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A CONCISE DESCRIPTION
Describing Shamanism will not be an easy thing . Anyone who works Shamanicaly most possibly will have their own ideas and experiences that will differ to mine .
First , Shamanism is not a Religion , though it’s practice is not incompatible with most religions and traditions . There is no hierarchy , Sects , Sacred text or Dogma
For me it is the connection with Nature and to the Spirit of the Natural world . Something we have often lost for one reason or another . Or we don't have the time and the chance to get outside and walk in the Natural world .
The Shamanic concept is an Animistic view that everything is Alive and has spirit/soul , Animals , plants , Trees, Stone , rocks , Rivers , woods , Mountains and even inanimate objects . Everything has a presence and in that way everting has spirit. And I must point out that “All Shamanic cultures are Animistic , But not all Animistic cultures are Shamanic” ( Nicholas Breeze Wood )
Shamanism is old. We don't really know how old . But it would possibly begin with our connection to the Natural world our earth and the Universe . Probably with our need to understand our world and and make our way in it in order to survive. To find food , water and shelter .
It is suggested Shamanism goes way back into Human History . As dates as far back to our hunter gatherer (palaeolithic ) Cultures . Practiced by our Ancestors . from Ritual artefacts in the African Rift valley from 400,000 years , Cave art from 30,000-years-old shows evidence of shamanic practices, and Shamanic tools have been found in Iron Age remains.
The Word Shaman cones from the Siberian Tungus peoples . It is a corruption of the word Samaan. The word Shaman has found it way from Russia into the western culture and is in common use today . There are pockets of Shamanic practice in tribal peoples throughout the world . But they do not all call themselves shamans and will have different names for those who perform this practice .
Indeed throughout the world each Shamanic culture will have it’s own traditions and practice. But a Shaman from one Society would understand and recognise what a Shaman from another culture was practicing . Showing a remarkable constancy in these methods amongst different Cultures , and indeed they are doing the same work .
As I say there are pockets of traditional Shamanic practices throughout the world including Siberia , Some Tribes of North and South America , Groups in India and the Himalayas , and Northern Europe including the Vikings with their practice of Seidr . This Ancient practice of Seidr died out centuries ago but is being reconstructed from the old Texts ,sagas and archeological evidence.
The Role of a Shaman first and foremost is to communicate with the Spirits . Those of the Ancestors , local Gods and local Spirits . travelling out to other Spirit worlds . In order to do this the Shaman must enter a trance in order to merge with these Spirits .So as to gain knowledge and power to aid his/her Community.
Shamanism is a tribal practice and the Shaman is there to serve his community . With Healing , Ceremonies, support , wisdom and information . Also Using his/ her practice to help defend that community. But in this Culture the primary job is that of a healer.
There are arguments that being a Shaman is a calling . That you cannot chooses to have that position. but you are born to be a Shaman . Or Rather you are called to be a Shaman If the Spirits want you . No Spirits equals no Shaman . However Jonathan Horwitz believes shamanism is “an ability that we are all born with but it is taken away from us , “ How . well trough the system of eduction , being told to grow up , having to survive in this material world . Bu some people manage to either Hang on to or mange to reconstruct their ability to return to the practice of Shamanism. Paul Francis ( Therapeutic Shamans) Believes that Shamanism is wired into the Human Psyche , Deeply familiar at an Ancestral level. This makes (re) learning shamanism easy and familiar experience for many people .
Shamanism can be used in many ways : including Healing for self and others , Counselling for personal and spiritual development . All undertaken with Spirit guides , allies and helpers . Shamanism connects us to all life and brings us wholeness .
Further Reading . So What exactly is Shamanism them, by Nicholas Breeze Wood
Animism - Everyday Magic Jonathan Horwitz .
Both articles are in Sacred Hoop Special guide to Shamanism Ed:- Nicholas Breeze Wood , Pub Sacred hoop