What is Shamanism?

“Shaman” is a term that comes from the Tungus tribe of Siberia meaning “one who sees in the dark” or “one who knows”. Anthropologists brought this term to the West in the early 20th century but it has been more recently popularised by the growing trend of new age and westernised shamanic practices.

Whether indigenous or modern, all shamanic traditions accept that everything is alive and everything has a spirit. This is called animism and it’s an essential part of shamanic cultures worldwide. A focus on personal and community healing, the establishment of some form of spiritual practice, and the tools of vision and ceremonies are also essential. At its heart, shamanism is earth-based and focuses on our natural connection as a path to healing and growth.

We don’t live in a shamanic society – depending on our heritage, our ancestors did hundreds or thousands of years ago – but we can use shamanic practices to help us in our modern life.

Why Shamanism?

Shamanism is not a religion or creed and it is compatable with all belief systems – or none. The only requirement is an open mind and a willingness to be surprised. Shamanism is often called the “path of direct revelation”, meaning that you form your beliefs through your own experience. I can’t tell you what to experience, so I can’t tell you what to believe. Direct revelation leads to empowerment. And that’s precisely the point.

Shamanism can be a collection of helpful skills, a healing journey or a life path. Shamanic techniques require honesty that can lead us to self-mastery. They connect us to both to an experience of the divine and to what it truly means to be human.

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