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What is Shamanism?

Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice, occurring in indigenous populations across the world, from the rain forests of South America to the arid outback of Australia. The word "Shaman" is derived from the language of the Tungus reindeer herders of the Lake Baikal region of Russia. It means "ones who knows" or "ones who sees". The Shaman "sees" or "knows" because he connects to spirit for guidance. I use the term to denote such a person of either gender, as women also possessed these powers within different shamanic societies and were, for example, called Shamanka in the Siberian tradition.

Shamanism is the oldest form of healing, originating from the time tens of thousands of years ago when tribal man sat around the fire and organised hunting parties to bring food back to his community. The Shaman would contact spirit guides to obtain essential information for the hunters regarding the location of their quarry. He also used the help of spirit guides to heal members of the tribe. The Shaman was involved in every aspect of life, from birth through to death, working to ensure physical and spiritual health amongst his people and therefore ultimately, working to ensure their survival.

Drumming by the fire at the centre of my garden's stone circle

The spirit connection was achieved by "journeying" to the beat of a drum, the drumbeat forming a bridge between this and the other worlds where the Shaman's trusted human and animal spirit guides (sometimes called power animals) dwelt. These other worlds, or non-ordinary realities, were just as familiar and just as real to the Shaman as his everyday material reality.

Shamanism has been adapting to change over thousands of years and is just as relevant to today's problems as it was to the needs of ancient man. Whatever age or culture people belong to, they still experience the pressures of living:

  • We cope unprepared with difficult losses
  • There is often conflict between who we truly are and who it seems easier to be
  • Doubts and insecurities often test us, but we don't really resolve why they hold such power
  • People have to deal with the challenges of being human, no matter how technologically advanced we become. Respect, compassion and the intention of working for the highest good are qualities that are brought to each client's special situation.




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