What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition, more so, a way of life; It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. The word shaman originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. Anthropologists coined this term and have used it to refer to the spiritual and ceremonial leaders among indigenous cultures worldwide. The word shamanism can be used to describe the ancient spiritual practices of these indigenous cultures. Clearly the countless similarities between various ancient traditions played a role in the continual generalisation of the word.
Over the past few decades the term “shamanism” has been popularised throughout the western world, especially in new-age circles. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish between traditional forms of shamanism and modernised practices which utilise the term.
One could view shamanism as the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all indigenous tribes. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we as human beings can strengthen that natural connection.
Traditional shamanism worldwide shares fundamental features including the notion that all matter is imbued with life force/vital energy, that all things are interdependent as well as interconnected, that travel between “dimensions” of alternate reality is possible, that extraordinary forces can affect individuals and events, and that people who have the capacity to understand and effect these events indeed exist, and are needed.
For the creative soul living in the new dimension, your greatest power is healing the world from the inside out. It starts with you.
Who is the Shaman?
A historical, traditional shaman is appointed by the tribe or chosen. He or she utilises chants, songs, drums, rattles and repetition to restore order to a patient, replacing his or her illness. This community healer offers him or herself to the tribe in ways that are self-sacrificing. They may study the natural world and people for many years before being allowed to treat others. Sometimes training begins in childhood.
During a shamanic healing, the patient releases endorphin’s, emotional catharsis occurs, and re-membering takes place, allowing the soul to integrate back into the body. This is the job of the shaman: to bring the patient back into wholeness and wellness. In traditional cultures this means treating — but holistically, rather than symptomatically — and considers issues of the soul and spirit equal in value to what the body may be suffering.
To shamans, energy is an expression of spirit transforming into matter. A shaman, or medicine person, uses metaphors: ways of thinking about one thing in terms of another. He or she helps the patient manipulate sensory, emotional, and cognitive information in a way that alters his or her perception of illness. To practice shamanism is to utilise and honour the tools of the ancient ones in order to heal ourselves. This, in turn, heals the people of the world, and the planet.
What is the purpose of Shamanism?
Shamanism is the bridge connecting nature and human life together. True wisdom comes from our connection and alignment within ourselves, with spirit and our great Mother Earth. Shamanic practices assist us to come to that point of inner stillness where its possible to listen, feel and know right action as directed to us from the natural world.
Perhaps you’ve experienced that feeling whilst in the silent harmony of nature and felt your own worries, concerns and negativity lessen and lift as she relieves you of your heavy burdens. Shamanism, wild therapy and working with nature assists in this process but also to learn how to absorb positive energy from the natural world and communicate with their wisdom.
This is deeper than simply being in nature, it is to deeply connect with nature in all her shapes and forms in ways that enable you to awaken your awareness and consciousness of life in all its diverse varieties.
These diverse varieties of nature are sacred, as is all life. We learn to honour these sacred places which are but an aspect of ourselves, such as our element of water which represents our emotions housed in oceans, rivers, lakes etc. The earth element connects us to our own physicality and that of our land, soil, mountains, caves. The air, our very breath, thoughts, ideas are the wind expressing itself as a breeze, a gale, a tornado. Fire, our passions which drive us is fire, sunlight and heat. By connecting to the land we can offer her and all our sisters and brothers we share this planet with of vital invigorating energy.
Shamanism is concerned with the health of the individual, care of the health of the community; this includes all people, plants, animals, it includes without exception all life.
Perhaps you already have a daily spiritual practice and recognise how important such practices are to maintain your inner balance on a daily basis. Shamanism again reminds us of the importance of such spiritual practices which enhances and supports continued and exponential growth of the holistic self. The goal of shamanic practice is to ensure on an energetic level that internal and external harmony within ourselves and our relationship with all of creation are balanced and whole.
The Shamanic journey assists in assisting visioning, dreaming into and manifesting the right way to live, to be in a way that honours our earth, all who live within her embrace, others and ourselves. To honour the spirits of nature helps promote harmony and balance. In times where so much imbalance has occurred perhaps this is the reason of the resurgence in the western world of the power and magic held within Shamanic practices and sacred ceremonies.