What is Shamanism?

Shamanism – There are many words and many people who have encapsulated the definition of what Shamanism really means.  I don’t know if I can describe it in a way that hasn’t been tried before, but I’ll give it a shot.

Mark Glynn
Mark Glynn

Shamanism is a 60,000 or so year-old set of spiritual practices that recognizes that humans, animals, plants and all beings in the universe are one, and at the same time rely on each other’s uniqueness for the health an well-being of all.  Additionally, the study of the ancient principles of Shamanism relies on our ability to communicate with helping spirits, in addition to all other beings.

There is a reverence held for our ancestors who have paved the way for practitioners to travel this sacred path.  Our ancestors are held in the highest esteem, as the practitioner recognizes that without their guidance, we would would have a much more difficult time understanding truth.

My feeling is that the practice of Shamanism is akin to having a spiritual doctor and a literal spirit staff to assist the community with issues rooted in a spiritual cause, just like we have doctors for physical and mental conditions.  Shamanic healing is very much like today’s physical and mental healing protocols, where we are all concerned with healing the source of the condition.  Shamanism recognizes that the source of some ailments are rooted in spiritual inconsistencies that must be brought into alignment or retrieved for the patient, client or practitioner to heal and be whole again.  Ceremonies, rituals, initiations among other things are the tools of the Shamanic practice to achieve that warm loving wholeness.

Shamanism is a way of life, and as such, can bring untold happiness and bliss at times, but it isn’t always a cakewalk.  Just like what we recognize as ordinary reality, it takes some work, research and practice.  Any time one has to assimilate changes into their current ordinary physical being, it can be tough.  But also like ordinary reality, the hard work can bring ecstatic results.

A Shamanic Practitioner or Shaman was the person in the indigenous worldly tribes who employed the ceremonies, rituals and initiation tools as a way of healing those in the tribe who were ill.  There were many different geographically located indigenous peoples or tribes that contained someone who filled this role.  Although they were called by different names like Wakan Tanka, Mambo or Sangoma, in most tribes, the function of the practitioner was the same.  This person was the priest and the doctor of the tribe.

I think it is important to note that the practitioner really has a duel role when they are engaged in healing others.  The best healing practitioners are always teaching and healing others.  However, there is also a lifelong education that takes place within the practitioner, as one never really comes to the last course, chapter or verse.  There is always more to learn, discover and pass on to the next generation of practitioners.  In some circles, a practitioner would never refer to themselves as a Shaman.  That title is left to the community to confer on those worthy of it.

The goal of the practitioner is to be a bridge that spirits use to heal in our ordinary reality.

Shamanic State of Conciousness (SSC) is the meditative state that a Shamanic practitioner enters to journey, find and consult with helping spirits to determine proper healing methods for the healing task at hand.  There really can be no spiritual healing without the practitioner entering this state of  conciousness and is a bedrock of Shamanic practice.

Ordinary Reality is where most humans, or 2 leggeds, as we were called by indigenous tribes, reside here on earth.  It is our physical existence as most humans understand it.

Non-Ordinary Reality consists of 3 different characteristic places that the Shamanic practitioner journey’s to find healing answers on behalf of themselves or patient/clients.  It includes the Upper World, Lower World and Middle World.  This reality is what a practitioner visits and works to understand.

Secrecy in Shamanism: Shamanism has been shrouded in secrecy for centuries.  Even though the practice is beginning to come out of the closet, it’s still pretty mysterious.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but in our contemporary existence, it has just become taboo and sensationalized.  The preconceived notions of what the ancient practices are have become so far removed for the warm loving spiritual celebration that it really is that it’s just a shame.  So, people who practice it don’t really broadcast that.

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