Too often people contact me and say: “Another healer (or psychic) told me that I have a nasty demon attached to me and that it is sucking all the life force out of me. Can you take it out please? I am really frightened now!!”

In shamanism there is something called ‘diagnostic work’. It means consulting spirit allies and asking to be shown the spiritual root cause of any illness.

In some ways the word ‘disease’ is more eloquent: dis ease – “not at ease”, indicating that illness is about something being imbalanced, not in harmony.

In shamanism we will arrive at a “diagnosis” but it will not resemble any medical diagnosis. An example of a diagnosis could be: “There is a long-standing ancestral pattern that needs dissolving to free this person and future generations of an issue/burden or illness that has run in the family for centuries”. Another example of a diagnosis is: this person has suffered “soul loss”, on the level of soul not all life force is present – so we need to do soul retrieval and bring back vital energy or essence that belongs to this person.

To a shamanic practitioner post traumatic stress disorder is an extreme case of “soul loss” but there is also the prospect of healing: we can start returning soul essence, life force, to this person so he or she starts to feel more whole.

In healing work I often feel that the words ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ could be used interchangeably:

From wikipedia:

The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. The Scottish hale(“health, happiness and wholeness”) is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The word “holy” in its modern form appears in Wycliffe’s Bible of 1382.

In non-specialist contexts, the term “holy” is used in a more general way, to refer to someone or something that is associated with a divine power, such as water used for baptism.

So that is the shamanic perspective on the word ‘diagnosis’. However once there is a diagnosis (in the traditional medical sense) quite a few things can occur:

A diagnosis can be a relief – something that we have known is there, and maybe remains invisible to others, now has a name. By naming it we can expect the help we need, or ask for extra consideration and compassion. In this sense a diagnosis can make someone feel more ‘whole’ – less ‘set apart’ from the community.

For some people a diagnosis can become a badge of identity. I have seen people become over-identified with a diagnosis. Either feeling that it is ‘set in stone’ (“this is a final and absolute take on my situation) or not even allowing in the possibility of healing or ‘miracles’. (In shamanic healing work we see more than our fair share of miracles. We also see too many people who are profoundly attached to their illness or problem).

However, to me the most dangerous point is the the fine line between a ‘diagnosis’ and a ‘curse’, as I hope my opening line illustrates.

So here is my own homegrown definition of a curse: “An energetic imprint set in motion that brings lasting harm or ill fortune to a person, family or place until it is unraveled, dissolved and transmuted for once and for all”

If a medical doctor says to us: “You have cancer and you have only 6 months to live” – for how many of us will that become a self fulfilling prophecy?

If ‘some healer’ says to you: “There is terrible demon attached to your soul” – could the sheer shock of such an announcement knock the stuffing out of someone and indeed invite an unpleasant energy or ‘hitch hiker’ in?!

Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman (www.sandraingerman.com) insists that practitioners focus on telling the Healing Story – not a story that can cause trauma in its own right.

As a shamanic teacher I feel very strongly that we need to give careful thought to the very words we use to express ourselves.  The expressions “moving energy that is in the wrong place” or “bringing something back into balance” can cover a multitude of healing interventions, in my book.

Just out of interest here is the origin of our word ‘diagnose’: from the Online Etymology Dictionary  http://www.etymonline.com/

diagnosis (n.) Look up diagnosis at Dictionary.com1680s, medical Latin application of Greek diagnosis “a discerning, distinguishing,” from stem of diagignoskein “discern, distinguish,” literally “to know thoroughly,” from dia- “apart” (see dia-) + gignoskein “to learn” (see

To discern, to learn, to know thoroughly – that is what we do in shamanic healing work. Cursing someone has no place in that process!

And to read more about shamanism and my work as a shamanic practitioner based in London please visit http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

Imelda Almqvist


On the day I wrote and posted this blog my friend Edie Horton wrote a beautiful and thought-provoking response (on Facebook) and I have asked for her permission to share her words. Thank you Edie!!

“Completely spot on Imelda. Words are so powerful and we use them every day. Becoming and staying aware of how our words and even our thoughts affect us and those we interact with can help us to see how we can all be healers every day and every minute. And to be aware when we have transgressed as well, so that we may quickly work to put right what we may have set in motion. Through illness that my husband went through, which brought us into contact with many different people who work in a healing capacity we found that some who should be aware of the weight of their words are not. It then became our task to listen to our own hearts’ knowing so that we could walk unharmed through curses that were inadvertently or unconsciously cast…and we became more aware of our own actions and words. It can be difficult enough when one feels unwell just to ask for help. We found some of the most healing conversations we had were nit with those who considered themselves to be healers. Anyway…your words are so important. And for those of us who can admit to being human and slipping up from time to time, keep working at it but be gentle on yourselves as well. Don’t inflict more damage on yourself but set right what you can with love.”

Edie Horton