As I have been working here at the Green Man, meeting new people and doing my healing work, I have found that there are a lot of people who do not know what shamanism, or a shaman, is. Shamanism is a form or practice of spiritual communion that is pre-organized religion, having been with mankind since the beginning of time. Wikipedia defines a shaman as:
“A person regarded as having access to, and influence in the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.”
I imagine you’ve now read this definition and are wondering exactly what that means. A shaman is a worker and weaver of the spirit realm. A shaman works with and within the spirit world to manifest healing and understanding in the mundane world; a messenger of God, if you will.
I think the best way to describe it is to explain it in a way that juxtaposes it against current dominant religious practice. In Christianity (in the way that I was taught to practice it) you are one of the many sheep in God’s flock. You pray to deepen your connection with God and to feel the power of God’s presence realizing that your destiny is mapped out and you will be consistently tested for your faith and devotion. You find solace in God. As a Christian practitioner in my early years I was highly devoted and looked for understanding and enlightenment through all of God’s teachings. I knew that people could be healed through prayer and that the community of God’s followers was my community.
In the shamanic belief system we are all one, part of the same energy field and part of the same universal truths. You pray to energy of the universe and work with archetypical elements within that universe to bring healing and understanding to people. You pay attention to the messages that come from nature and from spirit and you integrate those messages into your journey (destiny). You are constantly tested, but not in the same way as the Christian paradigm, you are tested to see if you are learning your lessons and following the guidance of spirit. You are also tested with power; once you have learned to work with your own personal power outside power will test you and stalk you in order for you to face complete personal actualization. Truth is at the core of shamanic practice (as is actually usually true for most religious beliefs). As a practitioner of shamanism my cosmology is constantly growing and evolving as I gain greater and greater insight into the mysteries of life.
Base Christian tenets actually are not that different from shamanic beliefs if you are able to hear the truth under the propaganda, however, a shaman talks to God, where a Christian talks at God. But what about Wiccan traditions compared to Shamanism? Actually, I learned Wicca first and I found that to be a great advantage when I began learning shamanism as I had already begun to re-acclimate myself to nature’s rhythms. Wicca tenets and shamanic tenets are very very similar, and generally in my own observations I have found the real difference to be the practitioner and their relationship with the practice.
Have I answered the question yet? Maybe I should say this: a shaman is a mediator between you and the spirit world. If you need spiritual guidance and healing a shaman will talk to the spirits to do both for you. I hope that I have made this more understandable, and that I haven’t offended anyone with my Christian comparison. It seems many people understand the Christian cosmology and so that is the widest reference I could make.
Many blessings to you on your journey; may you pray deeply and commune with spirits when they come calling.