The term astroshamanism identifies a holistic system of healing aimed at enlarging human perception through the integration of shamanism with experiential astrology, the archaic mystery traditions and the context of contemporary society. Its present form is the result of research developed by Franco Santoro since 1976, thanks to the contribution of shamans from various cultures and the experience gained with the Findhorn Foundation, where Franco has worked since 1999.
Astroshamanism employs different tools that facilitate the exploration of non-ordinary dimensions and help create a bridge with conventional reality aimed at providing benefits and healing for the human and planetary environment.
Shamanism is the most ancient and widespread method of healing. In all parts of this planet and in all ages there is evidence of shamanic practices. A shaman is an individual who, out of his will, is able to enter into an expanded state of consciousness to relate with realities which are alien to ordinary human beings and use this connection to get wisdom, ecstasy, power and for healing purposes. In engaging in their activities shamans move between different states of consciousness, regularly relating with ecstatic and enlightened realms. Yet, differing from mystics or other spiritual masters, shamans do not aim at enlightenment for its own sake. Their main purpose is that of moving into other realms and then coming back to help their community.
In shamanism, as with astrology, there is no separation and everything is perceived united and part of the same web of life. The chief trait of shamans is their clear perception of this unity. They are very familiar with states of consciousness that allow visions and explorations of the dimensions which exist beyond the physical reality. In order to travel to these spaces, shamans use various tools and receive the support of Guides (also called guardian spirits, power animals, spirit allies, angels, etc.). The relationship with these beings and their integration in ordinary reality is one of the main characteristics of shamanic cultures and represents the basic work of astroshamanism.
Astrology is the oldest form of communication and symbolic language, which in astroshamanism is used to access information on the geography of states of consciousness, allowing their identification and safe exploration. Here the traditional horoscope reveals itself experientially through emotions, movements, dances, sounds, rituals, images and situations aimed at expanding awareness and supporting strong transformational processes. In archaic times astrology did not deal with personalities. It was meant as a study of energy patterns and was expressed collectively. In those times the stars were not only above in the sky. Their archetypal energies were accessible here on Earth, and its inhabitants could freely sense them in their bodies, minds and hearts. It was a direct relationship, devoid of any symbolism or rationalisation. Astroshamanism represents the willingness to retrieve this wisdom and integrate it with the challenges of our present environment.
Astroshamanism does not involve judgements or interpretation through the ordinary functions of the mind, neither does it require the belief in a specific religious doctrine. What matters in this work is laying aside prejudices and fixed ideas so as to open up to an authentic exploration of the mysteries that exist within and without ourselves. Astroshamanism means to access the hidden energy of the zodiacal signs and planets: to feel it in the body, the emotions, the mind and spirit. It is not about studying or analysing the theoretical significance of astrological archetypes. It requires that we are available to actually become those archetypes: to experience their power and to move through an intensive process of transformation. This attitude causes a deep inner revolution which it is important to face with gentleness and respect for our rhythms and each part of our being.
In astroshamanism the astrological wheel is employed according to its original nature of Sacred Circle. The chief trait of the Sacred Circle is that through its use it is possible to establish a direct connection with the Centre, Spirit, the Divine, God or whatever name is used to call That, instead of an intermediary relationship with a spiritual human authority. Astroshamanism uses a Sacred Circle based on 12 basic astrological Sectors, which represent the various ways and energies leading to the Centre. In such a Centre, awareness is whole: there is no separation and there is only the experience of unity. Here the 12 Sectors are emanations of the Centre and the containers of all possible situations and experiences.
A major part of the work with astroshamanism has to do with undoing the illusion of separation through honestly acknowledging and releasing grievances and pent-up emotions. This process does not occur by escaping or transcending the physical dimension, but through using it as a teaching device to fulfil our true life purpose in this plane. Rather than ignoring or repressing grievances and hidden emotions, we can instead learn to open up to their true nature. Astroshamanism is about taking full responsibility about our presence in the material plane, giving up denials and patiently undoing separation.
Astroshamanic Practices can easily be related and integrated in our contemporary reality. Franco’s approach is to adapt shamanic work according to the characteristics of each individual and group who work with him. This is based on the experience that each one carries unique potentials, which astroshamanism aims at identifying and supporting through a large variety of tools. During group sessions participants are empowered to decide regarding the extent of their exposure to the work. They are also invited to share their feelings, and ask questions or support if necessary. The astroshamanic approach aims first at creating an environment based on safety and mutual respect, in order to provide a healing foundations for exploring challenging or less comfortable zones. In this context Franco allows participants to take their own risks and decide upon their best course of action, honouring their inner guidance as well as their resistances, without pushing, yet being available to provide tools and support for transforming blocks and unveiling authentic talents.
In the core practices there would be mainly shamanic journeys, where the individual typically goes through the three stages that characterise this approach: setting an Intent/connecting with the Spirit Guide – Release/transforming shadow elements – Healing/harmonising polarities and receiving guidance. The experience may be integrated at the end with the astrological chart providing further points of reference.
Group practices involve shamanic voyages, drumming and chanting, ecstatic postures, astroshamanic trance dance and drama, experiential work with the Sacred Circle based on the astrological sectors, ritual sharing, soul retrieval, astroshamanic touch or bodywork. This approach involves entering into expanded states of consciousness, trance states, experiences of ecstasy and unity with the divine, yet always aiming at reaching a full integration into everyday life and supporting the expression of one’s authentic potential.
One of the central practices is the Basic Ritual of the Sacred Cone which can be employed individually and in a group context, a powerful tool of release and transformation. After ritually opening a sacred space participants focus on their Intent and move clockwise around a Sacred Circle (the twelve zodiacal signs and a piece representing the Centre) that is laid out in the room. They stop at a place where they feel an intensification of their energy, allow their Intent to amplify and express it through movements, sounds, gestures. In the second stage they move anti-clockwise, again stopping in a place of condensed energy and there they release grievances, any kind of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual uneasiness that supports separation. These are given as an offering to Spirit. This again is fully expressed until all the blocked energies are released and there is opening to fully connect with Spirit. This happens in a third stage, where, moving clock-wise again, participants find a new place and, often in a still position, become receptive. The process may be supported by music and sound. At the end of the ritual what has been received, can be shared with others.
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Comments from participants to astroshamanic programmes:
“A very well crafted programme, beautifully balanced, finely taught out and excellent value for money.”
“It has been wonderful and heart-opening. Doors for me have opened about being in relationship in a new way and also my views on spirit guides have deepened in a very valuable way, and my inner sense of why I am on this planet and what I am to do here has become clearer.”
“This workshop brought me back to my true passion and feeling of being fully alive.”
“I gained a much wider and brighter picture of who I am, which I know I will continue to connect with.”
“My awareness has grown immensely. I have found clarity regarding my true intention on earth and the tools to manifest it”
“Franco is an excellent communicator and facilitator. He tailors the programme according to the nature of the participants, blending group dynamics with astroshamanic processes.”
“Franco is a gifted man with wisdom and sense of humour. He is down-to-earth.”
“Franco is a wise man who knows his work well, dedicated, inspiring, gentle, passionate, welcoming, available and open to questions.”
“I would like to affirm that this has been a mile-stone on my life’s journey. Thank you.”
“I worried at first that the course would conflict with my spiritual beliefs. In fact it not only complemented but enhanced my knowing.”
“I found most valuable to learn the techniques and hear the explanations first hand from a practitioner who was open, serious and light-hearted, knowledgeable, and very capable of creating and supporting the environment and energies we were working with.”