Role of the Shaman
The Shaman’s role is to communicate with the spirit world, giving respect to the spirit of the ancestors, as well as to live in harmony with nature. The ancestors are the spirits of the people who have gone before us. They have lived in this physical world and gained the knowledge and awareness that we are now here to learn before out turn to pass into the invisible realms. By tradition, Shamans study the ways of the animals that live in their lands. Animals are thought to have a purity of purpose that could help the humans to know much about their own spiritual potential. During trance states induced by meditation or sacred rituals, the Shaman contacts his or her power animal and travels with it through the inner planes. This animal spirit literally or symbolically gives the Shaman important insights into his or her own nature, the nature of the person seeking healing or counsel as well as the needs of the community.
Shamans have many different roles but all serve greater purposes in building bridges between the physical and non-physical worlds, serving the earth and humanity and touching the Divine so that healing may occur.
The Shaman is above all a healer and all cultures have natural healing traditions; modern medicine grew from the skills of the herbalist, the medicine person, the white witch, and the faith healer. The Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang is a powerful sign of balance. The areas of black and white are evenly distributed and there is a little of each color that resides within the other. Chinese medicine has tried to maintain that balance of Yin and Yang for thousands of years. Chinese doctors rely on energetic meridians, or circuits of energy, that passes through and around the physical body. When there is an imbalance, these meridians are blocked or distorted and disease can take place. The original imbalance can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
A Shaman could also be the fool, the clown, or the court jester using skill, ingenuity and humor to entertain or diffuse potentially dangerous situations or promote spiritual learning and or healing.
Many Shamans were the seers, visionaries and psychics whose knowledge of human nature, intuition, and power of divination are valued by others. These Shamans developed natural skills of clairvoyance, clairaudience and awareness that are latent within all of us.
The Shaman’s capacity for clear sight often comes from their ability to attain altered states of awareness that give them a bigger picture of the world and to see beyond the daily events of community life.
Can Anyone Be A Shaman?
Some people are born a Shaman and others become a Shaman through training that brings their Shamanic potential to life. For most people, the path of being a Shaman is a slow process that does not always involve personal trauma. In becoming a Shaman one has to find a balance between the logical, reasonable, and rational side of their personality and their instinctive, intuitive, and irrational personal characteristics. Shamans must be aware of the full range of human emotions – to feel them, live with them, and draw motivation from them and at the same time have the wisdom to know when to simply acknowledge their own emotions yet overlook them. To regain touch with the natural world and find places of stillness and truth that will enhance their power of vision, many would-be Shamans retreat from community life for a period of time.
Fasting, meditation, prayer and journeying generally facilitate visions during which spirits of the natural world may visit the seeker, bringing protection, wisdom, and awareness. During a vision, the Shaman sometimes connects, or reconnects, to special guides (an ancestor, animal, plant, stone or any other aspect of nature). Awakening the Shaman within often comes with increased creative power and ability, reversing the natural instinct to belittle our own qualities in these areas. Creativity opens up other dimensions and expands awareness. Those who feel that their Shamanic nature is awakening following a period of crisis in their life would do better to fully accept it rather than fight it. Many people discover that their intuition expands when they focus upon their own spiritual growth, self-healing, and personal development. All people have a range of psychic senses as real and as important as their five physical senses. Not all of us have the same gifts and abilities in all areas, but we all have psychic abilities that can be expanded.
Being A Shaman Of Today
Shamans have always been described as wounded healers – one who brings healing to others as a way to heal their own similar wounds. Being a wounded healer does not require one to damage their own life in order to understand another’s problems or help another heal. All that is required is a willingness to heal one’s self while following a Shamanic path and draw wisdom from one’s personal experiences. Disharmony and disease often are the result of an inner conflict between body, mind and spirit or between understanding and acceptance.
The Shaman must negotiate a balance of body, mind and spirit within as well as help others find that balance. The body, mind, and spirit have the ability to stay healthy; when this ability stops working, spiritual and energetic forms of healing can stimulate it again and restore the balance.
Modern Shamans come from every social background and culture. Their jobs, no matter how humble, seem to give them the opportunity to serve other people or serve the environment. Many modern Shamans choose to remain invisible and they practice their skills unnoticed. However, with experience and an increase in their awareness and skill, they tend to move to jobs that will allow them more opportunities to better express their healing skills and creative abilities. Shamans should live in places where they are best able to serve other people and facilitate their own spiritual growth. People who do their best to heal themselves and follow their spiritual path naturally become spiritual teachers to others.
The Call to Shamanic Spirituality
“I feel the tug of the homing signal.
I feel you calling in the song of the stream.
I feel you calling in the shadow cast before me as I walk
and by the Sun behind me warming my back.
I feel you calling in the wind that caresses my face.
I feel you calling in the sound of my feet
walking on Sacred Mother Earth.
I feel you calling in the hummingbird-shaped cloud
hovering in the sky overhead.
What are you calling me to, asked I?
Life, answered you.”
– Black Elk
Shamanic Spirituality has evolved globally over the centuries. Today, the Shamanic-Soul is no longer the soul of specific people only. It is an expression of the collective spiritual yearning of countless seekers of truth. Transcending national boundaries and religious divisions, contemporary Shamanism is an experiential path of transformation that invites us into a deep, living relationship with nature and the Divine Source of all that is.
Contemporary Shamanism is a creation-centered, pragmatic tradition that enables exploration of the lower, middle, and upper worlds and entering into deep relationship with the inner truth of one’s heart; with the ancestors, stones, plants and animal allies; with the earth, sky, moon, sun and stars; with the One Source of all that is.
The methods of Shamanism may have changed over time but the goals are still the same: to love and accept self and others unconditionally, to live fully, joyfully, passionately and creatively; to grow in wisdom by studying the living book of nature; and to enter deeply into the reverent awareness that everything is alive, conscious, and interconnected.
The Shamans of the International School of Shamanism believe:
Supreme Creator or Great Spirit is the Source of everything that is, everything that was and everything that will be.
Great Spirit is in all and all is a part of Great Spirit.
In the concept of sacred reciprocity: Today for you, tomorrow for me.
The Sun is our symbolic father and the Earth is our symbolic mother.
We embrace and emphasize the highest good of all, a view grounded in the concept of unconditional love and acceptance for self and others.
Everything is interconnected in a living energy field. Everything is alive and conscious.
Everything is related. We are all sisters and brothers.
Life is a sacred ritual. Life is in this moment. Life is the path and the teacher.
We are a divine spark in essence. Each person is a spirit within a body.
That the secret to wisdom is not in looking for the right answer but asking the right questions.
That no one has all the answers but together we all can learn from each other.
That on this sacred journey, the experience of others serves as a guide for all.
Those who answer the spiritual call within must rediscover for themselves the trails leading to the path and begin their ascent to the highest good of all into a deeper communion with Great Spirit.
Each spiritual seeker must make their own way to the truth of their heart. Here in this holy place the spirit of wisdom, the inner Shaman, awaits a joyful discovery and blissful reunion.
With unconditional love and acceptance, joy and anticipation, we eagerly await your yearning to deeper study, prayer, meditation, shamanic journeying, fasting and above all selfless service.
We honor all spiritual expressions of the Great Path. We acknowledge that ours is but one way and surely not the only way.