Shamanism is a range of traditional and religious beliefs and practices.
It is believed that Shamanism predates all organized religions.
A shaman is a type of intermediary between the natural and the spiritual world.
In Shamanism, the Shaman will travel from the earthly world to the spiritual world in a trance state using a form of astral projection.
Once within the spiritual world, the Shaman communicates with the spirits asking for assistance in regards to healing, hunting or other matters.
Within Shamanism it is believed that the visible world is also occupied by invisible spirits that have a direct effect on the living.
From about 400 a.d. shamanism was almost wiped out by the catholic church which destroyed all records of the beliefs and arrested and executed those involved in the belief.
After election the novice Shaman is usually trained by a more experienced Shaman.
Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism: The spirits can play important roles in human lives. The shaman can control and/or cooperate with the spirits for the community's benefit. The spirits can be either good or bad. Shamans engage various processes and techniques to incite trance; such as: singing, dancing, taking entheogens, meditating and drumming. Animals play an important role, acting as omens and message-bearers, as well as representations of animal spirit guides. The shaman's spirit leaves the body and enters into the supernatural world during certain tasks. The shamans can treat illnesses or sickness. Shamans are healers, gurus and magicians. Shamans have the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits. Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamanistic traditions have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times. Some anthropologists and religious scholars define a shaman as an intermediary between the natural and spiritual world, who travels between worlds in a state of trance. Once in the spirit world, the shaman would commune with the spirits for assistance in healing, hunting or weather management. Anthropologists critique the term "shamanism", arguing that it is a culturally specific word and institution and that by expanding it to fit any healer from any traditional society it produces a false unity between these cultures and creates a false idea of an initial human religion predating all others. However, some others say that these anthropologists simply fail to recognize the commonalities between otherwise diverse traditional societies. Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living. In contrast to animism and animatism, which any and usually all members of a society practice, shamanism requires specialized knowledge or abilities. It could be said that shamans are the experts employed by animists and animist communities. Shamans are often organized into full-time ritual or spiritual associations, like priests.
History of Shamanism:
Shamanistic practices are sometimes claimed to predate all organized religions, dating back to the Paleolithic, and possibly to the Neolithic period. Aspects of shamanism are encountered in later, organized religions, generally in their mystic and symbolic practices. Greek paganism was influenced by shamanism, as reflected in the stories of Tantalus, Prometheus, Medea, and Calypso among others, as well as in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and other mysteries. Some of the shamanic practices of the Greek religion later merged into the Roman religion. The shamanic practices of many cultures were marginalized with the spread of monotheism in Europe and the Middle East. In Europe, starting around 400, institutional Christianity was instrumental in the collapse of the Greek and Roman religions. Temples were systematically destroyed and key ceremonies were outlawed or appropriated. The Early Modern witch trials may have further eliminated lingering remnants of European shamanism (if in fact "shamanism" can even be used to accurately describe the beliefs and practices of those cultures). The repression of shamanism continued as Catholic influence spread with Spanish colonization. In the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Catholic priests followed in the footsteps of the Conquistadors and were instrumental in the destruction of the local traditions, denouncing practitioners as "devil worshippers" and having them executed. In North America, the Puritans conducted periodic campaigns against individuals perceived as witches. Today, shamanism survives primarily among indigenous peoples. Shamanic practice continues today in the tundras, jungles, deserts, and other rural areas, and also in cities, towns, suburbs, and shantytowns all over the world. This is especially widespread in Africa as well as South America, where "mestizo shamanism" is widespread.
Etymology of Shamanism:
Shaman originally referred to the traditional healers of Turkic-Mongol areas such as Northern Asia (Siberia) and Mongolia, a "shaman" being the Turkic-Tungus word for such a practitioner and literally meaning "he or she who knows." The words in Turkic languages which refer to shamans are kam, and sometimes baksi. The word may have passed through Russian and German before it was adopted into English. In any case, the proper plural form of the word is "shaman" or "shamans" and not "shamen", as it is unrelated to the English word "man". Similarly, the feminine form is not "shamaness" but "shamanka". In its common usage, it has replaced the older English language term witch doctor, a term which unites the two stereotypical functions of the shaman: knowledge of magical and other lore, and the ability to cure a person and mend a situation. However, this term is generally considered to be pejorative and anthropologically inaccurate. Objections to the use of shaman as a generic term have been raised as well, by both academics and traditional healers themselves, given that the word comes from a specific place, people, and set of practices. The shaman is referred to in Greek mythology as a necromancer and could raise sprits and corpses to use as slaves, soldiers, power chanerlers and as tools for divination.
Function of Shamanism:
If we want to enumerate the functions of the shamans (in all cultures that are recorded as having shamans), then we get a plethora of functions: healing; leading a sacrifice; preserving the tradition by storytelling and songs; fortune-telling; acting as a psychopomp. In some cultures, a shaman may fulfill several functions in one person. As a psychopomp, the shaman may accompany the incarnating soul of a newborn baby, or inversely, the departing soul of the newly-dead. They may also serve the community by maintaining the tradition through memorizing long songs and tales.
Mediator in Shamanism:
Shamans act as "mediators" in their culture. The shaman is seen as communicating with the spirits on behalf of the community, including the spirits of the dead. In some cultures, this mediator function of the shaman may be illustrated well by some of the shaman's objects and symbols. The shaman's tree is an image found in several cultures (Yakuts, Dolgans, Evenks) as a symbol for mediation. The tree is seen as a being whose roots belong to the world underneath; its trunk belongs to the middle, human-inhabited word; and its top is related to the upper world.
Distinct types of shamans:
In some cultures there may be additional types of shamans, who perform more specialized functions in Shamanism. For example, among the Nanai people, a distinct kind of shaman acts as a psychopomp. Other specialized shamans may be distinguished according to the type of spirits, or realms of the spirit world, with which the shaman most commonly interacts.
Birth Totems in Shamanism:
21 March - 19 April - Falcon - Awakening Time.
20 April - 20 May - Beaver - Growing Time.
21 May - 20 June - Deer - Flowering Time.
21 June - 21 July - Woodpecker - Long Days Time.
22 July - 21 August Salmon - Ripening Time.
22 August - 21 September - Brown Bear - Harvesting Time.
22 September - 22 October - Crow - Falling Leaves Time.
23 October - 22 November - Snake - Frost Time.
23 November - 21 December - Owl - Long Nights Time.
22 December - 19 January Goose Renewal Time.
20 January - 18 February Otter - Cleansing Time.
19 February - 20 March Wolf - Blustering Wind Time.
Ecological aspect of Shamanism:
In tropical rainforests, resources for human consumption are easily depletable. In some rainforest cultures, such as the Tucano, a sophisticated system exists for the management of resources, and for avoiding the depletion of these resources through overhunting. This system is conceptualized in a mythological context, involving symbolism and, in some cases, the belief that the breaking of hunting restrictions may cause illness. As the primary teacher of tribal symbolism, the shaman may have a leading role in this ecological management, actively restricting hunting and fishing. The shaman is able to release game animals (or their souls) from their hidden abodes, The Desana shaman has to negotiate with a mythological being for souls of game. Not only Tucanos, but also some other rainforest Indians have such ecological concerns related to their shamanism, for example Piaroa. Besides Tukanos and Piaroa, also many Eskimo groups think that the shaman is able to fetch souls of game from remote places ; or undertake a soul travel in order to promote hunting luck, e.g. by asking for game from mythological beings.
Medicine World in Shamanism
Nature moves in circles. The Medicine World is a symbol of balance, perfection, completeness and wholeness. The wheel is a philosophical system. It is a map to help us find our way. It offers protection through it`s metaphorical power. The Medicine wheel shows separate forces in complete balance. The Medicine Wheel exists in us all. We can use the Wheel to understand life and spirit. The Wheel is a centering device for our consciousness. The Medicine Wheel is very similar to the Circle of Power.
Lakota Wheel in Shamanism
This version of the Wheel comes from the Lakota region and there are many variations. The Wheel is divided into four quarters which correspond to the four cardinal directions. The East quarter is the direction of sunrise. Element : Fire. Color : Yellow. Totem Animal : Eagle. After East we go clockwise to the South quarter. Color : Red. Element : Water. Totem Animal : Mouse. Color : Black. Totem Animal : Grizzly Bear. North is the midnight and the heavenly body of the stars. Color : White. Element : Air. Totem Animal : Buffalo. The Wheel should be set out physically as an aid to meditation and journeying. Go with your feelings in representing the Wheel. Use a circular mat. In the East try a bundle yellow candles tied in yellow ribbon. In West try artefacts in black. In South try water in a red bowl. In North try anything white representing animals or snow. In the center light a candle to acknowledge the spirit. Find your own way of calling up the directions. You may want to close your eyes and use poetry, words, pictures or associations.
Soul concept, spirits in Shamanism:
The plethora of functions described in the above section may seem to be rather distinct tasks, but some important underlying concepts join them. Soul concept in Shamanism:
In some cases, at some cultures, the soul concept can explain more, seemingly unassociated phenomena: Healing in Shamanism:
May be based closely on the soul concepts of the belief system of the people served by the shaman. It may consist of the retrieving the lost soul of the ill person. Scarcity of hunted game in Shamanism:
Can be solved by releasing the souls of the animals from their hidden abodes. Besides that, many taboos may prescribe the behavior of people towards game, so that the souls of the animals do not feel angry or hurt, or the pleased soul of the already killed prey can tell the other, still living animals, that they can let themselves to be caught and killed. Spirits in Shamanism:
The beliefs related to spirits can explain many phenomena too, for example, the importance of storytelling, or acting as a singer, can be understood better if we examine the whole belief system: a person who is able to memorize long texts or songs (and play an instrument) may be regarded as having achieved this ability through contact with the spirits.
Medicine Shield in Shamanism:
The Medicine Shield makes a statement of our abilities and knowledge. It is also a way of grounding the experiences we have undergone. Your shield may represent your power animal, a special experience, a dream or an important journey. Although traditionally a Shield is made from animal skin these days we use canvas on an embroidery loop. A circle is the traditional shape. You may draw on your Shield, stick things on it, hang beads, feathers, embroider it and hang it on the wall.
Knowledge in Shamanism:
The shaman is a person who is an expert in keeping together the multiple codes through which this complex belief system appears, and has a comprehensive view on it in their mind with certainty of knowledge. The shaman uses (and the audience understands) multiple codes. Shamans express meanings in many ways: verbally, musically, artistically, and in dance. Meanings may be manifested in objects, such as amulets. The shaman knows the culture of their community well, and acts accordingly. Thus, their audience knows the used symbols and meanings, thats why shamanism can be efficient: people in the audience trust it. Such belief system can appear to its members with certainty of knowledge this explains the above described etymology for the word shaman. There are semiotic theoretical approaches to shamanism, and also ones that regard it as a congnitive map.
Initiation and learning in Shamanism:
In some societies shamanic powers are considered to be inherited, whereas in other places of the world shamans are considered to have been "called" and require lengthy training. Among the Siberian Chukchis one may behave in ways that "Western" bio-medical clinicians would perhaps characterize as psychotic, but which Siberian peoples may interpret as possession by a spirit who demands that one assume the shamanic vocation. Among the South American Tapirape shamans are called in their dreams. In other societies shamans choose their career. In North America, First Nations peoples would seek communion with spirits through a "vision quest"; whereas South American Shuar, seeking the power to defend their family against enemies, apprentice themselves to accomplished shamans. Similarly the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia have an elaborate cosmological system predicated on the ritual consumption of ayahuasca. Coupled with millenarian impulses, Urarina ayahuasca shamanism is a key feature of this poorly documented society Urarina. Putatively customary Shamanism "traditions" can also be noted among indigenous Kuna peoples of Panama, who rely on shamanic powers and sacred talismans to heal. As such, they enjoy a popular position among local peoples.
Totems in Shamanism:
A Totem is an outward symbol. A Totem is a living object. It is an outward sign indicating inner meanings of power and unity. A Totem is both primitive and developed. Totems have a life of their own. They can convey a message to us and take us on a voyage. A Tribal Totem gives unity to those who identify with it. The most important Totems in Shamanism are animal Totems. Each of us has one or more animal Totems. Animals are our bridge to our instinctual past. Animals teach us wisdom.
Underlying beliefs of practice in Shamanism:
The shaman plays the role of healer in shamanic societies; shamans gain knowledge and power by traversing the axis mundi and bringing back knowledge from the heavens. Even in western society, this ancient practice of healing is referenced by the use of the caduceus as the symbol of medicine. Often the shaman has, or acquires, one or more familiar helping entities in the spirit world; these are often spirits in animal form, spirits of healing plants, or (sometimes) those of departed shamans. In many shamanic societies, magic, magical force, and knowledge are all denoted by one word, such as the Quechua term "yachay". While the causes of disease are considered to lie in the spiritual realm, being effected by malicious spirits or witchcraft, both spiritual and physical methods are used to heal. Commonly, a shaman will "enter the body" of the patient to confront the spirit making the patient sick, and heal the patient by banishing the infectious spirit. Many shamans have expert knowledge of the plant life in their area, and an herbal regimen is often prescribed as treatment. In many places shamans claim to learn directly from the plants, and to be capable of harnessing their effects and healing properties only after obtaining permission from its abiding or patron spirit. In South America, individual spirits are summoned by the singing of songs called icaros; before a spirit can be summoned the spirit must teach the shaman its song. The use of totem items such as rocks is common; these items are believed to have special powers and an animating spirit. Such practices are presumably very ancient; in about 368 BCE, Plato wrote in the Phaedrus that the "first prophecies were the words of an oak", and that everyone who lived at that time found it rewarding enough to "listen to an oak or a stone, so long as it was telling the truth". The belief in witchcraft and sorcery, known as brujeria in South America, is prevalent in many shamanic societies. Some societies distinguish shamans who cure from sorcerers who harm; others believe that all shamans have the power to both cure and kill; that is, shamans are in some societies also thought of as being capable of harm. The shaman usually enjoys great power and prestige in the community, and is renowned for their powers and knowledge; but they may also be suspected of harming others and thus feared. By engaging in this work, the shaman exposes himself to significant personal risk, from the spirit world, from any enemy shamans, as well as from the means employed to alter his state of consciousness. Certain of the plant materials used can be fatal, and the failure to return from an out-of-body journey can lead to physical death. Spells are commonly used to protect against these dangers, and the use of more dangerous plants is usually very highly ritualized.
Methods in Shamanism:
Generally, the shaman traverses the axis mundi and enters the spirit world by effecting a transition of consciousness, entering into an ecstatic trance, either autohypnotically or through the use of entheogens. The methods employed are diverse, and are often used together. Some of the methods for effecting such trances: Tobacco (improves concentration, but is not psychotrophic)
Listening to music
Icaros / Medicine Songs
Swordfighting / Bladesmithing.
Candles in Shamanism
Candles may be used in all manner of ceremonies. They are an important tool of the Shaman. In some groups the medicine wheel is set out on a circlular mat with the lighting of the candle at the center of the wheel affirming the precense of Spirit.
Music and songs in Shamanism:
Just like shamanism itself, music and songs related to it in various cultures are diverse, far from being alike. In some cultures and several instances, some songs related to shamanism intend to imitate also natural sounds. In several cultures, imitation of natural sounds may serve other functions, not necessarily related to shamanism: practical goals as luring game in the hunt; or entertainment.
Upperworld in Shamanism
The Upperworld is the realm of Gods and Angels. It is the home of the blessed, all that is beautiful. We can find inspiration from the Upperworld. Here we can find the meanings that form our spiritual quest. The Upperworld is the place to go in search for answers when we feel we are missing something. In the Upperworld we may seek the thread of our incarnation and follow it`s true path. The entrance to the Upperworld is usually via a high place like a mountain.
Consecration in Shamanism
You should consecrate any objects you intend to use in your shamanic work. Any consecration should honour the powers of life and state your intention. The element Fire as candle flame, Air as incense, Earth as stone or soil, and Water as a chalice of water. Light your candle and incense. Set up your medicine wheel. Declare your space by saying sacred words. Place the object to be consecrated in the medicine wheel. Call in each of the quarters in your own words. Then use each element to cleanse. Finish the ritual by thanking the Elemental powers for their help.
While shamanism had a strong tradition in Europe before the rise of monotheism, shamanism remains as a traditional, organized religion in Uralic , Altaic people and Huns; and also in Mari-El and Udmurtia, two semi-autonomous provinces of Russia with large Finno-Ugric minority populations. Some peoples, which used to live in Siberia, have wandered to their present locations since then. For example, many Uralic peoples live now outside Siberia. The original location of the Proto-Uralic peoples (and its extent) is debated. Combined phytogeographical and linguistic considerations (distribution of various tree species and the presence of their names in various Uralic languages) suggest that this area was north of Central Ural Mountains and on lower and middle parts of Ob River. The ancestors of Hungarian people or Madyars have wandered from their ancestral proto-Uralic area to the Pannonian Basin. Shamanism is no more a living practice among Hungarians, but some remnants have been reserved as fragments of folklore, in folktales, customs.
Shamanism is still practiced in South Korea, where the role of a shaman is most frequently taken by women known as mudangs, while male shamans (rare)are called baksoo mudangs. KA person can become a shaman through hereditary title or through natural ability. Shamans are consulted in contemporary society for financial and marital decisions. The Korean shamans' use of the Amanita Muscaria. In traditional practice is thought to have been suppressed as early as the Choseon dynasty. Another mushroom of the Russula genus was renamed as the Shaman's mushroom. Korean shamans are also reputed to use spiders over the subject's skin. Colorful robes, dancing, drums and ritual weapons are also features. Other Asian areas:
There is a strong Shamanism influence in the Bön religion of some Central Asians, and in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism became popular with Shamanism peoples such as the Tibetans, Mongols, and Manchu beginning in the eighth century. Forms of shamanistic ritual combined with Tibetan Buddhism became institutionalized as the state religion under the Mongolian Yuan dynasty and the Manchurian Qing dynasty. However, in the Shamanism cultures still practiced by various ethnic groups in areas such as Nepal and northern India, shamans are not necessarily considered enlightened, and often are even feared for their ability to use their power to carry out malicious intent. In Tibet, the Nyingma schools in particular, had a Tantric tradition that had married "priests" known as Ngakpas or Ngakmas/mos (fem.). The Ngakpas were often employed or commissioned to rid the villages of demons or disease, creations of protective amulets, the carrying out of religious rites etc. The Ngakpas should however, been grounded in Buddhist philosophy and not simply another form of shaman, but sadly, this was most often not the case. There have always been, however, highly realised and accomplished ngakpas. They were in their own right great lamas who were of equal status as lamas with monastic backgrounds. The monasteries, as in many conventional religious institutions, wished to preserve their own traditions, sometimes at the expense of others. The monasteries depended upon the excesses of patrons for support. This situation often led to a clash between the more grassroots and shamanic character of the travelling Chödpa and Ngakpa culture and the more conservative religious monastic system. Shamanism is still widely practiced in the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), where shamans are known as 'Nuru' (all women) and 'Yuta'. 'Nuru' generally administrates public or communal ceremonies while 'Yuta' forcuses on the civil or private matters. Shamanism is also practiced in a few rural areas in Japan proper. It is commonly believed that the Shinto religion is the result of the transformation of a shamanistic tradition into a religion.
Initiation in Shamanism
Shamanic Initiation generally occurred during visions, dreams and trances. The spirits elected a new Shaman by making themselves known to him. Often there was a life threatening illness. The Shamanic faculty may also be passed down through the bloodline. Sometimes it comes from a vision quest. The Shaman takes a Spirit flight. The flight symbolically heals the rift between man and the sacred. The Shaman also faces horrific Underworld journey`s. Often the Shaman is dismembered and then reassembled bone by bone.
Making the Journey in Shamanism
Shamanism is traditionally an oral teaching. As such you will really learn more from a Shaman teacher then a book or website. The main thing is that the Shamanic experience is totally natural. Journeying is much like dreaming except it is conscious and always has a purpose. You are also always able to direct your movements. There are many questions for you to journey on. You may ask about love, relationships, work or other problems. You may also journey to meet ancestors, guides, gods or journey for healing. Define your sacred place before you start. Make sure the room is as dark as possible. You will need your drumming music. Clear your mind. Relax. Some people like to journey lying down while others like to sit crossed legged. Allow a feeling of trust to envelope you. Take several deep breaths in rhythm. Start the drumming. As the drumming sounds go to your journey center. Hold your purpose in mind and see what unfolds. Ride on the drumbeat. Dont try and analyse your journey while your on it, do this afterwards. Now is simply the time to experience it.
Sweat Lodge in Shamanism
The purpose of the Sweat Lodge is to cleanse the body, mind and spirit. It is an ancient purification ritual from native America. The Sweat Lodge is a circular beehive structure made from branches to form its frame and then covered with rugs. Inside you sit naked around a fire pit. The Shaman places white hot stones into the pit and then pours cold water over them to produce the steam and heat. You are then cleansed physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Meeting Totem Animals in Shamanism
One of your first journeys may be to meet your Totem Animal. This may in fact be a good purpose for your first visit. Afterwards your animal guardian may accompany you on your journey`s. Your animal may speak with a human voice or gesture.
Pouch in Shamanism
Many people in Shamanism like to wear a medicine bag around their neck filled with sacred objects. These objects may be stones, crystals, herbs or twigs. These objects connect the Shaman with their special powers. It also establishes a relationship with other levels of reality. The pouch may be circular, made of cloth, with cord around the edge and gathered up at the neck. A Power Bundle is a larger version. It may be spread on an alter, burnt in the case of herbs or shaken in the case of a rattle. A Crane Bag is similar to a Power Bundle. It derives from Celtic beliefs. The Crane Bag contains the Shamans tool kit.
Ritual in Shamanism
Ritual is an outer sign of inner change. A trance state may be brought by drumming, dancing or rattle shaking. Movements may be those of an animal. There may be cries which appear to come from different corners of the room. Rituals are involved in initiation rites. Shamans also have ritual costumes. A costume is a sign of the sacred. Journey`s are often depicted on the costume. Song and music is also an important part of shamanic ritual.
The Rattle in Shamanism
The Rattle has a multidimensional voice that whispers down the paths of the Otherworld. The Rattle sets the scene defining sacred space for shamanic work. You may wish to sound the Rattle to signal the start of Shamanic work. You may rattle at each corner of the medicine wheel. Shaking of the Rattle is a signal to the consciousness to switch to an altered frequency. It is usually used as a preliminary to the Drum. The Rattle is also used in Shamanic healing. It diagnoses a complaint by noticing the alteration in the voice as it is passed over the body.
Middleworld in Shamanism
The Middleworld is sort of the world we inhabit in an everyday sense but not quite. Were closest to the Middleworld at dusk, dawn, daydreaming, seeing spirits, sense things or feel things. The Middleworld is close when we feel close to nature. Middleworld is the song of the stream and the whisper of the wind. Recognising the Middleworld is understanding that Nature is our Mother. The true beauty of the Earth is still there in the Middleworld. We can visit the Middleworld in Shamanic journey`s. Middleworld journey`s often involve going back or forwards in time. Middleworld journey`s usually relate to current issues. Shananic Journey`s begin in a special Middleworld location. The creatures you will meet in the Middleworld are totem or guardian animals, nature spirits, Gods or Goddesses.
Give Away in Shamanism
The Give Away derives from Native American Indians. It has two aspects. One is to let go of what we no longer need. This may include unhappiness, prejudice and others which are allowed to flow out into the cosmos. The second part of the give away is to give to others what they need. Sometimes this may mean letting go of what we value. The give away is an expression of trust in the universe. In practising the Give Away we become part of the river of life.
The Drum in Shamanism
The Drum is associated with Otherworld journeys. It is sometimes called the Shamans Horse. This is because you ride the drumbeat when taking Shamanic journey`s. You should not listen to the drumbeat but instead let it carry you. Simply ride the beat. When the time of the journey is coming to the end, the Drum beat will change to that of a call back signal. Drums are usually decorated with the symbols of the Shamans special power or medicine.
Eskimo groups comprise a huge area stretching from Eastern Siberia through Alaska and Northern Canada (including Labrador Peninsula) to Greenland. Shamanism practice and beliefs have been recorded at several parts of this vast area crosscutting continental borders.
Native American and First Nations cultures have diverse religious beliefs. There was never one universal Native American religion or spiritual system. Though many Native American cultures have traditional healers, ritualists, singers, mystics, lore-keepers and "Medicine People", none of them ever used, or use, the term "shaman" to describe these religious leaders. Rather, like other indigenous cultures the world over, their spiritual functionaries are described by words in their own languages, and in many cases are not taught to outsiders. Many of these indigenous religions have been grossly misrepresented by outside observers and anthropologists, even to the extent of superficial or seriously mistaken anthropological accounts being taken as "more authentic" than the accounts of actual members of the cultures and religions in question. Often these accounts suffer from "Noble Savage"-type romanticism and racism. Some contribute to the fallacy that Native American cultures and religions are something that only existed in the past, and which can be mined for data despite the opinions of Native communities. Not all Indigenous communities have roles for specific individuals who mediate with the spirit world on behalf of the community. Among those that do have this sort of religious structure, spiritual methods and beliefs may have some commonalities, though many of these commonalities are due to some nations being closely-related, from the same region, or through post-Colonial governmental policies leading to the combining of formerly-independent nations on reservations. This can sometimes lead to the impression that there is more unity among belief systems than there was in antiquity. Navajo medicine men, known as "Hatalii", use several methods to diagnose the patient's ailments. These may include using special tools such as crystal rocks, and abilities such as hand-trembling and trances, sometimes accompanied by chanting. The Hatalii will select a specific healing chant for that type of ailment. Navajo healers must be able to correctly perform a healing ceremony from beginning to end. If they don't, the ceremony will not work. Training a Hatalii to perform ceremonies is extensive, arduous, and takes many years, and is not unlike priesthood. The apprentice learns everything by watching his teacher, and memorizes the words to all the chants. Many times, a medicine man cannot learn all sixty of the traditional ceremonies, so he will opt to specialize in a select few. Mayan:
The Mayan people of Guatemala, Belize, and Southern Mexico practice a highly sophisticated form of shamanism based upon astrology and a form of divination known as "the blood speaking", in which the shaman is guided in divination and healing by pulses in the veins of his arms and legs. Amazonia:
In the Amazon Rainforest, at several Indian groups the shaman acts also as a manager of scare ecological resources. Mapuche:
Among the Mapuche people of South America, the community "shaman", usually a woman, is known as the Machi, and serves the community by performing ceremonies to cure diseases, ward off evil, influence the weather and harvest, and by practicing other forms of healing such as herbalism.
Lowerworld in Shamanism
The Lowerworld is a place of great power. Here we can draw on ancestral gifts. We can find links with our roots and our transformative powers. The Underworld is the powerhouse of the three worlds. All true growth begins in the secrecy of the underworld. Creativity begins in the Lowerworld. Most cultures have heroes and heroines who make an underworld journey in search of strength, knowledge and rebirth. Lowerworld is also the home of all that is feared and repressed. Lowerworld journey`s can be difficult and you should have some experience before starting them. The Lowerworld is usually approached via a tunnel.
Deers in Shamanism
Deers are graceful yet sensitive. They are very alert and easily smell the approach of an enemy. Deer people are also very sensitive. Their thinking is fast as is their response. Deer people have a gentle touch. They can teach you the way to understanding and kindness. Deer people are prepared to change. Deer people can teach us the powers of love.
Badger in Shamanism
Badgers teach us how to defend ourselves if needed. Badger teaches us courage. Badgers will come out fighting if cornered.
Frog in Shamanism
The Frog is the Totem of the Water clan. The Frog helps us get use to change. From one place to another, from one idea to another. Frog helps us catch our breath when we are overworked.
Beaver in Shamanism
The Beaver is a hard worker. The Beaver is a power animal. Beaver people are practical. They are also productive. They are strongly linked with their five senses. Beaver can teach us how to finish what we started. They can show us how to put plans into action.
In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is a mystical kingdom hidden somewhere beyond the snowpeaks of the Himalayas. The sacred texts of the Tibetan Canon, say that a line of enlightened Kings has dwelt in Shambhala guarding the the secret doctrines of Buddhism. It is said that when the world declines into war and greed, and all is lost, a King of Shambhala will emerge from the secret city with a huge army to conquer evil and herald the Golden Age.
Crows in Shamanism
Crows are powerful birds. They are scavengers. They usually live in groups. They are at home both in the sky and on the ground. Crow people like to keep the peace. Crow people do not like being alone, but prefer to be around groups. Crow people are also associated with the Goddess of war, Morrigan. The Crow does not always bring the knowledge people want to hear.
Eagle in Shamanism
Eagles bring the light of the soul. Flashes of intuition comes from the Eagle. The Eagle enables us to soar. Eagle is the realms of spirit and fire.
Bat in Shamanism
Bat teaches us to face our deepest and darkest fears. Bat speaks of the initiatory experience of the Shaman. Bat helps us through endings so new ways of life may come to birth.
Cat in Shamanism
Cat can teach us how to be in harmony with our instincts. Cat shows us how to be relaxed. Cat can teach us when to strike and when to sleep. The Cat also shows many sides of feminine energy and Goddess wisdom.
Dog in Shamanism
Dog teaches us the meaning of true loyalty. Dog teaches us to remain faithful to what is important to us in life.
Grizzly in Shamanism
The Grizzly is the most powerful of Bear. The Grizzly knows where to find healing roots and herbs. The Grizzly shows us how to search internally. Grizzly tells us when to meditate.
Falcon in Shamanism
The Falcon is a bird of prey. It rides on the wind searching the Earth for movement, new ideas, fresh perspectives and broad panoramas. Falcon people are like this. They take the broad view, descend on what is worthwhile, but yet dont stay long. Falcon people often do not reap what they sow. They are often impatient. They need freedom and stimulation in their lives. As a totem the Falcon can connect us to imagination and vision.
Fox in Shamanism
The Fox is a master of camouflage. Fox teaches us how to keep unseen while we do our business. Fox teaches us how to wait quietly for opportunities.
Goose in Shamanism
The Goose is a large bird that likes to live in lonely and windswept places. They are very determined and have been immortalized in folklore. Goose people are also loners. They are determined and practical. They are family orientated. The Goose brings unexpected blessings.
Otter in Shamanism
The Otter is at home on the Earth or in the Water. They enjoy having fun. They are loyal and caring. Otter people are humanitarians. They are unconventional and do not like to follow the crowd. Otter brings playfulness into your life. They teach you not to take things too seriously.
Dolphin in Shamanism
The Dolphin symbolises the breath of life and the spirit of communication. Dolphins is connected with the rhythm of nature. Dolphin can teach us how to achieve solutions for Earth. Listen to the message of freedom from the Dolphin.
Rabbit in Shamanism
The Rabbit is timid. The Rabbit is concerned with facing fears and then dealing with it. The Rabbit can show us the way to the other world. Rabbit can help us turn our weakness into strength.
Hare in Shamanism
The Hare teaches us to make sacrifices along the way. The Hare was strongly valued by the Celts. Hare shows us the way to the otherworld.
Butterfly in Shamanism
Butterfly brings us transformation. It is the Totem of the Air clan. The Butterfly means freedom. It is about living for "now". To go where the winds take us.
Mouse in Shamanism
Mouse can help us see danger and drawbacks. Mouse looks very closely at everything. Mouse is keeper of the South and Noon. Mouse is of closeness of closeness and emotions.
Smudging in Shamanism
A way of defining sacred space and cleansing the aura by use of herbs. The herbs used are Cedar for cleansing, Sage for protection and Sweetgrass for calling in the presence of Spirit. These herbs may be used as one or all together. You may also buy smudge sticks especially for this purpose. Smudge sticks will ignite without charcoal. The herbs or smudge stick can rest in a large seashell. Fan the smudge with feathers. Feathers represent winging us to another dimension.
Owl in Shamanism
The Owl see`s well at night. They fly soundless. Owl people are often wise. Owl people are positive and optimistic. They are also generous people. Owl can give you deep insight. They can help you to expand your consciousness.
Hawk in Shamanism
Hawk is the Totem of the Fire clan. Hawk awakens us to true awareness. Hawk brings us messages from our unconscious mind. Hawk tells us to light the fires of our Spirit.
Turtle in Shamanism
Turtle is the Totem of the Earth clan. To native American Indians the Turtle represented the Earth Mother. Turtle teaches us to make sure we are balanced before dashing around. Turtle shows us how to nurture ourselves from the Earth.
Turkey in Shamanism
Turkey means gifts. Turkey may give you a gift, from a legacy to a rainbow. Turkey may also mean you are the gift giver. Either way you are blessed by Turkey.
Salmon in Shamanism
The Salmon is a very powerful fish that shows great strength and determination. The Salmon appears often in Celtic beliefs symbolizing wisdom. Salmon people are far sighted. They are able to fix upon a goal without needing to plan every step. They see meanings that others miss. Salmon people can show us how to acquire a solid sense of self.
Stag in Shamanism
Stag is an Otherworld animal that is wise in the ways of the hidden. Stag symbolises fertility and the mysteries of nature.
Swan in Shamanism
Swan teaches us to surrender to the flow of the universe. Swan teaches us to accept ourselves for what we are. Yet Swan also teaches us to embrace change when it arrives. Swan is a helper in the process of initiation.
Horse in Shamanism
The Horse can carry us to the Otherworld. Horse energy is energy of the Earth. Horse is associated with Welsh Celtic Goddess Rhiannon. The Horse passes through gateways in all dimensions.
Snake in Shamanism
Because of the way snakes shed their skin they represent the cycle of transformation through birth, death and rebirth. Snake people are often very wise. They have the power to renew themselves. The gift of the Snake person is that they are gifted healers. The Snake is associated with the Celtic Triple Goddess Bride.
Wolves in Shamanism
Wolves can sense danger at a distance. They have good smell and are excellent trackers. Wolves have a strong sense of pack and family. Wolf people are receptive. They have strong sense of instinct. Wolf people have strong emotions. The Wolf is a teacher and mentor. Wolf shows us how to hunt for meanings.
Sow in Shamanism
The Sow was sacred to the Celtic Goddess Cerridwen. The Sow has Underworld qualities. Sow symbolises the trio of transformation. Sow shows the connection between womb and tomb. Sow teaches us how to change.
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Bear in Shamanism
Bears are very strong and resourceful. They possess enormous stamina. Bear people are very independent. They arrange their environment to their wishes. Bears are gentle people when left alone. But if cornered they come out fighting. The Bear is a powerful ally on Shamanic journey`s.
Woodpeckers in Shamanism
Woodpeckers keep pecking away until they have achieved their goal. The Woodpeckers drumming on the trees makes a sound like the drum of the Shaman. Woodpecker people are also in tune with the rhythms of life. Home and family are important. The Woodpecker can teach us how to build our nest. They can show us how to listen to the rhythms that control our life.
Squirrel in Shamanism
The Squirrel prepares long and careful. The Squirrel teaches us to prepare for the future. Squirrel also teaches us to get rid of that which holds us back.
Altar in Shamanism
An Altar provides special focus and concentration. Creating your altar brings your spirituality into the here and now. It is a place for love to gather. Always keep your Altar simple. Place on the Altar things you feel are important such as crystals, shells, candles, statues and anything else of spiritual importance to you.
Paralumun New Age Village
The Shamanism section of Paralumun New Age Village is written and updated by Tess Leon who has been practicing shamanism for over 25 years.
Tess has extensive readings in shamanism as well as years of research and study into the subject. She uses this vast wealth of knowledge and experience to introduce our readers to the world of shamanism.
After election the novice Shaman is usually trained by a more experienced Shaman.