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Sin-Eating: The Shaman's Version of a Confessional

It’s no secret that I wasn’t raised with any of the common organized religions, so I won’t pretend to know what traditional confession looks and sounds like. I can only use my imagination there. But what I do know is about a similar role I play in my own work as a practitioner of Shamanism. There are so many roles I play in this calling and some of them are like interesting little surprises that nothing could have prepared me for – this one is one of those for sure.

Many years ago, my higher self told me that I was a sin-eater. As usual, they didn’t give me context or definition about what this means. The messages I receive are often cryptic or vague – not making sense until sometimes years down the road. The first thing I did when I heard this term was google the crap out of it (lol). As it turns out, there is a lot of lore and “history” out there, but none of it felt true to me and to what I was doing. In fact, it wasn’t until last weekend that it really hit home for me about what this is.

So I want to start this by sharing a little story. It was a pretty badass experience and it lights me up inside to think about it.

I was in a group Ceremony and someone in the group was struggling. I won’t reveal any information about this person, but I can share that the burden of their childhood was unlike anything I have ever seen in terms of energetic weight – it was also in the top five worst childhood abuse situations I had ever heard. Out of the thousands of people I have worked with, this is saying a lot. I had worked with this person once before and they had unburdened themselves significantly with me previously. Who they were this weekend was night and day different from the first time I worked with them. This time, however, it was something specific they were harboring that was asking to be released. It was rage.

As you may or may not know, anger is one of the “seven deadly sins” according to Catholic teachings. I personally believe this list of “sins” is deadly because each of them will literally eat you alive from the inside out if you don’t release them. If I look at my job as a whole, it is indeed largely to help people unburden all of these “sins” so that they can move forward in their lives.

Anyway, during this experience, I watched this person shake with rage. They kept repeating that they felt like it was going to kill them if they held onto It any longer. One part of me agreed, but more in the long term/big picture of knowing it would kill them eventually if they kept holding onto it.

“No way” I said, “If your childhood didn’t kill you, this certainly won’t”.

And I asked this person to let me take it from them.

With the assistance of three of my close healer friends, we supported this person as they laid on the ground. My friends held this person’s hands, told them they loved them, and encouraged them to release their grip on the rage towards the people who brutally abused them throughout their childhood.

I put my hand on this person’s chest and I invited this rage into my heart. I asked it to come to me so that I could steward it forward, as it was done serving it’s purpose in this person’s life. I felt the grip release and this monster-sized energy moved through me. For just a single moment, I held all of the pain. I felt the years of brutality. I felt the agony of a child who had been betrayed by the people who were supposed to keep them safe, but instead played the role of sadists. I felt the shock and confusion at seeing other adults who looked the other way while they saw this happen. I had never felt anything like it in terms of pain and suffering. It brought me to tears. For just a single moment, I allowed it to be me in that position so that I could witness this rage fully. This was so I could witness it and express my gratitude. I witnessed it for all the people who didn’t. I witnessed it so that it could be extracted. I thanked this beast and then I brought it into my heart space. I watched it dissolve and disperse out into the universe just as quickly as it came in.

Then it was gone.

And then I threw up. ROFL.

For a few days after this experience, I felt like I had looked right into the depth of hell. I felt like I had seen darkness like I had never seen before – and it took me a minute to integrate that. However, today, I have a greater understanding of what it means to be a Sin-eater. I have a great understanding of who I am. Whoa! What a gift!

I will share what this experience looks like for me in a few different ways. Perhaps this is something that may be helpful for someone reading this blog .. You never know.

When I first started working with Medicine, and Ayahausca was my primary teacher, I was directed on how to suck sickness out of someone’s body and spit it out. The person who I was working on at the time described it as a darkness in their stomach that was pulled out with my mouth. I recently learned that there are Shaman in South America who are known for being able to do this, but I never had any formal training in it, as it just came to me one day. Sometimes I do this in Medicine Ceremony and sometimes on my bodywork table in a regular session.

Most commonly, I experience this energetically more than I do physically. When someone comes to me with heavy burdens they are carrying, I am able to help them lighten that load enough so they can see the foundation for why they started to carry this burden to being with. Did they harm someone? Why did they harm them and can they forgive themselves? Are they harming themselves? Do they harbor hate? At the end of these inquiries, I can take all that they are ready to surrender.

I have worked with this quite a bit with both childhood molesters and military personnel who had the experience of taking the life of someone else. The burden of stealing innocence and power, as well as taking a life, is a great burden to carry. Allowing the burden (“sin”) to be devoured can be the difference between life and death for these folks. Hence the incredible suicide rates of veterans. These are of course extreme examples – I will discuss the more common ones below.

I also currently work with this a lot in terms of family trees. If there is a lot of this “sin” energy in the family line, I am able to drain it like you would draino on a sink. It can shift every person in the family if that’s what is needing to happen. I see it most commonly with pedophile energy, which is ready to be cleared from this dimension entirely.

This experience doesn’t burden me to witness. It doesn’t burden my body either. It did a little initially, but as I learned to stop judging people and situations as good or bad, I watched my capacity for love to grow to a place I could have never imagined. Now nothing stays inside of me on it’s way out. Really though, it was about me learning how not to judge myself. Now I watch these energies, which can sometimes be quite scary, completely dissolve in the embrace of my love.

And still, I often throw up right after if they are big ones LOL.

None of these things have ever stayed in my body through these processes, they move out as easily as they move in. Sometimes there is residue, but that is typically cleared through salt bath, smudge, or tobacco. In general, it feels like I have walked through some kind of crazy portal and moved along something massive that was stuck in a place it didn’t belong. It can take time for what I see and experience to settle, but afterwards it almost feels like a collective shift of density has been released as a result of this work.

Now I want to circle back to sins. I believe that sins are energies we harbor that keep us in a literal hell. They are dense, heavy, and burdensome. These energies look like demons and monsters when they are personified, which is how I see them. And when we let them go, when we get to the bottom of why we started inviting them in the first place, we are released and restored. We are in our own God being, we are in heaven.

So, just for fun, let’s go down the list. Sin by Sin, how do I experience and see them in my Shamanic practice? I see all of these things as some variety of entities, demons, or shadows. I see them very clearly in people and this is part of my “witness to release” process of working with these energies in Shamanic Ceremony. Sins are no sins as we label them, their presence is merely a symptom of something else that keeps us in a state of personal hell (suffering).

These are pretty surface-level and can all be taken to a much deeper level... But we shall start here.

  1. Pride – I experience this as the inability to be humbled and/or have respect for all other things. In order to be humble, you have to accept and understand that you are the same as everyone else. There is nothing that makes you special per se and therefor, everyone is equal in all ways. This shakes up a lot of people because when you have an inner child running the show, part of our development stage is about thinking that the universe literally revolves around you. If you aren’t ready to heal that aspect, you can’t grasp this one. Pride keeps you separate from others and from the world around you. On a very surface level, this is the hell of separation/isolation.

  2. Anger – This one is self-explanatory. Anger is also often a cover emotion and many things can live under this boulder of a beast. It grows quickly and becomes heavy fast. Anger often manifests as cancer, high blood pressure, and heart conditions.

  3. Lust – This is perhaps the one I understand the least about because I am still learning about it for myself due to childhood trauma I have been wading through for years. I do know that there is a big wounding right now around women being energetically and physically raped/molested in the last few generations. Doing this takes away the power of the feminine or the power of an innocent being (in the way of children). Taking away someone’s power is a great burden as a perpetrator, yet it also serves a purpose. I also see us swinging in an extreme direction in terms of pornography addiction, sex addiction, etc. It feels as if this energy is being misused/abused and keeping us from fully pulling that energy into ourselves for personal power. There is a lot of power taken and given away for the “wrong reasons”. You get the picture. We shall see how this unfolds, so, TBD!

  4. Envy – Wanting what someone else has. When we get stuck in the trap (or hell, if you will) of wanting what other people have, we are not able to have gratitude for what we have. Without gratitude, we create a space of endless suffering and longing. A deep practice of gratitude and stillness is the only thing that can release you from this prison.

  5. Gluttony – When I think of gluttony, I think of the entity that I see when people have an eating disorder. It looks like something out of a horror movie. It is a large human-like being who is pale, very heavy and just stuffed with food/energy/darkness. For me, I experience gluttony as a result of running from my emotions. When you are not able to feel or acknowledge a feeling that is asking to be felt, it is common to stuff it down with food, alcohol, tobacco, sex, or something else. This is a coping mechanism that is taught quite frequently in our culture too, as well as one that is widely accepted and then shamed. So now you have an inner version who is trying to have their feelings felt and validated – and they are being suffocated by a 300 pound being that just gets bigger by the day. To this person who needs to have their feelings heard, it’s like being trapped in hell by a hungry ghost who never gets full.

  6. Greed – one of my favorites! It’s not for any good reason, other than me finding it fascinating as hell and endlessly deep. I have had the amazing pleasure to work with many people who experience a level of wealth I could never even hope to know. And they come to me because money didn’t make them happy and their entire life, they thought it would. In the US, we are living from such a state of fear that we are constantly concerned with making more money, having nicer things, bigger houses, etc. The undercurrent of our society is a very loud voice of fear and lack. This ever-present level of fear is intentionally installed in our reality, but as a result, we become greedy and live in a place where we are never satisfied with what we have. For example: passive income has somehow become the ideal way to live life – at the expense of our economy as a whole. It’s sad.

    1. The solution to greed is threefold. Figure out what your unique medicine is and share it with the world. Figure out how much money you need to survive and take only what you need and nothing more. Give back in kind (reciprocation!!). This is a very important universal law that we are breaking every day – it’s one of the reasons there is so much suffering in our world.

    2. Suffering = hell. Are you seeing the theme with sins and hell?

  7. Sloth – I view this one simply as inaction. Inaction is often a result of being stuck, not because one desires to be inactive. Typically, when someone is in this state, they have childhood trauma that needs to be cleared and soul purpose to be restored. It’s not even something that can be pushed through, but lovingly coaxed and coddled. Sloth is also commonly the state that people describe as “feeling stuck” in life. They are trapped in a place of inaction for whatever reason and can receive help to move out of this state (if they ask for it). This space of inaction feels hopeless, confusing and lost.

Other Notes:

Holding things in that need to be expressed feeds a few of these items listed above. The holding back causes internal festering. I see this most commonly with men who don’t have the skills to express thoughts and emotions in words. It results in digestive issues, bad breath and stomach cancer.

I feel like I should include a conclusion as my inner high school self re-reads this blog and criticizes my writing style. However, I think the content speaks for itself, and don’t feel the need to add more.

Confession has a place in Shamanism, though it may look quite different than it does in Catholicism. This isn’t about praying and penance, it’s so much easier and more tangible than that. It’s about coming to a table filled with love and being ready to surrender the sins you are holding tightly to. It’s a real table too, with real beautiful faces waiting to embrace you. We will hug you and love you … and allow you to surrender that burden that just gets so heavy to carry.

Say goodbye to the “cuddly demons you know best” as one of my clients put it


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