Introduction to Shamanism
Shamanism is an ancient way of healing that focuses on living in harmony with nature and her rhythms while focusing on the body’s self-healing process through sacred traditions, rituals, and places. In this article we will explore a bit more in depth about Shamanism and how we can tap into these ancient traditions to aid in our own spiritual journey.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism consists of ancient healing techniques that are based on natural healing by means of connecting to nature and nature’s elements. Although there is a distinct association for Shamanism to be a healing treatment, for those who practice and teach the traditions know that it is a lifestyle to be lived daily. Shamanism is best described as the traditions and rituals used in healing (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) by indigenous cultures throughout South America and beyond. Although the word itself originates from Siberia, shamanic practices are commonly associated with Mayan and Aztec tribes. Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian shamanism may be less commonly mentioned, but they have been around for centuries and are still practiced as Mudang, Shinto, and Dukun, respectively.
Some keys to understanding Shamanism is that its practices tap into the power of Mother Earth. Unlike practices that reach above, Shamanism is a grounding practice that is derived from the elements of nature. Shamanism is also holistic in nature that it aims to not only provide healing for the individual but the tribe (or community or family) as a whole. Another important aspect of Shamanism is the respect and homage to sacred places and altars found in nature and understanding the symbolic interpretations, as well as holding intended ceremonies and rituals regularly. That is why the path of the Shaman is a lifestyle and not an acute healing or skill for one-time processing.
What Roles Does a Shaman Hold?
A Shaman is one that is the communicator between the spiritual and nature realms. A shaman possesses the ability to travel between realms, to communicate with the spirits that are present, to invoke healing for illnesses caused by spirits, and aid in the spiritual journey by interpreting “natural language” via spirit animals, ceremonies, omens, runes, and quests.
One must learn the traditions, handed down and taught by other shamans as well as intense personal journeys to understand and refine the skills. Shamans may perform ceremonies, cleansing, rituals, medicine songs, vision quests, plant-based medicine rituals to aid in healing and spiritual growth.
What are the Tools of a Shaman?
Shamans are connected to nature, thus, their source of healing comes from nature and the spiritual realms. The items that we typically think of for healing, such as a stethoscope and antibiotics, are not at all the items that a shaman would choose for his healing treatments.
Drums, feathers, plant medicines, gongs, pipes, rattles, and song are commonly used tools of the Shaman. Breathwork, flowers, shamanic yoga, meditation, fire ceremonies, fasting, medicine songs, cacao ceremonies, and moon cycles are all aspects of the shamanic healing practice.
Some common ailments and issues that are presented to shaman’s range from infertility, depression, scarcity in resources, energetic cleansing, various diseases, to aid in spiritual growth, addictions, and spiritual possession and disharmony.
Each shaman will have their own ritual and processes depending on the origins and regions of obtaining the knowledge, however, all Shamanic practices are designed to promote internal and external harmony with nature. Since these traditions are handed down, we are blessed by the individuals called to this duty of continuing this ancient healing methodology.