Shamanic Initiation

2020 was definitely a year of challenges for most of us,  personally and collectively.  I certainly was no exception.  I don’t remember having a more challenging year in my life.  Beginning with the shut- down which did not deem my acupuncture practice to be essential,  and continuing with the economic challenges for so many of us,  my once-thriving practice saw a decrease to half of my usual income.  My illness and hospitalization with Covid-19 added to my economic difficulties (hospital bills and being out of work for 6 weeks ),  not to mention the challenges to my health as a 75-year-old woman.  Hurricane Sally brought damage to my roof, car, and fence.  But the most difficult part was that the bridge to my office is still under repair for damage caused by loose barges.  Along with many other commuters,  my trip to and from work takes twice the time and entails hazardous driving along unfamiliar roads not used to the extra traffic and quite a bit of road rage.  I totaled my car at a particularly tricky intersection under construction.  Thank goodness I was not injured, nor was the other driver with four small children!

If I had lived in a shamanic culture, these challenges would be considered a shamanic initiation.  In the shamanic cultures, these kinds of adverse events carry blessings, often unseen at the time.  If a baby is born with a blemish of some kind, if someone has a life-threatening illness or injury, or if someone has a near-death experience, the tribe would take see that person as being a potential shaman and would take them to the village shaman for training.  The blessings of these challenges would be focused on rather than on the difficulties.

I truly have to say that this past year has changed me.  I have developed a deep gratitude for so many things I had taken for granted, ie. being able to get up in the morning and have the energy to go about my day;  being able to breathe;  being in a body that functions normally, and feeling the love and caring of my family,  friends, and community whose prayers I felt during my illness. I have always believed in prayer,  but now I KNOW.  I also KNOW that we do have angels who watch over us and protect us as best they can when we need it.  I have a reverence for my body,  my friends ( visible and invisible ), and for life itself.

I believe that what we are experiencing as a culture is a collective shamanic initiation.  We didn’t ask for it,  but it is here.

Our cultural warriors (first responders,  medical professionals, veterans, etc.)  and our indigenous teachers have much to teach us if we are willing to pay attention.  I trust there are blessings inherent in the challenges that we continue to face as we move into 2021.


Bonnie McLean
Bonnie McLean
Dr. Bonnie McLean O.M.D, A.P. has been in practice for 36 years. A graduate of Duke University School of Nursing, she practiced nursing as an RN for 20 years before embarking on her studies in natural medicine, which included an MA in Counseling from Pepperdine University, a Doctorate in Oriental Medicine from California Acupuncture College, and training in energy medicine and shamanic healing. In addition to her holistic acupuncture practice, she is a writer and speaker. She is author of Integrative Medicine: The Return of the Soul to Healthcare, which can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Bonnie is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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