What differentiates shamanism from other spirit-based work is the shamanic ‘journey’ or ‘soul flight’ that is made from this reality to the spirit world. By making the shamanic journey we can experience the world of spirit and move from feeling dis-empowered, depressed, lost or hopeless to a place of empowerment. Like our ancestors we can have a sense of our own belonging and interconnectedness.
Core shamanism is contemporary shamanism and is the most widely taught form of shamanic practice in the west today. It was created by the anthropologist Michael Harner who recognised the fundamentals of shamanic practice in traditional societies are consistent throughout the world. Harner took the basic principles and common themes such as drumming, rattling, dancing and singing to shift consciousness and developed a method that is non culturally specific.
In traditional societies a shaman journeys to the world of the spirits on behalf of individuals or communities to ask for help, healing or empowerment. Using core shamanic techniques many people are learning to make this journey on their own behalf. Many of the themes and experiences of Westerners who journey are similar to those of a traditional shaman as what this work connects us to is the essence of the universe.
The journey is made in a focused and conscious way to seek help, healing or information that can be brought back to this reality and integrated into life. Intent is everything so the way the question is asked will be reflected in the answer. By using the techniques of the ancestors we have access to ancient and contemporary wisdom and our own unique path to healing and wholeness.
What are spirits
Spirits are manifestations of universal energy that appear to us in forms we can understand and that will best teach us such as animals, people, plants, energy forms etc. The spirits teach us from our own frames of reference and stretch us beyond, encouraging us to become who we truly are by experiencing the true nature of ourselves and the world.
How can I use shamanism in my life
Shamanism can work in two main ways: through a person working on their own behalf or, more traditionally, using the skills of a shamanic practitioner. A shamanic practitioner can bring the help, healing, information or power back to this reality on behalf of others. This can be in the form of doing a journey on someone’s behalf or doing healing work for a physical, spiritual or emotional issue.
By learning to make the shamanic journey on our own behalf it is possible to come into contact with helpers in the spirit world and ask for help, healing or advice. Over time mutual trust and respect is developed between the individual and their spirits enabling the advice and support received to deepen.
What are the benefits of shamanic work
Shamanic work can help in many areas such as-
- Personal healing, Life changes, Empowerment
- Decision making, Problem solving, Transformation
- Relationships, Health/illness, Connectedness
- Bereavement, Emotional Issues, Spiritual Development
How can I learn to journey
The best way is to learn from someone who is experienced in shamanic journeying and has been trained to teach others. There are many workshops that teach journeying skills and provide lots of practical advice on how to formulate questions, understanding the help within the journey and the ethics of shamanic work. Many shamanic practitioners offer journeying skills on a one to one basis or in smaller groups.
Does that make me a shaman?
In some traditions people do not call themselves shamans, that title is given to them by those who have experienced help or healing through the power of the spirit connection. Many modern day practitioners of shamanism call themselves shamanic practitioners and others call themselves shamans, others prefer not to put a label on themselves.
A traditional shaman undergoes extensive training both in this reality and with the spirits to develop the discipline, knowledge of the spirit world and the skills required to enable the spirits to do their work. It is an ongoing way of commitment, trust and surrender that becomes a spiritual path and a way of life. It is the spirits who do the work and all shamans / shamanic practitioners recognise they are the go-between between the spirit world and this reality.
It is not necessary to be a shaman or a shamanic practitioner to be able to use shamanism in life for help and healing, the power of the universe is there for all to access.