A ‘shaman’ might be called a ‘magical priest’ who makes journeys into the spirit world. In ancient times it is likely that all tribes and civilisations had their own types of shaman, and the protection of the people depended on what he or she found out when in the Otherworld. Stories of the experiences of tribal shamans can sound very strange and confusing to our modern ears – these people were working in a culture that was radically different from ours. However, there are plenty of shamans who function in our society, often with great benefit to themselves and others.
A SHAMAN IS DIFFERENT FROM A MEDIUM.
Often our ideas about contact with spirits are shaped by what happens during readings and séances, but shamanism is rather a different skill. A medium or channeller opens themselves up to receive messages, and this is quite passive. The shaman, by contrast, is more active, journeying with a question to ask and a specific purpose in mind.
YOU CAN JOIN A ‘SHAMANIC LODGE’.
A group of people who want to practice shamanism together may call themselves a ‘lodge’. It is very helpful to be part of a lodge because then you can swap experiences and learn from those who are more knowledgeable. Lodges can be found either by looking on the Net or by enquiring locally in centres that hold talks and workshops on alternative subjects – this is a subject that is popular in present-day paganism. However, when doing anything spiritual it is always vital to be very careful about your companions.
SHAMANISM SEEMS LINKED TO NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE.
When you approach shamanism you will probably meet things that remind you of Native Americans, such as sweat lodges and medicine wheels. This is because the shamanism of North America is still available, and vibrant. The lodge that I was part of drew greatly on this tradition, and shamanic leaders sometimes go to spend time with Native Americans in order to get ‘in tune’. But there were - and are - different types of shamanism. What we do in the West now is, and should be, something that is about our own heritage, drawing on images and inspiration that have meaning for us.
SO HOW DO I GO ABOUT SHAMANIC JOURNEYING?
This is just a matter of visualizing an inner journey, to the beat of a drum. The drum is called the ‘shaman’s horse’ and it is easier to go into the type of light trance needed for this work if you have a good drum-beat. In a lodge someone will play the drum, but it is also possible to play a recording. It needs to be the right rhythm, to enable you to go on your journey, so this requires exploration and ideally guidance from someone experienced. You also need to have found your power animal, and to have the framework of the medicine wheel, as an anchor for your journey, and some kind of ‘map’ of the spirit world. Your journey starts in a place of your choice, that you visualize, inspired by the actual world, and you explore from there, with your power animal.
HOW DO I FIND MY POWER ANIMAL?
Your first shamanic journey will be a short and simple one to do just that – find your power animal. That is explained in another article FINDING YOUR POWER ANIMAL. When you have finished reading this article, why not click on and discover more?
WHERE CAN I FIND MY MAP FOR SHAMANIC JOURNEYING?
Again, that’s in another article YOUR MAP FOR SHAMANIC JOURNEYING. This explains about Upper World, Middleworld, and Lower World, and what you may find in each of them.
WHAT IS THE ‘MEDICINE WHEEL’?
Check out YOUR MEDICINE WHEEL to understand what this is and how it can help you. ‘Medicine’ means power in this instance – it doesn’t have anything to do with medication, although it can be helpful for healing. It gives you a framework of symbols that help you feel safe and focused.
WHAT CAN I FIND OUT BY SHAMANIC JOURNEYING?
Almost anything can be explored by shamanic journey, as long as it is ethical and you have a right to know it. For instance, you may want to find out what your next career-move should be, whether to take a specific path for self-development or maybe simply to ask about a friendship or relationship. In time you may want to find out about deeper matters, such as past lives. As with all spiritual disciplines, it is important to take things slowly and carefully, and to make sure you are protected. You can start your exploration of your shamanic path by clicking on to FINDING YOUR POWER ANIMAL
Shamanism is a wonderful method of finding knowledge and insight, but as with all such matters there can be pitfalls and confusion. If you are in any doubt about anything you have experienced, or you need guidance, contact one of our wise readers at The Circle, to set you straight.
PUBLISHED: 01 August 2014