Having long been fascinated by the spiritual beliefs of others. There is one spiritual path that holds great interest for me, and that is the ‘The way of the Shaman’. Shamanism is not a religion, but a spiritual path based on community service. The word Shaman is comes from the word ‘saman’, in the language of the Tungus people of Siberia. The literal translation of the Tungus word Saman, meaning, ‘to know’. Other research indicates that the word Shaman was derived from earlier peoples, perhaps even the Vedic people of northern India. One such example is that the Tibetan word for a Buddhist monk is Samana.
The Shaman is a mystical and priestly figure, who emerges from the Upper Paleolithic period. There is a belief that it might go back as far as Neanderthal times. If this is true, then it would make Shamanism, one of, if not ‘the’, earliest recorded form of spiritual practice in history.
Traditional Shamanism has usually been found in hunting and gathering tribes. Some of these cultures who have had Shamans in the past are; Native Americans, Australian Bushmen, African Native Tribes, South and Central Americans (Incas, Mayans, Aztecs), Eskimos, Many Siberian Tribes, as well as many tribes within the Oceanic and Asian peoples. Shamanistic practices can also be found in other cultures that may term their spiritual leaders under different names, but may also observe primarily earth based traditions.
A shaman is a guide/teacher/healer, who mediates relationships between daily life & the spiritual world. acting as a channel through which the healing power of spirit helpers can affect positive change in another’s life. Shamanism healing is the oldest healing tradition in the world combining shamanism and healing. Modern living for many people tends to lend itself to anxiety, isolation, and a variety of conditions, chronic health problems, that stem from a disconnection from ourselves and the world around us. Shamanic healing and ritual can help an individual deepen their connection to Life, empowering them to build relationships with the world they live in, both the seen and the unseen. The actual role of a Shaman depends upon the Shaman’s ‘calling’. Some Shamans are herbal healers, energetic healers, diviners, communicators with other realities, soul retrievers, and light-workers. Healing the spirit is the primary function of a Shaman.
According to shamanism, everything is alive and related. Those who practice shamanism believe that a web of power connects all things and relates them to one another. Animism, another basic belief of shamanism, states that everything, including inanimate objects like rocks and soil, has a spirit. An individual’s spirit has an aura that can extend to others. This aura changes with a person’s feelings. When a person is happy it gives off higher vibrations, but when a person is sad it gives off lower vibrations. The spirits of the earth exist in the Middle World, and other spirits exist in different worlds. The dead reside in the Lower World, or underworld, and the future is contained in the Upper World.
Below is a brief description of some of the services a shaman may provide:
Soul Restoration – Re-centering Energy after a Trauma: Soul restoration is the literally restoring of one’s soul. This occurs when a person is near death and his/her soul seeks to move on. This ‘death’ could be the result of a psychic attack or an accident from which the body has recovered physically, but not spiritually. The Shaman will journey to the place where the patient has lost his or her soul and barter for that soul to bring it back and restore it to the patient.
Hands on Healing – Energy Work: Hands-on healing or body work is most certainly a part of what a Shaman does. This technique is still widely used today by Reiki masters, massage therapists, chiropractors and Shamans. Shamanistic hands-on healing involves the energy or spirit of the Shaman working with the energy or spirit of the patient.
Herbal Healing: Herbal healing gives credence to the true belief that the Shaman is a medicine man or witch doctor. Herbal healing began with the beginning of the earth. Many of the hunting and gathering tribes had the ability to heal with plants indigenous to their area. Today this knowledge is fast disappearing and Shamans everywhere try to support the preservation of indigenous plant life and the lore surrounding them.