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Title: Shamanism
Post by: Flutterbit on June 12, 2005, 12:48:47 AM
Excerpt from: Shamanism: Rituals for Spirit Journeying and Creating Sacred Space by Will Ad(you radiate sunshine and light).  Pub: Hermes House.


Shamanism is essentially a state of mind, a way of viewing life as a whole.  The shaman gains insights and wisdom by connecting with other parts of creation and healing the divisions that exist between the separate pieces.  Such divisions can occur anywhere: within the self, within groups, between people and the environment, and so on.

The word shaman comes from the Tungusic dialect of the Ural-Altaic tribes of Siberia.  Shaman were the priest-doctors of the tribes, responsible for officiating at ceremonies and rituals, tending the sick and caring for all aspects of the spiritual wellbeing of the people.

Shamanism does not recognise age, gender, race or religious doctrines and so is available to all.  Indeed, many people have shamanic experiences without labelling them as such.  It could even be said that some important scientific discoveries have been instigated by shamanic experiences.  Humans are a part of creation and shamanism is our way of connecting with the whole.  It is a fundamental part of our heritage and, although the connection may be weakened by modern life, the ability to connect, and the inclination to do so, is still present.
Title: Shamanism
Post by: Flutterbit on June 12, 2005, 10:18:24 PM
Excerpt from: Shamanism: Rituals for Spirit Journeying and Creating Sacred Space by Will Ad(you radiate sunshine and light). Pub: Hermes House.

The Tradition of the Shaman

When communities were much more isolated and self-reliant than modern society is, shamans played an integral part in their cultures, performing numerous and specific duties.  They practised healing in cases of sickness and injury, but they were not specifically healers.  Although they communed with ancestors, spirits and gods, they were not exclusively priests and while they offered wise counsel to their communities, they were not solely sages.  Rather, they fulfilled a combination of these roles and others besides.

The Shaman's Role

To understand the function of a shaman, it is necessary to adopt a world view relative to traditional peoples.  Typically, older cultures more in touch with the natural world have been animistic societies.  Animism is a term derived from the Latin anima, which means soul, and these older cultures held the belief that all things possessed a soul or spirit.  The fundamental role of the shaman was to act as an intermediary in relating to the other spirits of the earth: the animals, the land, the rain, the crops and so on.  Because humans were so dependent on the forces of nature and the other beings of the planet, communicating with them was seen as a way of predicting problems or finding a way out of them.  The shaman could send his or her soul out on a journey to meet with these other spirits and ensure a successful hunt or determine why a crop was failing, or if there would be a drought.  These journeys of the soul could also lead shamans to other dimensions where they would commune with gods, find special knowledge or acquire powers which gave them an advantage when living in difficult times or healing the sick.

It was this ability to travel at will to other realms that marked out the shaman.  Very often it was unlooked for, with visions occurring spontaneously, or caused by traumatic experiences such as severe illness or injury.  What  is often termed "madness" in modern western society was seen as being "touched by the gods" by traditional people.  Shamans usually lived somewhat apart from the rest of the community, because their powers made them different from other people.  However, individuals who were able to hear voices and experience realities beyond the normal scope of perception were regarded with respect and awe.
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