‘Shaman’ literally means one who is working with their spirit guides. A word derived from Siberian people living mainly in the regions of Yakut and Evenki in Russia. A word meaning monk, devotee or ascetic or hermit, a person with incredible self-discipline who has the ability to live simply, by leading an austere life. Which often means abstaining from the normal pleasures of life, denying material satisfaction. There is a knowing in this that ‘true value’ lies within nature and the spirit world.
Letting go and surrendering to the forces of life are a necessary part of these ways. Learning to trust and know death as our ally is a pathway of the shaman.
Many other forms of this practice have been discovered around the world, thus the word shamanism is used in other contexts too. In the teaching and healing of shamanism, guides, totems, power animals and allies are all part of what support this way of being. If the spirits are not included, then basically it is not in the true sense ‘shamanism.’
Shamanism is about healing ailments or sickness by mending the soul. Therefore it is soul retrieval, calling back the parts of the soul that have been lost due to trauma in its many forms.
The practitioners of shamanism travel with the drumbeat to access knowledge from the upper and lower worlds. Entering portals and realms beyond this physical world, sometimes also called the dream-time.
This is where focus and discipline is needed, to stay with the journey, to surrender to it, to give all our attention to this moment, gathering imagery, information and wisdom. The shamans main tool is the drum or rattle and with the technique or art of ecstasy through the body heart and mind in connection with spirit.
When a shaman is not engaging with this process they can become ill or depressed and in extreme cases even die. Hence when this is your calling it is important to keep connecting with the spirit world, through drumming, singing, dancing and any other forms of creativity. Supporting others also, letting spirit flow though you in its healing capacities, so that you are always engaged in your soul purpose.
People are often drawn to shamanism without much knowledge of it. It can be a confusing time, there is a clear calling and yet this kind of wisdom and knowledge in our culture is largely not explained or is lost and hidden amidst religion and its teachings or simply through fear. It is clear when this calling is happening that there is an awakening of that spiritual knowledge, and the soul is calling to be brought home, back to the mother-earth and our bodies.
Finding some one to talk to about this, is really important. It is necessary that the supporter understands and is able to answer the questions asked, as well as empower the seeker to find his or her own answers through this calling. Teaching the seeker how to journey is a primary source of guidance. Understanding how the drumbeat (through a practice of usually 120 – 180 bpm) assists this and helps the seeker to be guided to the ‘other worlds’ of spirit.
Once this discipline has been embodied, then the seeker can begin to find and engage with his or her spirit allies.
It is an incredibly simple practice, but does take discipline, concentration and focus. A willingness to surrender deeply to this process and surrender to the poetry of presence and the dance within. For spirit often talks in poetry and riddles, not always being fully understood. Therefore patience, an open mind and a creative way of seeing things is important.
The left brain mentality can find this hard with a need to analyze and work out what these things mean. Putting them into art work, poetry and other forms of creativity can really help, even when we are unsure of their true meaning. Spirit decides this in itself, we simply follow the path, showing up and allowing ourselves to be guided.
Our spirit guides decide who will represent them on this earth. It is not up to us to make that choice for them, surrendering is key and it may mean we meet many challenges along the way, we may resist, for we are being molded into shape, put through life’s lessons and created to be who we need to be, holding the medicine for the offerings of our true nature. Society may have had a different idea for us, so there is often need to rebel and break free from those restrictions, so we dance we write, we sing and we find our way, the only way we can honestly and with integrity be ourselves; our own true nature.