What is a Shaman

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Forums -> Other Paths -> What is a Shaman

What is a Shaman
Post # 1
My name is Little Bear, i am here to teach what a Shaman is and for those to find out who are called,

What Is Shamanism?

People who seek a balanced life often find that nurturing a personal spiritual connection is helpful ?perhaps even essential ? to their quest. Science has begun to support this idea by affirming the benefit of a strong spiritual connection in maintaining health and fostering healing. Shamanism is often described as ?the first spiritual practice of humanity,? with traditions and techniques that can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Evidence of shamanism has been found in every culture and on every continent throughout the world since the dawn of mankind. More importantly, its legacy, methods and belief structures can be useful today in personal growth and healing.

The English word shaman comes from the name given to traditional tribal healers of the Tungus people of Siberia, and it roughly translates as ?one who sees in the dark.? This description is due in part to the fact that many shamanic practices involve meditation, often with eyes closed (sometimes in a deep trance state) to help discover the nature of a problem and determine potential solutions. The shaman ?looks? into dark places in the person, the community and the planet, and finds how to bring them light, hope and healing. In many cultures, a shaman is a healer, counselor and spiritual director all wrapped into one.

The most basic tenet of shamanism is that everything has a significant spiritual component. In fact, a shaman believes everything exists as Spirit in its ultimate nature: Every person, every animal, every tree, every illness, literally every single thing that exists. Moreover, this Spirit can be accessed, engaged or encountered in ways that bring about positive change to enhance the quality of life, relationships and health. Modern shamanic practices also consider the importance of eating healthily, getting plenty of rest, engaging in appropriate exercise and having solid emotional support. Beyond all those things, the shamanic path recommends that we stay ?pumped up in Spirit? so that we can really live well.

The Shamanic Practitioner

As in many areas throughout the ?undeveloped? world, it is possible to find and work with shamans in contemporary society. They may be members of traditional tribes or cultures, or modern urban persons. They will have apprenticed for years if not decades with an acknowledged tribal shaman. It is more likely that one will connect with a shamanic practitioner who has studied neo-shamanism or core shamanism. Such practitioners honor the various traditional teachings, ceremonies and religious beliefs of the native shaman. But in their own work and study, they employ core world views as well as practices that are universal across all shamanic cultures, rather than exclusively embracing a particular path such as the Hopi way or the Aboriginal Australian way.

There is a rule of thumb that warns, ?If a person calls himself (herself) a shaman, run!? By most shamanic traditions, such a person is lacking in appropriate humility. In other words, they are taking credit for the good work that Spirit performs in the lives of others. A true Native American medicine man is unlikely to ever call himself by that name, even if he is known to be so and is formally recognized by his entire community.

The Shamanic Journey

The shamanic journey is the basic technique one employs to initiate his/her personal spiritual connection and then to access ever deeper and higher levels of spiritual guidance. Journeying, as it is commonly called, is generally done while lying down with eyes closed, guided by the sound of a beating drum or other traditional percussion instrument(s). The journey frequently involves opening into a trance like state similar to that of deep meditation. The experience often results in striking visual and somatic imagery full of archetypal themes, visions and intuitive knowings.

Journeying is undertaken to enter into what author Carlos Castaneda dubbed non-ordinary reality, the realms of healing, wisdom and empowerment accessible by great mystics, teachers, artists and healers. The journeyer is able to meet with and learns to work with personal spirit guides or helpers commonly thought of in our culture as guardian angels. The journey can offer profound intuitive and spiritual guidance. Moreover, shamanic traditions teach us that work done while journeying (in alternate or spiritual dimensions) can lead to functional and effective change in ordinary reality and can improve our everyday life.

Shamanism, Illness and Healing

Just as shamanism teaches that there is a spiritual component to everything, it also suggests one or more spiritual elements exist at the center of every illness. Therefore, there is a functional spiritual aspect to any physical and emotional recovery or healing experience. Shamanic practitioners seek to assist their clients in cleansing, strengthening and/or renewing their vital life force or spirit. One?s soul essence can be depleted or damaged through trauma or ongoing abuse or distress. The shamanic practitioner often works with clients in one or more initial sessions to bring them back to a state in which they may experience deep inner strength and balance. Further exercises, study, meditations, prayer work and/or ceremony may be recommended to be performed by the client alone or in community. This additional work is intended to further the process of spiritual growth and repair, which also helps with physical and emotional growth and repair.

Our culture already embraces one principle which is shamanic in nature: People who are always negative or constantly in a negative environment often become ill. One shamanic ?antidote? might be to find ways for the sick person to be very positive to help manifest wellness. In shamanic practice, negative energy and its effects are called ?spiritual intrusion.? The shaman performs what is called a ?shamanic extraction? to remove the negative energy from the client?s system. From a shamanic perspective, people who constantly look in the mirror and think thoughts such as, ?I hate my butt,? dump negative energy into themselves, wounding their spirits. In turn, this creates a field of negative energy around their rear end, which magnetically draws more negativity to it. The cycle can go on and on until it is broken by a more powerful, personal spiritual shift. A shaman can help facilitate that shift.

How to recognize your shamanic calling

Some evidences to find out if Spirits call us to shamanize have been handed down to us from ancient times.
Spirits place some marks in the future shaman's body, which can only be read in the Other Reality, whereas they look meaningless here.
To let you recognize such marks, I've made it this test.
Answer the following questions and you'll find out if Spirits are calling you to become a shaman.
Shamans are chosen by Spirits, indeed.
So are true medical doctors and true artists, as a matter of fact. A shaman is actually an artist. Shamanism is quite an art.
Shamans are often shamans' children in native peoples, but it's no genetic transmission: some shamanistic talents may be hereditary, that's true, but the most important reason of the familiar occurrence is that Spirits find it easier to call a shaman's son or daughter, because they've grown up in an environment familiar to shamanistic tradition and techniques.

First of all, your shamanic calling may be revealed by the following marks dating back to your birth or early childhood: .

Does any of your parents have paranormal abilities, such as predictive dreams, telepathy or a real tarot reading talent? Or are they able to cure or relieve physical pains by using hands? This sign is stronger if the gifted parent is the mother, because the mother-to-children transmission is more frequent. Also a gifted grandparent may apply.

Were you born "with a caul", which is a thin membrane enveloping the head? This is worldwide recognized as a sign of a special relationship with the Spirit Worlds.

Were you born with extra fingers or toes? It's a typical sign of a shamanic calling.

Are you or have you been epileptic? You may be called to something important, possibly to shamanship, but it's not sure.

Have you a physical impairment dating back to childhood or birth? Especially deafness and limp may be signs of a shamanic calling

Other bodily marks not always dating back to childhood or birth are:

Have you been stroke by a lightning or by a high-power electric shock? Whether it happened when a child or grown-up, it's a very certain sign of shamanic calling

Have you fortunately survived a fire or a shipwreck? Or have you been on the verge of drowning?

Have you fallen sick from a seemingly serious and odd-symptomed disease, which doctors found difficult to classify?
This is the classical sacred illness, quite a certain sign of a shamanic calling.

Have you survived a deep coma or an apparent death?
According to shamans, you have gone to the Land of the Dead and have returned. A person usually brings back shamanic powers from such a terrifying and dangerous journey.

Have you recovered from a serious disease, even if different from the cases H and I? It may be a sacred illness anyway, but it's not sure.

Do you suffer from a chronical and incurable illness? This may be a different kind of sacred illness

B to K bodily marks are uncommon and typical of great shamans-to-be.
More frequent signs concern personality:

When a child, would you feel the urge to go into the wild alone for long periods, possibly to spend nights there? This is a typical sign of shamanic calling.

As a child, were you a loner? Did people consider you eccentric or "different"?

Have you seen, as a child or grown-up, glimpses of the future or had repeated cases of verifiable d?j?-vu? E.g. while going to an unknown place, have you ever happened to be aware of what lies around the corner, to tell somebody and then to prove it correct? Cases of not verified d?j? vu don't apply.

Have you ever shown power to cure illness or to relieve physical pains, e.g. by praying over or imposing hands on a sick person? Events of self-healing don't apply.

Have you ever seen ghosts or UFOs or felt that Spirits have contacted you someway?

Have you happened to encounter the same animal several times in different dreams? Or have you repeatedly encountered the same teacher figure, i.e. a wise and authorative man or woman, possibly an Indian or other Native? They are Guardian Spirits, entering your dreams to call you to shamanize.

Have you had several dreams that predicted the future or that showed present or past events you didn't know of, but you could verify later?

Do you often have vivid and uncommon dreams? This means that your soul is attracted by the Other Reality and it may be a hallmark of shamanic calling.

In this ordinary reality, have you met with the same animals a great deal of times, possibly in unusual ways?

Do you have the urge to learn how to become a shaman? This is one most reliable marks of your shamanic calling, especially if you don't realize the motive of it and the urge is very pressing.


If you answered yes to 1 (or more) of the A to K questions and to no less than 3 out of the 1 to 10 questions, congratulations! I wish you the best luck for your future life as a shaman! Your calling can be considered certain, even though you still need that the Spirits confirms it.
Same result if you answered yes to 2 of the A to K questions plus to 2 of the 1 to 10 questions.

In case you answered yes to 1 of the A to K questions and to 2 of the 1 to 10 questions, your calling is pretty sure

Did you reply yes to 1 of the A to K questions and to 1 of the 1-10 questions? Your shamanic calling is nearly certain

You answered yes to 3 questions? Your calling to become a shaman is likely.

If you only replied yes to 2 questions out of the 1 to 10 set, your calling is very possible, but less sure.
There may be other signs of shamanic calling anyway - if you believe to be called to be a shaman and especially if you answered yes to the question # 10, be free to contact me.
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Re: What is a Shaman
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2

This article was cut and pasted from If you are going to borrow material from another site, pleast remember to cite that source, otherwise this would be plagiarism which is against the TOS of this website.

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Re: What is a Shaman
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 3

I'd like to share something that a friend of mine wrote and which is posted at:

If there's one thing that tips me off to a person who was either misled or has a misinterpretation of Native Spirituality, it is a person who says their First Nations lineage make them a Shaman. Having First Nations lineage does not make you a Shaman anymore than being Irish makes you born-Druid. You learn your beliefs like anyone and you are trained in the art.

First off, let's discuss the term Shaman. The term itself is derived from a Russian word and is used throughout the Eastern world in tribal (yes other places have tribes, too) religions and spirituality like Buddhism. It is not a term First Nations people use to refer to themselves and many find its use offensive. Our preferred term, as I was taught, is Medicine Man/Woman. Knowing how to speak to the spirits or to heal people in any capacity is considered a medicine.

Not all Medicine People have the same skill-set or abilities and there is not just one Medicine Person per tribe or community. Most Medicine People have a specialty (they are a medium, can create natural medicines, find Spirit Names, run sweat lodges, etc) or a set of specialties. I personally have never met a Medicine Person with the ability to function in every way a people would be too overwhelming! Balance must be maintained and it would be too hard for one person to fulfill all the roles needed by their community.

Being a Medicine Person is, in itself, a specialty area and is not something every First Nations person has the skills to do. Everything in our culture is centered around our value of balance. How unbalanced would we be if every person were a Medicine Person? Consider if we all were hunters or doctors or teachers, it's impossible! We need a person to fulfill every role, not all people to be one role.

While called, Medicine People are not born knowing how to communicate with the spirits, make medicines, or run a sweat lodge. These are not instincts, they are learned abilities. Another thing that tips me off to a phoney is someone who has learned all their Shamanic abilities from reading books or from some innate knowledge within themselves. Every Medicine Person has had a mentor at some point in their life, and many keep those mentors until they or their mentor pass on. Being a Medicine Person is something the spirits choose for you (and you choose for yourself before birth), but it is NOT something you come out of the womb knowing how to do. Patience is another Anishinaabe value and the learning process seasons you as a person as well as a healer.

There are many phony Shamans out there whether they be just wannabes trying to impress people with their bloodline of magicians and healers, or profiteers hoping to make a buck out of those seeking a connection to an old spirituality. While being connected to Anishinaabe spirituality does make me tapped into something older than Wicca or some forms of Witchcraft, it does not make my beliefs more valid than any newer religion. Older does not equal better!

If you do have First Nations blood in your veins, do not assume it gives you a leg-up in Witchcraft or in the skills of being a Medicine Person. You could be a Native American being called to be a Western-medicine doctor or a teacher! Our paths or not so simplistic, they are just as complex and varied as any other culture.

I'll also point out that by definitition a Shaman is someone who intercedes between their clan/tribe and the spirit world. If you are not working within a tribal context then you aren't a Shaman. You may be using shamanic techniques...many spiritual paths do so...but you do not fit the accurate definition of a shaman.

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Re: What is a Shaman
By: / Novice
Post # 4
Lark, thank you so much for posting that.

I couldn't agree more with your friend.
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