Demystifying Shamanism

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

The ancient tradition of Shamanism has become much more commonly known these days. More and more people are talking about it, and yet it is still fairly misunderstood. I think most people don’t give it much notice and believe it does not relate to anything they may need in their lives. Really, what could it have to do with getting your celery juice in, the kids off to school, or paying the bills? There is very little cultural frame of reference or understanding for what a shaman does, or how shamanism may be relevant in our modern world. Unless one has a particular interest in such things, it is just not on most people’s radar. If you go looking to try and understand it, there is some weird and misleading stuff out there. I remember the first time I looked up the definition for “what is a shaman”. The description felt more than a little unsettling.

Here is one definition I found while writing this post... "a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits… Typically such people enters a trance state during a ritual, and practice divination and healing.” It is usually  matched with a picture like this one that may be interesting but is totally outside of anything most people would be able to relate to. 
Besides being very vague and highly inaccurate, this definition is so far outside our cultural norms and understanding, it really makes little sense. It is kind of like saying a doctor can see inside your body and makes magical pills to help you feel better. That’s not exactly untrue, but it makes it sound weird and is far from helpful. One thing that keeps shamanism mysterious is that, to a degree, it defies a hard definition. It takes time to really understand that it is actually relevant in our modern world, because we have lost the knowledge and experiences everyone used to have regarding such things. However, the things that make it hard to define are exactly the reasons shamanism has the power to stay relevant in a changing world. At its core, it is a part of being human, and like humanity, it’s malleable enough to evolve and grow with each of us. From my perspective, I would say that what shamanism has to offer is not just relevant, it is vital to a successful and purposeful life. People are delving into all manner of experiences daily, (meditation, visualization, connecting with nature, grounding, interpreting our dreams) and don’t realize that what they are experiencing are classic shamanic practices.

The question is, “What is shamanism, really, and how might it be relevant to my life?”

I don’t want to go into some deeply esoteric explanation that won’t mean anything to many, and won’t be helpful. I love long fascinating conversations, but I want to make this easy and get right to the good stuff. Shamanism is about taking care to be a good steward of your body, heart, spirit, and soul. It is a healing practice, and tools for living your best life. Someone acting as a shaman, (like a doctor, therapist, spiritual advisor, or life coach), is helping you find what’s been injured in your body, heart, sprit, and soul.  Then they help you find the right “medicine”, practice, knowledge, witnessing, and compassion to heal, find your purpose, and live your best life. But it goes even beyond that. In the same way that people take preventative medicine for our bodies, provide maintenance for our cars, and follow best practices in our work, we can do these same things for our body, heart, spirit, and soul though shamanism. When we do, we live our purpose and our best life possible, with much more grace, ease, joy, and compassion.

* If you have ever had heart ache, experienced trauma, had health issues, or suffered injuries, shamanism can help.
* If you are looking to move past addiction, create good life habits, discover the answers to life’s mysteries, or find your purpose in life, shamanism can help.
* If you are a doctor, nurse, therapist, reiki healer or practitioner of any kind, shamanism can help.
* If you are intuitive, empathic, psychic or sensitive in any way, shamanism can help.
* If you are a child, teen, adult, or senior citizen, shamanism can help.
* If you are religious, spiritual, or neither, shamanism can help.
* If you have led a sweet, protected and bountiful life, shamanism is still relevant.
Shamanism is really about being human. It is a part of everyone’s ancestral lines, because it has been practiced all over the world, long before we had our modern constructs. I suspect it is as old as humanity itself.  It is the hair that raises on our skin when you know truth. It is how we manage through situations we never thought we would get through. It’s the strange and unexpected encounters we have that lead us somewhere amazing, that we did not even know was possible. It’s the serendipity, chance encounters and calls from old friends that you really needed.  It is the frame work that helps to understand the unexpected and unexplainable. Beyond this, trying to explain exactly what a shaman does is kind of like trying to put all artists, musicians, and poets into one simple explainable category. Each shaman, like each artist, is unique and inspired by their life experience and culture. Some people may apply dogmatic ideas to define what shamanism is. We humans do that with a lot of stuff, but that does not make it right or true.
I find that when I ask people about experiences they have had, when it’s just one on one, everyone has something to tell me about some “magic” they have experienced. But we don’t really talk about these things openly, because culturally they are not acceptable within the realm of “normal.” Yet most people have had unexplainable experiences. The issue is, if there is an experience that everyone is having that is innately human, but we cannot acknowledge it, then we are suppressed. We are not using all that is available to us. We are cut off from tools that would help us make important decisions, and even tools which would help us drink our celery juice, and get out the door every morning, ready for what comes our way. 

“Compassion is … the soul of peace, the power of peace, the path or peace, the life of peace, the source of peace, the answer of peace, the creator of peace.” Anthony William, Medical Medium

Shamanism is my road to finding and connecting with compassion to find peace. Peace experienced though complete wellbeing in body, heart, spirit and soul. Compassion and peace that fills me and flows outward.
I encourage everyone to join me in the discussion of all the things in life that we experience and don’t understand. All the things that trigger us into fear and away from compassion. All the things that bring us grace, ease and joy. It is all important. It all has gifts of healing in it for you. It all contains puzzle pieces to your soul’s greatest desires.  Follow my links to find me on Facebook and Instagram. Share your stories, I would love to hear them:) 
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