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Shamanism techniques take practitioners on spiritual journey

Some practitioners chose to look at abstract photographs before the trance-dance to see something they could connect with while moving. (Photos by Riham Feshir / Enterprise)1 / 2
Jeanne Troge (left) played tribal, middle eastern and upbeat music during the trance-dance Friday. Karlene Plante, blind-folded and dancing in the dark, was able to connect the music with her physical movements, mind and spirit.2 / 2

In 1989, Jeanne Troge's 19-year-old son died in a car accident. For the next four years, she was in deep grief that she couldn't release.

"A part of you just leaves because you can't take in the full brunt of the pain of what's occurred," she said. "You don't live your life with all your energy."

When a friend told her to see a shaman who practices soul retrieval, Troge decided to give it a try.

"It was life-changing for me," she said.

Two weeks after the soul retrieval process, she said she felt all of her energy come back.

"I felt engaged in life again, I felt the grief just lift off of my shoulders," Troge said.

At that moment, the Park Rapids resident and Bridget's House co-owner, knew she wanted to learn and teach others about shamanism.

She's been practicing for 16 years and she often speaks about shamanism at different expos around the state.

This weekend, she led a group of practitioners on a "journey."

Fast drumming beats rolled and tribal music played. The room was dark and practitioners were blind-folded.

They danced for an hour then laid on the ground for a few minutes before sharing their thoughts on images they saw and messages they received during the dance.

A discussion among the group followed. They worked on healing one another's personal issues and connecting with their souls.

The dance is a shamanic technique called "trance-dance," which is used to connect the mind with the body and spirit.

"It's going into an ecstatic trance to access spiritual information," Troge said.

Beating of the drums at 220 beats per minute puts the brain into alpha and theta states that relax the body and gives practitioners an opportunity to have spiritual experiences. The combination of the music, the physical movement to the rhythm and the dancers' unawareness of their surroundings, helped participants receive the messages they were hoping to receive to work on healing themselves.

Shamanism is 30,000 years old and it's not a religion, it's a ritual.

"You can be any religion and still practice shamanism. It's a spiritual belief," Troge said.

It's about being in communion with the earth and appreciating all of its offerings.

Troge said that some of the misconceptions about shamanism have to do with how the animals play a role into the practices of the ritual.

Animals aren't sacrificed in shamanism.

Spiritual animals are teachers who bring messages that help with soul retrieval, Troge said.

Troge grew up practicing Catholicism. Today, she said she can't define herself by any one religion because she incorporates different rituals of Christianity with shamanism.

"I don't feel that I'm a religious person," Troge said. "I'm a spiritual person."