Shamanism the word that seems to be on everyone's lips at the moment. It is something that has come in and out of my life over the years at different points when I've needed it most, and makes up a part of my practice.
So what is Shamanism?
Shamanism is the oldest faith based system in the world, it once was everywhere throughout the world. It encompasses both a healing system and a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature, spirits, the ancestors, and all of creation.
These days has seen the word Shaman associated with indigenous tribes, mainly of South America, however this is incorrect. The word Shaman originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia.
It is a word Anthropologists coined to refer to the spiritual and ceremonial leaders among the indigenous cultures world wide.
However as the word has been associated with the South American tribes in modern times, and with the rise of Shamanism in Europe, with the returning of people back to the ancient ways of Europe, there is now a debate centering around the word Shaman and the use of it in Europe and whether this is cultural appropriation.
As the word comes from the landscapes of Siberia and the tribes that lived there, and that geographically Siberia sits on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, than in my opinion the word should and is appropriate for use by those who practice in Europe.
The oldest faith based system in the world, Shamanism is thought to have originated with the hunting and gathering societies.
While each culture differs slightly with their beliefs a brief overview is the belief in the three worlds - lower, middle, and upper worlds. - and the Shaman who is the central person who has the ability to travel between these worlds.
A brief description of the worlds is as follows:
The Lower World.
This is the world where our animal guides and power animals reside, it is also where the Shaman will travel to commune with the trees, mountains and forests.
The Middle World.
This is the world we live in day to day and the world of time and space. This is the world the Shaman will travel too, immediately after leaving their physical bodies at the beginning of the shamanic journey, and is usually associated with soul retrieval and seeing into the past.
The Upper World.
This is the realm of spirit and where we find our guides and teachers, the upper world is where we go to reveal our true essential nature, and bring our purpose into reality.
Who is the Shaman?
Shaman's go by many names, sorcerer, healer or curandero/a, walker between the worlds, medicine man/woman, priest/ess, Druid. They may inherit their role through their ancestors or come to it by their gifts.
To become a Shaman one must go through an apprenticeship, and many initiations. They are respected in their communities and sought out for advise, consultations and healings.
Shaman's access the powers of nature, communicate with the plants, animals, elements and spirit world. They travel between the worlds to seek the answers they need to help with the question or situation presented to them.
The Shaman was once historically the advisor to Kings, Queens, Emperors and Empresses, and where the first doctors and healers among the tribes of the world.
Where is Shamanism practiced today?
Shamanism in its many various forms is found throughout the world, from Siberia, to Mongolia, through to Tibet down to Korea.
From Alaska, down into Canada and the Native American tribes of North, Central and South America.
The tribes of Africa, across to the tribes of Papua New Guinea, down to the Aboriginals of Australia, and across the Tasman to the Maori's of New Zealand.
With a rise of Celtic Shamanism in the UK and Northern Europe, and even a return among the Pagan communities of Greece.
Shamanism is everywhere and has been since ancient times, the ages may have seen it move underground for a time, but it has never been gone, it is the one faith that has always been and still remains throughout all the long ages of humankind's existence, and I suspect will be here for many for ages to come.