native american/shamanism

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Forums -> Other Paths -> native american/shamanism

native american/shamanism
Post # 1
I was recently (about 18 months ago) introduced to alternate life paths, I never realized there were so many, I was raised in a church and therefore was close minded to "other ways" or "beliefs", however I am very intrigued by all of this new found information, hence the name, and I would appreciate all the help in understanding different beliefs so I can determine. The effect they have on me and my way of "seeing" as of late! I am in no way prejudice of alternate life paths, in fact I have started to feel a pull on that direction, just looking fo guidance so as not to fail my ownself, and get into something I don't fully understand! Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated!
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Re: native american/shamanism
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2

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: native american/shamanism
By: / Novice
Post # 3
Fist I'd like to point out that lark speaks a lot of truth. however I take offense (and I do note this isn't Lark's words, but a good article they found) that you can't learn the ways of a medicine woman/man through books or 'innate knowlode within yourself'. I do have a mentor that I sometimes refer to, but most of what I know is things I've read and I just seem to know. My ability to work with spirits of both human and earth bound was not learned form mentor nor book. I know think I was born with it, but I think it was a gift bestowed on my by a greater power, whatever that may be.

Now this all dose have a point, I'm actually staying on topic here. Again, not saying this is what Lark is saying or that the article is saying, but don't let someone tell you that you can't learn from books. I have had people tell me that books are great, but you can't truly learn anything without a mentor. While a mentor is great what if there isn't any one out there to mentor you? I grew up learning without one due to my community and no internet. I came accrossed Wiccan in a book I found, from there I discovered 'Shamanism' and later in my life intergrated what I'd learned into my path now.

I am a self tiled medicine woman. I do not pretend to have all power and all knowledge know that I can heal your wounds in a matter of seconds or things like that. I do have gifts and knowledge and I'm always learing and improving. I am part Native American but I don't think that has anything to do with my path. I'm also German and French. blood lines don't matter except to some who are Hard core generation wiccans/pagans.

Shamanism as a word is used in general to refer to both people that work with nature and the spiritual world. In Norse they had medicine men/woman and were sometimes called Shamans as well as some Germanic tribes. As the article points out.

If you wish to learn native American medicine man/woman techniques you can ask me some questions on your journey and I will try and help. I can also help with Shamanic paths of different regions. I have studied and learn them as well, though I don't claim to be an expert on them all. I will guide you as well as I can but I wouldn't just take my knowledge and non other. You need to find sources wherever you can and learn how to sift out the false from the truth and find what works best for you.
Everyone works their own path differently from everyone else. Don't listen to those that say your path must be this way or that way. What works for you is what you must follow.

Thora S.
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