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What is Shamanism?

Posted by on October 12, 2011

Female witch Doctor

Shamanism is the ancestor of Magick

I would consider Shamanism the very heart of witchcraft and maybe the essential universal ancestor of the craft.  Core shamanism boiled down to its most basic part is the ability to enter and ecstatic state with intent to influence reality. So in answer to the question, “What is a shaman?” the answer is the person who can influence reality.  Perhaps it is the skill of the shaman that make people so afraid of pagans.  It is a powerful skill to be able to alter reality for the group even if it is only a subtle change.   Perhaps we don’t have enough people changing the course of reality and this causes the fear.  It is hard to know.  It is difficult to define shaman, there are many things a shaman can do while in deep meditation and there are many ways to achieve this state but it seems however you approach it people are drawn to shamanism no matter what culture it develops in.

 

Shamanism is a natural fit for most tribal cultures.  Many different places have a village wise woman or man one goes to for certain maladies, this is really a shaman or priest.  Shamanic healing takes many different forms and in some ways is very related to psychiatry.  Many times physical maladies or disfunction within the tribe can be healed with a soul retrieval.  Often this form of healing is even more efficient than therapy because the problem is represented visually and healed using all forms of awareness rather than just ‘talking’ about the results of the issue.  This is a wonderful way to treat someone who has been through a traumatic experience and can be a wonderful comfort to someone who is grieving, modern shamanism offers ways to communicate with the subconscious that talk therapy could only dream of.

 

Another way that native american shamans heal is to identify and invite in power animals to the person receiving treatment.  Power animals help us focus on those specialized skills and abilities that animal may have developed in order to survive.  It reminds us that we have the ability to adapt and survive nearly any situation and with focus on the right actions and traits we can be successful in whatever we wish to accomplish.

 

One thing Siberian shaman excel at is finding lost objects.  When this skill developed in ancient times they used this ability to know where good food sources were for the tribe.  (Imagine having a guy in your tribe who was a human fish or game finder, you tribe would probably thrive.)    This skill has been used in modern times during the cold war by the development of Remote Viewing.  There are many books on the subject by men who actually developed this program and participated in it for both the C.I.A as the stargate program and later the US Army developed its own set of remote viewers to spy on weapons makers in foreign lands.  Russia also had its own paranormal spies and they were a big part of the arms race and cold war and the events that led up to the fall of the wall in Germany.  Even modern American culture has developed its own form of shamanism.

 

There are many ways for a shaman to enter the altered state of consciousness.   Fortunately we can even pop into the shaman shop at fss and get some great drumming cds and other tools. There seems to be a signature entheogens (altered consciousness inducing drugs. Such as Ayawaska.) from each major culture.  People always seem to find the root or plant that will open the door to the spirit realm.  People on every continent have found a door way substance;  African Dream root (Africa), Ayahuasca (South America), blue water lilly (Egypt), Kava (Oceania) Peyote (North America) and Fly Agaric (Scandinavia, Siberian).

 

It is interesting to me that Drug use in America is so rampant when this the a country that was founded on people seeking freedom to figure religion out for themselves.  Unfortunately most people who do drugs now do so outside of any religious or spiritual motivation but I wonder if that drive to experience shamanic reality that seems to be intrinsic to the human species is what drives all the people in the US to reach for the drugs and the level of greed and avarice and impurity that things get cut with interfere with the spiritual experience we might other wise have had and instead triggers the addictive response because we were not able to cross over completely and yet we know something more is there. Shamanic practices may be just the thing to cure a national addiction.

 

Other than antibiotics for infections I am not a big proponent of drugs.  I have seen them destroy a lot of lives and I just don’t want to even play russian roulette with the possibility of addiction.   Fortunately there are many other ways to achieve an altered state and some really interesting technologies that will help you get there too.  Repetitive noises made by drumming, rattling, singing or listening to music with a bi-aural beat will easily slide you into a deep enough meditation to enter the shamanic reality.  Its just a matter of finding a good recording you can relate to.  I really like the brain suite by Dr Jeffery Thompson.  It is classical music with a bi-aural beat in the back ground that helps you enter alpha, theta or Delta state of consciousness.

 

Traumatic experiences have also been known to induce shamanic states and one of my most visceral lessons on anatomy and the chakra system came through a near death experience.  Major life upheavals can cause us to experience super reality too when a life decision may change the path we are on.

 

However one achieves shamanic state and whatever the goal when one gets there, Shamanism seems to be hard wired into the human psyche so don’t feel isolated or alone if you have had an experience.  If you would like to have one and haven’t yet, I recommend a weekend retreat with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies they are a wonderful organization and can be a great gift to your self.

 

Of course you are always welcome back here to keep in touch with my thoughts on the shaman blog.

 

 

Last modified on December 1, 2011

Categories: Alternative Health, Power Animals, Shamanism
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