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Shamanism Shamanic Pathways an Introduction to Shamanism, Shaman

Shamanic Pathways


An Introduction to Shamanism

Welcome to the Shamanic Pathways I will begin by giving you a brief explanation of Shamanism.

Shamanism is a complex system of beliefs which include the knowledge of and the belief in the names of helpful spirits in the shamanic pantheon. The memory of certain texts - song, legend and myth: rules for activities - ritual sacrifice, technique of ecstasy, tools; and paraphernalia used by shaman - drum stick, mirror costumes. These set of elements differ in every culture.

Shamanism speaks of beliefs, attitudes, convictions or ideological practices. It is not a religion, which is a systemised set of beliefs. It involves the acceptance of certain social roles including healer, poet/storyteller/bard and ideologue. This was defined by a Russian scholar named Hoppal in 1987.

There are many pathways in shamanism; they differ in a lot of ways except they all share the same core belief system, so no matter which culture (Asian, Australian, Aboriginal, Celtic, Native American both north and south) the core belief is common to all. Shamanism can be found in historical, political and regional every day living from the nomadic tribes to the hunter-gathers and from the agriculturists to the city-states.

The word shaman is a Tungis word from the Evank speaking peoples of Siberia, its translation means, “One who sees with eyes closed /One who sees in the dark”. The word shaman has been used to include the likes of witchdoctor, magician, soothsayers and medicine man/woman, this has lead to confusion and also the very nature of shamanism and its ability to incorporate and adapt. Though a shaman can be a witchdoctor, this does not mean every witchdoctor is a shaman.

Evidence has been found that suggests the shaman has been with us for the past 20,000 years, which makes it the oldest belief system in the world. Throughout this time span the core belief of shamanism has remained consistent.

You maybe wondering what is the core belief? The core belief is the knowledge of the spirits you will call upon, the knowledge that they will reply. The belief that you the shaman have important work to do and the knowledge that the welfare and wellbeing of your tribe /community is in your hands this wellbeing includes the physical and emotional as well as the spiritual. These are some of the core beliefs others I will mention as we progress.

Is the shamanic path open to or is this certain peeps. The answer to this is yes if it is your path to become a shaman you will. People often wonder how they will know if the shamanic path is for them and all I can say to that is if you are attracted to it and you wish to follow then try it and you will know if it is for you. I think it is a feeling you get when you know you’re on the right path.

People often say that Shamanism seems like it switches/turns into something else, this is the known as the ability to shape shift and is only part of shamanism. This is a small part as there are many other facets to shamanism to work with before shape shifting.

Now I would like to give a brief explanation on the shaman as the healer. Part of the duties of the shaman is the welfare and well being of the community this includes as I said the physical and the spiritual. The people of the community would come to the shaman and tell him/her their ills and woes, and then the shaman can start the healing, using various methods including, herbs, crystals, sacred objects, medicine animal spirits. The modern shaman can when, qualified, use such things as hypnotherapy and regression therapy. The modern shaman will also advise the patient to first seek their doctor’s help and offer his/ her own healing as a complimentary therapy to that of the doctor.

At the start of healing the shaman will talk with a helpful spirit to ascertain the best method to be used. In order to talk to the spirit the shaman will enter a trance state; this is known as making a journey in an altered state of consciousness. To achieve this altered state some pathways suggest the use of certain plants but most use rhythmic drumming repeated again and again, rhythmic movement, chanting and breath work, or a combination of these.

It is difficult to achieve at first but with practice it begins to get easier till the shaman can do it at will. Whilst in this altered state of consciousness the shaman retains full control and is aware of everything around him/her. He/she can also communicate with and influence the forces of nature. He/she can also manipulate universal forces for the betterment of the community.

The shaman is not bound to the realities of time and space or its limitations, and will go anywhere in order to facilitate the wisdom and guidance of a spiritual entity.

What plants would the shaman use to reach trance state? These I believe are called ethnogenic plants but basically the ones that have hallucinogenic effects. Payote? Yes that is one that has been used by shaman to reach altered states of consciousness as has toad licking

Would guardians be able to help with healing? Yes as they are the ones who will tell you where the spirit is if you have to fetch them. They will guide you and also if need be impart wisdom to you.

Do you think a modern shaman are having to conform to regulation and authority by having to advise people to seek modern medicine first before the shaman can heal, or is it shaman way to use best tools around them? It is the shaman way to use what is best for the patient and unless the shaman is a doctor and can prescribe say anti biotic drugs then the advise is as it stands.

What animal spirit would help with anxiety as I heard you can call on spirits to help you with it? One that is playful springs to mind and also a calming one the otter and the cat.

Can anyone able to become a shaman, I have heard of journeys to become a shaman with certain tasks/rituals? I it is your path to follow Amazon then you will become a shaman

Do you have to be called a shaman by a tribe? No you dont have to be called a shaman and if it was up to me I wouldn't have any label. So basically a shaman is one that heals people and earth animals, is this a fair comment? In his/her basic form the shaman is a healer of all things.

Are there a certain form of healing a shaman uses Some people tend to get a little mixed up as the shaman pathways and those of the hedge witch run along together for some time the shaman uses that which is best for the patient.

I will continue with the shaman and his many hats in the next Shamanic Pathway Circle.

Shamanic Pathways - Shamanism - An Introduction to Shamanism

If you are interested in Shamanism please link to the Shamanic Pathways in the Archive

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Written by WolfinPurple, Designed & Editing by Sol © Mystic Familiar January 2005

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