Shamanism, the wounded healer, addiction and the alcohol demon

by Ishtar Dingir, shamanic healer

One of the soubriquets often attached to the shaman is the term ‘wounded healer’. This is because we’re so often leading people out of mires that we have only recently been ensnared in ourselves.

I noticed this phenomena quite soon after I first started practising shamanic healing. I eventually stopped advertising my healing services, because I realised that the spirits were already ‘taking care of business’, by sending me people that resonated with my particular wounding ~ and in my case, it was co-dependency and addiction.

I think they’re choosing wisely! After falling in love with and trying to redeem an irredeemable alcoholic for four years, I’d say I’ve got a PhD in co-dependency and addiction. What I learned during those four years was immense, not least that I could only solve the problem of that situation in one way. Not by him overcoming his alcoholism, but by me overcoming my own co-dependency.

In doing that, I had to follow the same 12-step path of a recovering alcoholic of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to follow it at Al-Anon, which is the support group for the families of alcoholics. The 12-Step Plan is actually a spiritual path, and it got me back in touch with Spirit again (this time, the right kind of spirit!) after languishing in dissolute fashion for five years in the Streets of Shame of the tabloid hack.

Soon after that, I went to India and met Sathya Sai Baba, and I spent a long time in his ashram, recovering my own sense of worth and self esteem, and sowing the seeds of the life path which has brought me to where I am today. It was there, in India, that I first learned about shamanism and, soon after that, I was being trained back in England by a shaman who spent a long time teaching us about the importance of self-empowerment ~ how to get our power back that had been stolen by others, and how to return power that we’d unconsciously stolen from others.

It is the loss of self-empowerment and self-worth that attracts the addict to the co-dependant. It’s as if they have a big gaping hole torn out of their solar plexus area that is surrounded by brightly flashing neon lights.

What is co-dependancy?

How do you know if you’re co-dependant? Well, if you’ve ever read the book Women Who Love Too Much, that just about sums it up. It’s not that it’s wrong to love too much. But one has to love in a self empowered and unconditional way. By which I mean that the co-dependent is an addict too. Except while the addict is addicted to something, the co-dependent is addicted to the addict.

Why is the co-dependant addicted to the addict? Well, in my opinion and experience, the addict steals the power of the co-dependant – often by getting angry or violent, but even when not, other means are used to inflict mental pain such as neglect or undervaluing.

My guru, Sai Baba, once said: “If a tiger in the jungle bit your head off, you wouldn’t go back to the tiger to ask it to put your head back on,” which is exactly what the co-dependant does. He or she is continually revisiting the scene of the crime and trying to find the soul bit that the addict stole through inflicting pain.

It was only through training in shamanic healing, and receiving many soul retrievals, that I managed to get all the pieces back together again. (If you’d like to know more about soul retrieval, read What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?)

So I now have quite a few clients who are wanting release from their co-dependancy and I take them along the same path that I took to recovery.

What is an addict?

We may not understand what an addict is, these days, because addiction has entered the mainstream as acceptable behaviour, unless it’s really extreme. But our consumer society encourages addictions of all sorts – alcohol, gambling, drugs, shopping, sex, computer gaming, to name but a few.

So how can we recognise addiction? I would say that addiction is characterised by an over-riding compulsion to do something which will completely screw you up and screw up your life and the lives of the people that love you. It’s not so important what the addict is actually addicted to. It’s about having an addictive personality. In fact, some addicts spread their addictions over many substances and other need-fulfillers so that no one addiction dominates and thus their addictive personality is less visible to others.

Having an addictive personality is like being on an irresistible path into complete destruction and annihilation. It’s like a ten-ton truck with failed brakes careering wildy out of control down a hill and anyone who gets in the way, like friends and family, are mown down too.

It is also my experience that there is something I call the ‘alcohol demon’. I call it this because there is often a sudden change in personality that comes over the addict before he inflicts pain. I would look into the eyes of my partner in those days, and not recognise the person behind them.

alcoholic-demon-americo-salazar

Alcohol demon by Americo Salazar. Fine Art America

Whether or not it is an actual demon, the addict behaves as if under the control of another entity. There is a compulsion that disables and then over-rides the addict’s common sense. I once saw a journalist drink himself to death. He wasn’t unhappy. He had a lovely home and a lovely partner, and he was often the life and soul of the party. But when the doctor told him that if he continued to drink alcohol in the way that he did, he would soon die, my friend ignored the advice and carried on, and he passed away quite soon after that.

And so one can certainly see this kind of compulsion as possession by another entity ~ one that doesn’t have the best interests of its host at heart. When I lived with my alcoholic, I used to sometimes feel that this entity wanted me gone. As an alternative health journalist, I was always coming up with the latest cure to help him and he would try them all and then give up after the first treatment. In the end, he did try to kill me, but it didn’t look like it was him behind his eyes when it happened.

So shamanic healing can also extricate this entity from the addict’s energy field by a process called shamanic extraction. The shaman, in trance, is shown where the entity is lodged and then there is a process of extraction which, if done properly, is safe, effective and powerfully transformative.

However, the addict first has to want it removed, and that’s usually the sticking point. There are very few addicts that will seek recovery until they hit rock bottom in life, until there is no-one or nothing to support them anymore. The presence of the co-dependent prevents the addict from hitting rock bottom, and so even though they want to help, their ‘help’ is counterproductive.

There are many different kinds of love, and ‘tough love’ is one of them. In this case, it is the only kind of love that works.


This article was by Ishtar Babilu Dingir, author of The Sacred Sex Rites of Ishtar and Lord of the Dance.

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