What is shamanic dismemberment?
It is a process through which a shamans spirit animals, guides, teachers, and relations tear the shaman apart in a journey. This is often a fairly traumatic experience, it must be, after all, it is done by our guides of power to strip us of all that no longer serves us in our quest for spiritual enlightenment and development. Typically the first time this happens it is a very emotional, and frightening experience. This process involves your power animals and guides tearing you limb from limb, removing your flesh and gnawing, and ripping your body apart. You will be completely devoured and ripped to shreds until you are no more. Your guides will then rebuild you at the end of this process and put you back together a new person, rising from your ashes just like the mighty phoenix. The first time you do this, or experience this is usually once you have built a very strong bond with your power animals, guides, teachers, and relations, and can be considered an initiation of sorts into the life of a shaman.
This is typically not something that a person just beginning down the path of shamanism should do, however it is likely that this may happen on its own while you are practicing journeying, and as such I hope this article can help those who may have had it happen and were unprepared or those who have not yet experienced this. This is also a process that can be learned and can be repeated, many shamans go through a dismemberment annually in a ritual to rid themselves of all energies, thoughts, emotions, addictions, etc. that no longer serve them for their highest good on their spiritual path.
My first experience with shamanic dismemberment:
The first time I experienced a full dismemberment was after a period of fasting, and deep journeying with the aid of my drum. I had been working in my astral temple with my guides when they beckoned me into a bathhouse in my temple. (I will do a subsequent blog post on creating your own astral temple.) The bathhouse appeared to me as a great room made of stone, I entered through a stone pathway and there was a solid stone wall to my left, with two large pools to the right, and a solid wall ahead of me. Lit torches lined the walls casting a flickering light filled with shadows and a brilliant yellow glow. I turned to face the pools which seemed to be bottomless, the one on my left was filled with icy cold water and the one on my right was steaming hot. I felt a strong pull towards the hot pool, so I undressed and got in. As I lay in the pool floating on my back I was surprised to find there was no roof on the bathhouse and found myself staring up at the night sky, black with numerous shimmering stars poking holes in the curtain of night. As I gazed upon the beautiful scene of flickering lights I found my consciousness expand outward more and more until I felt I was a part of the universal consciousness, I felt one with everything in existence and a certain sense of peace and calming took me over….. quickly followed by an overwhelming sense of fear as Eagle spirit appeared and screamed as it chased me back down to my astral body in the bubbling hot pool below, I fell fast and hard and as soon as I hit the pool Eagle sunk his talons into me and began tearing my flesh from my body beginning with my face. Screaming in agony, I began to cry as emotions were being peeled from me like the sting of an onion on the eyes. More animals joined eagle in tearing me apart and feasting on my body, wolf ripped out my innards and began to feast on them, badger ripped my legs apart, and coyote and raven feasted on my bones and what was left of me when the others were done. This was the most terrifying and frightening experience I had ever had up until this point, the pain surged through my body for what seemed like hours and then, all at once, a calm, warm, pleasant, loving feeling swept over my being and my consciousness was pulled out of the bathhouse to a raging bonfire outside, and the sun began to rise into the sky. It was here that my power animals put me back together, piece by piece, each shredded piece of meat and flesh at a time, from the feet up to my head and down my arms, putting me back together like a bloody puzzle until I was whole again, and in place of all the pieces that they removed for good, they put new gifts of various brilliant gems and fire, and light. They then asked for an offering and I threw my old skin, which I found discarded beside me on the bright green grass covered in blood and black ooze, into the fire and burnt it in their honour. My body began to shine with a bright blinding glow of light, from my very core outward. This is when I was able to come back to consciousness into my waking body, where I found I was covered in sweat and shaking, the entire process had taken 2 hours, but it felt like an eternity. I walked out of that room a very different person than I was when I went in.
Helpful tips and reminders:
I hope that the details of my experience can help you to confront your dismemberment when it happens to you, whether you are thrown into it or if you take it on by choice. If you choose to follow the shamanic path, a dismemberment is likely to happen when your guides feel that you need it most. It will be a truly powerful and life changing experience. Once you have experienced it you may then begin practicing it as often as you feel guided to, it is a process that many shamans do numerous times in their lives. You may also create your own journey to do this if you feel you are ready, I highly recommend you become adept at journeying, meditation, and basic shamanic practices before attempting this so that you have as many tools at your disposal to help you out. Be sure to take care of your body physically if you choose to push yourself to this experience. Helpful tools are fasting, exhaustion, drumming, and a dark room where you have as much sensory deprivation as possible.
I hope this article was enlightening and helpful, and good luck in your journeying!
Reiki Master, Shaman, Teacher
Ignite the light