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Shaman: Feline Healer And Teacher

Shaman: Feline Healer and Teacher

As a child growing up in a dysfunctional family I took refuge in the company of animals. We understood each other and I could always trust them. I could usually be found under the table with the family dogs, or curled up with a cat companion. And wherever I went animals would naturally gravitate to me because I listened to them and treated them like equals, which sometimes freaked people out.

Fortunately my mother shared my love of animals and encouraged me, so some of my happiest memories were our visits to the Philadelphia Zoo. To me the animals were not zoological specimens behind bars, but my friends. My mother told me that a visit to the zoo was a day-long event because I insisted on visiting them all and that even at a young age I knew exactly where each of them were located.

When I became a teenager I hit some really rough times emotionally, and I shut down my developing intuitive abilities. I lost faith in everything and everyone—except the animals. Through the many traumatic years that followed a succession of animal friends stayed by my side and lovingly supported me.

Best Friends: Rose and Kitten Shaman ©Rose De Dan

One such friend came along unexpectedly one day while I was playing with a group of 25 kittens at a local pet food store. Since I already had a full crew of my own I had resolved to be strong and not adopt anyone else. I was having a wonderful time experiencing each of their personalities when I picked up this cute black and white tuxedo kitten. He rolled over in my hands so that he could look me in the eyes, and when he did I felt an actual click, like a puzzle piece had snapped into place, and I knew that we were meant for each other. So much for my resolution—he went home with me. Because he would often react to something I could not see, I felt he was seeing spirits so I named him Shaman (Shay-men). I had no formal training in what I do now, so I did not even realize that his name should have been pronounced Shah-men.

By 1995 I had reached a point in my life where I felt that my life had no meaning or purpose. Each day I felt that I was only gritting my teeth and putting one foot in front of the other. I considered, and rejected, many avenues. Then one day I read an article, written by someone I knew, recounting her experiences taking Reiki classes. I felt drawn to seek out training, and showed up at class with an open mind, but no expectations. During the attunement process I suddenly could feel the energy running through my hands and realized that this was real (something I had not thought about) and in that exact moment I also knew, to the core of my being, that I was a healer, that was my purpose, and that I would work with animals. And in that moment Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing was born.

I set up my practice as soon as I finished Reiki Level 2, and a funny thing happened. My first client, a very elderly collie who came with his young woman companion, told me that he was dying and worried about her. She needed healing, could I help her, too?

Shaman and Saqqara with Reiki students ©Rose De Dan

So my practice shifted to include people, and when my first human client laid on my healing table, my cat Shaman (who had been attuned to Reiki by me, at his request) surprised me, and joined her. He looked directly at me, and very deliberately stretched himself out from her root chakra to her throat chakra, and began to offer her Reiki. Uncertainly I followed suit, and for the rest of the session we worked together. And for the next 15 or so years Shaman continued to work with my human clients and students, focusing on certain areas, guiding me, and teaching me.

And he guided my steps through the many years of my training in shamanism, participating in the ceremonies and helping to lay the foundation for yearly events like A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild and Animals As Healers and Teachers.

On the evening before Shaman was scheduled to depart into Spirit he requested that we do a special Peruvian shamanic despacho ceremony together; one just for us. When I rolled the red mat out on top of the stand to begin preparation, Shaman stepped onto it. Looking at me to make sure I was watching, he stretched out both of his front legs, and with the paws that had helped heal so many over the years, he scent-marked the mat, telling me that even in spirit he would continue to be part of the ceremonies and my life.

Shaman, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patience and your wisdom. By building a bridge between people and animals, you not only assisted me in offering healing to others—you also helped me heal myself.


Learn how to connect more deeply with animals, restore balance to your life, increase intuitive skills, and help heal the Earth with live Reiki and shamanic teleclasses, available worldwide.


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©2012 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.

Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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    1. Thank you for the well wishes, Kitako. Shaman crossed over several years ago (which I neglected to add to the article) so now I can joyfully celebrate our experiences and love for one another.

      1. That’s good to know! I was thinking “Oh, Rose just sent Puma off and now Shaman?!” I’m glad that it now became your sweet memories. 🙂

  1. This is wonderful. Through pieces like this, people find affirmation of what so many have been afraid to say: that our animal friends do speak to us and do teach us and do purposefully help us on our journeys. In my opinion, affirming these realities openly is long overdue in our culture.

    Thank you also for your heartfelt openness in recounting your life journey. It takes a lot of courage, but when we share our own challenges openly we allow others to take heart. They know that they are not alone in their struggles, that persistence is worth the herculean effort, and that despite what they’re going through they too can find personal empowerment and make a positive difference in the world. Your story offers proof of the possible, ground to stand upon, which may be much needed.

    Writing about our lives also emboldens readers to open up and share their own life stories. I think telling our own story is a critical part of our healing process, and when we write about our lives courageously we inspire others to tell their stories — and their telling encourages others — thus the healing influence spreads outward like Crow’s Foot Ivy. Who can say where it will end? Courage has a way of taking root and thwarting eradication. May it ever be so! Thank you for planting this wonderful seedling.

  2. Rose, You must still miss Shaman – what an amazing purpose his spirit had, but I’m relieved this didn’t just happen. I bet you still think of him when you give Reiki. His name and this post reminds me of our Shama – short for Shamanka. We just lost her two days after Thanksgiving to lymphoma. She was only 6 and I can’ write about her yet. It takes a lot of courage to write about the memories and relive them in doing so. I’m glad I was able to read about Shaman. Love the pictures of him. He was one in a million indeed.

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