http://wyrddin.comSouth America. It is not to say that a contemporary Shaman of today that followstraditional practices lives in the middle of the forest by themselves or in a tribe. It doeshowever imply that every Shaman I have met is involved / participates on some level wita society of traditional nature and engage with training within this tribe. For the mostpart, these societies will not train one who is not part of their own tribe. In certain cases,this has happened; however, it is the exception not the rule.There are modern neo-Shamans who practice principles of Shamanism but have notengaged in the traditional initiations and training of Shamanism. Does this make themless of Shaman's? No. In all Shamanic cultures the basis of a Shaman is a healer andspiritual consultant. Although in many cultures they also have other roles in which they participate such as priest, the primary role of a Shaman always has been the interactionof the people and the Spirit World to enlighten and heal.By definition, a Shaman is a person who can enter the described state of consciousnessat will.Shamanism is considered by many as the oldest form of spiritual practice. It doespredate all known religions. It is important to understand that Shamanism is not areligion in itself. It is simply a set of beliefs, behaviors and guidelines followed by aselect few. These beliefs and practices allow the Shaman to obtain informationunavailable to others, heal, retrieve souls and seek ancestor guidance. As stated, it is inits traditional form nearly unchanged over the centuries. The best description I haveheard is from Tom Cowan's book Shamanism: As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life,Shamanism "...draws upon what is best in our society while it reforms those areasharmful to the human spirit and the health of the planet."The word Shaman is from the Tungus word to mean "to know". Tungus are a tribelocated in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. In the Tungus language the word means a way of life, experience and belief. There are some who say that the word came from a Tibetan word samana which is the word for Buddhist monk. The word is, in relative comparison,a word. The derivative of the word is insignificant as the definition remains the same inevery debate. It has come to represent a variety of persons from Witchdoctors, medicinemen, diviners and healers. The Shaman may go by a variety of names in these varioustraditions, but all practice nearly identical techniques. From the Angakok's of theEskimos to the Geilt of the Celtics, they are persons who have the ability to reach thehidden truth accessible only by journey to the Otherworld. What is Shamanism really? It is not a person, it is not a religious path, it is not aspiritual calling. Shamanism is a avocation. The ability to reach the altered state of consciousness in journey upon stated will is what makes a shaman a shaman. It is whatdefines the term.There are two primary ways of becoming a Shaman.Hereditary. Literally having a Shaman in the family. This never happens in neo-shamans.