The Way of the Shaman

Today, we look at the natural rituals of the Shamans, who have been misunderstood by our modern world as devil-worshipping, pagans, or worse. Who are the shamans, and what do they believe in? Let us delve into their practices and see how we can learn from their connection to nature.

What is meant by Shamanism?

Shamanism is often misconceived to be a form of witchcraft – or the occult – in modern popular parlance. However, this is far from true. Shamanism is in fact a system that seeks to connect us with creation, a practice that asks questions about our lives. Why do we act the way we do, and how do situations occur in our lives?

Instead of concerning itself with scriptures and monolithic beliefs – as many of the world’s major religions do – Shamanic teachings are open to discussion and personal interpretation. Rather than a single deity, it looks towards Nature as the supreme teacher.

This affection for our fellow creatures and earth has also led to alchemic practices with natural remedies, causing fear throughout the world (and subsequently suspicion). Take the witch-hunts, for example, or the perception of savagery amongst cultures that choose to live from the land: like Inuit or Aborigines. Witch doctors in Africa or the Middle-East share the same misconceived notions that are characterised by our modern world (which is so apathetic to nature) that Shamanism is somehow ‘evil’. It can be summarised as a battle between the communal, chaotic lifestyle of our ancestors, and the supposed ‘civilised’ one of today. In the words of Terence Mckenna, “Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with . This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.” Today, our world is firmly in a state of Ego.

However, anyone who feels a strong spiritual connection to the earth can describe themselves as ‘Shamanic’. Those of us who question our place in nature, and the energy of the universe, are already on the Shaman-path. We invite chaos into our lives, not as a negative thing, but as a source of exploration. It is beckoning to adventure. Simply changing ones mindset could be considered ‘chaotic’, and frees us from the clutches of Ego.

Even in our modern world, Shamanic and alchemical practices can be found in the day-to-day. Herbal remedies bought in high-street stores have little-changed for thousands of years. The effects of aloe-vera, coconut milk, and other herbs are marketed as ‘healthy and natural’ – indeed rooted in the beliefs of Shamans and Witch doctors.

Being a Shaman Today

The core principle is in living what is known as ‘true humanity’; being respectful and true to oneself. It has been widely known that those who wander the path of the Shaman develop clairvoyant or healing abilities, because of their connection to the universal energy. Everything is about the inner feeling. And within this feeling is the need for self-improvement. During classic Shamanic ceremonies, we are invited to pray to bring balance to our lives, and occasionally ask the universe to manifest our desires.

Ceremony

While unlike Abrahamic religions, Shamanism also has rituals and tools. The idea is to put intention to practice – and envision an ideal way of living. The ancient ceremonies were referred to Shamans in visions. Often, they contained details of how to perform, which would be through a series of uncontrollable movement or song. Ceremonies have also included various jewellery, crystals, or images of nature (like the owl) – all reflections, and products of nature.

Although the likes of the Native Americans gifted us ceremonial practices, it is not necessary, and many people have their own ways of drawing intent. These can include short meditation or a simple mantra. This way, you can signal the spirit world that you are ready for new opportunities. Today, these activities are widely performed. However, not many people realise their origins are in Shamanic teachings.

In Short

Shamanism is a break from the formalities of religion. People who follow the shaman way can call upon various Daoist, or even Christian, ways of teaching as long as they use this knowledge to create positive energy. At its core is nature; the belief that we share a ‘oneness’ with everything around us, and that we have within ourselves the opportunities and tools to achieve a great life. If we can add the smallest amount of Shamanic habit to our lives, we can find ourselves, and the world around us, an ego-free experience. In the words of Mr McKenna, ‘You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.’