Exploring Shamanic paths of traditional native healing : an ethnographic approach to health and healing


Cronin-Schaffnit, Valerie




This thesis explores a traditional Native model of healing. This holistic approach to healing is based on Native philosophy which integrates the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual aspects of being for the person to be healthy, balanced and in harmony. The healing process incorporates an experiential approach based on shamanic techniques of healing including breath work or controlled breathing, drumming, rattling, nature music and shamanic journey's during altered levels of consciousness where individuals can meet spirits, guides, animals and shamans to help them in their healing. Also illustrated is how patients and healers view Western medicine and Native healing as becoming a more integrated process. The fieldwork used a combination of participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and a transpersonal approach using experiential methods. The sample population included Native healers from different cultural groups across Canada, as well as patients/clients, both Native and non-Native, participating in traditional Native healing ways. The sampling method was non-random and does not intend to be representative of all healers or patients of traditional Native healing. Ethnographic information on healing ceremonies, the healing circle, pipe ceremony, sweatlodge ceremony and feast for the dead were gained through transpersonal participant observation. This method of data gathering is inherently qualitatively oriented, as opposed to quantitative. The therapeutic process involved in traditional Native healing, which produces a transformational healing experience for the patient, both physiologically and psychologically, is outlined. A n understanding of the healing process is provided through the biogenetic structural approach to consciousness, as well, the theoretical framework of analytic psychology as outlined in the personal and collective unconscious by Jung, and Gellhorn and Kiely's theory of the ergotropic-trophotropic process. In addition to the academic focus represented by the theoretical framework, an attempt has been made to present the healing process from the perspective of the Native worldview.


Traditional Medicine -- Canada -- Case studies
Holistic Medicine -- Canada -- Case studies




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 


Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).