Shamanism and the Celtic shaman path towards healing


We are delighted to be presenting this third episode of Fields of Healing where we discuss a healing field that is becoming more and more visible and popular within Irish healing circles. Shamanism is what many people might think of as something pagan and definitely something from ‘over there’, maybe South America or Siberia or Mongolia, not something Irish. Yes, it is something from ‘over there’ for sure, though more accurately something associated with indigenous healing practices in any part of the world. In Ireland, much of our traditional indigenous healing practices and even words have been disappeared. By various colonial usurpers, latterly by the catholic church and probably significantly influenced by the so called age of reason and science.

Of course, healing practices, medicine men and women, remained in folklore and to a large extent perhaps could only survive within this dimension until recent decades, where we have seen a huge increase in interest and practices grounded in our very own indigenous healing. Celtic shamanism has re-emerged within this development and even still, lost words and descriptions are slowly beginning to emerge that give meaning to these practices. For now, shamanism can and does offer a way of being that encompasses this old and contemporary spiritual holistic healing modality.

Speaking on this episode with two shaman practitioners Karen Ward and John Cantwell who have been at the forefront of Irish Celtic shamanism for decades; we tease out what in their view is shamanic practice and what it can offer to people with mental health issues, who are looking for a healing path outside of the traditional psychiatric treatment model. We hope our conversation sheds some light and makes a common sense to anyone listening. There are multiple books written on shamanism and often they are framed within a particular philosophical or cultural view. If someone was looking to peruse everyday common sense experiences of those in Ireland who walk a shaman path, a starting point could well be  Soul Seers – An Irish Anthology of Celtic Shamanism’, which can be found on the Slí on Chroí website


The Interviewees

 John Cantwell is co-director of Slí An Chroí Shamanism alongside his wife Karen Ward. He is one of Ireland’s foremost shamanic teachers and healers. He speaks widely at national and international conferences advocating for shamanic consciousness in our contemporary world.

Dr Karen Ward, well known as the Holistic Therapist from RTE’s ‘Health Squad’ & Energy Therapist from BBC’s ‘Last Resort’ presents Talks, Workshops & Courses on all aspects of holistic health. She co-facilitates the Slí an Chroí Medicine & Healers Spiral in Celtic Shamanism with her husband John Cantwell. She is a counselling psychotherapist, supervisor, writer and lecturer.

Karen and John met during the auspicious week of the solar eclipse in August 1999. They share a life of ever deepening connection to the natural world. The Ancestral lineage of Shamanism in Ireland, including that of Druidry is a vital vein of resource for them.  Karen and John bring warmth, integrity, and gratitude into all of their work.