What is Shamanism
Shamanism is a set of tools which has been used by medicine men and medicine women all over the world for the last 40,000 – 100,000 years of history to heal individuals and get spirit guidance for tribal and individual concerns. It is not a religion, and it predates all religions. The word “shaman” itself comes from the language of the Tuvan tribe of Siberia, and means medicine man/woman.
Shamanism is about working with helping spirits, either by traveling to the spirit world to seek their help and advice, or by channeling them as a so-called “hollow bone”. In order to accomplish her work, the shaman uses very rapid drumming, rattling and sometimes dancing in order to induce a trance state. Historically some cultures also have used hallucinogenic botanicals in order to induce a trance state, but this is neither necessary nor desirable to accomplish the shaman’s purpose.
Where the healing of individuals is concerned, the shaman’s goal is to restore the power (life force) of the individual so that they can ultimately heal themselves. This is done through a series of rituals, the selection of which depends on the needs of the individual. It is standard procedure to begin with rituals 1, 2 (see Rituals, below).
1. Drum or rattle healing
*Practitioner drums or rattles around client’s body to assess strength of energy field and to put in healing energy
2. Retrieval of animal helping spirit (animal spirit guide)
*Practitioner goes into trance so as to go into the spirit world and bring back an animal helping spirit for client. This spirit will help the client protect and maintain the strength of their life force
3. Depossession / Psychopomp
*Practitioner talks to a spirit entity which has intruded itself on the client and convinces it to leave, assisting it to cross over to the afterlife. Psychopomp means crossing over the dead.
*Guided by her helping spirits, the practitioner works through the client’s energy field to find and clear areas of negative or intrusive energies.
5. Soul Retrieval
*Practitioner journeys for the client to retrieve parts of their soul that have split off and gone to other worlds during a traumatic experience (what psychologists call “dissociating”)
6. Cord Cutting
Practitioner assists client with cutting any “corded” unhealthy attachments to living people. Other people may be draining your power or influencing you, and this procedure helps you to take your power back from them.
7. Curse Unraveling
Practitioner looks for and removes any personal or family / lineage curses afflicting the client and undoes them so that they do no more harm.
The Philosophy of Shamanism
According to the teachings of many major religions, people were created last, after the animals, plants and the earth, and so are superior and justified in dominating and controlling every living thing, including the environment. Everything is hierarchical, they explain, with people dominating animals, men dominating women, etc. Many who belong to these religions do not even believe that animals have souls, let alone anything else in the world besides humans.
The shamanic view of the world is that, since people were created last, then we must respect, honor and learn from our elders—the animals, plants and the earth itself. All other living things are our brothers and sisters (“all our relations”) and all are equal; all have their own intelligence and wisdom, and lessons to teach us humans. Not only animals but even stones, trees, mountains and rivers have their own spirit to be respected and learned from. It is imperative to live in harmony with all living things.
Another aspect of many major religions is that they believe that time is a straight line continuum. Shamanism, by contrast, sees times as cyclical. Indeed, when we look at the history of human societies, empires and even ideas, we can see that they all have their own rise and fall. A human being goes through a life cycle even as all nature does. In the shamanic and Native American world, this is called The Wheel of the Year.
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