Shamanism sounds like it could be a religion. However, it is not. If you are into reading religious texts or scrolls though, you will find the way of the shaman weaving through their very core.
It is a way of relating to the world that surrounds us and is inside of us, in a sacred manner. At its core is the principle that there is spirit within everything.
This spirit can be seen by observing nature; it is within all plants, animals and humans, from the largest to the smallest. It is within rocks. It is in the water that takes up 71% of the earth’s surface. It is in the air we breathe, the fire we use for heat and the earth we walk on.
In the shaman’s view, plants, animals and minerals contain a pure essence. This essence is an intelligence that they can interact with to receive information, healing and advice from.
Humans also have this pure essence at their core. However we have one special gift that no other organism has on this planet. It’s called free will.
This gift of free will allows us to create and contribute towards the common good of all beings or to go against. So with this in mind, shamanism can give us a reflection for our actions. It can help us be the very best that we can be by seeking our pure essence and making choices from knowing our own truth.
The journey of the shaman
Before mentioning some of the methods or practices that allow communication with the spirits, the shaman needs to be talked about.
They have a few roles in communities of the past and present.
- Doctor/Healer – This role is to administer medicine. Medicine comes in all forms. It could be herbal, which is ingested, inhaled or rubbed on the body. It could be a prescription of purification, which could also come in herbal form or sweat lodge. There are many tools that they have gathered for this job.
- Priest/Holy person – After having been through many trials and tests most shamans have came out the other side with a knowing and a trust. This knowing and trust has come from a direct encounter with the pure essence at their core.
- Councillor – They would have this role because the trials and tests they have been through have also got them to face their own ego, fears and judgements. So they are in the perfect position to help others with most situations.
Methods of communication
There are various ways to open up a line of communication with the natural world. The most important thing to mention is that our body is the vessel or antenna.
If our minds are running away with thoughts and our body feels heavy through eating too much, then it is much harder to get into the right space.
There are three levels or worlds to enter into; the lower world, middle world and upper world. These can be compared to our Subconscious, Conscious and Super-conscious minds.
- Repetitive drumming – This method is quite common. It mostly involves dancing and moving with the drum beat at first. This has a two fold effect of cleansing the body by sweating and raising the energy to allow what is called journeying to take place. Once the initial dancing and cleansing has completed then it is time to journey. There are no rules to this but mostly folk lay down and allow the drum beat to help generate a trance like state. Through this trance state the gateway between the worlds can open. In this trance state it is possible to dream. However, the trick is to observe this dream while still being conscious. With this method it’s good to have a structure before you start on the journey. So when entering a world you open a doorway and when exiting, the doorway is closed.
- Visionary plants – These are used by various shamanic communities all over the world. These plants are known as teachers and doctors, and they are normally worked with in ceremony. When ingested they invoke the trance state. Again the trick is to stay as conscious as possible without interfering with the journey.
- Meditation – Entering a space of silence can also be a very powerful way of opening up a line of communication. The information received during any method can be subtle or very obvious of their meaning. It is good to write down journeys so they can be studied and translated to help develop our day to day lives.
Shamanism has many layers to it which all take us to the throne of our own personal power and help us relate to the people and planet from a place of truth.
by John Black