This piece is from Itzhak Beery, a Shaman based in NYC and the author of The Gift of Shamanism, a great read if you’re interested in learning more about Shamanism.
I felt it was important to share the below as it highlights one of the main tenets of Shamanism: duality, the belief that there is both good and evil at work in the world.
The original post can be found here.
The Shamanic Truth of Evil Spirits
Perhaps, like many others, you do not believe in evil spirits. Why should you? I’ve been a shamanic healer and teacher for many years, but even I didn’t really believe in their existence — though part of me suspected I should be prepared for them, just in case. Well, this all changed quite abruptly when I was forced to believe and to find the tools I needed to fight back.
It all began innocently enough on a beautiful Sunday morning. I was totally unprepared for a dramatic collision of the seen and unseen worlds.
Meeting the Akuras
A young, good-looking woman in her late twenties walked into my healing room for her first shamanic healing ceremony. “I am an actress and a playwright, but my creativity is blocked and I don’t know why! I need help, I don’t know what to do.”
“Hey, nothing out of the ordinary,” I thought.
I followed the traditional diagnostic steps. I asked her to brush a candle all over her body, then lit it and proceeded to read the candle’s flame: “Fear and trauma,” I made a mental note. Looking at her palm I thought, “Still nothing out of the ordinary.” I asked her to stand, facing me, to start the Limpia (cleansing ceremony). I inhaled a big breath. Then, just as I was closing my eyes and getting ready to spray the energy-cleansing Trago (sugar cane rum), I noticed a wicked-looking, black furry creature high above her, descending fast in her direction. I couldn’t believe my mind’s eye as I watched it attempt to clutch her in its sharp, long-nailed claws, huge monkey eyes popping out while it screamed through a crooked, eagle-like beak.
“What in the world is that?” I thought to myself, and more urgently, “What in the world should I do?” My intuition told me I had to find the warrior within, fight this creature and remove it, even though my training never prepared me for such a battle. “But can I?” I doubted myself. Improvising, I called my spirit guides for courage and protection and quickly used all the cleansing techniques in my arsenal: fire, smoke, rum, swords, spears, prayers and threats. Finally after what felt like a long time, I was able to kick most of it out through the crack under the door.
When the ceremony was over, my client’s posture had completely changed. She was now calm, relaxed and grounded — even smiling. “How do you feel?” I asked.
“Fine, lighter, and more energized.” She answered happily.
I, on the other hand, was exhausted and a bit in shock. We sat down and I shared what I had just seen and experienced. I asked if she would grant me permission to consult with my shaman mentor about what had happened. She readily agreed and after she closed the door behind her, I called Brazil.
Ipupiara’s mobile phone rang. “Olá” my late mentor answered. “Ipu, I need your help!” I said desperately. He was in a canoe on the Rio Negro along with (“by coincidence”) master shaman Shoré from the Cannamarie tribe. “What’s the matter Itzhak?” he asked, concerned. I described what had just happened. “Oh, don’t you know? That would be Akura! Everyone knows that,” he said dismissively in his funny Portuguese accent.
“Everyone?” I asked in disbelief. “Akura? You never mentioned that in all of the six years we’ve known one another.”
He paused, “Hold on.” I could hear him speaking with Shoré in the background. “Okay,” he said with authority. “Here is what you have to do. Write it down,” and he went on to prescribe a list of ceremonies to perform. “But also ask her if she likes the color green and if she has green plants in her home, because Akuras hates anything that is green and alive. They feed on darkness and fear.”
My client agreed to the treatment. I asked her Ipupiara’s question. In a disgusted and curt voice she said, “I hate the color green. I never wear green clothes and never have plants in my home, since they all die anyway.”
This gave me goosebumps. “She is possessed. What did I get myself into?” I thought. I still doubted that I could succeed in getting rid of her Akuras.
We met the next night and after three subsequent sessions her condition was completely reversed. She now wears and enjoys green cloth, grows plants at home, and more importantly, has moved on nicely with her creative career.
If that wasn’t enough for me to learn about the dark side of the spiritual world, I was soon after presented with a few other remarkable cases. One woman, for example, couldn’t stop the uncontrollable shaking in her right hand. “I have been too many doctors,” she said desperately, “but none of them has helped.” She had another type of Akura plaguing her, “not as vicious” as Ipupiara later said. And again, three ceremonies later her Akuras were gone and her hand was completely free of shaking.
These experiences led me to ask, “Who sends these Akuras? Where do they come from?”
The powers that shape our lives
The ongoing battle between good and evil in the unseen worlds constantly shapes our experience of reality. We are all affected by it. But evil forces are difficult to recognize, as they tend to be secretive, elusive. They often shapeshift to appear as forces of good and light, while they feed on hatred, anger, darkness and fear. The forces of good are easier to recognize as they tend not to bring harm, while treating all beings and nature with reverence, and working in light, transparency and with love.
Shamans from all traditions around the world have devised, over the course of thousands of years, an impressive toolkit that includes herbs, minerals, stones, plants, eggs, candles, emulates, etc., as well as spiritual techniques such as prayers and energy shielding, to protect people and their environments from these malicious negative energies and evil spirits. These simple everyday tools can be easily used anytime at your home or office. But why do people hurt others intentionally?
From ad man to a shaman
In the mid-nineties I went through a dramatic life transition, transforming from an advertising professional into a shamanic healer and teacher. Throughout this unexpected journey, I witnessed strange phenomena that shattered my old belief system and drove me to question my perceived reality, especially the role good and evil play in our lives.
As a child I experienced good and bad spirits, but tended to dismiss them. I simply did not want to be seen as different. One of my earliest childhood memories, for example, was a reoccurring dream that began at age three and continued for almost six years. This dream always started with a strange sonic swoosh sound, immediately followed by two bright lights like flying saucers, circling and battling each other. It always ended when the smaller light force swallowed its larger rival. It left me frightened and confused, wanting answers, but scared to share it with others.
I became a skeptical and cynical child, afraid to be laughed at for my gullibility, and joined the many others in our modern technological society who look at the spiritual world as a contrived, primitive collection of folklore. At most, I conceptualized good and bad spirits as forces within us. Later, as I dabbled in meditation and yoga for health reasons, I came to believe that there is no such thing as good or bad. Even when I began studying shamanism, I came to the conclusion that good and bad are just two different energy vibrations; we label them based on our current point of view and values. It was too much hocus-pocus for me to believe in the existence of dark forces that roam independently in the universe. But then I learned another important lesson, this time from the grandmother of all medicine.
A lesson on the Rio Negro
A few years ago on the bank of one of the Rio Negro tributaries in the Brazilian Amazon, I took part in a sacred Ayahuasca ceremony led by a Pishuna tribal elder. As the ceremony began, I heard sweet sounds and then saw sweet-looking spirits hovering above me. “This will be an easy ceremony,” I thought.
Those sweet spirits asked me to convert to their religious teachings. I politely refused, asserting my atheistic Kibbutz upbringing. But they kept sweet-talking me, promising salvation and all of my heart’s desires in return. I became suspicious. They kept trying to tempt me and promised, “If you follow our teachings, you will get what you want and become who you want to be.” We started to verbally wrestle with each other.
“It’s a trap, it’s a trap, it’s a trap!” I heard the Ayahuasca spirit warn me. “Don’t fall into the hands of evil. Look and see their real faces,” it whispered in my ear.
I looked up again and saw their actual faces, dark and contorted. I was dumbfounded, and we began to argue again. They laughed acidly, saying “You can’t resist us, we rule millions of people around the world who follow us blindly!” We continued to wrestle for what seemed like a long time. At last, although I was totally spent I found my inner power and declared, “I choose to follow the Light! I’d rather give up my life than join you!” They laughed at me again. I used all the energy I had left to gather in the powers of light and thrust that energy toward them like a spear, over and over again, until they slowly receded, finally disappearing into the void.
I took a few deep breaths, then a spiritual teacher engulfed in bright light appeared. “The evil spirits took over our spiritual religions,” he sadly said. “They intend to conquer the world by deceit.” At that moment I felt an extraordinary beam of light and love streaming from me towards this humble and loving fellow man, and the light surrounded me too. My head started to clear and the sound of cicadas and frogs filled the cool night air. Finally, I let my body relax.
“What was that all about? Why me, why now?” These questions stayed with me for the rest of my stay in the Amazon. I am an Israeli Jew, after all, and in no way a religious man. “Was this message sent by someone to me?” The answer to these questions came, surprisingly, in an email.
My ancestors appear
Just a few weeks earlier, my cousin sent our family an article translated from Yiddish written over 50 years before by my grandfather’s brother. The translation was part of a project to commemorate the Jewish community in Kolno, the town in Poland where my great-grandfather, Rabbi Mordechi Zundel Margolith, lived. Unbeknownst to me, Rabbi Margolith was a Kabbalistic Rabbi who devoted his life to the war with the “Satra Achra” (Aramaic for “Other Side”), the war between dark and light forces, which he claimed wanted to divert him from the righteous path.
In this article my great uncle writes about his father’s teachings: “When God created the world he created it with the option for man to choose between good and bad. The good is the choice to follow God’s ways and the bad is the option to create distance from God and go after all kinds of strange Earthly passions. Inside us we have our soul, which is our truest and purest manifestation. And it wants us to behave in line with it, to be with God and do good deeds.
“On the other side, God created bad forces outside the human being. Their goal is to force a person to behave in opposite to his true soul, to be bad. These forces are called ‘Satra Achra’, or the Other Side. It is the opposite of the Good side. These forces try to darken the world from God’s light. They consistently try to make a person choose between the good and bad and try to tempt him to choose the bad. It is important to note that a man has the power to choose the good. The bad forces are created so man can realize his inner powers. When we control the bad, we create happiness in the Upper worlds and the light will come to the lower worlds.”
Reading this, I became speechless. Is this in our genes? Am I continuing where my great grandfather left off? Will my offspring inherit this battle?
Are people are born bad?
Why do so many people in our society intentionally do bad things to others, to all living being and the environment? Why do corporations create deadly products, poisoning the air and water? Why do powerful forces subvert community, buying elections and cheating consumers? Why do religious institutions vilify others, ignore inequality and human rights violations around the world, and encourage millions of people to die in their names? Why do our political parties create heartless policies that disregard the poor, women, gays and those who can’t fend for themselves? And why do they all say that they are acting on your behalf, so you can live in liberty and freedom?
How does the shamanic tradition view the battle between good and evil, light and dark? I consulted with Ipupiara. “Negative energy means heavy energy. It wants to slow things down and bring them to a stop. Some people do bad things not because they were born bad, but because of negative energy from outside forces they can’t control. When the negative energy penetrates someone’s body it is hard to detect. If not addressed, it seeps through our clothing and skin, into our organs and bones, resulting in sickness or even death. Its purpose is to promote suffering and destruction in return for temporary power. It lives on fear, separation, revenge, and differences. It creates depression mentally and economically, and ultimately destroys individuals, society and the environment. It is our role as shamans to clear negative energies and replace them with positive energies that restore health and balance to our clients’ lives.
“On the other hand,” he continued, “positive energy or light energy is easier to recognize than dark energy, as the forces of Good tend not to harm anyone, treat all beings with love, equality and reverence to Mother Earth. Think of the sunrays, which spread equally onto all beings. Positive energy promotes growth, action, innovation, renewal and optimism. It inspires equality between people, strengthened community and shared responsibilities.”
The best self defense
At any moment, each of us is confronted with choices between good and evil forces. We are constantly exposed to negative energies thrown our way. These forces maybe sent by other people as they express anger, jealousy, envy or other destructive impulses. They are sent by corporations, governments and political parties. They live in violent programs on television or other media. Even buildings or particular locations can possess negative energies as a result of negative activities that have taken place in those places.
Knowing how to recognize these forces, and having access to the shamanic toolbox so you can protect yourself, is your best defense. This awareness is extremely valuable to living a healthy, balanced and productive life. So before every action you take, even each word you say, stop and think: “Might this harm any other person or living being on our Earth?”
If you’re interested in reading more, check out Itzhak’s book The Gift of Shamanism.
What are your thoughts? Have any of you had experiences with ‘dark’ or ‘evil’ spirits like Itzhak has? Tell me about it below in the comments.