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What is Shamanism?

Sandra Ingerman, one of the most well-known people in modern Shamanism today, gives a great definition in her book, “Awakening to the Spirit.” She states that, “Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind. As a method, it is a form of meditation combined with a focused attention. As a spiritual practice, shamanism can become a way of life, of made to really transform the one who practices it..” This is a very condensed way of describing the large mysteries that lie under the umbrella of shamanism. Shamanism is the oldest known spiritual practice in human history.

The term “nagual” has been used to describe a shaman, and that term loosely means “one who sees in the dark.” It is the ability to see that which others do not. It is an inner knowing of things. It has been said that the shaman was assigned to be one long before they were born. Many times this person faces a difficult childhood, near death experiences, or even being stuck by lighting as a way of awakening his access to the spiritual world. All humans are born with a “knowing” of spiritual things, but most never even begin to address that they exist. They have just forgotten who they are, underneath all of the worldly conditioning. The shaman is someone who can help to see behind the veil of what we would all call “reality.” 

Many people in today’s society get the mistaken idea that shamans are just people who provide you with psychedelic concoctions in the jungles of the remote Amazon to bring visions. While this is true of a lot of shamanism, it is not nearly the entire story. Shamanism is a way of interacting, gaining knowledge and solutions to human problems by direct revelation. This isn’t about a doctrine or dogma. This work is led by the Spirit. The shaman is one who interacts very intimately within the spirit world for the purpose of bringing transformation into this one. The shaman uses ancient divination techniques including Babylonian smoke reading, shell casting, and tarot to diagnose the underlying condition within someone. He is also a master of accessing altered states of consciousness through rhythmic drumming and trance to access information which is otherwise inaccessible.

He does this as a means of finding where the imbalance lies within a person or community. The shaman is able to gain access to the unknowable by utilizing age-old techniques to bring forth proper balance and alignment. Often times the root of someone’s ailment is not what they think it is. The shaman is the one who sees that which most do not. He never does this as a means of getting power or control over another. He does this to help someone find their inner power, divinity and healing. Have you tried everything to address that which is causing you such despair? As wonderful as modern technology is, has it been able to solve your troubles? If not, perhaps it’s time to explore further down the trail to the techniques that have been around since the beginning? 

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