Supernatural and the Occult
Native American Spirituality

What is shamanism?

Top Answer
User Avatar
Wiki User
Answered 2012-10-24 22:52:58

The practice of shamanism is not easily defined. The best I can do to get you started is to define a few parameters.

A shaman is one who goes into an altered state of consciousness at will. While in this altered state, he or she makes a conscious choice to journey to another reality, a reality which is outside of time and space. This other reality is composed of three layers: the lower world, the middle world and the upper world and is inhabited by helping spirits. The shaman is able to establish relationships with these spirits and to bring back information and healing for the community or the individual.

Most importantly, shamanic work makes a practical difference in this world we live in. The work brings about a change. The journeys are undertaken with a specific purpose in mind.

A basic principle of shamanism is the belief that everything has a spirit and is alive. The tree has a spirit, the rock has a spirit, my drum has a spirit, and yes, even this computer has a spirit. If everything has a spirit and is alive, we humans then find ourselves in a position of equality rather than dominance. If you follow this logic, you begin to realize that shamanism is a radical act. Shamans don't follow the laws of man; they follow the laws of spirits. They don't dominate the earth and its creatures; they strive to live in harmony and balance.

Shamanism has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the last twenty years. Sandra Ingerman's book Soul Retrieval, Mending the Fragmented Self and The Foundation for Shamanic Studies (directed by Michael Harner) have contributed to the heightened interest. Many indigenous shamans have come forward in recent years to help train others and share their knowledge. Their prophecies have urged them forward.

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies states

"Over tens of thousands of years, our ancient ancestors all over the world discovered how to maximize human abilities of mind and spirit for healing and problem-solving. The remarkable system of methods they developed is today known as "shamanism," a term that comes from a Siberian tribal word for its practitioners: "shaman" (pronounced SHAH-mahn). Shamans are a type of medicine man or woman especially distinguished by the use of journeys to hidden worlds otherwise mainly known through myth, dream, and near-death experiences. Most commonly they do this by entering an altered state of consciousness using monotonous percussion sound.

What we know today about shamanism comes from the last living bearers of this ancient human knowledge, the shamans of dying tribal cultures scattered in remote parts of the world. Few of them are left today, due to the destruction of their peoples and cultures, and to deliberate attempts to eradicate the shamans and their knowledge, even though shamanism is not a religion, but a methodology.

Now, at the last moment, open-minded Westerners are beginning to discover for themselves that the shamanic methods can yield astonishing results in problem-solving and healing, for themselves and for others. As a result of their use of the methods, they are acquiring a new awareness of their spiritual unity with all beings, with the Planet, and with the Universe. They are also discovering that there is a dimension of reality beyond that ordinarily perceived."

A belief in some cultures in the existence of a spirit realm (in addition to the normal world) that can be experienced through altered states of consciousness. A spiritual discipline in which the shaman seeks to interact with this other world to learn and to communicate with spiritual beings to heal themselves and others. Shamans have also been called medicine men or witch-doctors.

More on this

Shamanism is a traditional belief system that considers the entire universe to be alive and interconnected. Ceremonies are meant to heal and expand enlightenment using rhythmic music, repetitive dance, mind-altering plants and drugs, and journeys into the spirit realm. The word Shaman has many definitions, but can be translated as "one who knows" or "seer." A personal quest for knowledge and inner power. A shaman may exhibit a particular magical specialty such as control over healing, fire, wind or magical insight. The shaman may make use of spirit helpers with whom he or she communicates. It is very important to note that while most Shamen in traditional shamanistic societies are men, either women or men may, or have, become Shamen.

Regarding Native American Belief

Several important things to remember about Native American practices in regards to this. First, magic is not a part of anything that is Native American. Second, no one in the native community would ever call him/herself a shaman or medicine person. (The word shaman is not a Native American term.) It is considered to be very disrespectful to claim such a title for oneself. The above is a mix of many different beliefs, some of which are consistent with Native American practice, but the language used to describe them is vastly different from the native way.

User Avatar

Your Answer

Still Have Questions?

Related Questions

When were the pagans practicing Shamanism?

Shamanism is a form of paganism.

When was The Archaeology of Shamanism created?

The Archaeology of Shamanism was created in 2001.

What is the Meaning of wasp according to shamanism?

Here is a link for you to explore Shamanism

How many pages does The Archaeology of Shamanism have?

The Archaeology of Shamanism has 239 pages.

What is the Holy book of Shamanism?

There are no holy scriptures of Shamanism, their practices are passed down by generations.

What is the ISBN of The Archaeology of Shamanism?

The ISBN of The Archaeology of Shamanism is 0-415-25255-5.

Why is shamanism important?

Shamanism is the basis of all religion. The shaman is a precursor to the role of the priest.

How many people practice Shamanism today?

there arnt many people in the world that practice Shamanism. Shamanism is great. invovled with animal spirits. and as you can see i am a Native american ;-)

What is the yanomami religion?


What religion uses a shaman?


What is the religion hopi people?


Does shamanism have a holy script?

Shamanism is an oral tradition. Some books exist on the subject, but nothing that I would call a holy scripture.

How far back does witchcraft go in history?

Witchcraft comes from Shamanism, which dates back to the cave men. Shamanism comes with the human civilization.

Were is shamanism found?

Shamanism, with a capital "S", is the religion of the Tungus people of Siberia. However, shamanism, with a lower-case "s", is NOT a religion. Shamanism has come to be the term applied to similar practices from around the world. A shaman acts as the priest, or priestess, of an animistic society. Shamans commonly provide such services as soul retrieval, medical service, and prophecy for his/her tribe or village.

What has the author Michael Berman written?

Michael Berman has written: 'Who are you?' -- subject(s): Study and teaching, English language 'Graded crosswords for pairwork 1' 'Word dominoes' 'The nature of shamanism and the shamanic story' -- subject(s): Shamanism, Shamanism in literature

How many people believe in Shamanism?


Who are some important figures of shamanism?

jesus mainly

Shamanism associated with what other religions?

Catholicts christian

What are the holy places for Shamanism?

The holy places of shamanism are located ofetenly by trees. For example, Bukha-Noyon is a treeless patch on a mountain but you must be shmanic to know where it is located.

Where did shamanism start?

Shamansim started when peoples fearful of natural phenomenon sought supplication from the spirits of the natural world around them. WHERE shamanism started specifically is unknown. The earliest proofs of shamansim are to be found in the cave-paintings and rock-art produced by early man in europe and the middle east. The prinicpes of shamanism are universal the world over, and in every continent where earth-bound cultures exist, shamanism is also practiced.

What has the author Ruth-Inge Heinze written?

Ruth-Inge Heinze has written: 'Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternate Modes of Healing' 'Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternate Modes of Healing, 1994' 'The Nature and Function of Rituals' 'Study of Shamanism and Alternate Modes of Healing' 'Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternate Modes of Healing'

What happens in the shamanism religion after you die?

1.) There is no such thing as a 'shamanism religion'. Shamanism is a type of tribal faith system. Similar terms in the context of categorisation are monotheism, polytheism, and animism. It is a kind of religion, not a specific religion. 2.) Stop reading books published by Llewellyn Publications. They will rot your mind.

What is techno-shamanism?

TechnShamanism is the use of technological paradigms for the modification of consciousness in reality and magick. Science in the service of the occult - any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

What is an example of Animism?

Neopaganism, Shamanism, even Wicca, but to an extent

What religion do Hmong people traditionally follow?

Shamanism or Animism.

Still have questions?