What is Shamanism and Who is a Shaman?
A person who practices shamanism can be defined as someone who sees in the dark (psychically, energetically). Another description is someone who works in the unseen or spiritual realms.
Shaman is actually a Tungus word that comes from Siberia. It is commonly used in reference to a person who has special abilities and training in working in these spiritual energetic realms for the healing of individuals, the betterment of their community, and for being of service to humanity.
The term does not mean the same thing as Medicine Man (or woman) or Holy Man (woman). These are terms that describe different types of leaders, healers, and priests within many tribal cultures. The roles of these people vary from culture to culture and follow historical and traditional guidelines.
In contemporary society, these words are often interchanged, over used, and misunderstood.
Today we have energy healers, herbalists, homeopaths, naturopaths, and countless other methods and modalities for healing. There are a myriad of devices that attempt to assist people in the healing of physical and mental or emotional dis-ease. Many of these modern approaches are effective within their scope of purpose.
Shamanism is Holistic in Nature
This approach to healing is multifaceted and holistic. The focus is on the whole person: body, mind, and soul. Healing takes place within the spiritual (energetic) realms and then affects the mental/emotional and physical bodies as it penetrates and affects the whole being. The Shaman also often recommends changes in the person’s lifestyle and thought patterns.
A person is made up of more than just their physical body. They have a mental, emotional, and spiritual body as well. These bodies outside the physical body are known as the aura. Each “body” vibrates faster than the one below it. The physical body is the densest. The particles that make up this body are the slowest moving and therefore can be seen with normal vision. Surrounding the physical body is the mental body. Outside of it is the emotional body and finally the spiritual body. These bodies can be seen by people trained and/or gifted with psychic sight also known as clairvoyance.
There is also the gift of hearing what cannot normally be heard, known as clairaudience. And simply “knowing” things without psychic sight or vision is known as being clairsentient. A Shaman uses these skills to work in the energy bodies to transform disharmonious energies.
Disease Begins Outside the Physical Body
From a Shamanic perspective, disease (dis-ease), illness, imbalance and dis-harmony usually start in the outer, more ethereal energy bodies. These imbalances or disharmonious energies in the energy bodies (fields) can occur because of many factors including detrimental beliefs and fears, curses and negative thought projections from others, ancestral issues, alcohol and/or drug use, negative thought forms, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, past life and other traumas, negative energies in the home or workplace, entity attachments, etc.
If the imbalance is not corrected, it then moves inward through the emotional and mental and finally manifests in the physical body as disease. If you heal or transform the imbalance at the spiritual level, all of the other bodies, including the physical body, will be affected.
A Shaman has the ability to locate and work with these imbalances in the person’s energy field using energetic tools and the skills mentioned earlier. Assuming the person then takes positive steps to change their lifestyle, beliefs, and behaviors, true and permanent healing can occur.
Let’s look at an example such as cancer.
Western Medicine is Not Holistic in Nature
Western medicine approaches disease from a combative point of view using surgery and medications. They are trained to diagnose and treat disease. They seldom look for the underlying cause and rarely concern themselves with the mental, emotional, or spiritual factors. Therefore the treatments are directed at the densest lowest level, the physical body, of the individual.
This type of cure can, and often is, effective. It is also often only temporary. In medical terms, they call it remission because they know it is likely to return.
From a Shamanic perspective, since the energetic cause of the disease has not been addressed, no healing has occurred. The energetic imbalance that caused the disease in the first place still exists in the energy field. Thus the pattern will often reoccur in the physical body at a later time.
A few things have to occur in order for true healing to take place.
A person has to take responsibility for their choices and behaviors that have created the disease.
They have to learn about, take responsibility for, and make changes that will allow healing to take place. Then they have to find someone, a Shaman, who can assist them in their healing process.
Once the energy pattern is corrected, the person must continue to live a new lifestyle, acting and thinking in entirely new ways, in order to maintain their new level of health. If they simply return to their old patterns of acting and thinking, they are likely to create the same problems all over again.
Shamanic healing is a personal journey.
A Shaman or Healer is someone who can assist a person along this journey: to guide, to facilitate and to encourage. It is ultimately up to the person themselves, however, whether healing occurs or not.
Shamanic healing – like other forms of alternative or complementary medicine – is often done in conjunction with, or in addition to, traditional western medicine. (Anyone with a serious condition should seek professional assistance from a trained healthcare practitioner.)
Even some western medical doctors are studying shamanism these days. My former husband, Raven, had the privilege of providing them with a sweat lodge experience when they’ve visited Santa Fe, New Mexico for such training.
This article was co-written by Raven Hicks and D. Takara Shelor.
To learn more about sweat lodge and a few other shamanic practices, read my bestselling book Peering Through the Veil.