The Role of Art in Shamanism

By Visionary Artist and Shamanic Practitioner Katherine Skaggs

As an artist, and shamanic practitioner, I have been interested in the healing powers of art for some time now. Growing up as an artist, I had no idea of the power of art, I just loved to create and replicate. As time has passed and I have grown older I have experienced art as a doorway to healing, and awakening consciousness. And as I stepped onto the shamanic pathway, I began to see how shamanic cultures throughout time have understood the deep healing power of art, and its capacity to express the wisdom of the soul, as well as bring healing to the mind, body and spirit.

In the early to mid 1990s I owned a metaphysical store, and during that time I sold books and prints with the art of Alex Grey and Susan Sedon Boulet. It was their visionary art that triggered a knowing about consciousness vibrating and expressing through a 2-D art piece. Very shamanic in nature, each image was more than a visual pleasure. They talked to me. They spoke volumes in meaning about the depth of the soul. Yet, it was even more than that. They sent vibrations of wisdom to me, awakening a knowing within and an inspiration about my own pathway to unfold.

Somehow I knew I was supposed to do something along these lines. When I asked my guides to show me how that would work, I was given guidance to do soul portraits, where I began to more fully understand and experience the ability of art as a healing tool, as well as a tool of consciousness, even in the capacity to stimulate the quantum field, and activate a portal between worlds.

As my work unfolded in painting soul portraits and various beings of light, I experienced opening a doorway between higher dimensions of consciousness into this world. Guidance came. Light waves and frequencies expanded through the pigment onto the canvas, making it much more than 2-D. With intention and stillness, I experienced opening a doorway beyond the illusionary ordinary reality, to receive energy and informational frequencies. As I learned about the journey process of shamans, I understood this is a shamanic journey process, not only for the one painting and creating, but for the one who receives the art, as it is a living doorway.

A shaman typically plays many roles within his or her community. A Shaman is a medicine man or woman, a healer or currandero, a ceremonialist, an artist, the sage storyteller, and the musician. They are highly creative and use their creativity to shift reality, to shift perception and to refocus any distortion to a balanced and whole pattern or vibration. They dance between the worlds in many ways, to bring healing, vision, guidance and transformation to the world of illusion, restoring wholeness.

Creating sacred, shamanic art is one healing modality where it is possible to access and create journey spaces, activating the quantum field, i.e. luminous egg, reaching beyond time and space, reaching beyond linear reality and 2-D dimensionality into multi-dimensionality. Creativity expressed through intention, whether it be 2-D art forms, 3-D art forms, music, plays, books, film, etc. can make the invisible, mystical realm available to many, activating soul memory and restoration. When undertaken as a ritual and tool of the Divine to express, art opens portals between the worlds expanding consciousness and higher vibratory states.

Whether creating the shamanic art piece, or experiencing it as viewer, one can move beyond ordinary reality into an altered state of consciousness, transcending ordinary time and space. This shift in consciousness allows healing and returning to wholeness.

Shamanic cultures are creative and artistic by nature. Indigenous peoples around the world are great artisans, including symbol and story within their creations. Even the ancient Etruscan culture had medicine men and women who would use art as a healing tool. When a person was sick, say with a diseased liver, the medicine man or woman would craft a sculpture of a healthy liver for the patient to have in their home, to look upon and “visualize.”

In another ancient culture the medicine man would create sacred scrolls with written prayers and hang them in the home of the sick person. The scroll would serve as a physical form of the prayers to assist in bringing the manifestation of the prayers to earth.

The Shipibo Indians of the Amazon basin in Peru understand that we are born as a song,

which is not only a sound vibration but also is a form.

Sound and visual creations are not separate in their culture, nor in any other shamanic culture. They know that if we experience a trauma or anger, or hatred, or unhappiness, depression, that these things distort our song or energy field. Anger, depression, unhappiness and other unpleasant emotions, illnesses and conditions are reflective of these distorted patterns. To bring a person back to wholeness, is to restore their song, or natural vibratory pattern. A Shipibo shaman will sing sacred songs or icaros into a patient, bringing healing, and balance.

The Shipibo woven song clothes are another form of the sacred songs put into form. The songs’ vibrational patterns are created into sacred clothes that can be used in altar clothes, hangings in ones home, clothing, and on buildings. The sacred song cloth “sings” these patterns into the space they are created upon.

The Huichol Indians of central Mexico bring another colorful and healing art from through their beadwork and yarn paintings. Through their vibrant art they create sacred symbols of their powerful allies as sacred medicine for protection and power. These art pieces are ceremonial and put prayer into form.

Regardless of which shamanic culture you look at, North American, South American, Celtic, Siberian, etc., you will find sacred, ceremonial, symbolic and ritualistic art that brings meaning and purpose to life, unifying the sacred, the Divine, into beautiful form. Each art piece is capable of transporting you beyond the ordinary linear reality into one that is divinely orchestrated and transcendently healing, sacred through and through. Engage the art not only with your eyes, but with your heart. Open to receive a healing, an awakening and transference of consciousness.




Katherine Skaggs is internationally known and respected as a visionary artist, intuitive, teacher, shamanic practitioner, and soul portrait artist. Katherine’s art is intended as and acts as an activation and portal to awakening. Katherine is the artist of the Mythical Goddess Tarot, the Pocket-full of Goddesses: a Blessing Oracle, and the Pocket Blessing Cards… including hundreds of soul portraits and channeled paintings of goddesses and divine beings of light. Katherine travels around the world to study with shamans in the jungles of the Amazon basin, the mountains of the Andes and Mexico, and any other sacred sites with wise ones who will have her! Katherine is also a board member of The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange.