Shamanism: If you follow me or take my classes, you most certainly have heard the word “shamanism”. But what is shamanism? Who is a shaman? Is there a difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner?
What is Shamanism?
We say that Shamanism is one of Humankind’s oldest practices. Ancient traces of death and burial rituals can be found all around the world. Prehistoric cave art also shows the very strong link between Man and nature.
A tribe’s survival at the time depended heavily on their relationship with their environment. Where was the best place to set up camp and sleep? To hunt? Which plants were edible? When was the best time to plant, harvest, move the tribe to another location?
Our ancestors didn’t have Google Maps nor weather alerts!
Their survival was very closely intertwined with their ability to live in harmony with Nature and the unseen forces. It was crucial to be able to understand and communicate with these forces.
Who is a shaman?
Long ago, a medicine man or a woman often took the role of intermediary between the group and the world of forces that are greater than us.
This medicine man or woman would have been the group’s doctor, therapist, perhaps also the ceremony holder, artist, musician, sometimes tribal leader… What we also call Shaman. And the more clearly the Shaman could understand and communicate with Nature, the more his or her tribe was assured of surviving and thriving. Think finding food, shelter, birthing babies, healing from injuries or illnesses…
Origin of the word “Shaman”
The word “Shaman” itself comes from a Tungus word, the language of a shamanic people in Siberia.
This word is often translated as “He/She who sees”. The Shaman is the one who sees in the dark, who sees with the 3rd eye, or with the heart. The Shaman is also the one who communicates with all the worlds we do not see, who understands Nature’s signs, and holds ceremonies to get answers, help and healings.
What is the difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner?
Nowadays, both the words and “shaman” and “shamanic practitioner” are common.
Often, we consider the shaman to be the traditional shaman, and the shamanic practitioner to be the one who practices shamanism in a more “modern, urbanized” context. But of course you will find both terms, used with or without differentiation, depending on who you talk to.
The traditional shaman and the shamanic practitioner, however, share a family of practices.
Both go on Shamanic Journeys to the other worlds, to ask questions and make requests. They journey to the sound of percussion (to the beat of a drum, clicking sticks for example), via songs or though the ingestion of ceremonial plants.
Along with journeying to the Unseen Worlds, shamanism’s key practice is the great reverence of Nature. This reverence may be to the land and the plants and animals that live there, the cycles of Nature, the elements (Water, Fire, Earth etc).
How to be a shaman?
I am often asked if we are born a shaman or become one.
My perception is that we are all born with the ability to perceive non-ordinary worlds. Maybe you remember having animal, plant or spirit friends as a child. Or maybe you remember you could feel the energies in a space. We might lose some of these abilities as we grow up, but the door never completely closes.
As a student and a teacher, I have met very few people who cannot journey in a shamanic way. Sometimes it takes several tries, but I don’t remember anyone who did not succeed after persevering. Also, just like many practices: you may choose to cultivate and deepen the practice, or not. Life sometimes nudges us in ways that “force” us to cultivate it – “Do the work…. Or else!”
Another key aspect of shamanic work is the relationship we have with our Power Animals and Spirit helpers and guides. These relationships are truly the ones that fuel the power and magic of work – and the ability of a shaman to get results. The more we deepen these relationships, the more powerful the work becomes.
And finally, we often say that we are named Shaman not by ourselves, but by our community. It’s kinda like a 5-star rating for achieving results!
Ready to experience shamanism?
Come to the next shamanic circle on Zoom – we journey to the beat of a drum. Each circle has a different theme.
Or immerse yourself in shamanic practices and meet fellow journeyers in the Journey to the Tree of Life course.
Or book a session just for you! We work on you and your needs over one or several sessions.
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