By Ross Bishop
People are curious about Shamanism. Although the term is becoming more widely used today, there is a lot of confusion about what it is. Shamanism is not a cultural phenomenon. It reaches beyond acculturation into the core of the individual and works there, regardless of a person’s background, culture, training or beliefs. That is why it has been successfully practiced for so many years in vastly different cultures spread all over the planet.
First, Shaman are many things, but most of what they do is to help people to heal. The shadow is the domain where the Shaman does his work because that is where the physical, emotional and psychic difficulties people experience originate. For example, the Western view is that we become ill through a failure of the body.
The Shaman recognizes illness as a warning, and a serious one, that a person has not been paying attention to the disharmonies in his or her life. For a Shaman, it is God’s way of asking people to pay more attention to something they have been reluctant to look at. The Shaman will work in many ways to help the individual return his or her life to a place of harmony and balance.
In order to achieve healing the Shaman uses many healing tools. In the West, what we know as music originated as the Shaman’s song. What we know as dance, theater and art all began with Shamanic healing rituals. Jewelry came from the Shamanic practice of using the healing energy in certain stones. Medicine, religion and the arts all evolved directly from Shamanic practice.
Although they have become secularized, the universal appeal of the arts is in the “magic” of these practices to heal. All of these forms have a common root in the sacred healing arts of the Shaman. Shaman did not create politics, lawyers, the military and bankers (these were the domain of the tribal chiefs).
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