Category Archives: Shamanism Series

Shamanism {20} ~ Sacred Shamanic Places

“These are a series of geographical elements that are considered special places for the transition of shamanic journeys, which is why they are considered sacred places that take on vital importance in their practices, among them are:

The sacred tree
Its location consolidates one of the most important sacred sites of shamanism. The most famous tree is the Yggdrasil, known as the “ash tree of the universe” or “the tree of life”, typical of Nordic mythology. However, it is known that all cultures practicing shamanism have their own sacred tree. Trees such as apple trees, oaks, cypresses and laurels usually appear for this purpose.

The cave
The location and use of caves represents the perfect space for shamanism, as it is considered the purest representation of the connection between the return to the womb, with the earth element, and the connection with the ancestors. If we refer to the first human beings and their habits, the cave represents a fundamental space, since it has been the refuge for many of these communities, as well as the place of worship where several representations have been found that show the connection of man with the environment that surrounds him in his daily life, since they leave evidence on the walls of the experiences of these first communities.

The staircase
Although it may sound a little strange, the truth is that the staircase comprises one of the most important transition sites within Shamanism, especially those in the shape of a spiral that may be curious to anyone interested in getting started in Shamanism, since it is precisely the shape of this staircase that symbolizes the transition to another space. The stairs do not necessarily “lead” to a specific place, as their construction takes on a symbolic value of connection with the underworld.

The bridge and the well
Similar to the representation of the staircase, the bridge also takes on a sense of transition, however, it is taken because it crosses a stream of water, so it represents this connection as an element that is capable of connecting realities. Likewise, it takes a great value as an element that allows to overcome narrow paths or with difficulty, uniting the two worlds where the water symbolizes the separation of realities from the borders.

Following the connection with the element of water, the well also takes on great meaning in shamanism, even if it is a well made by human beings or natural, so it is directly related to the rites of divination, as well as miraculous healings and even legends of immortality.

The lake and the river
The lakes are also one of the sacred spaces of this set of beliefs since it is taken as a kind of door that gives access to the other world. A great variety of myths and legends also appear in them, including strange animals that live within its waters, so that they represent one of the main centers of worship, but also of pilgrimage. An example of this is Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world, whose waters are the sweetest in which there are very important legends.

Likewise, another of the water currents, the rivers, also represent one of the most important spaces of shamanism, as the river is considered as a giver of life and also as a way of access to the other world.

The mountains
On the other hand, the mountains in shamanism are the representation of the natural way of access to the dwelling of the gods who are found in the beyond. While many cultures have a deep respect for mountains, in shamanism they are also revered and feared in equal measure. To climb mountains is to be able to be much closer to the gods. In addition, mountains represent access to secret places that can hold treasures, being the only constructions that can bring humans closer to heaven.

Shamanism survives today in the world, especially in indigenous peoples where its value prevails and their beliefs are closely linked to the practices of their daily lives. Likewise, the practice of the beliefs that shamanism brings together lives mostly in rural areas, such as jungles, deserts, tundras and other spaces, including also urban areas, as it has been found in towns, suburbs, cities and villages, extended especially in the American continent.”

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Shamanism {19} ~ Shamanism Between American Natives Medicine Men/Women

“Native American cultures and First Nations have different religious systems. There has never been a single religion or spiritual system. Many Native American cultures have healers, masters of ceremonies, singers, mystics, storytellers and ‘Medicine People’, but none of them use the term ‘shaman’ to describe these spiritual guides.

Rather, as in other indigenous cultures around the world, these figures are given names in the original language that are not taught to outsiders.

The Medicine Man is the mediator with the spiritual world, connecting with the community. These Medicine Humans use crystals, rocks or other natural elements to make diagnoses, some can use trance. The use of the drum is widespread in almost all tribes.

Mayan Shamanism
The Mayan peoples of Guatemala, Belize and South Mexico make very sophisticated practices of shamanism, using astrology and elements such as fire. Through the relationship with fire, almost always present in Mayan ceremonies, it is possible to make divinations and healings.

Shamanism of the Amazon area: Curanderos/Ayahuasqueros
In the Amazon basin and northern regions, the shaman healer is known as a curandero. There are different types of curanderos that use different techniques and sacred plants. There are also different levels of specialization.

Ayahuasqueros are Peruvian shamans specializing in Ayahuasca, a medicinal plant used for physical and psychological healing and divine revelation.”

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Shamanism {18} ~ Different Types Of Healers

“It would be very simplistic to assume that all shamans are great teachers or exceptional sages. Shamans arise from the human collective, and therefore in this select group of people we find all aspects of human nature. Like other people, shamans exhibit different skills, talents, and motivations within their vocation.

Within their collective, shamans differentiate between the apprentice, the average individual, the one who is good at his or her job, and the true master. There is, therefore, a first category that relates to skill level.Obviously, there are shamans who are more skilled than others, regardless of their years of experience.

Experience is important, although it is not everything. Apart from skill and years of experience, one shaman may have more talent than another. This manifests itself in values. Values are related to what is meaningful and important to the shaman, and determine what a shaman will or will not do with his or her talents, skills, and knowledge.

There are four value systems that influence the behavior of shamans. Thus we can find everything, some mediocre and others exceptional:

1. Survival-oriented shamans.

The first and most primitive of the shamanic value systems is the one focused on survival. These are usually very superstitious, distrustful and willing to do anything to survive. This may include killing their opponents, practicing black magic or sorcery to harm others and achieve their selfish ends.

They are absolutely ruthless and do not understand concepts such as love, service or altruism. They often sacrifice animals and use intoxicating substances for their rites, such as alcoholic ferments.

Their power is based on fear, and their use of the plants of power is usually for divinatory purposes ( where we find hunting, enemies, etc.), with the purpose of purging the physical body or as a means of acquiring courage for war.

The visions with the plants of power are usually chaotic and without apparent meaning, so they are considered an unpleasant side effect and do not usually sing icarus (the medicine songs that activate the powers of the plants).

They are not very intuitive, they are rigid and inflexible and their way of thinking is that any problem or illness is caused by others and they perceive others as enemies.

2. Self-oriented shamans.

After the survival-oriented shaman comes the category of shamans who tend to give priority to their reputation. The important and significant thing is to make oneself known and to be successful regardless of the means employed to do so.

Some are very skilled in handling the physical and energetic world and have some help from the invisible world, although not on a higher level. And although in many cases they heal people, that is not their motivation, but to become rich and empowered.

They are people who engage in shamanism as a business, not as a vocation and use their techniques or knowledge to satisfy their selfish purposes. Sometimes they show a great charisma with which they attract people, but it is only the visible layer of an excessive ego.

3. Service-oriented shamans.

This group of shamans is motivated by service and helps others. They have a deep understanding of people’s psychology and generate great empathy in people. They do not necessarily draw on their tradition for guidance, but rather allow themselves to be guided by it.

So it is not surprising that they incorporate elements that are not from their tradition if they consider that they benefit people. These shamans are flexible and open-minded and show great healing powers and are always willing to help others. They have the ability to handle certain kinds of invisible allies that help them in their work.

4. Wisdom oriented shamans.

Wisdom oriented shamans are the great teachers. They are very intuitive, they see others as transparent. They tend to be direct and are very compassionate and loving. They are highly respected and often even leaders of their communities. They show great skill, strength and humility.

Their abilities sometimes become legendary as they master both physical reality and the invisible world. They have a “vertical” vision of the human being and stand out for their impeccability. They are usually accompanied by beings of light, great invisible beings that are invoked in the ceremonies for the transformation and healing of the participants.”

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Shamanism {17} ~ Australian Shamanism, The Dreamtime

“In Australian or Aboriginal shamanism, the dadirri is considered a special quality that allows us to come into contact with a deep spring within us. The connection with this source requires the achievement of a state of calm, of deep awareness. It is similar to what we Westerners call ‘contemplation’ or ‘meditation’, well known in various practices related to shamanism.

In Aboriginal thought, there is simply no impassable abyss between the human and the divine. This is why Aborigines had no need to develop an organized religion run by a bureaucratic, layered priesthood. What they do have, however, is an authentic spiritual egalitarianism in which, as individuals, they can access Dreamtime through trance, giving them direct and immediate access to spiritual dimensions through the shamanic techniques of ecstasy.

This ability gives them an unshakeable authority to make evolved philosophical observations. For example, like the religious thanatologists of other spiritual traditions, Aborigines describe the progression of human consciousness after death as “survival in the infinite”. They know from first-hand experience that the point of contact with the infinitude of individual cosmic consciousness continues to expand after death as long as it is co-extensive with it… until it literally ‘becomes’ it.

Aboriginal Dreamtime’ is that part of Aboriginal culture that explains the origins and knowledge of the land and its people. Aboriginal people have the longest historical-cultural continuity of any other people on Earth – dating back – according to some estimates – 65 thousand years. Dreamtime is Aboriginal Religion and Culture.

The Dreamtime contains various aspects: the history of things that have happened, as the universe has come to be, how human beings were created and how the Creator intended the purpose of the human being in the cosmos.

As in all other cultures – one speaks of the Gods and Goddesses who created the Earth – some of whom were loving – while others were cruel.

Everything in the natural world is a symbolic imprint of the metaphysical beings whose action created our world. As in the seed, the power of every place on earth is coupled with the memory of its origin.

The Aborigines called this “Dreaming” of a place, and this Dreaming constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in extraordinary states of consciousness can one be aware of or in tune with the inner dream of the Earth.

Australian Aboriginal shamans – “intelligent men” or “men of high rank” – describe the “heavenly ascensions” to meet “the Gods of Heaven”, such as Baiame, Biral, Goin and Bundjil.

The shamanic Aboriginal “death and resurrection” experience of tribal initiation of “high ranking men” finds interesting parallels with modern UFO abduction stories.

The “chosen one” (voluntarily or spontaneously) is attacked by “spirits”, ritually “killed” and then experiences a wonderful journey (usually a climb to heaven in a strange kingdom) and meets the “god of heaven”. His life is restored – a new life as the shaman of the tribe.

Ritual death and resurrection, abduction by powerful beings, ritual removal or re-settlement of body parts, symbolic dismemberment, implantation of objects, aerial ascents and journeys to strange worlds, personal empowerment and transformation – these and many other phenomena are recurring elements in the extraordinary shamanic tradition.”

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Shamanism {16} ~ The Existence & What Exists

“For the follower of shamanism, everything in the world is linked to everything. Although this belief is somehow close to pantheism, the truth is that for shamanism is much simpler, but also much more profound, since it considers that the world works as a large network in which everything that exists is maintained, and its knowledge allows to put in contact anything that is created at an energetic level and at a material level.

In this way, shamanism considers that everything is alive, from the stones to the stars, the trees, the rivers, the animals, etc., which have their own vital vibration that not only connects them but also shares with everything that exists.

In addition to this vital vibration, everything that exists also contains a characteristic consciousness that separates from that of the human being, although it may or may not unite with it. Ultimately, in shamanism there is the soul in everything, and this can be understood.”

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Shamanism {15} ~ The Four Pillars

In order to understand how shamanic practice is carried out, it is useful to differentiate four phases or aspects, which we will call pillars.
Although they are described separately because each one is a specific procedure, in reality they are in constant interaction, they are interdependent and their practice takes place in a circular process. 

It is a circular process in the sense that, once the four steps have been carried out, the process is usually enriched by a new cycle from the previous one. Likewise, the order of these steps is dynamic and variable, so that it is not always necessary to follow the same sequence.

The pillars are the ones that follow ~

  • Establishing the objective or purpose.
  • Build energy or power.
  • Cleansing or releasing the path.
  • Connect to sources of help

Shamanism {14} ~ Tools Of The Shaman

“In the course of his work, the shaman requires a series of symbolic elements and objects that allow him to perform the healing processes, as well as to improve his process of concentration and trance induction. It is important to emphasize that these are a series of tools which prevail in all cultures where shamanism is practiced, and are frequent objects. Among them are:

The altar: generally the altar they use is simple, as it consists of a cloth that is placed on the floor or a small blanket, a table can also be used, and on it are placed the other elements to be used.

The mask: although it is not an essential element, it is usually used by most cultures, since the mask represents a means of expression that puts the internal potentials in evidence.

A feather: the use of the feather has to do with the belief of the human being’s aura since it is considered that it has a physical structure similar to it, so during the processes the auric fibers are combed which symbolize the unraveling of the physical and spiritual problems and discomforts that the human being may have affected by the evil spirits.

The pendulum: besides being one of the most ancient elements linked to shamanism, it is also one of the most important in the processes of shamans, so it is present in the cultures of the world that practice it.
The pendulum is used in order to establish communication between the conscious and the subconscious so that the shaman can locate the area of the body where the imbalance that is causing the illness in the being is installed.

A maraca: often a rattle can also be used, which, when shaken over the body of the sick person, exerts a series of changes in its sound, which are interpreted by the shaman from the training he receives to give them meaning, a process in which it can work similarly to the pendulum.

The drum: this instrument is one of the indispensable elements within the shamanic tradition since in fact it has had very few variations over time and its adoption within the practicing cultures.
The drum is the instrument used by the shaman to make contact with entities from other worlds, as well as to establish contact with other planes of reality through which he can generate an altered state of mind, a process which allows him to reach the state of relaxation which will facilitate his entering into communion with his environment and with himself.

The candles: fire is one of the key elements of shamanism, which is symbolized by the candle, so it is one of its main instruments in the healing process. The fire allows the shaman to have access to a state of superconsciousness since it serves as a focal point that reaches the concentration and relaxation needed to establish the contact he seeks.”

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Shamanism {13} ~ Siberian & Mongolian Shamanism

“North Asia, and especially Siberia, is considered the place par excellence of shamanism. There are different ethnic groups that practice it even today, it is in fact the most widespread spiritual practice in those areas. The word shaman derives from the term saman used in various Siberian ethnic groups, the largest is Evenk.

Mongolian shamanism is very similar to Siberian shamanism.

In Mongolian and Siberian shamanism there are three fundamental concepts.

The first is that the world is alive. plants, animals, rocks and water all have spirits. These spirits must be respected and considered, otherwise the earth may become hostile or sterile. So the protection and balance of one’s environment becomes a very important thing.

The second concept is personal responsibility. Mongolian shamans believe in the concept of chaimato buyan, very close to the concept of Karma. Being responsible for one’s own actions is a characteristic sign of human beings.

The third concept is balance. Balance is important to maintain harmony within oneself, the community and the environment. When things are no longer in balance there are painful effects. In this case the intervention of a shaman is necessary.”

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Shamanism {12} ~ Neo-Shamanism

“The New Age movement has appropriated some ideas of shamanism, as well as beliefs and practices of Eastern religions and different indigenous cultures. As with other appropriations, the original followers of these traditions condemn their use, considering it superficially understood and misapplied.

But certainly there is a great effort in some circles of therapists, anthropologists and researchers to rescue shamanism and offer it in more modern forms so that at least part of this great legacy of ancestral knowledge can be integrated and help in many ways people living in an industrialized society.

Michael Harner has been a pioneering anthropologist in recovering some of the shamanic practices of various indigenous cultures and adapting them to today’s world. Harner has faced much criticism for believing that parts of diverse shamanic traditions can be taken out of context to form some form of universal shamanic tradition.

Some of these neo-shamans also focus on the ritual use of psychedelics or entheogens, as well as others focus on traditional ceremonial magic. They claim to be based on traditions employed in ancient Europe, where they believe many shamanic practices and other mystical systems were suppressed by the Christian church. One example is witchcraft in the Middle Ages, which is now considered a vestige of ancient shamanic practices in Europe.

Today we can find many currents that refer to neoshamanism with names such as Essential Shamanism, Transcultural Shamanism, or Universal Shamanism.

In his book The Way of the Shaman, Harner recounts how he himself began these practices, studying and living in close contact with tribal shamans in various parts of the world.

In Core Shamanism he condensed and reduced to the essential core (core shamanism) the methods of the different shamanic traditions, making them accessible also to Westerners.

Michael Harner discovered that the common characteristic of all shamans is the spiritual journey into reality beyond the everyday world, the journey of the soul into non-ordinary reality.

In that reality, normally invisible to us, shamans come into contact with spiritual entities that they call allies and that they meet mostly in the form of animals (Guiding Animals) and spiritual Masters (ancestors, mythological figures, sages). Allies give the shaman the power and knowledge to help and heal himself, others and the world.

Each person can make the journey into non-ordinary reality. This is Michael Harner’s second great discovery. We do not need intermediaries to harness the wisdom and healing powers of the universe. Spirituality is an innate capacity of the human being. That is why complex rituals are not necessary.”

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Shamanism {11} ~ Music

Music and songs are essential elements within shamanism and are related to its traditions in various cultures. Some of the songs used are used as a process of imitating the sounds of nature, which can fulfill various functions that can be initially separated from shamanism, such as attracting hunting animals, entertainment, among others.

Thus, music, as one of the oldest arts in the world, seeks to connect the human being with his spiritual self in which the vibrations of the spirit seeks the spiritual path to access his inner god and to the spiritual entities that provide him with the wisdom and strength not only to heal but also to resolve conflicts within this earthly plane.