WHAT IS SHAMANISM
Shamanism is the earliest and most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind. Dating back thirty thousand years, it has been found to have been practiced on every continent of the world: aboriginal Australia, native North and South America, Siberia, Asia, eastern and northernmost Europe, and southern Africa. Shamanism is not a religion, although most religions of today have roots to a Shamanic heritage, as in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Muslimism. You can find basic Shamanic practices in these faiths.
Shamanism is an Earth based spirituality that reveres everything, including our planet, Earth, as alive therefore involves a deep respect for the natural world and its ecosystem. In the Shamanic world-view, everything that exists is interrelated with everything else. We are all related, not just to each other as families and humans, but also to all things in nature – trees, rocks, animals and so forth. We are all living beings, privileged to (exist/reside/live) upon our relative, the Earth. Our ancestors believed that their Spiritual connection to God and the health and survival of their tribe depended upon maintaining a relationship between the Earth and all of nature.
Shamanism is like tapping into a vast fund of ancient, timeless knowledge which can be practiced anywhere under any conditions. Free of dogma and doctrine, Shamanism recognizes that each person has their own unique Path of Spirit. It considers spiritual development to be the most important work we can accomplish, and that the world of the spirit is all around us and can be readily and directly accessed by anyone, especially through Shamanic Rituals and ceremonies. Shamanism is a tradition of personal and planetary health, empowerment, relatedness, and spiritual growth. It is a direct experience of spiritual knowledge. The ‘Ways’ of Shamanism are provided to assist and enable each person to seek, find, and fulfill their own autonomous path of Self-Realization.
WHAT IS A SHAMANIC PRACTITIONER
A Shamanic Practitioner is one who has mastered the ability go into an altered state of consciousness at will for purposes of entering into a non-ordinary shamanic reality in order to acquire the knowledge and power it offers to help heal the client, the community, and/or our planet. Practitioners have the ability to see, hear, interpret, and communicate in this world. They have access to helpers in the form of power animals, nature spirits, guardian spirits, and the ancestors to aid them. Practitioners have developed several basic core shamanic techniques to serve the specific needs of the individual and/or situation being healed. These techniques can include soul retrieval, soul remembering, power animal retrieval, extraction healing, past-life healing, energy healing, ancestral healing and elemental healing. Practitioners then have the ability to utilize these techniques and information to serve in the healing of the client, the community, and/or our planet. Practitioners have also done their own personal work so they may come to the work in an ethical, healthy, whole, and healed state.
WHAT IS A SHAMANIC JOURNEY
To enter the Shamanic world we must believe in an unseen reality which exists alongside the physical reality of our tangible existence. One gateway to the Shamanic world is through ‘Journeying’. This is done by listening to rhythmic drumming or music, which takes us into an altered state of consciousness. This altered state allows us to travel from our ordinary reality to non-ordinary reality.
It is in this non-ordinary reality that the Shamanic world comes alive, where the Nature Spirits (rocks, trees, sun, water, wind) and Guardian Spirits (Power Animals, Spirit Guides, and the Ancestors) communicate to us for self-discovery, support, guidance, and knowledge to help heal oneself, others, and the planet.
WHAT IS A POWER ANIMAL
During your journeys to the lower and upper Shamanic worlds, you will be guided to commune with your personal power animal. Power animals are guardian spirits in animal form. They’re here with us to share their medicine or gifts for support, power, and protection. Power animals do not have to be mammals and can be reptiles, insects, or sea creatures.
In Shamanic work, power animals are essential components for success in all ventures undertaken in the Shamanic world. It is important to create a solid relationship with your Power Animal. Interact, be direct, and ask questions. Remember they are there to help to serve you in the Shamanic realm. They know how to utilize this mythical realm for your highest good. A strong connection to a power animal provides a source of energy and support and enhances the flow of your own energy.
Although there are certain animals that consistently travel with you, different power animals can come to help you with a specific issue. It’s important to realize that each animal is sharing gifts that are uniquely meant for you.
During any journey to the lower or upper Shamanic world, you can call in a Power Animal of your choice or just ask for a power animal to appear that would serve your highest good for the journey. In the upper world, the Power Animal is often a winged one, but again there are no hard set rules in the Shamanic realm. It is always important to greet your Power Animal when it appears on your journey, ask what gift it has to share with you, and thank it when you have completed the journey.
After completing the journey, you may ask the Power Animal to return with you to ordinary reality to be your guide and protector. This is often a good idea after doing a Soul Retrieval to protect a new aspect of yourself that has just returned until you have integrated it with your whole being.
SOUL LOSS AND SOUL RETRIEVAL
From the Shamanic perspective one of the major causes of illness is soul loss. Soul loss is based on the premise that when we experience trauma, a part of our essence, or soul, separates from us in order to survive the experience by escaping the full impact of the pain. Soul loss can be the result of incest, abuse, loss of a loved one, divorce, accidents, surgery, major illness, miscarriage, abortion, wartime experiences, addictions, or being in a natural disaster (fire, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado). In psychological terms this is called disassociation.
Symptoms of soul loss include not being connected to emotional feelings; feeling fragmented or dissociated as if an essential part of yourself is missing; feelings of estrangement and depersonalization; a gap in memory; chronic depression; physical illness; and addiction. Extreme examples of soul loss can be a person in a coma or someone with multiple personality disorder.
Although soul loss is a survival mechanism in dealing with trauma, the problem is that the soul part that left usually does not come back on its own. The soul might be lost, stolen by another person, or doesn’t know the trauma has passed and it is safe to return. When someone feels that they have never been the same after a certain event, soul loss has probably occurred.
When parts of a soul split off and disappear leaving a person in a weakened or dispirited condition, the Shaman assists the person to restore wholeness through the technique of soul retrieval. A soul retrieval requires the Shaman to travel to non-ordinary reality to retrieve the lost part or parts of the client’s soul. More than one part of the soul can split off in a person’s life due to the amount of trauma involved in that person’s life.
The short-term and long-term effects of soul retrieval vary between clients. Many clients report feeling “more present” or “filled up,” and that their senses have been awakened. Clients who are feeling ill or depleted often experience more energy, power, strength, and grounded in their body. The changes can cause some disorientation and memories of trauma may come back immediately or months later.
A soul part that returns might have the knowledge the person needs such as how to trust, love, play, write or be self-confident. The client may feel a sense of responsibility to take care of the part that has been returned; for example, a child soul part that has been returned may need to be nurtured and feel safe. In addition, the client may need to make changes in their life such as creating a healthy life style and attracting healthy relationships that will support wholeness and healing.
HOW SHAMANISM WAS ALMOST DESTROYED
In pre-Christian times, all of Europe practiced some form of Shamanism through the worshiping of the Earth Goddess and all of nature as a form of Spirit. With the coming of Christianity and the power of the Roman Church to convert all of Europe to the Christian faith, those in power saw the forms of Shamanism too self-empowering for the people.
In 1100 they began to destroy all forms of Earth worshiping (Shamanism) in Europe as acts of the devil. This resulted in the loss of millions of lives killed by the church as devil worshipers or witches. This belief that all forms of Earth worshiping were acts of the devil was carried to the New World and tribes that were practicing Shamanism were either destroyed or converted to Christianity.