For Mandy King, being a shaman isn’t merely a job, it’s a way of life. Shamanism is based on the fundamental relationship with the Earth, the land and the environment. Every culture has shamanic roots.
“If someone was sick, they would see their shaman for a locally grown medicine. These days, it’s a little different. The bulk of my work has to do with emotional issues and wounds,” said King, who trained for three years with renowned shaman Valerie Wolf—a former Topanga resident herself.
Communication with spirit is an important aspect of shamanic life. Traditionally, shamans are said to have received knowledge and guidance from spirit beings for healing, finding food, preparing medicine, avoiding danger and learning harmonious ways of living in their environments.
Shamanism is seen as “the practice of living in right relationship.” Which means to think, speak and act with love and respect for all of life. “Life is sustainable and thrives when we honor the health and survival needs of ourselves, other species and eco-systems equally,” said King. “This is the shaman’s way. Shamanism was the original form of spirituality.”
One of the primary tools of a shaman is soul retrieval.
“The experiences we have in life cause wounding. People fall apart or break in different ways, physically and emotionally. With soul retrieval, I can get to the root of those problems. It could have been a one-time traumatic event, or it could be a longer-term issue like dysfunctional eating, not exercising, and other self-destructive habits.
“When we are wounded, our first instinct is to hide away and withdraw. We don’t let anyone see we are vulnerable. But if we don’t tend to the wound, it festers and grows and begins to sneak out into other areas of our life—relationship problems and bad habits.”
Among the common problems King sees and helps with include distrust, fear, insecurity and low self-esteem. “Almost everything comes down to the issue of self-love,” she said. “As people struggle to find meaning in their lives, more are exploring this ancient art,” and King has no doubt she is in the right place to establish her practice. “Topanga is extremely welcoming to spiritual thinkers and healers.”
King’s life as a shaman began formally in 2010, but her shamanic heart has always beat in rhythm with the wonder and beauty of the natural world. Born in Pasadena, her early years were filled with family hiking and backpacking adventures as they moved across the western U.S. and Canada.
At age 12, King was living in the heart of Sioux land in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Surrounded by a land and culture of rich, native history, she soon felt a deep kinship with the harmony and Earth-centered spirituality of Native American life. Her relationship with nature continues to grow with her ongoing career in the healing arts.
King says we are all going to experience loss. “No one goes through life without challenges, but there is usually something valuable to be gained from the experience and it will help with personal growth. We have the capacity, strength and character to deal with these things in a stable, healthy way. That’s what being whole means to me. I don’t get knocked over or devastated so easily thanks to shamanism,” she said.
Healing is a primary function of shamans—physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. Most shamans, including King, believe illness and disease are symptoms of spiritual imbalance. The remedy or treatment may include physical and spiritual components.
With an extensive background in mind-body wellness practice —including massage therapy, Reiki, energy healing techniques, Psych-K, tarot, fitness and nutrition, yoga and meditation—King has a thorough understanding of the depth of human experience and how to successfully navigate the complexities of the human-spirit existence.
I learned during soul retrieval with King that I would benefit with softening my approach to life and work. Less striving required. King correctly ascertained that I am prone to impatience.
“When we soften, when we slow down, we receive so much more in all areas of our lives,” she advised.
There was drumming, singing and massaging during the session that also included a beneficial effect on a slow-to-heal broken elbow. According to King, my soul was much calmer after the session. I believed her.
It’s a thoroughly relaxing experience, ideal for anyone with emotional or physical wounds that need attention. Or for those who just need an end-of-year spiritual tune-up. It’s not necessary to be in crisis to benefit from seeing a shaman.
Sessions usually last between 70 and 90 minutes, and cost from $100 to$150.
For more information: shamanworks.com; (310) 923-0770
Claire Fordham’s interview and session with shaman Mandy King can be heard in full on “The Chat with Claire Fordham” podcast airing January 1, 2018. Available on iTunes, clairefordham.com and messengermountainnews.com for previous episodes.