In my research about the origins of Chinese medicine, I was surprised to discover the degree to which acupuncture is steeped in shamanism and magical consciousness. Acupuncture traces all the way back to 1600 BCE the time of the Shang Dynasty in China. A vast trove of tortoise shells and oxen scapula were found at Anyang, the center of the Shang civilization, that include ancient writings that document the illnesses of the king and his family, and how they were treated by the tribal shaman. Often the head shaman was the king himself whose job it was to connect the realms of heaven and earth. I believe that with proper intention, the innate wisdom of the ancients can continue to inform the practice of acupuncture today, and that acupuncture itself can be a source to attain alternate states of consciousness.
Over the course of many years of study, I have also had the good fortune to learn about sacred plant medicine, another aspect of shamanism. For me, working with ayahuasca, the most sacred of the entheogenic plants and often referred to as the great mother, is basically a practice where one learns how to communicate (you mostly listen!) and establish a relationship with one of the world's oldest and wisest teachers.
My shamanic teacher defines shamanism as one of the oldest forms of spirituality, and as the most primitive and archaic way of finding out about the unknown...including that which we don't know that we don't know. The work is full of unexpected insights, and interesting surprises. Shamanism is about much more than working with the sacred plants. It is a daily practice of living in an artful, soulful and conscious way so that new pathways of perception can be accessed.
I wrote a book in an effort to capture all that I have learned about shamanism and ayahuasca, as well as the states of consciousness that they open. I believe these states can serve as golden keys to transformation. Here is an excerpt from the book about shamanic healing ceremonies.