What is Shamanism?

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Flammarion_ColorFXt_1200Wikipedia introduces Shamanism as:

Shamanism (/ˈʃɑːmən/ SHAH-mən or /ˈʃeɪmən/ SHAY-mən) is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.” – Wikipedia, Shamanism

Which of course only touches the surface. It is obviously more complex than that, and is a world wide indigenous practice

What is Shamanism?

“Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and moreover, 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 generalization of the word.

“Over the past few decades the term “shamanism” has been popularized throughout the western world, especially in new-age circles. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish between traditional forms of shamanism and modernized, often esoteric practices that utilize 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.” – Dance of the Deer Foundation

“Shamans are often called “seers” or “people who know” in their tribal language because they are involved in a system of knowledge based on first hand experience. Shamanism is not a belief system. It’s based on personal experiments conducted to heal and to get information.

“People ask me, “How do you know if somebody’s a shaman?” I say, “It’s simple. Do they journey to other worlds? And do they perform miracles?”

Michael Harner


Links and Resources to learn more

Shamanism Article at Wikipedia

Dance of the Deer Foundation

Foundation for Shamanic Studies