© Jim Hay "center">
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is thought to be the oldest healing tradition in the world!
Shamanism is not a religion. It is a method of healing and a spiritual way of living based on ANIMISM. Animism is the understanding and belief that ALL things are living and have a soul: trees, animals, rocks and stones, this paper, you and I.
Shamanism originated in Siberia some 40,000 years ago and still exists on all continents, Asia, Europe, North and South America, Australia, Africa and Antarctica. It may be slightly different in different countries. Shamanism is cross-cultural and non-denominational. Shamanism co-exists with all religions, including Christianity.
According to Buryat myth (the ancient peoples of Mongolia), in ancient times people did not practice any form of religion, worship any deities or make any offerings. This did not please the Heavenly Beings so they sent to earth one of their children in the form of an eagle. The first human this eagle encountered was a woman. The eagle gave her the gift of the Shaman Root Spirit. The woman who received this gift became the worlds first Shaman.
What is a Shaman?
Shamans are healers, visionaries, counselors and psychologists of their communities, Historically, Shamans have been the medicine people that looked after the well being of the entire tribe or community as well as providing individual treatment.
The term "Shaman" means "One who sees in the dark". The name denotes the ability of the Shaman to journey out of space and time to and treat illness and to solve the problems of the tribe.
The Shaman is the middleman between ordinary and non-ordinary reality. They are often called "Knowers" because of this ability to journey into non-ordinary reality and experience information and energy first hand.
In Shamanism, it is NOT the Shaman who does the healing, they are just the instrument through which the power of the universe works.
How Does One Become A Shaman?
To become a Shaman requires a deep, undeniable internal calling, intense self-exploration, initiations and a lifetime dedication to study, training, apprenticing,, experiencing, healing and practicing.
I do NOT consider myself to be a Shaman. However, learning to use the Shamanic Journey for personal use is easy and powerfully healing and Enlightening for many people. We all have a natural ability to connect with spirit and energy of other worlds.
The Other Worlds
Shamanically speaking there are three otherworlds. The LOWER world, the MIDDLE world and the UPPER world.
The MIDDLE world is the world in which we all live and has both physical and spiritual aspects. It is the world of balance and integration.
The LOWER and UPPER worlds are worlds of non-ordinary reality or non-ordinary worlds that have nothing to do with Heaven or Hell. These spiritual worlds are referred to as the OTHERWORLDS or SPIRIT Realms. These are the places of power where we directly access Guidance and empowerment.
These OTHERWORLDS exist within and all around all of us, just outside of our daily perceptions. These are the places that Shamans experience and can be accessed through gateways, doorways and tunnels.
The Trance State
The Shaman enters a trance state in order to access the otherworlds that is commonly called "The Shamanic State of Conciousness" (SSC) and/or "Non-ordinary Reality (NOR).
This state of deep awareness allows the Shaman (or Journeyer) to place the conscious or critical left-brained mind at rest while exploring the realms in the otherworlds. This is also known as the THETA state of brain wave activity, the state closest to sleep. This is why Shamans are often called "DREAMERS" and are said to be dreaming the journey. This state feels similar to daydreaming though much deeper.
Shamans enter this trance state with the assistance of monotonous rhythmic drumming, the use of rattles, singing and dancing or all of them. Native drumming is said to be the "Heartbeat of the Earth".
Once the Shaman enters this state, they journey to meet their "Power Animal, Animal Spirits and Spirit Guardians" and fulfill the intention of the journey which may be for guidance, growth or healing.
Everyone has a power animal, at least one. It may be an animal, bird, reptile or fish. One must journey to find and meet their own Power (3) Animal. In the Shamanic world the identity of one's Power Animal or Spirit Guardian remains known only to the Shaman or the person doing the journey. To share its identity would be to reduce its power.
Power Animals, Animal Spirits and Spirit Guardians are used in the journey to clear away anything that may interfere with a successful journey.
There are two key factors for a successful journey, strong intention and asking the right question. The best questions begin with the words WHO, WHAT, WHERE and HOW. It is best to ask only one question Per journey when first beginning to journey. Be sure your question does NOT have an AND or an OR in it, Which would make it two questions in one. When you get your answer you won't know if it is the first or second question being answered.
Shamans believe that if you want to be a successful Shaman or Shamanic Practitioner you must love everyone fully and unconditionally, Starting with yourself. You must accept everyone for who they are completely and unconditionally, starting with yourself. You must forgive everyone who has harmed you in any way, in this lifetime or any other, starting with yourself. This can be VERY difficult for most people. This has been a very difficult undertaking for myself but I am getting better at it.
An old Shaman saying - "I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - MYSELF".
Shamans believe that a lot of a persons illness or behavior or way of life is caused by "Soul Loss". They believe that people who were abused as children or even as adults loose bits of their soul. People who have suffered severe trauma of any kind can also loose bits of their soul. These lost soul parts usually go to the LOWER world to hide.
The good news is that, most of the time, these lost soul parts would like to return, would like to "come home" to you. A Shaman or someone trained in Soul Retrieval can bring them home to you.
Shamans believe that some children and some adults give away some some of their soul parts in order to be accepted or recognized. These too can most often be returned.
Shamans believe too that soul parts can be stolen from you, by people who would like to be you or be like you. These stolen parts may or may not be recoverable because the "thief" may be very reluctant to give them up.
I stated earlier that Shamanism may be different in other countries and other parts of the world. For example, in South America most Shamans enter their altered state with the assistance of drugs. In Hawaii and Polynesia Shamans do not use Power Animals. The Shamans of Hawaii believe their form of Shamanism is a distinct form. They believe that, while all Shamans are healers, the majority follow the "Way of the Warrior". Hawaiian Shamans follow the "Way of the Adventurer", the difference being - the North and South American Shamans tend to personify fear, illness, disharmony and combat skills in order to deal with them. The Hawaiian Shamans tend to treat them all as effects, not things and deal with them by developing skills of love, co-operation and harmony.
An example of the two approaches - If you had to deal with a person who is emotionally upset, the Warrior Shaman might help to build a strong psychic shield to protect yourself, with the assistance of Power Animals, to protect yourself from the other persons negative energy.
The Adventurer Shaman might teach you how to harmonize your energy so that you remain calm and even become a source of healing for the other person.
It is difficult to tell the difference between the two paths because the more powerful you are, the more loving you become. They both have great respect for one another, and, one is not better than the other, only different.
As I said earlier, I do not consider myself to be a Shaman. I would like to think of myself as a "Shamanic Practitioner". A great many ways of the Shaman can be yours if you have the will and the intention, if you use the knowledge and the power for only the best and highest good.
I follow a daily Shamanic ritual where I give thanks to Father Sky And Mother Earth for all that I have and all that I have been given. For the beauty of the earth and sky, the beauty of the universe. And I HONOUR them. I thank my Power Animals, Animal Spirits and Spirit Guardians for choosing me to be with. I thank them for coming to me when I need them to come to me. I thank them for their help when I ask for help. And I HONOUR them. And, I thank you for choosing to read these words.
Michael Harner - The Way of the Shaman.
Jose Stevens & Lena Stevens - Secrets of Shamanism.
Tom Cowan - Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice For Everyday Life.
Serge Kahili King - Urban Shamanism. Sandra Ingerman - Soul Retrieval- Mending The Fragmented Self.
Sandra Ingerman - Shamanic Journeying - A Beginners Guide.
Jim Hay is a Reiki Master and dowser living in Ottawa. To contact Jim.