Who is a shaman? Who is a shamanic practitioner?
Shamans and Shamanic Practitioners are women and men called to serve spirit.
A traditional shaman comes from an unbroken ancestral shamanic tradition and continues to
practice in that tradition in their native culture. Other shamans serve to bridge between that
tradition and the modern world, often by adding ceremonies and rituals that were not necessary in
their original indigenous culture.
A shamanic practitioner is someone who is called by Spirit to serve the shamanic needs of their
community. The memory of spiritual service is reawakened although they may be long separated
culturally from their original shamanic roots. I consider myself to be a shamanic practitioner.
Currently in the Western world we have not been steeped in shamanic traditions and practices. Yet,
shamanic wisdom is remembered, is re-emerging and is adapting to our present needs.
Nature of shamanism
Shamanism in its nature is a deeply spiritual practice which is found in cultures around the world
from ancient times to the present day. It is the most ancient spiritual practice known to
humankind. Throughout the centuries and millennia, shamans' practices have proved to be
practical and adaptable to our changing and current needs. These practices have always
coexisted with varying cultures, systems of government, and religious groups.
Many of our present day religions came from ancient shamanic roots and still bear the shamanic
threads of deep connection to the Divine in all things. Shamanism itself is not a religion or a
formalized system of beliefs or an ideology. Rather, it is a set of common activities and experiences
shared by shamans in cultures around the world.
The meaning of "shaman"
The word “shaman” comes from the Tungus tribe in Siberia and it means spiritual healer or one who
sees in the dark. A shaman or shamanic practitioner is a man or woman who uses the ability to see
“with the strong eye” or “with the heart” to travel into hidden realms.
Everything is alive
Shamanism teaches us that everything that exists is alive and has a spirit. Shamans speak of a web of
life that connects all of life and the spirit that lives in all things. Everything on earth is interconnected
and any belief that we are separate from other life forms including the earth, stars, wind, etc is
purely an illusion. And it is the shaman’s role in the community to keep harmony and balance
between humankind and the forces of nature.
The shaman's work
The shaman interacts directly with helping spirits to address the spiritual aspect of illness and
perform soul retrievals, retrieve lost power, as well as remove spiritual blockages. The shaman also
divines information for the community. Shamans act as healers, doctors, priests and priestesses,
psychotherapists, song keepers, history holders, mystics, storytellers and so much more.
There are a variety of ceremonies that shamans practice. They lead ceremonies to welcome children
into the world, perform marriages, and help people transition at the time of death. They lead
ceremonies to mourn the death of loved ones. Important initiation ceremonies are performed to
mark certain life transitions such as moving from childhood into being an adult.
With the shamanic journey, the shaman goes into an altered state of consciousness and travels
outside of time into the hidden realms that many term non-ordinary. Non-ordinary reality can be
seen as a parallel universe or a different dimension to ours. The Australian aboriginals call the non-
ordinary the Dreamtime. It is also referred to as the Other World in Celtic traditions. It's been called the Quantum Field, Spirit World, or the Unseen Realms in emerging spiritual communities.
In these hidden realities, there are helping and compassionate spirits and beings who offer their
guidance and healing help on behalf of all life on earth.
Typically shamans use some form of percussion, especially drumming or rattling, as well as vocal
toning and movement to go into an altered state that allows the free soul of the shaman to journey
into the invisible worlds. The invisible world is made up of all unseen aspects of the ordinary world
that affect us, including the emotional, mental, spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and dream worlds.
In non-indigenous cultures, shamanism can be studied and practiced as a life path. Following a
shamanic way of life means being in relationship with Spirit in all things. Information and guidance
from non-ordinary reality is used to intentionally harmonize one's own life experience.
This perspective is not inherently contradictory to any religious practice that allows one to be in
direct relationship with the Divine.
Consulting with a shamanic practitioner
Today, as always, contemporary people consult with modern day shamanic practitioners for practical
solutions to problems in everyday life. This may include personal illness, professional challenges,
family discord, ancestral issues, times of transition, death and loss and any imbalances perceived.
Shamanic Perspective on illness
The shamanic perspective on illness and disease offers a different view than the conventional
medical view. It is believed that similar symptoms or diseases don't necessarily stem from the
same underlying energetic root problem. Any community disharmony can manifest as illness in
individuals. Disease, life-challenges and imbalances usually have underlying energetic or spiritual
causes, regardless of the form in which the imbalance manifests (physical or emotional, mental,
spiritual or relational). Thus the web of life is weaving all of us, all that is in this amazing tapestry
of existence, in which disease is a natural part. And it is an equally natural part of this tapestry to
restore balance: to heal.
How I work as a shamanic practitioner
As a shamanic practitioner I alter my consciousness to enter the invisible Spirit world, often through
the use of drums, rattles, toning, dancing, and deep meditation.
Thanks to the relationship with helping spirits in the Spirit world, I gain information and am guided to
make changes in the invisible realms to impact healing for individuals, communities and the
collective in ordinary reality.
My motivation is always to direct and move energy, to restore the harmony within the individual,
between the individual and the community, and between the community and the Spirit world, which
results in harmony with nature.
More about my shamanic healing services here.