The word shaman comes from the language of a tribe in Siberia, according to Mircea Eliade, a scholar of religion, a shaman is a man or woman who "journeys" in an altered state of consciousness. Thus, shamanism is the application of what the shaman does. The shamanic journey is the most common practice of the traditions. The journey is usually induced by rhythmic drumming or other percussion sound, a rattle for example. The uses of the shamanic journey are many: such as diagnosing or treating illness, for acquisition of power through the interaction with spirits, i.e., power animals, spiritual teachers and angels. It is vital that the shaman maintain a relationship with their spiritual helpers as to receive instruction and information to help the patient.
So how does this apply to the modern world?
In the Western world, when we hear the word "shaman," most of us tend to conjure up an image of a masked and costumed indigenous tribal person, dancing around a fire in the dark, involved in some sort of mysterious ritual, accompanied by singing and drum beats. But inside that cultural shell of mask, costume and ritual, there is a woman or a man with a set of very real skills. The shaman is the master of the trance experience.
All true shamans are able to achieve expanded states of awareness in which they can direct the focus of their consciousness away from our everyday physical reality and into the inner worlds of the dreamtime while very much awake.
The first thing they discover is that these inner worlds are inhabited, for there they encounter spirits--the spirits of nature, the spirits of the elementals, the spirits of the ancestors, and the higher, compassionate transpersonal forces, many of whom serve humanity as spirit helpers and guardians, teachers and guides.
Creating a way of life
Westerners and indigenous peoples alike, are descended from tribal ancestors if we go back far enough... and they all had great shamans.
This fact reveals that the shaman's path is part of the cultural heritage of all people, everywhere, although it was largely lost in the West due to the ruthless suppression by our organized, state-level religions in the Middle Ages. Interestingly, shamanism is not a religion, nor does it conflict with any religious tradition. It's a method.
And when this method is practised with humility, reverence and self-discipline, the shaman's path can become a way of life.
Coming Next ... Time is coming for true Realisation!