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He's a husband, father, planning board member -- and shamanic practitioner

Kevin Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Health & Fitness

"My previous training and certification in the Reiki healing practice helped prep me for the healing work I do today, and my recovery, and especially, the lockdowns at the start of the pandemic, reawakened my interest," he said.

Kavalkovich trained under the guidance of a local shaman for nearly a year and began offering his services last May. Sessions last for between one and two hours, and fees vary but generally run between $75 and $100 per session.

"When someone comes to see me for the first time, I evaluate their energies and do my best to balance them. Some clearing of stagnant energies can be done on the massage table," said Kavalkovich.

"I use drumming to get the person into a different state of consciousness for the shamanic journey. We're trying to bypass the rational mind, get into the subconscious, and bring up stuff. It's like tracking in the woods. I'm looking for original wounding. I'm tracking for places someone's soul essences may have been damaged by traumatic incidents in childhood, for example."

Last July, two months after he launched his practice, Kavalkovich was appointed an alternate member of the Evesham Township Planning Board.

"It's a quasi-judicial board, and to serve you have to be a resident of the township, a good citizen, and willing to undergo [state-required] training," said Heather Cooper, Evesham's deputy mayor.

"We're happy Stephen wants to serve. He has a passion to give back, and he has an awareness of development" and its impact on the township, said Cooper.

Members with different backgrounds also can provide the board with "a different lens" to view issues that come before it, she said.

"It's a new experience, getting to see the workings of local government and how things happen in town," said Kavalkovich. "I bring the perspective of someone who has lived in this town for more than 30 years. I've seen where it came from, and I can be a small voice in the process of where it can go."

 

Kavalkovich has long been civic-minded; he was among a group of young township EMTs who volunteered to be dispatched to Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. After his recovery was underway, he launched a podcast called Rescue the Rescuer.

Although he's taken a break from podcasting, Kavalkovich continues to be a public advocate for mental health and recovery. He tells his story on the website deconstructingstigma.org, a project of the Harvard Medical School-affiliated McLean Hospital.

He's also spreading the word about shamanic practice with a Jan. 4 interview on YouTube's Readily Random channel. And last November, he spoke to a continuing education class at Camden County College in Cherry Hill.,

Kavalkovich is well aware that despite the interest in alternative spiritual and wellness practices among many people, some regard shamanism as charlatanism.

"If someone said that, I would say, 'Shamanic practices have helped me. They've helped my family. They help other families. But you're entitled to your opinion.'"

He also believes the pandemic has sparked interest in alternative spiritual practices of all sorts.

"Right now we're in a place where everything is being challenged and people are seeking out things that are not the norm," Kavalkovich said. "We're in a great awakening period."

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