Michael Harner, founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies: http://www.shamanism.org/fssinfo/harnerbio.html
Katie Weatherup’s Shamanic Healing website: https://handsoverheart.com
Fire Ceremony: https://handsoverheart.com/2017/01/20/fire-ceremony/
The work of Byron Katie - A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Your World Around
Debbie Ford’s The Dark Side of the Light Chasers
Today we get to sit down with Katie Weatherup. One of my closest friends, my weekly accountability partner, and my sister in the short film Stealing Zen is Katie's cousin Christine Weatherup, and I'm so grateful she thought to make this introduction.
As a gifted intuitive and highly trained healer, Katie Weatherup has helped many on their personal paths by using the healing power of Shamanic journey & soul retrieval.
Believing that gurus are no longer a good fit within our modern culture, she teaches each person to trust themselves to be their own best expert. Katie is the author of Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds, Sex, Shamanism, and Healing: My Kissing Quest, and Sacred Travel: Practical Shamanism for Your Vacations and Vision Quests.
She says that working as a mechanical engineer, she has always understood the necessity of system integrity. The human spirit is a highly complex system, which can break down in complex and subtle ways. Much of her Shamanic work is oriented towards wholeness. She helps people find their way back to themselves, all the parts they've lost, forgotten, denied and disowned. She love the elegance, simplicity and power of soul retrieval. It is deeply rewarding to know that an hour of her time is often life changing for her clients, affording them unprecedented levels of wholeness and right relationship to the universe.
I'd love to hear about your upbringing. What were your early years like?
Really great. Katie had very kind parents, who she says weren’t as energetically sensitive like she was, so her culture didn’t really have a reference for her particular struggles. When Katie was surrounded with a lot of people and feeling overwhelmed, she says she reacted by delving into her studies, becoming “queen of the nerds,” an academic decathlete for two years in a row. She lagged behind in her social and emotional skills and had to work on them as she got older, got her engineering degree, and then got into being a Shaman through a bit of a circuitous path.
What can you tell us about Shamanism and its role in your life?
Most people don’t know about it. Although it’s becoming more popular, when Katie wrote her book, it sold very well because there weren’t a lot of options at the time. She describes four different quadrants of human experience: mental, physical, emotional, and energetic body. In our society, we’re biased toward mental body. We’ll have classes in trigonometry but not emotional intelligence. We work on physical fitness but don’t know to look for physical cues of stress. Once we get past the mental, physical, and finally emotional bodies, most people don’t know about or believe in an energetic body. Although you can get along without thinking about it, people like Katie, who are energetically sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others can have a tough time. It was so overwhelming to Katie as a child that she dissociated.
What she would say about Shamanism is that it’s a body of knowledge that can be applied, just as Buddhism is another system to address the inner aspect of who we are. Her tradition of Shamanism was fathered by Michael Harner, who studied indigenous cultures, as an anthropologist, all over the world, many whom had no interaction with one another. He noticed major commonalities among their traditions: power animals, soul retrieval, listened to a drum or did certain things to alter their state of mind, and a human in the tribe who could be an intermediary, talking to the guides to get information to bring back for the well being of the tribe.
Katie especially appreciates the way Core Shamanism goes beyond cultural appropriation to what is universal across different cultures and time, before the introduction of Christianity in particular. Michael Harner distilled it and figured out a way to teach it, and one can go to the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and take a class. She finds that it’s an excellent compliment to modern society that helps us focus more on being whole.
For people who question whether you’re talking to actual spirits or an aspect of yourself, Katie says that as a teacher, she doesn’t mind if her clients see it as a way to talk to their inner selves or as a framework to talk to masters from their religions. She sees consistent results across the board of people being healthier and making more holistic choices.
Shamanic journey and soul retrieval. Those are completely new concepts to me, and I imagine much of our audience. What are they?
Shamanic journey is about going into an altered state to gain wisdom from that state. It might be produced by listening to a drum beat, since many traditions use a specific drumbeat to create theta waves that allow people to access this altered state of awareness. People also use plant medicine, circular breathing, ecstatic dance, fasting, etc. Katie says there are many ways to relax your hold on the present moment and allow yourself to go somewhere else. Because some people are very connected to their guides, she says occasionally they’ll discount their guidance because they’ve already heard the answer in so many different ways, and it sounds too familiar. Katie’s practiced Shamanic journey for 18 years, and she loves being able to talk to guides.
Katie doesn’t necessarily think it’s for everyone, unless they’re drawn to it, but she wishes everyone would have a soul retrieval, where someone qualified is working on their behalf. Like the other Shamanic practices, it’s a universal concept that when we go through trauma, we lose parts of ourselves. Psychologists call it dissociation, and Shamanic practitioners call it soul loss. She starts by explaining that the soul transcends the human experience. When people go through a traumatic experience, the last thing they want to do is be fully present, and dissociation is a common tool, especially with children experiencing trauma. Once that part of you has dropped out, Katie says it doesn’t know when it’s safe to return.
We also give parts of ourselves away in relationships. She says that in our culture (think Jerry Maguire), we often give away parts of ourselves to each other, and in a way, it can stabilize the relationship. Although it’s not so bad when you’re with the person, we forget to get those parts back after a breakup. She often finds that people still have close energetic ties to long-ago exes. When she does soul retrievals, she connects with the person and then goes to find the lost parts of their essence, from past traumas or relationships.
When she first experienced her own soul retrieval (with her mother, actually), she realized within a day that if she were able to do only one thing with a client, she’d want it to be soul retrieval, because it can change things for the person within a single session. She loves to make the foundation of who they are available to them, finding it incredibly powerful, especially for people who’ve experienced major traumas in their lives. Often, people who’ve done a lot of work in therapy and traditional healing can work very effectively with the parts they have left, but she finds it so much more powerful for them if they can get all their essence back. Although she encourages anyone who wants to explore Shamanic journey to go for it, she really sees soul retrieval as her core, most powerful practice for people who need healing.
Now you mentioned it can be a drastic, quick change... Can 1 session be enough?
She designs her soul retrieval practice to be one session, unless she’s working with someone who’s in the top 90% of people who’ve experienced severe trauma. For that 5-50% of her clients, she does two sessions. She says it’s very unusual, but she values people’s time and efficiency, and Katie appreciates that her guides help her to do what she calls a “thorough wrangling” of soul parts left behind. On the topic of rapid change, she has people read an article beforehand about how such quick healing can cause disruptions in relationships that may no longer be sustainable. Likewise, if you have an unhealthy work environment that matches your family of origin, for example, cleaning up the core wounding around the family of origin could suddenly make you incompatible with the unhealthy nature of the work environment.
Can you give us an example or walk us through a brief introduction or exercise?
Although Katie admits brevity is not her superpower, she talks with us about fire ceremony, also posted on her website in detail.
How did you decide to write your first book?
Katie was in the shower one day, when she says her guides told her to write a book, even though at the time, she didn’t feel ready. As she started to write, one chapter at a time, she realized she had a tremendous amount to write and credits her editors for its quality. For those wanting to write a book, she says to remove the critic from over your shoulder and make a deal with yourself about being vulnerable and exposed - that it’ll get an edit, and you can talk with your critic later. Unlike previous times in human history, although people might think she’s “woo woo,” she’s not putting herself in mortal danger of being burned at the stake, etc, and she had to remind herself of that.
Other than your inner work, do you have any habits or traits that have contributed to your happiness and success?
Katie’s really good at seeking out her own healing work, energetically. “I think getting feedback from another person is a really important piece because we can’t see our blindspots.” She wants to make sure she’s able to use her tools as a practitioner in order to grow, not in order to stay stuck.
She also notices a huge difference in her agreeableness when she’s able to enjoy her hot tub under the stars on a regular basis.
If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently, through your eyes, what would it be?
People are so hard on themselves. Katie references a TED Talk by Brené Brown about shame and vulnerability that currently has almost 8 million views, and how it’s clear that people have a hunger to get rid of shame. She says the problem with exposing our vulnerabilities is that we often get accurate mirroring that small infractions are just that, in the grand scheme of things. For example, a public figure who makes a small sensitivity infraction and then is publicly shamed. She thinks the work on our own (shadow work, sash calls it), is universally some of the most important work we do, including soul retrievals and Maitri (Pema Chodron) - an unconditional friendliness with oneself.
For those moments when you can’t let go of a past shame, Katie recommends a shamanic practice called the transmutation breath. Rather than avoiding the emotion, breathe the feeling of that experience into your heart, and then exhale as neutral energy. She compares the way we organize our energy like the organization of a house of cards, that can’t really be used for anything else until you knock it down, breathe through the feeling with awareness, start at neutral, and allow yourself to build something new. It’s a practice, something to build and exercise.
Katie discusses how our need to protect ourselves from mortal danger in the past as a species has translated into our need to avoid unsettling emotions in the present. Where the intention to be compassionate with oneself might not transform as effectively, the practice of the transmutation breath can be incredibly transformative. The fire ceremony is similar, but more formalized, and the breath is something that can be accessed right in the moment.
Katie, thank you so much for being with us today! And thank you for joining us today on the Peace of Persistence. If you found us on the LITE version, we're glad you're here. If you want to hear more from Katie and all our guests, you can find our extended versions on patreon - at www.patreon.com/peaceofpersistence. It's also a great way to support the show, if you like what you see and hear.
It's been an incredible season so far, and I'm so grateful for each guest on this show and how much insight they bring. Thanks for joining us, however you've found us, and we'll see you next week on The Peace of Persistence for more discussions on how to find the happiness and success in all our lives.