Read an Excerpt From "A Shaman's Miraculous Tools for Healing"

Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
A Shaman's Miraculous Tools for Healing
by Alberto Villoldo with Anne E O'Neill

Turning Fate into Destiny 

I have learned the difference between fate and destiny. Fate is unconscious, predetermined by ancient tales of trauma and loss—even former lifetimes. Becoming aware of the stories buried deeply within the psyche can be liberating and even healing, allowing us to change our fate. It can account for an aversion to fire, or persistent pain that has no apparent medical explanation. But these ancient stories are more than justification for symptoms. They contain hidden treasures for us to discover, and offer messages and lessons that can bring us to a new direction, infusing our lives with meaning and purpose—what shamans call a destiny.

Andrea, a businesswoman, came to a crossroads requiring decisions she hadn't anticipated. Her courage to take risks, and to be transparent in her own search, would serve as a guide for others seeking solace.

Alberto
Once you start on your healing journey, your psyche will bring you messages and signs that will guide you. These messages will often come as dreams or visions during states of reverie, which is what happened to Andrea. My task as a shaman was to help Andrea to see these as powerful symbols of transformation, and to work with their energies so that the intention to change becomes the momentum of change. A shaman not only helps someone reach a new health goal or life destination but also helps make that destiny possible by helping to fuel a new direction of their lives.

Andrea
I have heard that persistent, severe symptoms are messengers. They are trying to tell us what we must do and where we must go. But I had no idea so much would be asked of me. I have seen so many doctors. "Just a headache," they'd say, and all their tests said just that, while inside I'd cry with silent tears flowing. No! Not "just!" Please, the pain is so intense! My hand would fly to my forehead. There—between my eyes. See? Can't you see? They never did, and the headache—the messenger—remained with me. Sometimes, I turned a deaf ear out of fear. Those were the times when I would rub that spot furiously as though to blot it out.

That never worked, and so the search continued. What's wrong with me? Someone must know, someone must be able to see . . . My search took me to books, and Shaman, Healer, Sage by Alberto Villoldo. It gave me a headful to think about! The more I thought, however, the more questions I had. So I went on to read the author's earlier books, Dance of the Four Winds: Secrets of the Inca Medicine Wheel and Island of the Sun: Mastering the Inca Medicine Wheel, and I thought, Who is this shaman? Who is he, and what is he? I have to know. I also came across a reference to that very spot on the forehead that had become my nemesis. Maybe this guy can help me. I picked up the phone, seeing in my mind's eye a mythic, wild, bushy-haired figure, and I wondered, What am I doing? I rubbed that spot on my forehead as the phone rang and waited for someone to pick up.

My husband George sat next to me on the plane, obviously enjoying his meal. I surveyed my plate, pushing aside the pale slivers of beef. He was enjoying his vodka on the rocks, too. That's something I could go for! However, I had been advised to abstain from alcohol and red meat for the week prior to my session with Dr. Villoldo. I couldn't help considering that it's the shaman who should be abstaining—and maybe he is. Nevertheless . . . I'd made the appointment and was on a flight from New York to LA. I'd also been advised to wear light-colored clothing. Whatever for? Dutifully, I had packed a pale blue sweater and beige pantsuit. This should be interesting.

I have to admit I had a certain apprehension. A shaman! I reached across the armrest and clutched my husband's hand, mine cold in his. He squeezed it knowingly and smiled. Without his encouragement, this might not be happening.

When I arrived in Alberto's office, I was quite surprised. I studied the man sitting across from me. So this is what a shaman looks like . . . I thought. He looked pretty normal sitting there, relaxed, confident, soft-spoken, well dressed. He was certainly not that mythical character I had imagined. He could have walked out of that cocktail party I was at last weekend. I was taking it all in and feeling the tension in me begin to ease. Well, somewhat. "What brings you all the way to LA to see me, Andrea?"