Shamanism In Brief

6 years 9 months ago #290660 by Kit
Shamanism In Brief was created by Kit
I wrote this as a lesson for my apprentice but others have also found it useful so I thought I'd offer it to all. I've been practicing shamanism for four years. This is intended as a short-and-sweet key-points (but by no means all-encompassing) overview of shamanism. This is for the curious or to open dialog for questions. So if you have any, I'd be pleased to answer them to the best of my abilities.

Shamanism in Brief
One Who Sees in the Dark

The term shamanism has been used to label many old anima traditions across the world. As such, there are many different ways to practice. Written here is my understanding and practices which may differ from other cultures. In short, shamanism is the communion with the spirits for benefit of yourself, your community, and the world.

Shamanic Journeys:
The practitioner will go into a trance, often with the aid of darkness, drums, rattles, incense, and in some cultures, careful use of sacred drugs. Their spirit will leave their body and travel to one of the spirit worlds of their choice, or where they are drawn to.

The Three Spirit Worlds
Shamanism recognizes three spirit worlds. The Upper World, where deities and human spirits reside. The Middle World which is an overlay of our own where you can speak to the spirits of plants, rocks, or any other physical thing. You can also find the spirits who work the changing of the seasons, or otherwise involved in our world. It’s also said this is where a practitioner can find lost objects, water, or good hunting (I haven’t tested this). In Lower World (or Under World) you’ll encounter animal spirits. These are the words where these particular kinds of spirits reside, but they can travel between them.

Animal Spirits
These spirits aren’t the spirits of a particular animal, but rather the accumulation of all the experience, wisdom, and knowledge of all the animals it represents. You can encounter the spirits of ANY animal, extinct, mythological, or currently living. They all have several aspects they represent and have their own teachings to offer.

Power Animals:
It’s believed that when a person is born, at least one Animal Spirit chooses them to be their guide and guardian throughout their life. A Power Animal is the Animal Spirit that chooses the individual and represents them. If they are sought out, The Power Animal will actively teach, or simply provide comfort when needed. These can be any animal, living, extinct, or myth. And an individual can have more than one Power Animal.

Shamanic Practitioners:
The name taken by those who follow some form of shamanic belief and practice. Often going on journeys and speaking with their power animals or other spirits.

Shaman is a title that is granted, and not claimed. Much as the titles of Master or Guru. In many traditions a shaman has faced death, either in a tragic accident, sickness, or mental illness. They are often relied on as healers, and only one who has experienced pain, can truly heal it. Shaman are called by the spirits, often in dreams or visions. They are taught either by another shaman who has recognized what they are, or by the spirits themselves if another shaman isn’t available. They can be taught both by their Power Animal, and by the spirits of shaman of the past.

The origins of the word shaman seems to be contested, but my favorite definition is “One Who Sees in the Dark”. I feel it’s both a reference to journeying in the darkness, and being able to navigate the dark times in life to bring themselves or others hope.
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