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Well-Healed: The New Shamans

by Nora Zelevansky
The New Shamans

Modern shamans, healers and intuitives are a new breed—they’re fierce and they’re female.

Not long ago, the word “healer” might have evoked images of a tribal elder in a remote village, or even a bearded white man in a kaftan somewhere near Santa Fe or Northern California. But, we’re living in an age that demands constant adjustments in perspective, and the world of energy work is no exception. The new energetic healers, whether shamans, mystics or intuitives, are a different breed—they’re modern, they’re female and they’re powerful.

“Way back, people had a negative, woo-woo impression of a healer or shaman,” says Gina Clapprood, an intuitive life coach in Rhode Island. “Now, it could be someone like me and, unless I announce it to you, you would never know. It’s not only much more accepted in these modern times, but also more sought-after.” These gifted healers are not only advising and comforting people in need, they’re also inventing new hybrid modalities through which to channel their skills. Bringing relatable life experience to the treatment table (from the corporate world to the dating world), these women combine their otherworldly skills with a concrete understanding of what it means to navigate today’s frenetic landscape.

Blissful Heart—Sedona, Arizona

Anahata Ananda, for one, is not your prototypical shaman. She is beautiful, blunt and has no problem dropping an f-bomb.

Amidst Sedona’s arresting red rocks, Ananda lives and works in a bright, charming house away from the (relative) hustle and bustle of the town’s crystal and tarot shops. Meeting her, one might assume that she’s just your average chic mom. That couldn’t be further from the truth: In fact, everyone from billionaire CEOs and supermodels to truckers and housewives travel from around the world to seek her energetic counsel. In their worst moments, they show up on her doorstep, desperate to break torturous patterns, find direction or make peace.

Ananda turns no one away: She sits across from terminally ill patients and violent ex-convicts and “holds space” for them. Where others avert their eyes, she sets her gaze. “I just meet people in their humanness in a compassionate, loving, nonjudgmental, confidential and conscious space,” she says, as if that equanimity is de rigueur. “We need to have compassion for our own darkness.”

Ananda’s empathy can be linked to her personal journey. The shamanic healer—née Kerrie Cushing—was raised in Southern California by a “bourbon-drinking atheist from Montana.” The adults in her world lied, stole and abused drugs. As she fought against the negative tide, she sensed an intuitive ability rising, but she tamped it down. Still, she credits her upbringing with educating her about the nature of relationships. “My greatest training has been my life,” she says. “My father taught me with his anger and unhappiness. Now, I understand how hard forgiveness is—and how quickly its rejection can shut the heart down.”

Ananda escaped her childhood for college, got married, had kids, worked as a corporate marketing executive in New York City, burned out and endured a miserable divorce. These real-life experiences help her relate to issues from relationship toxicity to overwork to parasitic past trauma.

​In fact, it was after the dissolution of her marriage that she became fascinated by reading material on shamanic healing. She stopped drinking, detoxified her diet, dove into meditation, yoga, chakra systems, reiki, sound healing and guided visualizations, among other modalities. The intuition she’d sensed as a child—her ability to see, hear and feel things beyond the surface—returned full-force and she investigated ways to control and understand that power. “I am here to be a shamanic healer and angelic guide,” she says. “I came into the world light and aware, and I needed to learn the density and matrix.” Her teachers gave her a new name: “Anahata Ananda,” loosely translated from Sanskrit to “blissful heart.”

Ananda became a retreat guide at spiritual destinations: Peru, Hawaii, Bali and, finally, Sedona, where she settled. Her business, Shamangelic Healing, was immediately successful, first attracting mostly middle-aged women. Soon, though, people of all ilk began to arrive—Olympic athletes and teachers, men and women, the old and young—hoping to best trauma, addiction, stagnancy or regret. “I want people to find me! I meditate on that, but I also use search engine optimization,” she laughs. “The masses are waking up and searching out solutions beyond the traditional to the deep wounds that lead to unhappiness.”

Clients sign up for two-hour private Shamanic Healing Journeys; week-long intensive retreats for individuals, couples or groups; four-week-long lifestyle cleanses; and online courses. Ananda also trains other aspiring healers. An initial customized in-person session—which begins with a casual armchair chat—may include a configuration of many modalities depending on what Ananda instinctively feels is necessary for transformation, from a meditative nature walk by nearby vortexes to tarot readings for identifying intentions. Ultimately, conversation gives way to a visit to the “Healing Room.” As individuals lie on her table, Ananda allows her clairvoyance to guide her. “I am an open channel,” she says. “People laugh, cry. It’s new every time.”

Mama Medicine—New York City

Deborah Hanekamp (aka Mama Medicine) also attracts all types of people, though the fashion world was among the first to embrace her. Who doesn’t love a wunderkind? According to her aunts, she had already begun “reading” people at three years old. At age 12, the energetically sensitive pre-teen realized that the auras she saw weren’t the norm when she described them to her friends, who started laughing at her. “My early life was quite tumultuous,” she recalls. “And, I have to say, looking back, I’m grateful because it helped me to really understand people who were hurting and launched me into my career as a healer at a very young age.” By 17, Hanekamp had begun offering what she now calls “Medicine Readings,” and, though she worked part-time jobs to support herself, the practice caught on like wildfire and became her sole focus.

According to Hanekamp, who refers to herself as a “seeress” (a female prophetess), she and her current apprentice officiate an experience that is unique to them, and which evolved organically. Her voice is calming; her face has a brightness and glow.

At her pretty but spare dedicated Space by Mama Medicine in Soho in Manhattan (all white walls and greenery), seekers—alone or in groups—are asked to talk about what they’d like to call in or clear out of their lives. Then, they sit with Hanekamp while she reads their auras. They chat about what she sees, which could be anything from hidden talents and gifts to potential blocks. After that, they lie down and a sensory healing ceremony begins, which might involve a combination of elements like breath work and chanting. Ideally, guests are meant to leave with the tools to become their own healers, including a ritual bath prescription
and spiritual homework.

People from all over the world show up on Mama Medicine’s doorstep (or cool industrial elevator, as the case may be), but women are predominant. Still, as the world shifts toward acceptance for these types of practices with relatable guides like Hanekamp, more “brave” men show up “with open hearts and minds.” And they’re willing to listen. “Women have always been wise and their wisdom has been overlooked by a society that can’t see them in that way,” says Hanekamp. “So much is changing now; we are so fortunate to be alive in this time.”

Intuitive Lifestyle Coach—Providence, Rhode Island

Gina Clapprood has developed yet another approach to using her spiritual gifts for guidance in this unprecedented age. She grew up in an old school Italian-American Catholic family, where skills like hers—a sense that she “knew things” including what people were feeling—were often kept under wraps. At first, she was dismissed as “nosy,” but when she was 15, her intuition became impossible to ignore and she started to investigate. It turned out that these kinds of gifts ran in her family, and, when one day there was a crisis with her elder relatives, her mother asked her to work her magic, and she was “out,” so to speak.

At age 18, after reading for her family and classmates for three years, her mother mentioned her talents to her hairstylist, and Clapprood quickly developed a local clientele. Ultimately, she was referred to a New York City celebrity and word spread in that circle, too.

These days, the Rhode Island-based mother of three works with everyone from A-listers to longtime clients, who used to meet her at the salon. Clapprood—who once felt self-conscious about expressions like “psychic” for fear of being perceived as “weird”—is now comfortable with her chosen title of “Intuitive Lifestyle Coach.” She combines expertise from two life coaching certifications and her managerial work experience (in staffing and recruitment) with her natural abilities. “I bring the juju of intuition, as well as conventional coaching, for the best of both worlds. I have never felt like I belonged in a box.”

Clapprood offers online readings, in-person sessions and monthly life coaching packages that offer her services on standby. She’s available to her clients via text, email or phone whenever needs arise. She doesn’t follow a treatment plan: every session is different and individualized based on her instincts. Recently, she added holistic nutrition to her offerings, and she is in the midst of a crystal healing certification, so she can integrate crystals for balance in treatments.

“The holistic and spiritual realms are so complementary to traditional healing modalities,” she says. “Everyone is seeking something. I know sometimes you just don’t feel like yourself and feel you have no one to talk to—I am that person you can talk to, without hesitation to be your authentic self and without judgement. Over the last five years, there has been a shift. And I see this trend growing.”

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