The Shaman's Trail




Glenville Ashby has spent nearly four decades researching, studying and practicing the esoteric arts. His work has taken him to South America, Europe, the Caribbean, the United States, and Africa. He was recently installed as a chief in Missihoun Houe, Benin, West Africa, where he was also initiated into Tossou Dadawa as an animist.

Glenville was awarded a doctoral degree in Interfaith Dialogue and Diplomacy from Euclid University. He graduated from the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, California, having earned a professional diploma in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. He is also a graduate of the International School of Applied Psychoanalysis, Montpellier, France.

He has authored several critically acclaimed books and his writings have been published by Oxford University Philosophical Society and The Vienna Psychoanalyst, Austria.

What is Animism

Animism is the only real truth, a truth untainted by dogma and prejudice. The animist’s journey to wisdom begins with knowing that there resides a soul in all things - a life source - infinite and eternal.

The Shaman’s Trail

Welcome to a world of wonderment and magic. By exploring this site, you have demonstrated a keen interest in knocking down the walls of religious authoritarianism. You have recognized that dogma has infected spiritual inquiry turning the fertile mind into an arid wasteland. Gone is the spirit of spontaneity and creativity. We have abrogated our innate gifts given to heal ourselves and others. We have become placid and sheepish, far removed from our august responsibility as stewards of the world

Now, I invite you to explore the world of animism, the oldest and purest quest for truth and enlightenment. With expert guidance, you will experience more, feel more and realize your potential as a co-creator with the Soul that resides in all things.

Ami! Lissa Danno (Glenville Ashby, Ph.D.)

Animism and Psychotherapy

The animist is attuned to his or her inner landscape. Inner conflicts are resolved and the mind is unfettered by fear, anger, shame and guilt. The animist is psychologically completely and not driven by unconscious forces nor is he or she prone to regression.
Nurturing the psyche is essential to sound spiritual practice. The aspirant, therefore, must be familiar with psychoanalytic theories, and undergo weekly therapy while studying animism. An effective animist emerges out of this binary approach to self-mastery. Innovative methods will be introduced to facilitate ‘clearing.’

Stagnant energy in the form of resentment, regret and hate can be easily transmuted toward positivity. Energetic stagnation leads to unconscious self-loathing. We are deft at constructing psychological fortresses or personas. This is how we unconsciously guard our vulnerabilities and protect the fragile ego from imploding. While defense mechanisms are needed, we fall short when we fail to address the cause of our distress. Someone in distress, privately or overtly cannot become a worthy practitioner of animism.
Remember that animism explores energies behind the foundational elements of the earth. We are also part of these energies. The animist peers and sees the ‘indiscernible’ with acute spiritual vision. The animist, not unlike the shaman, knows.

  • Whoever calls himself or herself an animist has experienced ‘clearing’ and not prone to regression.
  • The animist is a healer, a diviner and a teacher.
  • The aspirant must be mindful that charlatans lurk poised to devour the unsuspecting.
  • Vulnerable and seeking solutions to daily affliction, many seek the counsel of animists, many whom see spirit forces behind every problematic circumstance.

There is something heady, almost intoxicating about being called a spiritual healer. Of all the gifts, healing stands tallest, for obvious reasons. Therein is the power to rid oneself and others of pain, to even give a new lease of life to the sick and suffering; at least that is what one believes. Yes, the role of healer is a vaunted one. But there is a problem with this religious narrative. Not every malaise is caused by negative forces. This has led to the gross misunderstanding and abuse of spirituality.

Recently, I was asked to look into a case of a child that was ostensibly stricken by evil. The parents were convinced that their child was possessed. There was no possible explanation for the five-year-old boy’s incorrigibility, his swearing and screaming, almost bestially. Understandably searching for a quick solution, they went to a number of Christian ministers holding firm that they would never seek obeah for relief. Their every effort proved futile. The boy’s alarming intransigence continued.

In another case, I was asked to ‘treat’ a woman in her 20s suffering with acute depression supposedly caused by the malicious spiritual practices of her estranged boyfriend.

And in my most recent case, a middle-age woman was convinced that her deceased son was haunting her apartment. She opted to stay at her friend’s house every night and returned to her residence in the morning.

The automatic reaction of the victims (and the loved ones in the case of the child) was based on their religious and cultural upbringing.

Most times a rush to judgement opens the door to manipulation by so-called so called animists and shamans. The gullible have forked up thousands of dollars for a quick fix, looking down blind alleys where charlatans lurk. In some instances, the healer is genuine but is ill equipped to meaningfully address the problem.

Regarding the cases mentioned, I advised that a social worker or psychiatrist examine the child. Initially, the parents rejected it for they resisted the thought of their child having a mental problem. I based my suggestion on a series of questions to the parents regarding their relationship, home and school environment, and adaptive skills of their son. Children can react in abnormal ways to an unhealthy home environment.

As for the young woman who thought she was under a spiritual attack, she conceded that she was once diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffered psychologically as a child when her father left home and never returned. She also said that she was prone to making poor decisions in choosing boyfriends. I encouraged her to see a licensed psychotherapist.

In the final case of the mother that lost her only child, I concluded that she was traumatized by her son’s sudden demise. She was grieving, projecting her strong emotions into ‘real’ phenomena. She needed an experienced bereavement counsellor. A spiritual worker would have only heightened her neurotic state.

The authentic healer, the animist and shaman must be knowledgeable in the field of psychology. The right questions must be asked in the initial interview. The dynamics of the mind explains a host of pathological behaviors we instinctively attribute to spirits. True spiritual maladies are rare. The healer is cautioned against precipitance and must be judicious when proceeding. If a malady or behaviur cannot be explained after exhausting every medical and psychological diagnosis, spiritual forces are possibly the culprits. Such is highly likely if the victim has dabbled in the occult. If bedeviled by spirits, the victim will display an aversion to sacred objects, speak in a foreign tongue (another language) that is indistinguishable from a native speaker, will demonstrate precognitive abilities or display superhuman strength. Short of these characteristics, the healer is not dealing with a spiritual malady and should immediately refer the person to a medical professional.

To effect change, to somehow make magic, to fulfill our desires - good and bad -with incantations, with the waving of a hand, has become synonymous with spiritual power. The quick fix does not only characterize western zeitgeist, it’s globally pervasive. In Indian spiritualism, the left hand path is said to be the sure way to remove karma quickly, expediting one’s goals in the process. The price for this circumvention is steep. Prayers, fasting and steadfastness for a protracted time embody other yogic practices. We are faced with challenges, with sickness, opposition and obstacles for a purpose. Our karma, what we have sown, comes full circle and we must be ready to respond within spiritual laws. But not every physical, emotional and psychological challenge is due to our past deeds. The vagaries of life impact all of us. No one is immune. Life is the consummate school, the school of existentialism, where we strive to find meaning and wholeness. Moreover, we must know that every occurrence in the material world manifest in stages, first occurring in the world of spirit before manifesting materially. In stages, life, as we know it unfolds. How we adjust and combat challenges determines the level of our understanding and spiritual prowess. Animism proffers many gifts. Your selfless enquiry and tireless search for truth will pay dividends. What those dividends look like depends on unfathomable qualities: you’re personality, karma and life’s your mission. We can’t be all medical doctors and scientists.

You will find those among us that are spirit workers, in earnest, meaning that they effectively use the elements to effect change, almost in a magical sense. Others are consummate griots, psychologists, herbalists, teachers, artists, writers and and musicians. They are the finest in their craft, supremely gifted without equal. They did not choose their gift, it is ‘handed’ to them to be harnessed by ‘undefinable’ circumstances, really, their will to meaning.

Animism can help you experience new insights and possibilities, a life without fear, guilt and ambiguity; a life that is rewarding, munificent and ultimately just.


"Animism is the only real truth, a truth untainted by dogma and prejudice. The animist’s journey to wisdom begins with knowing that there resides a soul in all things - a life source - infinite and Eternal."

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