Many people hear the word “shaman” and connect it with indigenous tribal people. Summeriln resident Bonnie Serratore said that’s not always the case, and she should know. She has been a master shaman for 28 years.
“I do have Sioux (blood); my mom was half Sioux,” Serratore said. “But most shamans are born intuitives. They were born with skills. … I always knew I saw things that other people didn’t. I would see spirits, other dimensions, other realities, that type of thing.”
Serratore developed her skills and began working professionally with people. Her learning curve kept growing as her abilities increased. She has a following around the world — Sweden, Israel, Australia, Germany and France.
Shamans are called to banish evil spirits, but Serratore said, “it’s so much more than that. Yes, I do all those things you think of typically, ghosts and all kinds of stuff. But that’s just a piece of it. For me, it’s about changing people’s lives. It’s about a person’s liberation.”
Lately, her focus has been on helping veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. They fly to wherever she’s hosting seminars, and her next one, Reclaim Your Life, is scheduled for Oct. 12-13 in Bend, Ore. Funding for veterans to attend is available. For more information, visit whiteflameinstitute.com.
Serratore held sessions at Lake Las Vegas in mid-August as part of a PTSD workshop. Initially, six veterans came. She opened it up to anyone until there were 32 participants.
Jim Lytner, a host from the “Veterans Talk/The Forgotten Promise” radio program, was there to cover the event. He was in Vietnam from 1966-68 as an Army specialist.
“I’ve done yoga, meditation, and certainly some of those things apply to what she does, but that was my first exposure to a shaman,” he said. “I didn’t even know what a shaman was.”
During the session, Serratore led the class in visualization exercises and meditation. There was also a connecting-energy portion where participants touched palm to palm. Most of the exercises required one to look internally, a strategy the military doesn’t typically teach its rough-and-tough soldiers.
“For the veterans, they were very unsure at first,” Lytner said, “because your PTSD veterans have heard it all. They’ve been stroked by more people, including the VA (Veterans Affairs). The VA tends to put you on a drug cocktail and send you out the door. And that’s not Bonnie’s thing at all. She’s about getting to your inner feelings, and maybe it’s the wrong term to say, but those evil spirits. You’ve got to come to grips with it and get rid of it.”
Lytner said that during the introduction, he could tell there was skepticism on the part of the veterans but then they settled down and relaxed.
Before she can help someone, Serratore said she needs to feel and see what blockages are in that person, so she goes “into their subconscious to see what blockages they have. We clean that out, and once that dark energy is cleaned out totally, it’s gone.
“People have no idea how energy interferes with their lives,” Serratore said. “Emotions get compounded. Energy attracts energy, and if you’ve had a bad experience, bad energy attracts bad energy.”
She said she had the ability to access multiple people’s energy at the same time, so group settings were no different from one-on-one treatments.
Veterans have different experiences in war, but all can lead to PTSD.
Alex Nogales enlisted at 17.
“I went from playing football in high school to being in boot camp,” he said.
He was sent to Vietnam for two years. Six months after being discharged from the Marines, he began having nightmares. He now attends two PTSD support groups through the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Las Vegas but said besides the camaraderie, the meetings do little to help. He tried seeing a psychologist but said that didn’t do anything, either.
“I have nightmares every night,” he said. “Sometimes I only get two hours (sleep), if that.”
He said only when the daylight comes can he relax enough to get some sleep. Now 63, he said he wasn’t aware that a shaman might help with PTSD but thought it would be worth a try.
“I would do anything to get rid of it,” he said of the PTSD. “But I don’t know how you get rid of the memories.”
Serratore said it wasn’t about getting rid of memories, that they would still be there. It was their debilitating influence that would be gone.
Floyd Guthrie lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He suffered from PTSD ever since his experiences in Vietnam as a young man.
“It’s been here your whole life, so you think it’s just a part of you,” he said.
He flew to San Francisco to work with Serratore and found relief from his PTSD.
“There was lots of hurt; I did a lot of crying,” he said. “… I relived the experience to get the energy out. Part of my spirit didn’t come back (from the war) with me.”
Lytner said the comments after the Lake Las Vegas session were positive and that the veterans said they would continue to work on themselves following Serratore’s exercises. He compared it to taking a shower.
“You have to clean yourself,” he said. “… It’s certainly not voodoo — that’s the term I used initially when I first met Bonnie, and she kind of laughed. But if you’ve ever meditated, or been in martial arts like me, I understand that ‘mind over matter’ thing more than the average person might. If a person just walked in off the street and sat down (at her seminar), they might think it was magic or voodoo at first, but stick around long enough and pay attention, and it does work.”
He said veterans in the class suggested that Serratore put a full program together and present it to the VA so others could benefit from it. Lytner said it was possible the VA might listen to what a shaman has to say.
“They’re looking at biofeedback and other things,” he said. “The VA is starting to look at (that kind of approach) instead of just ‘stuff these guys full of drugs.’ ”
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 702-387-2949.