Having been used for more than 50,000 years Shamanism is the oldest spiritual path throughout the world. Ancient peoples listened to the spirits of the natural world and lived in harmony and balance with all living communities on Earth.
In this modern world we have only a tenuous connection with our natural environment and our vital spiritual needs. There are so many distractions and excuses for not making the necessary changes in our life that will lead us to the fulfilment we desire but often lack. As more and more people live a thoroughly urbanized and technologised existence they are seeking ways to reconnect with the natural world. This is but one of the reasons in the increased interest in Shamanism in the West.
terry’s introduction and development to Shamanism came as many things do, with an encouraging teacher, Jonathan Horwitz. Without wise, humble and humorous teachers much can be lost to this world.
Shamanism reminds us that everything that exists is alive and has spirit and power. It is important to understand that power should not be associated with “might”, but should be understood as a term of energy. If a being is empowered it is holistically healthy and so full of power that disease cannot enter.
Everything is connected both on this Earth and throughout the greater universe and it is the shaman’s role to keep harmony and balance between humankind and all the forces of nature. The shaman communicates with other forms of life with the guidance of the shaman spirit helpers. The two most common types of spirit are power animals, also called guardian spirits and teachers in human form. Working with the spirit helpers the shaman brings healing to individuals, the community and the environment. The spirits are also contacted when problem solving and information is required. No spirits – no shaman.
Shamans perform a wide variety of ceremonies, however one of the major ceremonies is a shamanic journey where, via an altered state of consciousness, they travel to what is often termed “non-ordinary reality”, as they are outside of time in hidden realms. Typically this is achieved with the use of some sort of percussion, especially drumming or rattling, to go into the altered state that allows the free soul of the shaman to journey into invisible worlds.
Scientific study has found that when we are in an ordinary state of consciousness our brain waves are in a beta state. But when the shaman or shamanic practitioner listens to rhythmic or monotonous drum beat the brain waves slow down, first to an alpha state, which is a light, meditative state of consciousness and then into a deeper state called a theta state. That is the state that allows the shaman’s free soul to journey into invisible worlds having access to helping spirit.
Traditionally, shamans understand that there are two main causes of illness. Either a person has something within him that should not be there (an intrusion of inappropriate power) or is missing something that should be there (power loss, or soul loss). The healing work is roughly divided into either regaining lost power or soul, or removing the unwanted power.
Each shamanic practitioner works in his/her own way, with their own spirit helpers and every individual treatment is also a unique experience. Having listened to the client's problems the practitioner connects with their own spirit helpers for their view and diagnosis in what to do. Only then will the healing work be carried out, with their spirit helpers, whilst in a state of altered consciousness.
Shamanism is not a belief system or religion, but a system of direct discovery. What is discovered is by direct contact with the spirits. Shamanism is rooted in traditional ancient culture, but has and will evolve to interweave with relevant influences, whilst always retaining its integrity.
That is why shamanism is so relevant today, so needed today for both Mother Earth and each being that lives with her.