be true about the next two classes. The gifts of healing I have learned so far, have allowed me to heal people of both physical and psychological ailments. In some cases, these people have been treated for, and suffered from these illnesses, for several years. I do not take credit for this work. If you have read the book, you will know why.
I am leaving for two more weeks of study in March of 2005. I read Shaman, Healer Sage before I leave for every class. I noticed that many of my fellow students who took the class on the teachings of the west, seemed to have their copy of the book with them. I believe that not only does the book serve as a helpful reference to what we are learning, but it also serves as an inspiration to those of us who have dedicated our lives to this calling.
Before I close this, I would like to say that I do not intend what I write in this review, to make anyone think this road is an easy one to follow. Much to the contrary. To learn, and apply Dr. Villoldo's teachings take total commitment, and intentions that must be pure. It isn't something you do on a whim, as your entire life will never be the same, and you won't either. This is a serious way of life, that is sometimes a heavy weight to carry. I will say that to be able to do something about someone's suffering, instead of standing by and watching them suffer, is a gift that goes beyond any gift I could ever imagine. I can think of nothing more wonderful to do for someone, than to help them to remove their pain.
If you are going to read one book on shamanism, read Shaman, Healer Sage. You will be glad you did. To Dr. Villoldo, who has taught me so much, as well as all of the teachers who taught him, and the people who are instructors in his classes, I (and the people I have helped to heal themselves) thank you.
Please pray for the healing of the earth and all of her people.
on December 29, 2002
In SHAMAN, HEALER, SAGE, Alberto Villoldo spells out practices for personal and collective transformation of consciousness. The techniques elaborated are his own synthesis and interpretation of ancient healing practices. He strongly emphasizes that they must be employed with the highest code of ethics and integrity. What can heal can also hurt. Therefore, much of shamanic training is dedicated to developing ethics and values grounded upon a deep reverence for all life. To Villoldo's mind, energy healing from someone with inadequate training is basically black magic, regardless of one's good intentions.
Shamanic energy healing is not about rules or ideas. It is about vision and spirit - about realizing our luminous nature in infinity. It is about being caretakers of the Earth - speaking with thundering rivers, whispering mountains, and hearing the voice of God in the wind. In the world of the shaman, there are no divisions between mind, spirit, and matter. There is nothing to transcend and nothing in need of yoking. Said his teacher, Don Antonio, "We are luminous beings on a journey to the stars."
As Villoldo portrays it, the Illumination Process of the shaman is a direct interaction with the forces of Spirit. It allows us to taste infinity and renew ourselves from the source that animates and informs all life. In experiencing infinity, the illusions of old age, disease, and death are shattered. Every cell in our body is informed and renewed. Our immune system is unfettered, healing is accelerated, miracles and spontaneous remissions become common occurrences.
According to Villoldo, The Luminous Energy Field contains an archive of our personal and ancestral memories. That informs the chakras which organize our physical and emotional world. Erasing negative imprints in the Luminous Field enable the immune system to efficiently eradicate an illness. Amazon shamans believe that when all the chakras are cleared, one acquires a "rainbow body." One can visit the spirit world and die consciously because one knows the way home. One is not stalked by death, but claimed by life.
In the shamanic view, the four survival instincts - fear, feeding, fighting, and sex - are mirrored in the first two chakras. An unbalanced first chakra manifests as feelings of scarcity. When cleared, we know with every cell of our body that we are cared for and sustained by the universe. The second chakra has the capacity to digest negative emotions and expel them as waste. The tool of the third chakra is visualization. Balancing the third chakra improves the surrounding world since, according to the shaman, we dream our world into being. The nature of the fourth chakra, the heart, is impersonal love. The fifth chakra, the throat, gives voice to the feelings of the heart. In the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth chakras, development becomes transpersonal as we explore ever more subtle domains. We master death, time, invisibility, and the ability to keep a secret. It is said that all the desires of one with an awakened third eye come true. Therefore, a number of healers holding the same vision can manifest its truth for the planet.
To develop the shaman's way of seeing, we need to see with the eyes of the mind and the heart. Villoldo gives visualization meditations as to how to develop and strengthen those connections. The result is primary, direct, immediate, multisensory perception (synesthesia). The seer learns to track the origin of illness across time by finding the wounded "face" of the patient. Once it appears, it will reveal its story.
Before healing, the shaman summons the organizing principles of the Universe and aligns himself with them. He invokes a sacred space for healing and maintains it through the purity of his intent. That protects him from absorbing negative energies. After completing his work, he closes the sacred space so that it will not become contaminated. Otherwise, the forces of nature would no longer respond to his call. Villoldo says that he has seen healers who neglected to close their own sacred space absorb toxic energies from their client and become ill themselves.
Villoldo gives detailed steps for the Illumination Process of energy healing. It works by combusting and digesting toxic wastes that obstruct chakras and fuel imprints. Clear light is employed to overwrite information contained in the blueprint to prevent reorganization of the disease. Thus, the Illumination Process integrates and transforms emotional wounds into sources of knowledge and wisdom.
According to Villoldo, every form of energy has consciousness and frequency of vibration. Just as the brain has receptor sites for specific chemicals, we have receptor sites for specific energies. Villoldo cautions his students that negative energies are attracted to those with whom they share an affinity. Students may be drawn to work with those having similar psychological issues. In that case, an afflicted energy might change hosts -- passing from the patient to the healer.
According to Inka prophecy, we are now in a period of great chaos and upheaval. It will last until the year 2012, when "the paradigm of looting and pillaging the Earth brought by European civilization will end and the ways of the Earth peoples will make a comeback. The conquistador will perish by his own blade." The Inkas speak about a new human, Homo Luminous, being born - a being connected by luminous threads spanning across time, anchored in infinity. Says Villoldo, "We are that new human. Our question no longer is can we make a quantum leap into who we are becoming, but rather dare we do so."
In that dynamic, courageous vision, SHAMAN, HEALER, SAGE offers great hope and promise for our world -- for the individual and collective transformation of consciousness necessary to heal our planet. It inspires and encourages us to realize our luminous nature in infinity -- in the birth of a new humanity in harmony with the forces of nature, at one with all life, and at peace with the world.
on November 18, 2002
In this book Villoldo provides us with a glimpse into Andean healing practices. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from Villoldo's Journal written during his training sesions with the teachers from the Q'ero nation, and with the healers he encountered in the Peruvian and Brazilian rainforest. Villoldo then goes on to describe the foundations of energy medicine and ends most chapters with simple exercises to give us the taste of what he is writing about. Myself i am interested in parallels between various shamanic practices and energy training in martial arts and SHS provided several useful tips. However, the practical usefulness of this book is probably limited, because even the simplest exercises need verification and support by a qualified teacher.
I find the information in this book to be (to the best of my knowledge) accurate, provided by a competent and well-trained specialist. The stories about the Q'ero shamans and their training are especially interesting. These people have a sophisticated understanding of consciousness and of the issues related to death and dying. As all indigenous shamans, they are intimately connected to nature and show amazing skills taping forces residing within the majestic landscape of the Cordilleras. i think it is high time we start to look at the Q'ero with new respect.
In my view this is probably one of the best books available on Peruvian shamanism and its applicability to the Western practice of "integrative medicine". i recommend it.
on June 4, 2002
One of the other reviewers glibly offers an inaccurate comment regarding "Dr. Villoldo's lack of detail and other concerns regarding truthfulness in contemporary shamanism". If you read the entire article ["The Selling of the Shaman and the Problem of Legitimacy"] the author [Donald Joralemon] doesn't end up unbraiding Villoldo, though it may seem that way at the outset when he is hypothesizing, i.e. stating certain thoughts to begin his argument/query. To the contrary, in one of his footnotes Joralemon makes it seem like he respects Villoldo.
The article is a fascinating look at the way an anthropologist tries to come to terms with his craft, and the way it alters and possibly threatens the ways of life that he is studying. Villoldo is only an ancillary figure in the story Joralemon is telling, the principal character being Don Eduardo Calderon, a Peruvian jungle shaman/entrepreneur. The author is generally quite honest in the way he lays out his thoughts.
Note also that the full title of the periodical is 'Journal of Anthropological Research'. [One might have a very difficult time searching libraries for the journal 'Anthropological Research' since it doesn't really exist.]
The aforementioned reviewer is probably one of those folks who attempts to forge a reputation based on slandering others, then thumping his/her chest about what a great person he/she is for seeing through the foibles of those whom he/she has unjustly depicted as villains.
Villoldo has suffered many times at the hands of students who have become furious and slanderous because he doesn't fall into the trap of trying to depict himself as perfect. Some of these silly folks are looking to project upon him the archetypal "guru" role, e.g. expecting him to look and act and think like one of their previous 'Eastern' gurus. Others criticize his teachings for blending in techniques that they cannot verify as being from South America. In actuality, he is only using such methods to help [Westerners] access the spirit of the Andean seers/shamans/healers, by effectively moving aside their/our occidental prejudices and ways of being/seeing. The rites of passage which his students undergo under his guidance are arguably genuine and life-transforming.
Still other former students/critics don't like the fact that he is making a good living doing what he loves the best. Too bad for them, I guess. There was even a certain married couple who for years pulled all sorts of shenanigans behind his back, whose real motive was probably to take over his foundation/organization, rather than sweating to build up their own.
Anyway, please buy/read this book--it's a really good one. Read in combination with Joan Parisi Wilcox's 'Keepers of the Ancient Knowledge: The Mystical World of the Q'ero Indians of Peru' and Elisabeth B. Jenkins' 'Initiation : A Woman's Spiritual Adventure in the Heart of the Andes', you'll get a phenomenal tutelage from three excellent writers, all whom have studied/journeyed in Peru under the guidance of some of the same medicine people. And two of Villoldo's earlier works, which tell the story of his own journeys into Inca shamanism, are definitely worth checking out as well. They are 'Dance of the Four Winds' and 'Island of the Sun'.
on August 8, 2001
I've read Dr. Villoldo's other books and this one is his best yet. It is very easy to read and clearly describes the energy medicine of the Inca: how it works, how to use it, and provides simple exercises to experience the reality of energy medicine. I have been studying the medicine wheel tradition with Alberto and have found that there truly does exist a world of energy connections and interactions that are largely invisible to most of us. Invisible because we have learned how not to see or experience them. But these connections, from our own luminous bodies to every other being out there, are valuable in learning to shape our own lives. We can learn how to live more deliberately on this earth. There is great personal experience and power (over our own destinies, not over others) available to us if only we learn to 'see' it. Alberto clearly and concisely describes his own interpretations of this very ancient tradition. I highly recommend this book for all healers and for those interested in the mysteries of life.
on December 8, 2007
my first intro to shamanic practice was with a person trained by villoldo. she was amazing, but after taking a short workshop w/ villoldo and reading his books, I now believe that the effectiveness of her work had nothing to do with him. I still believe that villoldo offers something to the field, even if his claims about where his techniques come from have turned out to be untruthful. after much work in this area my belief is this: everyone has abilities - EVERYONE. so, yes, just like everyone, villoldo has skills and talents in this area. the real question to ask whenever one meets a healer or a spiritual teacher is not "are their skills legitimate?" but "what are their ethics?" one's skills are only as good as the filter they come through (e.g., the personality and the ego issues of the healer/teacher.) villoldo, in my opinion, has serious ego and personality issues, and even if he is skilled, I believe these issues impact his work and his teaching. this is an interesting book, but I don't believe that it is necessarily true. also, his method for soul retrieval is way too structured for me -- I prefer sandra ingerman's approach.
on February 6, 2008
I am rereading this book now for about the fourth time since I first bought it in 2001. I undertook the Medicine Wheel trainings offered by A. Villoldo through the Four Winds. He does a wonderful job in this book of capturing the beauty of this healing path. If you read this book simply for information on techniques, you will miss the point. The actual practice and ceremony is what brings this healing path to life. And once you have been through the initiaions, rereading the book recaptures the emotions and experiences of seeing through new eyes the world around you and inside you.
I remember what initially caught my attention was his statement that to the shaman, you are your body. It holds all your history, your emotions, your traumas, joys and experiences. As a massage therapist, undertaking my own healing quest has made me more sensitive to my clients and have found that the body always tells the truth.
I am happy that this work is made available to us.
on January 22, 2012
I resisted reading Shaman, Healer, Sage: How to Heal Yourself and Other With Energy Medicine of the Americas by Alberto Villoldo, Ph.d. It was that "shaman" word, which conjured up images of voodoo witch doctors to my Bible-Belt sensibilities. However, I've met a few women via the web over the last couple of years who are embracing shamanism and they appear to be lovely healers. So with mild trepidation, I downloaded a sample and soon found myself hitting the "buy" button.
Shaman, Healer, Sage is a fascinating exploration of an ancient healing system written by a Western doctor and explorer. For myself, the greatest value of the book came from the detailed explantion of the energy fields and chakras.
Giving up his mainstream Western medical research, Villoldo traveled to Inka and Amazon shamans to learn an entirely different world view and method of medicine. Shamans see and work with the energy fields that Western culture is only beginning to recognize. Villoldo keeps references to an earth-based religion to a minimum and mostly makes sense of the various properties of the human energy fields and how practitioners might help their patients.
Personally, I had a huge "ah-ha" moment about three-quarters into the book when he talked about entities attaching themselves to people. It took me about fifty years to discover that as the cause of many mysterious problems. Until Shaman, Healer, Sage, I'd never come across a book that seemed to pin-point my situation. In Villoldo's world, it's very common!
The last section of the book deals with the passage into death that every soul makes. People need to be helped out of the world as much as they need to be helped into the world. Once the spirit leaves the body, it goes through transitions into the spirit realm. Western culture has largely disconnected with the sacred, especially death rituals. Villoldo paints a compelling picture of what may be part of the journey and why it's important to assist loved-ones, even after the body has ceased breathing.
While I don't feel the call to leap into shamanism, there is much to be learned from ancient traditions. Villoldo has written a range of books from his South American experiences. Perhaps we're living in age when the imbalances of Western thinking will move toward more harmonious blend of other cultures and save the earth from destruction in the process.
author of "Ever-Flowing Streams of Healing Energy"
on July 3, 2001
I'm no expert on the subject matter, I have no formal training, I am intrigued and curious. I found the book a fascinating read and the stories of the writer's personal experiences delightful. I went on to read earlier works to gain insight in areas I was unfamiliar with and found those works also enjoyable. The exercises were well described and I gained results with those I tested. I liked the book and have recommended it to others who are curious about the subject matter. I did read the Anthropological study mentioned by another reviewer. To me it was the musings of the age old question:How does someone make a living as a scientist, yet still remain objective? I did not take it as a criticism of Villoldo's work.
on May 29, 2007
Journeying through the lower, middle and upper worlds, gathering images, thoughts and guidance from the universe, seems as natural as awakening from the dream state each morning. Using this tool of "walking between the worlds" with clients seems more akin to magic/alchemy than medicine. After experiencing the power of a simple square of shiny blue cloth and feather, given as a result of journey, watching as it encouraged the person's own healing ability, I was honored...to be the "doorman"... holding sacred space.
Reading Villoldo's book early in 2000, several of his practices were incorporated within my own work. I did find it a bit surprising that he didn't include other ideology well known and practiced within shamanism, such as use of the various gates, totems, spirit teachers, with his clients. The ancient ways promote a more comprehensive outlook encompassing body, mind and spirit from the inner core of a person. Healing then commences from within that sacred place of the individual. After, re-reading "Shaman Sage Healer" again (2007), other questions arose concerning certain aspects presented. Herein lays a conflict: modern scientific knowledge and medicine versus universal ancient traditions.
While working with different teachers, there seems to be an underlying unspoken "fear" of the unknown that we must be "protected" from. Villoldo seems to hold this viewpoint as well, by stressing that his students "need" a certain protection ceremony prior to commencing with the work. Perhaps it's simply my naiveté not to embrace this belief system. Encountering "heavy/dark" energy, I`ve been shown not to engage the negative, but simply observe my reaction to the experience. Which to believe? Questions such as this need further discussion. There's also great debate amongst teachers as to whether one should "run energy" through one's self or simply work at interface, allowing the energies to work within the surrounding sacred space.
Villoldo's teachings of creating and use of sacred space, deepening points, the Illumination process, clearing chakra's, and releasing toxic energies are highly recommended tools for any practitioner. Embracing quiet listening, setting intention and embracing the intuitive, more is revealed for the client. Use of journey and communication with higher beings or ascended masters compliments the session.
One of Villoldo's practices I don't completely agree with is to "process" at length with the client. Care must be given not to re-seat or amplify any trauma. Times have changed since "Shaman, Healer, Sage" was written. Perhaps Peter Levine's trauma work ("Waking the Tiger", North Atlantic Books,1997) speaks a more gentle voice.
Thoroughly embracing his concept of having guidance and support of a teacher or mentor is extremely important. Too many times people read a book or attend a weekend seminar and proclaim they are "this" and work without any guidance. There are individuals that aren't as involved in their teachings, only using it as a vehicle for other intentions. An elder sage once admonished.... "Choose your teacher wisely."
As a teacher, Villoldo's "Shaman, Healer, Sage" gives us a glimpse of another reality. Written as a primer, the book is a wonderful "door opener" for further exploration of alternative healing methods.