Shaman Harvey – My Shocking First Encounter With a Modern American Shaman

Harvey Bevier was a visionary healer who worked in Denver, CO. For over forty years, he treated hundreds of people each month, sometimes seeing more than a hundred people in a single day. I first met him when I was a visiting professor at Boulder College, which offered graduate degrees in spiritual education and alternative healing.

I was teaching Jungian psychotherapy, group dynamics and the I Ching. I can only imagine what my professors from U.C.L.A. and the University of Michigan (where I earned a Ph.D. in Psychology and in Social Work) would have thought. Pretty far out stuff,this mystical psychology, but my personal journey had barely begun security bollards.

The grueling, six year, double Ph.D. program at Michigan had cost every participant their health and/or marriage. Barely half the doctoral students even completed the program. I graduated with disabling back pain and a severe aggravation of post traumatic stress disorder that originated in childhood abuse.

One day, Sandy, one of my Boulder college graduate students told me I should visit the alternative healer she had been seeing for several years. He was “really unorthodox” and the treatments could seem pretty scary, she informed me, but he was a real magician. After weeks of internal debate, and unremitting physical pain, I decided to consult the unfailingly wise guidance of the I Ching. I decided to give this Harvey person a try when the I Ching assured me that it was a great opportunity.

Sandy drove me the 30+ miles to an unimpressive little two bedroom house on Hooker street in Denver. The yard-less house was surrounded by a blacktop parking lot on a commercial side street. We entered the front door where the former “living room” was nearly vacant. Ahead we saw in the small dining room area, the man I had–with apprehension and doubt–come to see.

The former “dining area” had folding chairs around the walls and two stools at one end for Harvey and the client to sit on during treatments, but from the front door, only the small reception desk was visible. Then came my first glimpse of the storied Harvey, a trim, fierce-looking, impeccably-dressed gentleman near 70 years of age who was just starting to get up from the desk.

He was holding his back and groaning as he very slowly stood up from the desk. Sandy rushed over to help him as the thought flashed through my head, “This is what you might expect from someone his age…” followed by: “This is the guy who’s supposed to heal me?” He looked like he had exact same problem I did! Except that half way through this little drama of painful arising–and to my total amazement–Harvey suddenly leaped high into the air and came down laughing like a madman. He glanced briefly over at me and then went about his business. Being as bright and educated as I am, it only took me about six months to realize that this had been my first Harvey lesson.

Somehow he knew all about my ailment, and he had perfectly imitated my behavior, which admittedly may have been understandable for some seventy-year-olds. The problem was that I was only in my forties at the time, while the 70-year-old was the one laughing and leaping for joy. I now know his message made it clear that one can be free of pain at any age, or disabled by it at any age and it also demonstrated that he knew me before he even met me.

His tricksterish stunt capsulized my secret goal of many years: to progress from how he started to get up to how he finished that movement. He had visually enacted a the transcendence of disability in a way I can still see to this day. Holy cow, I thought, who the hell is this guy?!

I have since had dreams of being fined for parking my car in a disabled parking spot (since I didn’t really qualify as disabled) and there are many dreams in which I joyfully run and suddenly realize I can jump over objects. Harvey acted out the eventual wisdom of my dreams in the very first minute of our first encounter. He was planting seeds of healing years before those same messages began appearing in my dreams. I took a seat on a metal folding chair and watched this suspicious character like a hawk.

Standing at one end of the room by the two treatment stools, Harvey would often just look around the room and point wordlessly at whoever was next. The client (or was it victim?) would sit on the black stool and Harvey sat on a white stool right behind them. I couldn’t help thinking about the color of the hats worn worn by the good and bad guys in old cowboy movies.

He generally started by taking the person’s neck in his vise-like grip and cranking it one way and then the other. He would often close his eyes a moment as if receiving instructions from some other realm or maybe looking right into the person with x-ray vision (both later proved to be the case) and then he would spring back into action.

Harvey moved with a fierce and absolute certainty. Sitting or standing behind you, he often, told stories or jokes, generally to someone else in the room or to the whole group. I later discovered that these tales were multi-layered instructions that often had very different meanings to each person in the room. Dreams have this same universal quality, carrying unique messages to all who hear them. Harvey created stories with the profound complexity of dream wisdom, stories which I still continue to decode and learn from, many years later.

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