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Shamanism - Overview

By Carla Goddard

This is only a general overview of shamanism. This is only to familiarize you with the some of the guidelines and terms used in the both traditional and contemporary shamanic experiences.

Shaman is one of the few spiritual paths that has remained relatively unchanged through the centuries. While many spiritual paths have evolved into the many practices of neo-pagan groups and Christian frequency religions, Shamanism has outlasted the test of time which leads to its continued popularity. There is no way for any website or book to translate the necessary training nor experience of Shamanism. One must study with a teacher or Master to truly have the shamanic ecstasy referred to.

What is shamanic ecstasy? The word itself comes from a Greek term ekstasis meaning to be placed outside. This is a state of joy that transcends the ability to describe in words. It literally means to enter a form of trance or state of consciousness that allows the shaman to journey to stand outside of themselves. During the state of this Shamanic ecstasy a Shaman is journeying to engage in a soul retrieve, to guide the soul or the dead, to divine answers or to add their personal knowledge by associating with higher beings.

The Shaman may also enter a state that is for pure Prophetical purposes during this journey. This form of Divination is seen many times during the workings of John the Baptist. It is a seer ship that is entered in which they are retrieving certain information in regards to the events of the future.

The last state we will discuss is the state of Mystical journey. This is when the Shaman enters a state of consciousness to become closer with the Divine Masters. This state of trance is usually done through the use of mantras and tends to bring a greater or higher level of spiritual understanding and awareness. Many Shaman use meditation, contemplation, visualization or spiritual concentration as well as mantras to reach this state. This is a state of consciousness that allows the out of body journeys so often referred to by contemporary Shamanic journeys. They invoke physiological, emotional and intuitive responses. On the physiological response the body will exhibit an involuntary response related to being electrically charged. The emotions of the Shaman can run a gauntlet of feelings and emotions that can range from complete overwhelming joy to a shocking fear. The mind and body completely blend together allowing the an expanded state of consciousness for greater awareness.

It is important to note that this is not the same state of consciousness that is referred to

as astral projection or transcendental meditation that is so popular in today's New Age groups.

A traditional Shaman is one who is associated with a group or tribe of gathering or

hunting peoples. This can be anything from Native Americans to the aborigine groups of

South America. It is not to say that a contemporary Shaman of today that follows traditional practices lives in the middle of the forest by themselves or in a tribe. It does however imply that every Shaman I have met is involved / participates on some level wit a society of traditional nature and engage with training within this tribe. For the most part, 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 not engaged in the traditional initiations and training of Shamanism. Does this make them less of Shaman's? No. In all Shamanic cultures the basis of a Shaman is a healer and spiritual 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 interaction of the people and the Spirit World to enlighten and heal.

By definition, a Shaman is a person who can enter the described state of consciousness at will.

Shamanism is considered by many as the oldest form of spiritual practice. It does predate all known religions. It is important to understand that Shamanism is not a religion in itself. It is simply a set of beliefs, behaviors and guidelines followed by a select few. These beliefs and practices allow the Shaman to obtain information

unavailable to others, heal, retrieve souls and seek ancestor guidance. As stated, it is in its traditional form nearly unchanged over the centuries. The best description I have heard is from Tom Cowan's book Shamanism: As a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life,

Shamanism "

harmful to the human spirit and the health of the planet."


upon what is best in our society while it reforms those areas

The word Shaman is from the Tungus word to mean "to know". Tungus are a tribe located 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 in every debate. It has come to represent a variety of persons from Witchdoctors, medicine men, diviners and healers. The Shaman may go by a variety of names in these various traditions, but all practice nearly identical techniques. From the Angakok's of the Eskimos to the Geilt of the Celtics, they are persons who have the ability to reach the hidden 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 a spiritual 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 what defines 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.

The receiving of the Call. This is being appointed by the tribe or choosing to do so of your own free will. The self taught, self made Shaman is never as powerful as the appointed tribal Shaman or the hereditary Shaman.

What is receiving the call? The first is being appointed. The Shaman is selected as an apprentice from an early age because of some difference in personality. A solitude

seeker or some sort of fit that causes a mental unbalance. This is not the same thing as a mental disorder that is often confused in modern times with epilepsy. The Call is simply


temporary moment of a shift of consciousness unfamiliar to the person. In many cases


comes with other patterns such as being attacked by an animal, struck by lightning or

a near death experience. It is common for a hereditary Shaman to receive this call from an ancestral Shaman relative to indicate it is their time.

A personal choice is a conscious decision that a person makes to study the beliefs and

practices of the Shaman. For most this self appointed Shaman will remain less powerful

and less likely to experience the state of communication with the Otherworld as compared to the appointed or hereditary Shaman. This is the path that most neo- Shamans follow.

The traditional apprentice of the Shaman will follow a oral teachings of their ancestral lineage or from their tribal leader. This training can happen in two different methods. One is an ecstatic method which is training through vision and dream. This training is done by the ancestral guide or spirit guide and involves a definite initiation into the Otherworld. No book or article can exchange this information or even come close to describing the experience. The second method is traditional training by a current Shaman or tribal elder. This is the typical training of today's Shaman. The neo-Shaman training of engaging in reading how to books or attending a seminar should only be the journey to lead to a teacher qualified to teach the practice and beliefs. The initiation of the Shaman is a phenomenon that is so involved that it has been known to cause death or permanent disability. In some traditions organs are actually removed and replaced with a crystal or other object. Many do not survive the initiation process. It is said the reasoning for the physical initiation first is to ensure the readiness and worthiness of the Shaman. This is only the first part of the process. The second is the initiation into the Otherworld. This is a initiatory dream or vision that includes a ritualistic death that last three days. In many cases it has been described as the Shaman being dismembered and reconstructed by the Divine.

Many in the neo-Shamanic belief reproduce this experience through meditation or drugs. It is vital to understand that in no way does the use of drugs have any place in traditional Shamanic belief, ritual or initiation. That is not considered shifting consciousness at will by traditional Shaman, but rather the manipulation of free will. The initiation of Shamans regardless of process will have a common theme. The Shaman will have a ritual dismemberment of the body and the replacement of organs with another matter such as crystals. It will include time alone in the wilderness, being symbolically dead, symbolically descending into the Spirit world through a self induced trance, a following of training ending with the rite of passage through torture. It is not a joyous easy process that is related by some neo-Shamanic groups. It is not a walking

into a bright light and a feeling of joyous release. It is filled with highly ritualistic feats that test the pain and fear of the Shaman. It is not a five minute process. It can take days to complete. The purpose is to embark on a spiritual or prophetical quest which will prove ones worthiness as a Shaman.

The role f the Shaman varies greatly in cultural areas. They are truly dependent upon the natural gifts of the Shaman. There are some who are medicine men, warriors, priests or even a simple carpenter. The service of the Shaman will always be the same - healing the spirit. Not always a healer of the body, but always a healer of the spirit. A Shaman's

primary functions are for soul-extraction, -retrieval, and -restoration. Soul extraction is the process of removing the soul from that which is attacking it either psychically, spiritually, or mentally. The soul-retrieval is the process of retrieving pieces of soul that

is lost. This will always require assistance from the Other World. The beings of the Other

World will assist the Shaman in determining what is wrong with the person, finding why the piece is missing, lost, or stolen and to do battle to retrieve the missing pieces. The soul restoration is literally what it says. When a person is near death a soul will want to move on. The Shaman can assist in guiding the soul to where it needs to go.

Many Shaman have natural gifts, this is especially true of hereditary Shaman. Herbal healing is one such way. Herbal healing goes back for centuries and is why many cultures looked at the Medicine Man as the Shaman. A Shaman may be a Medicine Man.

A Medicine Man is not always a Shaman.

Body work and hands on healing through modularities of Reiki, massage, energy work is the energy or spirit of the Shaman practices. Divination or prophecy, dream work, vision quests, soul leading and spiritual healing are all others natural gifts of the Shaman. Again, it is important to remember that a person can be Shaman and have any, all or none of these healing gifts. A person can have one or all of the healing gifts and not be a Shaman.

One misconception is that all Shaman shape shift into animals. Not all Shamans posses this ability. Not all who possess this ability are Shamans. Shape shifting is the ability to change your physical form into an animal or change the physical form in the astral plane to a particular power animal. While most Shaman can do this, it is not an ability that defines Shamanic practices.

Another misconception is that black Shamans are evil. There are not white or black Shamans. Just as with other spiritual movements that discuss workings of white magic and black magic, it is not the ability to work within the Divine Spirit or Spirit Worlds that define white or black - but rather the intent of the one working within these realms. This is true of every being. There are no evil or bad spirits but rather the intent of the person working with the spirits that determine the positive or negative influence.

In many tribal cultures the Other World or Spirit World is not as the rest of the Spiritual paths think of. For example in some cultures there are nine levels heaven while in other cultures there is only this world and Dream time. Most look at three worlds as the symbolic levels. These are the upper, middle, and lower worlds. These are the levels that

most neo-shaman will speak off. These are the worlds that are located on the Tree of Life. Symbolically the Upper World is the world of the branches. Where spirits and gods are. The trunk is the middle world and is the here and now. The roots are the lower world and is considered a very powerful place. It is the place of the ancestral knowledge and where many answers lie hidden.

The process of how Shaman travel is widely variant in description. This is partly due to the inability to express into words certain aspects of Shamanic journey. It can be described by some as traveling the tunnels of life. The Tree Life being the central object to travel through. The roots leading to tunnels to both the upper and lower worlds. There are some who speak of the inner tunnels being the chakra system. There is no right or wrong description. The variance in terminology is based solely upon the culture of the Shaman and the creative imagination of relating the indescribable to the world. The actual journeying to the Other world is leaving the here and now and allowing the spirit to leave the body and journeying to the spirit realm. This Shamanic state of consciousness is both a trance state and a learned state of being completely aware of what s occurring and in control of the situation. A guided journey is merely a journey to learn and has no comparison to the Shamanic state of consciousness. A guided journey is different in one vital way. A Shamanic journey is at will and instant. A guided journey is where a guide (spirit, animal or of this world) takes control of the dream or meditation and leads you to where they want you to go. It is not always pleasant. Much like other types of Shamanic journeys, this is not a simple joyful encounter. The purpose is to take the Shaman to a place where they can learn and grow in there powers. It is where they can meet and learn from the the guide lessons that are vital in their training. The guides referred to are spirit helpers. They can be an ancestral god or figure, animal totem, or Shamanic ancestors. An animal totem or power totem is something that has special powers or meanings to that particular Shaman. It is more important as to way the totem represents rather than what it is.

There are no rules, nor redes in being a Shaman. There are certain beliefs and behaviors that guide a Shaman. A moral code of ethics of sorts. They are truths for the Shaman. For example the physical world has physics and boundaries that are linear. The Spirit world is not bound to inflexible laws of the physical world. All in life is connected and interdependent upon one another. All power is connected to life. Shaman must know the entrance and exit to the Other World. There are beliefs and behaviors that Shamans must follow that are innate to their souls.



When one feels a lack luster daily existence, that is, a lack of a personal dynamism in their being, the shaman views that as a sign the individual has experienced soul loss. Such a loss is believed to be the leading cause of illness, both physical and emotional.

There are several indicators of soul loss. Chief among these is chronic illness. Others include feeling emotionally empty, depression, lapses in memory, and in some cases, out of body experiences.

Because the shaman believes soul loss is the cause of illness, he becomes concerned about the depletion of one's spiritual energy. That depletion becomes all the more serious if the soul permanently leaves the body. If that happens the body dies. The primary goal of the shaman then is to retrieve the parts of the soul that have left or the whole soul in order to return the person to a natural harmony and zest.

Only parts of the soul may leave the body. When they do they don't go to a soul repository and remain in limbo. They continue to exist, to live a parallel existence in non-ordinary realms of reality.

What causes the loss of soul and for one to become ill? Generally, there are three causes for soul loss.

1. The individual has suffered a frightening trauma

2. The individual experiences a sense of abandonment

3. The individual's soul is stolen

The shaman's first task is to determine the cause of the soul loss. Once that has been determined he may than begin the procedures for retrieving the soul.

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. Besides having over 100 articles published on the internet, he is the author of The Shaman's Quest, Adam: The Transformation, and Apocalyptic Adam.




Humans are instinctively inquisitive and are always investigating and modifying the two worlds in which they exist: the physical world and the inner world.

Both the physical and inner worlds, in turn, work upon the human equation. No matter the claim to the contrary, man is inexorably a part of both worlds. It is this recognition that the shaman readily integrates into his world view.

For the shaman, man, animals, plants, rocks, wind, rain, sun, stars, and moon are alive with Spirits. Unfortunately, early films and television programs have conveyed a somewhat inaccurate image of Spirit making it ghostly. Those entities that make noises and rattling sounds during a seance designed to commune with the deceased is not the intent here.

Some writers suggest a better word for Spirits would be essences, meaning that which makes a man human, a tree a tree, or an eagle an eagle. Aristotle's 'substances' is not an equivalent, nor is Plato's 'pure forms'. The shamanic concept of Spirit is closer to the Ancient Egyptian notion of BA, which may translate as 'soul' or 'spiritual manifestation.'

From a practical viewpoint, spirit is that which makes a thing what it is. It's the noumenon. Spirit. as consciousness, has the problem of death as an issue. If, however, death is a 'rebirth' into another life, much as a child from its mother's womb emerges into another life, then consciousness as Spirit/Soul is acceptable.

Even though Spirit and Soul are essential to a shamanic world view and the cohesiveness they provide, there is no denial of various categories or of other forms, or qualities. The shaman accepts all; denies nothing.

Norman W Wilson, PhD

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. He is the author of over a dozen articles on shamanism, and has over 125 articles published on the internet. He is a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books.

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To be shaman is not a question, it is a metaphor of shamanism itself, being shamanic is a natural calling to a life best served. Shamanism and its origins are far removed from the outdated understanding of being called to service of ones community. Tribes have ended, villages consumed and towns divided, so why be a shaman at all in these current times?

As mentioned in the opening sentence and now being expanded upon during the remainder of this article, to be a shaman, one has to receive a calling to be so. This calling cannot be learnt, it cannot be bestowed and it cannot be passed from one to another. In so many cases of definition, shaman are called to be shaman usually during a particular difficult or traumatic time of their life.

Normally, shaman are called to be during a period of serious disease or illness which has taken the individual to near death experiences. During this state of being (sick) the shaman is usually saved from his fate through the aid of spiritual guardians or in the words of this author, spooks! These spirit guardians never leave, they cannot be forgotten and as is the norm for a shaman, they never shut up!

During the calling of a shaman, the individual may experience extreme psychological imbalances which can manifest themselves in various forms of psychosis. Hallucinations, voices in the head, manic euphoria, aggravated depression, feelings of being alone, seeing ghosts or spirits, these are just a small selection of intuitive words to describe the impact of being shamanically called to service. These psychotic manifestations never last forever, they simply become balanced once more as the shaman grows comfortable with other forms of existence previously unknown or thought of. However, the question must be asked, to what service?

The answer to this question can be summed up easily in one short sentence, which was

'dictated' to this author during his own shamanic experience

whole'. The whole being, the whole planet, the whole universe. It seems such a

gargantuan task that it surely cannot be completed by one individual?

A shaman understands that he / she (some of the greatest shaman are women) is within

himself an universe, everything he/she sees, touches, associates or communicates with

is a part of the shaman, a part of the whole. Therefore when a shaman is speaking or

'for the good of the

or can it?

communicating with the universe and travelling (the term commonly used to signify a deep shamanic meditation or trance) to other realms to seek answers to a particular question or problem asked of the shaman he / she fully understands that all answers are contained within.

So, what does a shaman do, you may ask. A shaman does whatever it takes to perform a service to his / her universe. This may be in the form of healing another (putting one at ease), healing the environment (many landscape gardeners are shaman), seeking answers to questions or problems (both from the shaman and from others) and believe this or not financial solutions (yes, some debt doctors are shaman).

As a final departing gift, this shaman will say this, if you are thinking about becoming a shaman by investing large amounts of money in training to become a shaman, then please don't. It is unnecessary to do so and ultimately foolhardy. You can be a shamanic seeker, but the answer always remains the same, the spooks choose you!

David 'Goldie' Edwards is shaman, chosen to be so as nature intended. He is more than happy to discuss and involve himself with all things shamanic. If you require the services of a shaman or are curious about shamanism, then please visit his website The Dragon Shaman where you will find contact details and assistance in many forms. Article Source:




Whenever the word shaman is mentioned people conjure up an image of a half-naked wild aboriginal dancing around an open fire. That's as wrong as is the movie version of Native Americans who say "ugh" and "Me want wampum." There's so much more.

Images of drugged up glazed eyed hallucinating chanting figures calling up spirits from the nether world are just as illusionary as the late Jeff Chandler playing Cochise. Then, what is this more?

Some anthropologists have classified Shamanism as an archaic magical-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy. Ecstasy needs definition if we are to come to an understanding of what a shaman does. We are talking about a state of being carried away by overwhelming emotion not a drug.

It is known that some shamans do use drugs to induce a state of ecstasy. When this is the case, it is generally for the purpose of experiencing the subconscious. This writer does not advocate the use of drugs. There are safer ways of arriving at an altered state. Those who use meditation also generally frown upon the use of drugs.

The sham creates emotional ecstasy in a patient, besides through the use of drugs, by the use of music. In aboriginal terms this might be flute or the repetitive resonating beat of a drum. It can also be created by the voice of the shaman when he makes a high- pitched sound.

Unfortunately, many westerners have turned to the aboriginals in the jungles of South America and the mountains of Tibet for the experience of enlightenment by taking hallucinate drugs. A healing shaman does not necessarily pursue this approach despite the fact he is primarily a holistic thinker.

The shaman uses various herbs and plants from the natural world to help his patient. Poultices, steam with an infusion of herbs, and rich broths are standard. Many have the function of cleansing the human system.

The use of music, sounds, and the dance is more for effect and show. Yet, one may not discount the psychological affect they produce in the patient. Evidence suggests the human body can heal itself. The shaman's goal is to increase that potential.

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. He is the author of three speculative fiction novels. The Quest, Seeking the New Adam, Adam's Transformation, Apocalyptic Adam.




Intent + Emotional Control + Knowledge = A Shaman

There are many things a Shaman comes to know over a lifetime of learning and practice. Many of these things are impossible to explain with language. The same can be said for certain tenets in Taoism, Buddhism and other religious philosophies - for example, faith.

As a Shaman studies, one meets with knowledge of good and evil gradually and can practice mastery in increments. For a Shaman to share all of his or her knowledge with you at once would fill your heart with such dread it could cause illness of body and mind because you are unpracticed and unprotected. However, everything a Shaman knows can be obtained through good practice and constant learning. I am always happy to share what I know and walk with you on your journey. There is certain knowledge I would share with everyone as we all need to protect ourselves.

Everything has spirit; every rock, tree, fish, animal, person, ocean, planet, has some kind of spirit. The spirit showing itself as a rock is not necessarily just a rock, however. Looks can be deceiving. But the quality or level of the spirit is evidenced in its physical form. For example, the spirit of a rock has a slow and low vibrational rate. It takes a long time to act but it has a long life span in this reality. A butterfly has a higher and faster vibration but a shorter life span than a rock. It makes one wonder whether we are all given the same amount of spiritual energy and our life spans vary only according to our vibratory rate.

There are also various forms of non-visible spirits. More than you can imagine. Shamans spend lifetimes learning to "see" and perform various tasks using these spiritual forms. Some of these forms are neutral and some are beneficent. Some of them are predatory. I want you to know about the predators as they affect your health and happiness.

The only spiritual form that can gain spiritual energy or grace "gong" is the human being. It is the only thing we can absolutely take with us when we cross over into another life. This has been a fact for ancient religions and philosophies for thousands of years. You can find this in Taoism, Buddhism, and even Catholicism. It is only through experiencing life as a human being that Spiritual energy can be obtained and one's spiritual self can evolve. So there are many non-human entities that would do anything

to have the life experience you are having here on earth. All they need is for you to invite them to come into you and they can then share your experiences and eat your "chi" or energy and perhaps get some of your spiritual power or "gong" so they can incarnate here themselves.

These entities also have limited powers and abilities as you do including the powers to attract and repel; the ability of precognition or foretelling the future; mindreading and limited healing abilities. The predatory entities offer to barter their abilities to you so you will invite them in. They also offer vainglories of wealth, business success, fame, all fleeting and limited to entice you to make a deal with them.

A man lost his wife of forty years to cancer and was very lonely. One day he sent up a

wish for a new wife. He didn't care what he had to do or how she would come about. He would do anything to have a new wife. The predator entities heard the invitation and a new wife did arrive. The Man had accepted the predator entities and felt as though he had a monkey on his back. He started going down to the local bar hoping to wash that feeling away. But the entities loved all this experience and the man became an alcoholic.

Now, he didn't know why he drank or that he intended it for himself. But unless he met someone who could remove the entities, he was stuck.

Most disease can be traced shamanically to spirit possession. Spirit possession is found in the book of knowledge of almost every religion in the world. For example, the Catholic Church and Lutheran Church offer Exorcisms. Soul retrieval is one Shamanic way to heal spirit possession. Soul Retrieval can be described as a Shaman going to these spirit entities and bartering, tricking, negotiating or forcing these spirit entities to leave the person afflicted. It is highly dangerous for the Shaman, as the entities do not wish to leave and can attack the Shaman causing mental or physical harm and more. It takes a strong Shaman who can protect himself or herself from harm and use his or her power to wield the shaman stick effectively.

But the knowledge is here for you to be aware of these entities.

Another knowledge is that there are 3 bodies to each person. You have your physical body, that self you have known and used all your life. ON the right of your physical body

is your Master Self, which is your higher self, that part of you connected directly to the

Universal Knowledge or God and whose little voice you can here giving you the best advice when you listen. And you have your second self on the left side of your physical

body. Your second self is just like your physical body but not attached to your body. This

is the body that Shamans use to travel to the Inner Worlds. It just obeys what you put

out for it and can hear and sense in other dimensions. It is your shaman working body.

It is the part of you that manifests your intentions.

Your emotions come from your physical body; your intentions come from your Master Self body (hopefully) and your second self goes out and accomplishes those intentions for you. Spiritual predators can attach to any of these 3 bodies so you must learn to guard each of them.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

One way to protect you in this reality are to not go anywhere near developing Shamanic skills. It does not actually protect you but at least it does not attract entities to you as greatly as if you do practice. Entities are most attracted to people with power. If you do

choose to practice, learn all you can about the Inner Worlds. Always travel with your spirit animal who will guide you and defend you from entities. Your spirit animal walks with all 3 of your bodies and by being aware of its presence you will sense well being or fear even in your daily life and you should respond appropriately. Contact me to learn more about working with your totem or spirit animal.

But the best protection whether you practice Shamanism or not is knowledge.

Knowledge plus intent plus emotional control equals the power of a shaman. (For sake

of brevity, the reference to a shaman below is in the masculine form but implies no

precludence of the female gender.)

A Shaman is a warrior, a hunter. He is on his highest alert, fully prepared, moving

deliberately with his intention held firmly in place in the forefront of his mind. He is ready for anything, being emotionally centered although feeling the excitement of the

hunt and the anticipation of the successful outcome. No one could sneak up on a good hunter. It is he who is doing the stalking. The hunter knows his skills, has practiced a long time, and knows where to look for the game he needs. A hunter has heightened his senses so he can smell the wind and see in low light. He knows a bear can attack him or wolf at anytime so he does his very best every minute. To do less may mean his death.

He knows there is no one there to help him and he knows that he himself can do it best anyway. He would not be a hunter if he wanted someone else to do it.

You too are a hunter here on this planet. You chose to come here, to have this experience so you could gather the one thing that you can take with you when you leave - spiritual energy. To be successful you must develop your skills impeccably.

You have all the abilities that you need to gather great spiritual power here. It is your task to gain the knowledge about your skills and how to use them. Skills given to you by other than your own means are just borrowed from entities who take more of you than they give to you and are not worth the cost.

A Shaman walks this dimension in pure peace and joy using his physical body to

communicate and maintain a physical presence with emotional power using his Higher or Master Self as his sail and rudder. The constant small voice of the Master Self (intent) and his second body self used to work, to create and to destroy, to attract and to repel whatever he intends with its knowledge of the Inner Worlds.

I invite you to walk the way with me through the course I offer on Shamanism found at Each of us must learn to use his 3 bodies, as they are the tools you brought here with you. I can light a torch along the path you have chosen and help to protect you by giving you the knowledge and the skills to protect yourself.


Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls has been a practicing Shaman for over 50 years. She recently received a dispensation to reach out to those who have a desire to learn about a Shamans path and now offers an online course at Many people on this earth have been Shamans in other lives and only need to reconnect with their lost knowledge and skills to bring shamanic healing back to Mother Earth and

its peoples. This is Shaman Elder s goal. Please visit her website at or write her an email for a free consultation at

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Are you called to be shaman? If you are how do you know? If you aren't how do you know? If you don't want to be a shaman but would like to take advantages of some of the shamanic practices and techniques. Can you? Are you allowed to or not? Do you have to be initiated to be a shaman? These are all questions that I once had after I finally submitted and embarked upon this quest. And I will share what I have learned with you from my experience.

First it is important to understand, that every world culture has an individual or group of individuals that has acted as a mediator between the spiritual and the physical. These eccentric individuals have been called medicine man/woman, viziers, spiritual healer, witch doctor, etc. but the most prevalent term used today is shaman and the practice is called shamanism. Shamanism is the general term that has been used incorrectly to describe any person that feels that God, the Great Spirit, the ancestors, spirit guides and/or guardian spirits have called them to help others through spiritual means, which has contributed to the confusion of the term. So to clarify, it must be understood that a shaman can be a preacher, psychic, counselor, medicine man or woman, herbalists, priest or priestess, medical intuitive, psychic healer, etc. but a preacher, psychic, counselor, medicine man or woman, herbalists, priest or priestess, medical intuitive, psychic healer, doesn't necessarily have to be a shaman. The key difference being that a shaman usually has a unique perspective about life whereas the other healers do not.

The reason the shaman's viewpoint is so different from the other healers is because he or she have undergone either a formal initiation (e.g. apprenticeship, ceremonial rites, etc.) or informal initiation (e.g. life transforming event via gross misfortune, illness, etc.). During this (formal or informal) initiation, the initiate is forced to overcome old traumatic issues, including their anger, fear, hatred, feelings of abandonment and other emotional wounds, in order to learn how not to be controlled by their emotions but rather guided by their intuition. During this transformative period, the initiate comes face to face with death, where they learn that death is not "the end" but simply a stage in the cycle of birth-life-death and rebirth. In this unique experience, which cannot accurately be intellectualized, but has to be experience, the initiate usually meets her or his ancestors, spirit guides or spirits, which leads them to adopting a new perspective about life reflective of this experience. This new perspective about life that the shaman initiate adopts, usually becomes the cosmology or cosmogram that the initiate follows.

It is through this cosmogram the shaman initiate is able to move beyond their personal preferences and societal imposed prejudices, which allows them to see everything (plants, animals, human beings, etc.) in the universe as an interdependent part of a whole. It is here the initiate begins to see him or herself as a microcosm of a greater

Macrocosm, and learns that all is composed of divine energy. The life cycle the initiate soon learns is based upon a natural exchange between the spiritual and the physical. It then becomes apparent that in order to implement any positive change. They have to learn how to petition the right the force that will bring about the type of change that they desire. The shaman learns about this exchange by observing these forces in nature and seeing that just like the right conditions are needed in order for wild game to return to a particular area. The same conditions are needed to make an individual prosperous and so on.

It is this observation that makes the initiate take responsibility for her and his actions. This is how the true shamanic journey begins because the initiate is not perfect by any means, but is expected to perfect his or her character. This is the reason why shamans from all over the world may not profess to be Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or any one religion. They will easily practice the tenets of major religions like loving their neighbor as themselves, and acknowledge that seeing ourselves separate from one another will lead to our ultimate demise. Where shamanism differs from major religions, is that it is not governed by religious dogma but by the calling, which is dictated by the laws of nature.

These laws are taught to the shaman initiate by the same one(s) that called them per that individual's culture. Therefore, violation of these laws may not be punishable by man but they are punishable through God, the Great Spirit, ancestors, spirit guides, or the guardian spirits that called the individual to be a shaman, because the rapport that the initiate has developed with his or her guides through the initiation process is very strong and personal. So when a true shaman breaks a taboo they make amends as soon as possible, and try to live in harmony with others, because it will weaken their spiritual power, connection with their spirit guides and may result in them losing divine blessing or grace. No true shaman would risk jeopardizing this for a quick selfish, monetary thrill.

Because shamanism differs in every country, culture, region, etc. what may be norm in one area may be completely different in another. For instance, in South America, Amerindian shamans use entheogens like peyote, whereas Amerindian shamans in North America do not. All shamans don't engage in "vision quest" just to get an answer nor do they have to use a drum and rattle to enter and maintain an ecstatic state of trance. Clearly, all shamans are not created equal but there are some general norms that exist about shamans. For one, they are not chauvinistic nor are they feminist either. They see the purpose of both natures. True shamans also do not have on their walls their list of accomplishments. They do not sit back and brag about their accomplishments or drop names to prove how strong and powerful they are to impress people. One look into their eyes and you will be able to see if they are for real or a charlatan.

Now, don't get me wrong, all shamans are not extremely humble or meek individuals, nor are they all eccentric individuals either. They do boast but their boasts, which may come off as arrogance is not meant to impress the living. It is to glorify their spirits on one hand, cause negative spirits to tremble and flee on the other, and strengthen their own faith. Another thing, true shamans don't go looking for trouble or imbalances. Trouble or imbalances seems to find them (at least this has been my experience), and they use the situation to create balance.

Overall, I must admit that the shamanic journey is a wonderful and rewarding journey because a shaman helps him or herself by helping others. This is why it is said that shamans a wounded healers because most shamans specialize in healing situations that they have or had to overcome themselves. This is what makes shamans exceptional over other healers, because they are a reflection of what they have accomplished and believed. If a shaman will heal a relationship between a husband and wife, it is because they usually have done the same for their relationship and so on.

As your intuition develops, you will know when it is time to help others because you will find yourself (with no effort of your own) being asked to assist another in resolving a situation. You may be walking down the street to the park and get a hunch to say a prayer to bless and protect the children at the park from harm. Then, you may get an idea to solidify your prayer by building a small makeshift altar out of sticks and rocks. These are all signs that you have been called to put your skills to service.

The great thing about shamanism is that it is honest and a powerful universal practice full of wonder. True shamanism doesn't lie and tell you what you want to hear just to get your money, participation and membership. It is a real gut practice that presents to you the problem and helps you to find ways to resolve it so that the problem never occurs again. It tells you what you need to hear (in the gentle or harshest way possible). In order to get you to do what you have been called to do, which is fulfill your destiny or purpose in life. These are some of the things that I have learned in my own journey, which by the way is unique per individual. It is through this shamanic walk I also discovered that if you are called and ignore your calling. You will wish you hadn't, not because your spirit guides will punish you, but because the next stage of your development requires that you accept your calling in order to advance forward. Another thing I learned that just because you accept your calling, it will not eliminate humiliation, misery, pain and suffering out of your life. Shamanism will however, help you to develop the peace and power needed to navigate right through it, thus making you a more resilient and strong individual.

But, the shamanic journey is not an easy path to follow because it can be very challenging at times. Not to mention that finding a true spiritual teacher in these contemporary times can be painstakingly difficult. And, if you have been called to become a shaman or just to partake in the practice. It can be a bit confusing especially when there is no one to help you. So to help ease the headache, here are some recommendations I have compiled based upon my experience.

Instead of wasting your time and money, borrowing and imitating another's cultural practices without being sure if you have been called or not. I suggest that you begin by investigating your own spiritual heritage. For instance, if you come from a Christian tradition, try to understand how you or your family got into that tradition and why you are or are not in that tradition today. Ask yourself the hard questions like are you involved in the religion because you were raised in it and know nothing else? Are you not in this religion because you don't agree with their political or social views? In other words you don't like what they said, etc. This will help you to clarify your purpose of embarking on the shamanic path. Far too often, many of us jump around from faith to faith because we don't know what we are looking for.

Once you have done that, then I would recommend that you research and learn about

traditional practices of your ancestors. If you cannot do this then learn about the traditional practices of your distant ancestors. For instance, I being of African and Native American descent in the Unite States, was not able to learn about my ancestral path due to slavery. I was however able to learn about the Kamitic (ancient Egyptians) civilization, which was the greatest, longest standing and most influential African civilization that has existed. That many scholars have culturally tied to Sub-Saharan Africa. It was through my research, Kamit became a gateway that led me to discover that my family has a heavy Kongo influence. Through this I discovered the shamanic path that I walk today, which is why I refer to it as Kamitic shamanism.

So, research your distant ancestral path because through it you will discover your Way and find if you have been called to be a shaman or a "keeper of the flame" sort-of-speak, which is someone meant to help their family, friends and others they come in contact versus being a shaman who services an entire community. When you have honestly completely these two steps. If you have been called you will have a stronger conviction of your calling because you will be find yourself being initiated (formally or informally).

Derric "Rau Khu" Moore grew up in a loving strong Christian household in Detroit, Michigan. He has studied religion, mysticism, metaphysics, folklore and spiritualism for over ten years. Educated as a chemical engineer, he is an academic instructor, poet, folk artist and urban shaman. He is one of the main contributors of the Land of Kam website. He is the author of MAA AANKH: Finding God the Afro-American Way, by Honoring the Ancestors and Guardian Spirits ( ), in which he shows how to make the transition from the linear Western religious thinking to the holistic African mindset, using his own life experiences, and. Kamta: A Practical Kamitic Path for Obtaining Power ( ), which explains how he used Ancient Egyptian philosophy, African American folk practices and Afro-Caribbean Spiritualism to improve his finances, escape poverty and recover from the debilitating illness lupus.

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"Creation consists of the emanations of the Eagle. There are forty eight distinct emanations of the Eagle, of which humans through our ordinary perception can perceive two of them."

Don Juan - the Yaqui Indian and teacher of Carlos Castaneda.

There is a lot of discussion and opinion on what a shaman is. The word itself is rooted in the word saman from the Tungus people in central Asia. Definitions vary greatly in modern society, this varies from people who enjoy trancing out to music at dances and 'tribal' gatherings calling themselves shamans to a very precise definition as per Mercia Eliade who in his book Shamanism - Archaic techniques of ecstasy specifically defines the term shaman as distinct from medicine man, sorcerer, healer, diviner, magician, herbalist and so on. Eliade's specific differentiation is that the shaman who may be and practice all of the above is defined as, "the shaman specialises in a trance during which

his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld". This definition is sometimes employed in a strict sense, and appears to me to be limiting in scope. To me a shaman means more than that definition.

To quote Joan Halifax from her book Shamanic Voices; "The shaman, a mystical, priestly, and political figure emerging during the Upper Palaeolithic period and perhaps going back to Neanderthal times, can be described not only as a specialist in the human soul but also as a generalist whose sacred and social functions can cover an extraordinarily wide range of activities. Shamans are healers, seers, and visionaries who have mastered death. They are in communication with the world of gods and spirits. Their bodies can be left behind while they fly to unearthly realms. They are poets and singers. They dance and create works of art. They are not only spiritual leaders but also the judges and politicians, sacred and secular. They are familiar with cosmic as well as physical geography; they know the ways of plants and animals, and the elements. They are psychologists, entertainers, and food finders. Above all, however shamans are technicians of the sacred and masters of ecstasy."

Leo Rutherford in his book The Shamanic Path Workbook, also sees a shaman from an inclusive and holistic perspective. He defines a shaman as "someone who has fully walked the path of transformation and chosen to become a healer, helper, seer, prophet, in service to the people".

The most important and consistent point in all the above views is the emphasis on community, whether healing, divining, or prophesising, it is done in service to others. Shamanism is not shamanism if done in isolation.

Contemporary Shamanism

Shamanism has always been a way for living as humans in relationship to all things on our planet Earth. Some thousands of years ago at the dawn of human civilisation a quantum change happened to this way of being. It was not the introduction of religion but something far more powerful, the shift from a hunter gathering and ad-hoc horticultural society to agriculture. This change had enormous consequences. From being in relation to all things; we became the 'managers' of the living world. The ways of animal husbandry, crop rotation and irrigation of fields led to permanent settlements, the human tribes no longer had to follow the migration of the animals and foraging for plants, we could have it all in one place! The early civilisations started, from where the social and religious structures, systems, and worldviews (many of which we still experience today) came into existence.

The ancients knew and experienced that there is an energy normally invisible, which connects all that exists, and they lived with the knowledge of this energy and how to use it. This concept of the inter-relationship and understanding that man is a part of nature, not separate to it, a part of the connecting energy has been expressed in many ways and in many cultures but unfortunately not in ours. As Chief Seattle said in 1855 in his address to the American Congress;

"What befalls the Earth befalls all the sons of the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."

The separation in Western society from the natural world with it's accompanying myth

of man having "dominion over all living things", has led to spiritual disconnection from the universal energy field. At some level we are aware of this, and many are experiencing a heart-led desire to reconnect to the universal field of energy and consciousness which we are part of.

Many people are being drawn to spiritual paths such as shamanism as one of the ways to meet this deeply felt desire, to heal the pain of separation, and rejoice in the ecstatic beauty and possibilities of simply being alive on this rich and beautiful planet.

Shamanism contains time tested healing practices, ceremony and teachings to support people in this re-balancing of themselves. These practices are fundamentally healing, not only for the physical body but also for our inner sense of being and our soul. However the challenge is to build a bridge between the ancient wisdom and practices in such a way as to be useful , effective and meaningful to the modern Western individual.

One of the most significant separations between modern Western approaches and the shamanic approach is one of perspective i.e. between energy and physicality. From the shamanic perspective you could say that we (and everything else) are fields of energy, and the actuality that we experience as the physical world is but the description of our physical senses rather than being an absolute inherent fact. In some respects quantum physics is now pointing in the same direction as have the ancient shamans for forty thousand years.

In shamanic Healing we work with energy. Another word for this energy is life-force, soul, or the 'vital nature', and in shamanism there are many traditional ways of healing working with soul or life-force. It comes to fundamental questions and challenges to what is reality. This fundamental conception is so vast, that it seems that it can only be described in terms of metaphor.

"Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size".

Albert Einstein

The Path of the Shaman

The distillation of shamanism in the 21st century is the recognition that we and our god (whom we have made in our image) are not separate from creation, but discrete aware elements in a vast unending timeless ocean of consciousness and energy, and that we are all connected to each other, simply because we are each other.

All the traditional and indigenous shamans that I have encountered share one unifying characteristic , they will do whatever is required to help a person into health and well- being by catalysing in one way or another that persons inner belief system, to guide change in that persons reality so that they come to feel and 'know' that they will get well. This is just as important as the 'real' and tangible medicine work. They know that we are greater than we have been led to believe we are, and can influence and co-create our 'reality'. Creative visualisation and other practices to influence the unfolding of our lives are not new-age, they are very much 'old-age' and belong to all of us. If we go back in our ancestral lineage, you would find that we all came from shamanic cultures, it is our birthright.

One of the beautiful aspects of shamanism is that it is a true spiritual democracy; there

are no priests, no hierarchy. We all have the same rights of access to the universal field of love , life-force and consciousness because that's where we are at. We have just forgotten about it.

Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest at the dedicated centre located in the Mishana nature reserve. He is the author of the best selling book, Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA), and has published numerous articles about plant medicines. He was baptised into the Shipibo tribe of the Upper Amazon, and initiated into the lineage of the shamans of the Rio Napo. Howard is also an artist who's paintings have featured in major exhibitions in London and elsewhere. His artwork has also been featured on book covers.

His website: email contact:

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I approach the subject of shaman, shamanism, and shamanic powers with considerable consternation. And I do so despite the fact that the word shaman has become a part of American landscape. I use the word(s) because of its recognition and ask that those who have objections to accept a single fact: I mean no disrespect. Likewise the term 'medicine man' is not a term used in Native American Culture(s).

The word shaman as I understand it, is an import from the Siberian Tungus (Evenks) with some hint of a Sanskrit connection. Literally, it means one who knows-a Promethean quality. The question that needs to be asked is a simple one: What does the shaman know?

To answer that question we first have to accept the notion a shaman operates with a basic premise: The world is composed of invisible forces and/or spirits that affect all life-human and non-human. Within this premise lies the notion that plants, rivers, lakes, oceans, trees, and rocks are all imbued with their own special qualities. Science tells us that there are invisible forces; invisible to the naked eye so the idea that certain individuals can tune into those forces should not be shocking.

Because the shaman has this ability to tap into this 'universal consciousness', he or she is called upon to function as a healer. Here the shaman's role is to heal the community; to bring harmony to man and nature, as well as to individuals. To do this, the shaman retires into an altered state of consciousness.

Some cultures as well as individuals use a variety of drugs to induce the shamanic state. I am an opponent to such use. Grave permanent dangers lurk for the novice. On that basis, there will be no specific hallucinogenic drugs mentioned. The shamanic state may be produced by the use of sounds. Drums have been used for eons. Flutes and humming have also been used. Today there are tapes, CD and videos for altering the state of

consciousness. The use of OHM in meditation is a popular choice. Notice I have chosen not to use the word trance. It suggests a lack of control. The seeker should go into a shamanic state with just a single question in mind; not a shopping list. Disappointment will be the end result.

There are, according to some authorities, three levels in a shamanic world. These levels have no connection to religions. The first level of the shamanic journey is called the underworld. At this level emotions, memories, and psychic healing take place. Sometimes, one's power animal is encountered here. Generally speaking, access to the underworld is achieved by going through a tunnel (as Enkidu in the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh), or flowing down an underground river. Other times, one may achieve this level through a sudden flash or a rappelling. The second level is the middle world. Here plant spirits, spells, curses and ghosts are located just outside of reality. And please, don't ask for a definition of reality. (Note the popular television series, Ghost Whisperer takes place at this level.) The upper world is the third level of the shamanic world. Here spiritual teachers and Jung's archetypes exist. The teacher arrives unbidden quite often and at first experience, and at first may not be recognized.

The third level may be obtained through extensive meditation and the production of altered states. Native American musicians David and Steven Gordon, R. Carlos Nakai, the Native Flute Ensemble or Scott August certainly would help set the tone for such meditation. Listen and let their song carry you. The harmonics are surreal.

One does not just become a shaman. One may achieve shamanhood through transmission. That is, one may inherit that ability. Second, one may experience a 'calling' or what is sometimes called spontaneous selection and finally, one may personally quest it. In this case, expect long, long periods of training. One of my former students had been in training by his grandmother since he had reached puberty. He hoped to be ready by the time he was in his mid-twenties. It's not a semester course or a week-end seminar at a resort.

Back to my question: What does a shaman know? Generally, the shaman is a sensitive and knows, intuitively, what someone else is feeling. He or she has a substantial background in organic plants and herbs used for healing, and certainly he or she knows how to pray to whatever power there is. A shaman tunes in to the psychic and emotional needs of a person and leads that person's energies to help heal.

A cautionary word is essential in view of the recent tragedy in Arizona. Beware of the self-proclaimed. And I'm not implying the person(s) responsible for that sweat lodge experience is, but it's always a good policy to know your guide. The shamanic state is not for everyone. Massive spiritual cleansing and renewal is not for everyone. A shaman by whatever name you wish to call him or her is not a catholicon. It that were true, then we would be living in harmony and peace and be disease free. Am I a shaman or in training to be one? No!

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. The main character in his three novels is a shaman. The Quest: Seeking the New Adam, Adam's Transformation, and Apocalyptic Adam.

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The Shaman's Journey

Intent + Emotion + Knowledge = Shaman

There are 3 elements to being a Shaman: intent, emotional control and impeccable skills. Here we will look at intent.

"Intent is not a thought, or an object, or a wish. Intent is what can make a man succeed when his thoughts tell him that he is defeated. It operates in spite of the warrior's indulgence. Intent is what makes him invulnerable. Intent is what sends a shaman through a wall, through space, to infinity." - Carlos Castaneda

Intent is the basis of manipulating this reality for anything including healing and manifestation. Reality is quite malleable really. It is just that we don't use our will or intent to make it the best it could be.

"Inflowing thoughts come to an end in those who are ever alert of mind, training themselves night and day, and ever intent on nirvana." - Buddha

Often we say we want something, but deep down in our hearts be really don't want that. And then we cry out in anguish because we don't have that "thing" in our lives.

Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated." - George Santayana

Our reality is completely and entirely based upon our intent. You say, How can that be? I did not create this world, this country or this house. But you do accept the intentions given to you by your parents, your relatives, your school, your community, and your society. We have been taught as babies to accept the realities of others for generations. This is simple psychosociology 101. We are even taught to fear anything but these realities and so life changes at a very slow pace indeed!

So yes, you aligned your intent for housing to that of your relatives. Your idea of social success is the same intention as your society at large. This is not necessarily a bad thing! But it shows the power of intent. One more example is the phrase we hear "If it is not good for me or meant to be then God will not give it to me." I think this is probably a good intent to inherit because you intend only good things for yourself this way. Without intending only good things in some way, you would have to assume responsibility for all the bad things that happen to as well. Get my drift? You are responsible.

"It is a sign of considerable advance when a man begins to be moved by the will, by his own energy self-determined, instead of being moved by desire, i.e. by a response to an external attraction or repulsion" Annie Besant, The Ancient Wisdom.

So how do we bring more good things into our lives?

By intending only good things. Dwell only on good things. Whenever you think a negative thought, immediately replace it with a good intention. Picture abundance in your life. Practice looking for goodness around you. Intent creates your reality-what are you intending for yourself? For others? You know the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it" I guarantee you will get what you really wish for.

First, you must be in touch with your real wishes, not just your fantasies. You real wishes are the ones with emotional buttons on them. The wishes that make you cry or scare you enough to make you cringe, or bring a huge smile across your face just thinking about them. They are buried deep inside and sometimes are really echoes of other people's intentions for you. If your father intended for you to be a doctor but you didn't want to do that, you may still walk through your life without a purpose because you accepted your father's intent for you all along. This is the stuff counseling is made of.

But for a Shaman, it is using intent properly now that can heal issues of soul loss like that for others. All healing begins with intent. Unless the patient himself intends to get well, the reality will be his own intent of illness.

This knowledge can be very frustrating to the healer who knows that complete healing is just a change of mind away. But intent is free will and no one has the right to usurp another's free will. Many times I have wept bitterly before the campfire for those people who chose to suffer rather than to heal. There is only one reason for the intent to not heal and that is fear.

Isn't it odd that people fear change more that anything else in life? And yet, that is the one thing that is guaranteed with your passage! I invite you all to embrace change. Embrace each new day, each gray hair, each meal, each encounter, and each tiny adventure of every day. Learn to enjoy the most natural thing in life - change. And learn to use it to your advantage.

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls has been practicing Shamanism since her Mom began teaching her at age 3. She has written and published many articles including a book title Eclear: the Journey Homeward and teaches an online course in Shamanism at She is available for a FREE consultation and will not turn anyone away. Article Source:




Shamans guide and protect a community that depends on them. They heal people, animals and the environment, find lost things and people, and work to keep the community in harmony with nature.

Shamans receive their power directly from the spirit world. They do whatever their spirits guides and teachers tell them to do. Shamans do whatever they must to protect and heal their people and to keep the community in harmony with each other and the environment.

Shamans go into deep trance (theta state) to journey to the spirit world to do their work. In trance shamans actively work with energy and manipulate images and metaphors to cause change to happen in the real world. When the shaman is successful, the sick and the mentally ill are cured, and lost people and things are found.

In the spirit world the shaman may bring back lost souls, battle with spirits or with sorcerers, finding lost items, get spiritual guidance, or find remedies for injuries or


Shamans also often guide the dead to the spirit world, help hunters find food for their people, and help bring rain or protect their people from extreme weather. Shamanic Ceremonies In the shamanic world, ceremonies are powerful magical events held for specific purposes. Ceremonies are done to change the energy of the past, present or future, or to cause things to happen in the spirit world and in this world.

Shamanic ceremonies generally include some ritual elements, such as cleansing, prayer, and protection. The ceremonies themselves, and even the ritual elements, depend on interaction with the spirits and energy.

No ceremony ever happens exactly the same way twice, because the energy is different every time. The shaman must be constantly aware of the energy and the response from the spirits throughout the ceremony.

The shaman constantly adjusts what he or she is doing according to what is happening. For example, the time spent on cleansing and protection may be longer or shorter, depending on what the shaman senses from the spirits at the time.

Shamans may do public ceremonies where they may sing, dance, do surgery, recite poetry, make sand paintings, do sleight-of-hand, or administer plant medicine. Shamans do whatever the spirits lead them to do to get the desired results.

A single healing may include physical, spiritual, magical, theatrical, and psychological components. Shamans use whatever works.

Shamans also use private ceremonies to heal themselves, increase their skill and powers, and protect themselves and others while they are working with the spirits.

Making a Living Members of the shaman's community and the families of the people they help usually give them gifts, such as animals, food, or money in return for their help. But most shamans still need to support themselves.

Most shamans must also work, gathering food and plant medicines, hunting, gardening, herding animals, or whatever else people in their culture do to make a living. Where a traditional culture exists alongside a modern, westernized culture, a shaman may even have a modern day job.

Want to know more about shamans, shamanism, spirit animals, shamanic healing, and soul retrieval? You'll find a wealth of resources for everything shamanic at White Cranes has taught and led shamanism groups since 1992 and is the organizer of a 135-member Shamanism Meetup group. For more information on shamanism and animism, see and




Certainly the knowledge of herbal remedies is a given for the shaman in the treatment of his patients. Such a knowledge is not gained from a semester course or an on-line seminar offered by someone claiming to have correct knowledge.

Nor can one learn all the subtleties of herbals by using a book on herbal medicines.

Gathering herbs in the wild is a dangerous activity and should never be undertaken without an expert guide.

One plant leaf may closely resemble another and it can be poisonous, if not deadly. Tasting a leaf here and there is not recommended. Poison hemlock is often mistaken for wild parsnips or as wild carrots. All parts of the hemlock are poisonous. The name actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon hemieac which simply means 'shore-plant')

Berries of various plants are usable in the treatment of ailments. A shaman knows which berries can be used as an astringent, which can induce vomiting, and/or act as a laxative. Don't go off into the woods on a berry picking expedition unless you know which specific berries are edible. Not all blue berries are huckleberries. All berries that are the color of blue are not edible. The Inkberry, for example, is poisonous. The shaman uses herbs in teas, salves, pastes, poultices, and rubs, as well as body and energy building nutriments.

In today's modern scientific world we forget that the plant kingdom is vast reserve of chemical compounds. That is changing. It is now estimated that over 40% of prescription drugs sold in the United States contain at least one ingredient derived from nature. Herbs encompass at least 25% of all known flowering plants; yet only about 2 per cent have been investigated for their medical use.

Perhaps the shaman has had it right all along. Herbs are good for you.

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. Dr. Wilson is the author of The Quest Seeking the New Adam, Adam:The Transformation, and Apocalyptic Adam. Soon to be released is a rewrite of The Quest Seeking the New Adam which is now called The Shaman's Quest. He is the author of over 100 articles that appear on the internet.




The goal of the shaman is to commune with the spirit world to bring about his quest. To do so, he must go into a trance state. Some aboriginal shamans use specific hallucinogenic drugs. Because of the inherent danger of such a use they are not recommended as the way to induce a trance state.

The use of drugs is not only dangerous psychologically but also physically. Additionally, they may very well limit the control and cooperation the shaman may achieve within the spiritual world. Other writers will undoubtedly disagree. The ability to control a trance is essential and takes strong mental conditioning. It is not something you gain overnight.

A trance state may be achieved through self-hypnosis, by altering the brain's theta waves, through deep meditation, and through astral projection. Music, dancing, chanting may be used to induce the trance state. During this self-induced trance the shaman's spirit (soul) leaves the body and enters the world of the supernatural-to mind- walk-seeking answers to his quest.

The shamanic trance is non-focused. He acts as an information receptacle until a

specific message is received from the spirit world. Once the message is received and the messenger is acknowledged, the shaman will come out of his trance and provide an interpretation.

Joseph Bearwalker Wilson in a 1978 treatise provides an excellent discussion of a theory of trance. He has said the shaman uses the trance state to fine tune his senses. Using those enhanced senses, the shaman then, is able to mind-travel to the spiritual world, to enter a different dimension.

Norman W Wilson, PhD

Dr. Wilson has forty years experience in education at the junior high school, graduate school, and community college. He is the author and co-author of textbooks in literary criticism and in the humanities. In addition to over 90 published articles on the internet, Dr. Wilson is the author of three speculative fiction novels: The Quest Seeking the New Adam, Adam:The Transformation, and Apocalyptic Adam.