What is Shamanism?
Modern shamanism is a variation of traditional indigenous healing, which offers countless creative and personal breakthroughs, as well as a road map for holistic wellness. It’s been making its way into Western consciousness for decades, and yet, its gifts are not fully understood by the mainstream.
Today, 15 years after my depth training with medicine woman, Bear Who Dances With the Sky, the heart of my own spiritual practice is the active pursuit of knowledge from the Earth as it relates to humanity. Magic, it is said, is the profound understanding of the laws of nature. In my quest to discover how things work, I found the tools of the traditional healers to be both effective and powerful.
By observing and understanding wild animal behavior, I have developed ways to reconnect to our nearly-lost intuition and instinct. Through working with plants, I discovered that not only do they have curative affects on the physical body, but they also heal our thinking. This occurs when we establish a relationship with them and learn to dialogue with them. In fact, it is our relationship to living things which activates the healing, not the application of, for example, the plant medicine to the injury. This synergistic outcome thrills those who come to Earth Medicine School to develop “narrow and deep” studies with plants, minerals and animals.
A traditional shaman heals individuals and the community. The tools of the trade are characterized by intentionally focusing your attention on the task at hand while reducing awareness of the external environment and other stimuli. In EMS, you are the patient as well as the healer, and you come to learn the tools and apply them to your life. Later, you may like to deepen your practice in order to help others.
Shamanism blends magic and Earth Medicine,
resulting in a divine union of grounded spiritualism.
At the crossroads of one’s own wisdom and creativity is healing. For the creative soul living in the new dimension, your greatest power is healing the world from the inside out. It starts with you.
Historically, shamanism is the oldest spiritual healing tradition still in practice today. There is evidence of its existence dating back about forty thousand years. Medicine people from every continent interdependently developed healing practices which bear an uncanny similarity to one another. Shamanic consciousness and healing practices are based on an understanding of the human immunological system and psychobiology rather than on culture or historical traits. It is a holistic, integrative methodology which emphasizes psychological and spiritual components in the causes and cures of illness, physical or spiritual. It is not to be confused as a religion or dogmatic belief system.
Traditional shamanism worldwide shares fundamental features including the notion that all matter is imbued with life force/vital energy, that all things are interdependent as well as interconnected, that travel between “dimensions” of alternate reality is possible, that extraordinary forces can affect individuals and events, and that people who have the capacity to understand and effect these events indeed exist, and are needed.
Who is a Shaman?
A historical, traditional shaman is appointed by the tribe or chosen. He or she utilizes chants, songs, drums, rattles and repetition to restore order to a patient, replacing his or her illness. This community healer offers him or herself to the tribe in ways that are self-sacrificing. They may study the natural world and people for many years before being allowed to treat others. Sometimes training begins in childhood.
During a shamanic healing, the patient releases endorphins, emotional catharsis occurs, and re-membering takes place, allowing the soul to integrate back into the body. This is the job of the shaman: to bring the patient back into wholeness and wellness. In traditional cultures this means treating — but holistically, rather than symptomatically — and considers issues of the soul and spirit equal in value to what the body may be suffering.