An Autistic shaman shares why autistic people make good shamans

Gonzalo Benard self portrait autistic

Autism, in these ancient wise cultures, is often called “The Shaman’s disease.”

By Gonzalo Bénard

Being autistic and shaman, I always found that they actually help and complement each other. In fact, in several ancient cultures, autistic people were seen as sacred and/or shamans … the special ones.

One of our autistic common traits is verbal communication, and most media and “experts” point out most of our common traits as “issues” or even problems, but in fact, most of our “issues” can be taken as incredible ways to achieve and spread peace of mind and move forward if we listen to ourselves and work on our own balance. Most of our “issues” are in fact our greatest tools and gifts.

Stimming and humming are, as you know, common behaviours in autistic people. Curious enough you can find these two behaviours in many cultures, used to help you go into trance or find your own mindfulness helping to get focused. While in autism, stimming and humming can be a way for us to focus and distress, you can find the same behaviours in Buddhist and Islamic schools.  If you pay attention, the students often rock back and forward reading-humming the scriptures or sacred texts. This rocking back and forward gives a light trance helping to focus. As a shaman, I often find myself rocking back and forward, or side to side, humming, while getting into trance doing healing, rituals, etc. As we drum.

As autistic, to defend myself and focus on challenging tasks like going to a shopping centre (filled with overwhelming energies, lights, visual pollution, sounds, smells, people…) I often start humming from the car to the entrance or even inside walking. Humming like a low vibration OM.

If you close your eyes and start rhythmically rocking back and forward humming the OM, you will find how relaxing it is. That is the very first thing I do when wake up as well: I sit on bed, still eyes shut, and I rock back and forward “OMing.” Then I stand up and do some Tibetan rites, starting with the Spinning.

Stimming, rocking and humming are wonderful ways to go into light trance, which means connecting to your higher self, clearing your mind, finding peace and mindfulness. Like shaman drumming.

Silence, or those moments of lacking verbal communication, is also very important to us, both autistic and shaman people.

I realised not long ago, when I had guests for a week, that one day my voice didn’t come out for the full day. I have voice, but first I thought I had nothing to say. Then I realised that voicing – and I have a very deep low voice that resonates – throws an incredible amount of energy that we might need to recycle and recharge. The day that I didn’t voice myself, I needed to recharge, and that was my way. I might have had moments of humming, but humming is our body connecting itself, like an inner drumming. When you’re humming, you feel the voice vibration throughout all your body. And vibration heals. In fact, I end up saving my voice to use it as a healing tool. Not only when I guide meditation, but also when I heal someone I can do it by voicing next to the person in need, so they can feel the vibration and receive the frequency of the healing.

If you insist or impose verbal communication to an autistic person, you might be unbalancing us, making us more stressed, as we go into silence and humming to find peace and mindfulness so we can recharge and recycle, so we can connect to our higher self and consciousness.

Another of our common traits as Autistic people is our sensitive stomach… we often have allergies to foods, or most common, intolerance to gluten, etc. I always found gluten to be very difficult to digest making me feel sleepy minded. I do follow a vegetarian diet since I was a child. But I’m dairy and gluten intolerant and have some difficulty digesting heavy foods like bell pepper. I am also deadly allergic to garlic.

As shamans, we should follow a diet that keep us cleared, respectfully connected to nature itself as well as our own nature.

One of the major goals of a Shaman is to raise your own vibration, make you aware of your higher self, keeping you connected, healed and balanced with your own self. Not only for you, but also for the greater good of those surrounding you, as each one of us spread our own energy to others. So by healing and keeping you balanced, we raise our vibration and yours.

The reason that I don’t do more than two shamanic sessions per day (guided meditations, healing, counselling or soul retrievals), is for me to be able to serve you better. As I wrote, voicing requires a tremendous energy that we use for healing, so between two sessions I am recharging/recycling, raising and healing myself, so I can find better focus and balance.

Someone once asked me why I was humming and rocking… and I smiled and thought: “I’m enchanting myself so I can enchant you better.” I didn’t need to voice my answer, yet, they got it straight away.

Thoughts are our most private conversations with the universe, and when connected empathically with other people, thoughts can be our best way to communicate with them. When you find your silence, you will find your answers.

If you read most articles on Autism by “experts,” you often find them saying we lack empathy. But let me tell you that this is highly misleading. We may have lack of social empathy, but we do have a much deeper empathy: the actual empathy. We might even feel others’ pain and suffering easier than most people. This, for my practice of shamanism is in fact a great help, as I can feel others on a deeper level, which gives me better ways to heal them, going to the source.

What often makes us confused and stressed though, is indeed the social empathy. Since we may lack it, we lack social structured emotions… that is why is so hard for us to lie (a lie is a social structure), or that is why we don’t understand jealousy, greed, envy, etc.  We may also find difficult to understand face expressions. But then, since we might have a deeper empathy, we feel your emotions. Yet, if your emotions are social, those can confuse us: we feel things we don’t understand so we get stressed. Why would you be jealous or envious? If it bothers and affects you so much, and are such a waste of energy, why don’t you simply move on and focus on getting stronger yourself? As a shaman, this autistic deeper empathy helps me a lot on being a better healer, spreading peace in a more mindfulness way.

As some say, “autistic people are more soul/consciousness than body.” And the same you can say about Shamans.

I have been tutor of several autistic teenagers, and as cosmic synchronicity happens, most of my recent clients of Skype healing sessions are in the autism spectrum. This is great, as we might feel a deeper connection, or connect through a deeper empathy, making our own communication flow in a greater frequency.

We shouldn’t waste our energy fighting against who we really are, but increase our own self-worth and raise our own consciousness.

So maybe it is about time for the NT (Neurotypicals) to start “listening” to us. And Autistic people to be in contact with actual shamans, so we can increase and raise our bars, turning our “issues” into natural gifts. Stop absorbing others’ energies and start spreading our own in the best way we can. Shamans can help autistic people to be more grounded, working on our own energetic balance as well, as one of the major issues of autism is body related, not consciousness. And working on both consciousness and body, we end up working on a better mind. Mind is the result of the physical brain and consciousness.

I believe that most autistic people have healing abilities; the issue is that most autistic people are too confused with their surroundings, with NT people stress and imposing behaviours. In this case, shamanism can find a way also to protect and raise autistic healing abilities. Autistic people are often much more connected to nature and animals than NTs as well. We find peace when alone in nature or with animals. And you find that the best companion for an autistic person is in fact a dog.

That is why in most ancient cultures, the special ones, the autistic children, became the future shamans. As they are seen special, they become the shaman’s apprentices. Autism, in these ancient wise cultures, is often called “The Shaman’s disease.”

One of the most beautiful things in life is diversity. In all its ways.

Our awkwardness is sometimes our most powerful invisible gift.

And I’m talking about both: shamans and autistic people.

So we dance. And hummmOMmm along the way, rocking and clapping and drumming, to get into our own trance and mindfulness.

So we can connect to our higher self and consciousness.

Do any of you feel related to both autism and shamanism? Are you autistic with healing abilities? Let me know.

***
Gonzalo Bénard is a transmedia artist, shaman and author who has been producing a body of work about matters of life and death. About consciousness, spirituality, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and psychology. About rituals and rites from the several cultures: old and new. Celebrations of life with matters of death. About mind’s inner world(s) and the wonders of neurodiversity being himself autistic.

Gonzalo Bénard has been always working and expressing himself on several media: from painting to drawing, to photography and writing both with a special meaning to him since very young age. Photography and Painting have been his main way of expressing his existence in the last few years though, what surrounds him, or what he feels about society. With deep roots in shamanism and old religions, he breaks the main rules of the modern society, reminding it about the origins of life. Gonzalo Bénard writes and photographs as a need of expression. Bringing and blending his studies in the Western Europe, with Himalayas or Western Sahara, where he lived and learned with spiritual, philosophic and shamanic masters.

With his works being published in several art magazines and books, such as Eyemazing or Tames; Hudson, he has artworks in several art collections, public and private: from Serralves Foundation (Porto, Portugal) to Sir Elton John’s contemporary art photography collection. Bénard has been also featured in several Hollywood movies and TV series, like recently Rogue, or Agent X by Sharon Stone. Gonzalo Bénard has now more than 45 exhibitions in his curriculum, all around the world.

Bénard has also several written works published, including the book “On Consciousness – journeys, rituals and meditations.    Gonzalo Bénard’s website is wildwisewolf.wordpress.com.

Header: Gonzalo Bénard “Self-Portrait”

11 Comments

    • Thank you Nicole.
      Curious enough, I’ve read some posts on ActuallyAutistic forums, that most of us are not religious (following theology/god/dogmas of institutionalised religions), but very spiritual, connected with nature, at the same time that we’re very into science. But then, most institutionalised religions come from shamanism and old pagan cultures, which are deeply connected with nature, as we are. And this should be worked indeed, giving us more opportunities to go deeper on this connection: nature.

  • Dear Gonzalo Bénard,

    We are brothers in spirit.

    When I read your article, I feel that I wrote it myself (except that I like cats, and am not allergic).

    I am on the spectrum though never diagnosed (on purpose).

    I am currently about to finish writing a book which I have been working on for three years now, about Siddhartha’s life till becoming enlightened and becoming the Buddha.

    My book describes him and his life vividly as a person on the spectrum, which I believe he was, though the term is never mentioned in the book.

    The book describes him from the moment he was born, as a baby including his experiences as a baby, as a child including his experiences as a child, as a teenager with his experiences, as a man with his experiences, the true story of how he left the palace, his six years in the forests of India in great detail, till and including his Nibbana and becoming the Buddha.

    I had no experience or much knowledge of Shamanism before, but after reading your article I find it to be not just similar, but exactly the same thing.

    Love,
    Dr. David Goren

    PS: I allowed myself to publish your amazing article as is, under your name of course, in my Facebook.

    • Hello David,
      Thank you. Please let me know when you have the book published.
      (BTW, where did you read that I’m allergic to cats? I am, but I can’t find here that reference).

      As I understand, your approach to Buddhism is on the original Indian Buddhism. The Tibetan Buddhism is a merge of the Indian original Buddhism with the Tibetan Bon tradition of shamanism. After being in the Buddhist monastery in Himalayas (a monastery school of arts, philosophy and dance), I headed to the higher lands to be with the Bonpos (the Tibetan shamans) and learn from them. I don’t know much about other lineages of Buddhism as I ended up focusing more on Tibetan Bon/Buddhism.
      Buddhism can be very diverse in the different lineages/cultures, and even though is not a religion, I dare to compare with the different Christian schools (from catholics to all the others) in their diversity.
      If you need references for the book, let me know if I can help.

      I just added you as friend of facebook.
      Blessings,
      Gon

  • Yes, i agree with this, nonverbal autistic art students of mine, will speak to me if i ask questions about what they are doing while they paint …… with both hands at the same time and beautifully creating excellent landscapes …..and tell me the left hand paints light colors better and the right hand paints darker colors better.

    • Hello Martin,
      painting, specially outside in open fields, give me indeed a deep feeling of peace and mindfulness. And one thing I love, is that when I’m painting in open field, I often have “visitors”: birds, dogs, foxes… whatever animal comes and just stays there, as I guess I end up spreading this mindfulness and peace energy. I just let it go, as in a light trance, not trying to rationalise what I’m painting. So yes, while creating we do feel a deeper connection with ourselves and nature.
      Blessings,
      Gon

  • Beautifully scriptured , I have a daughter who you have described very well & have always felt her gifts that many see only as label of autism & clouded by stigma & of it, Standing ovations brother in sharing what gifts & healing many people with autism, alough in our castle, we prefer to call it more to it’s true source , awesomism for better relation to all that we see it as goes way beyond just that & yet so many miss the entire point of soul of autism this is something we as parents have been very specific with how we raise, or share in her upbringing to support her soul in home schooling & helping her stay true to what she is without having the ramifications of well meaning “proffessionals” going against the grain of her natural instict & ways inwhich we have always felt her preforming & aligining us & herself to highest purpose & profound healing on many levels of conciosiness , she has only on the last 2 years found a voice ( Besides the chanting & viberational clicking &her own tribal tounge ) one of the first things she wrote to us on her Letter Board when i asked her what if anything we can do to support her & what her soul purpose needs she replied “ I have come with a message & to help others heal on their existance” along with many other messages all about what is possible for the planet & multiverse & rasining our viberations of the planet & awaking our conciousness, you sure have a little sister by your own very heart here, we would love to connect with you & share so much more, You are such a Blessing to this world, stay blessed & we send you our love & blessings upon blessings

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