Last updated: 28-Feb-17
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The modern resurgence of shamanism began in the 1970’s and 80’s following articles and books by anthropologists and as indigenous medicine men and women began to share their knowledge with people in the west. This led to the development of “core” or cross cultural forms of shamanism as westerners adapted the teachings they received to our own culture and many also began to rediscover and use the ancient healing ways of our own Land. This approach has proved to be highly effective and many modern shamanic practitioners see results similar to those produced by traditional shaman.
Simply put, whether modern practitioner or indigenous healer, the shaman's role is to bring balance through spiritual and energetic interventions, ritual and ceremony, since without balance we can become emotionally, physically or psychologically unwell. Be aware that traditional shaman do not always expect to resolve a problem with a single session and this can also be the case for us in the west today.
When initially presented with a problem, the shaman will usually begin by entering a trance state to the sound of rythmic drumming or rattling and “journey” to the spirit world with the aid of spirit helpers. During this journey, the shaman asks to be shown the cause of the problem or illness and then bring back what is needed to begin the healing process. This may be in the form of information, the return of soul parts via soul retrieval, a personal empowerment, or details of other work which may be necessary such as a ritual or ceremony to initiate a new sense of freedom, balance and wellbeing for the individual, their community or environment.
A shaman may also remove attachments, intrusions or blockages when necessary and shamanic journeys can be used to obtain information, wisdom or guidance on a variety of matters ranging from everyday issues to major life concerns. To find out what this can mean for us practically in our lives today, please see the Shamanic Healing page.
For further reading and information about shamanism see the Resources page.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is the oldest form of spiritual practice and pre-dates all organised religion. The word shaman is from the Siberian Evenki (previously known as the Tungus people) and was brought into the Russian language by early explorers of Siberia. The term gradually became used to describe any Siberian tribal spiritual healer in Russia and was adopted in the west in the 19th and 20th centuries by anthropologists. It is now frequently used for all traditional healers who work as intermediaries between the physical and spirit worlds to bring balance and healing to individuals, their communities and their environment. Traditional forms of shamanism are still being practised today from Australia to Siberia, South America to Finland and Africa to Mongolia.