Easily one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States -- if not the entire world -- the Post Ranch Inn offers a romantic, intimate stay amid the gorgeous natural surrounding of Big Sur. An eco-sensitivity is palpable throughout the property, particularly in the rooms and at the award-winning spa. The treatment menu is exhaustive (in a good way, of course), aiming to help guests relax and get in touch with both the surrounding nature and, more importantly, themselves.
To aid this rediscovery, the hotel offers a variety of shamanistic services -- including illumination, soul retrieval, divination, and fire and drum ceremonies -- from Jon Rasmussen. A full-time shaman, adviser, and author, Rasmussen has had very active dreams and out-of-body experiences, as well as several near-death experiences at an early age, which catalyzed his interests in spiritual teachings. He spoke with us recently about his life's work and how the Post Ranch Inn plays into his practice. Check out our full interview with him after the jump »
Q: What is shamanism?
A: Shamanism is an approach to healing and improving quality of life by engaging not only with the body and mind, but also with subconscious archetypal beliefs or myths and the non-physical aspects of nature known as the soul and spirit, which are not subject to the limits of physical time and space. A shaman uses his or her natural gifts and trained abilities to work with the spirit world in past, present, or future to heal and enhance the soul and mythic domains of a client, which then has a positive influence on the mind and body. The practical goal of shamanism is to create more ideal experiences in the psychological and physical domains of life.
Q: How does one become a shaman? Is there a school or apprenticeship one has to go through?
A: Throughout history every village would have an individual born with the gifts of seeing, communicating, and engaging with the non-physical aspects of nature and non-linear time. Until the recent advent of modern society, the one born as a shaman would be recognized in childhood and go through training either by apprenticeship, mystery school, or directly by nature. Today it is rare to find and take the time to learn through apprenticeship or directly by nature, but fortunately there are now a handful of schools. I learned through a combination of all of the above, the most comprehensive of which was with the Four Winds Society and their Healing the Light Body School. I have also taught for them in the past and still mentor some students privately.
Q: How did your relationship with the Post Ranch Inn begin?
A: I wasn’t aware of the Post Ranch Inn even after attending some classes at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. I did love the Big Sur coastline and once told my wife that my ideal life work would be being the shaman sitting in a hut in a village in a place like Big Sur. Being just a dream, I quickly forgot about it and continued my shamanic and healing work at my home in Coyote, CA and various other cities. Within a year or two, I met a client who asked me to come to his “home” in Big Sur for a session. The address turned out to be the Post Ranch Inn and the general manager’s house. That day, he introduced me to the spa director, whom I also worked on with extraordinary results, and it turned out she had been envisioning, for some time, the possibility of offering this depth of shamanism to the inn's guests. Soon thereafter, I found myself sitting in a yurt in a 5-star “village” in Big Sur working as the shaman. The Universe works in mysterious and wonderful ways.
Q: What about the property creates the right environment for a shaman session?
A: From the first concept in Mike Freed’s mind and deeply sincere collaboration with Billy Post and architect Mickey Muennig, the Post Ranch Inn was designed to integrate fully with the natural beauty, history, and spirit of the land. And the property sits on what the Natives of the Americas consider a sacred place where the veil between the physical and non-physical worlds is very thin, offering a ready window into those deep domains of the soul and spirit. And all of Nature there conspires to help our guests get the most out of their shaman sessions.
Q: Do many guests make use of your services? What is your most popular healing treatment?
A: Many of our guests take advantage of my shaman services. The most popular is the couple session, which may also include the fire ceremony or drum journey at the end. It’s a very comfortable way to have a profound experience together that improves each of their lives as well as their relationship. Whether individual, couple, or group sessions, I do all that I can in each session and then give simple tools to integrate what they've learned through the rest of their lives.
Q: How does divination work? Are you able to see a person’s future?
A: Divination is a technique for tracking what someone is likely creating in his or her future experiences. But the most important part of the process is for the shaman and the client together to make changes to the reading to match what they would prefer to experience in the future. Think of it as setting your goals through each domain of your being, and making sure that you are fully aligned with them on every level.
Q: Soul retrieval sounds incredibly interesting and complex. Where do you begin such a process? What is a spirit animal, and where does it come into play?
A: Soul retrieval is a process where we go back in time to a traumatic or compromising event in the client’s life or past life and literally change the perception of the event to make whole and empower the client going forward. The part of our client’s soul that was left behind as the victim during the trauma, but that also contains some of the passion and the gifts that have been missing (thus creating the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is brought back to the client in a healed state. The spirit or power animal that shows up in the process will accompany the soul part back into the client as a protector. The characteristics and instincts of the particular animal will be made available to the client to help them avoid getting into similar traumatic or compromising situations in the future. So for example, before the client enters into another bad business deal, abusive relationship, or battle, a hawk will show up to remind them, and/or they will have the vision and focus of a hawk to see the situation more clearly and avoid it.
Q: What do you want people to know most about shamanism?
A: What I would like people to know most about shamanism is that it is as accessible, relevant, applicable, and effective in our modern society as it has ever been and works as a great compliment and catalyst to all other beliefs and modalities, even for those who believe only in the physical, measurable world. It’s all about the results.