By Nick Jankel

Author, Keynote Speaker, Leadership Theorist, Transformational Coach, Wisdom Teacher, Co-Creator of Bio-Transformation Theory & Practice®

Earth-Based Wisdom for our Time

Shamanism is an ancient earth-based wisdom tradition that offers a glimpse into a world much bigger than the everyday one we inhabit. And it’s not just for ‘shamans’: we all can practice techniques that allow us to connnect with our intuition through the invisible realm and find healing, balance and wholeness. Shamanic journeying means reaching an altered state of consciousness through the use of certain rituals and practices. This allows you to channel energies from the spirit realm into your life and the world, bringing about powerful personal transformation. Shamanism complements many spiritual belief systems.

Shamanic Healing, Tools & Techniques

Shamanic journeying or shamanic healing can help you to restore lost self-confidence, heal from trauma, and experience new levels of mental and physical well-being. As you start out in shamanic practice, you strengthen your connection to the spirit realm, through nature. You may do things like set up an altar (sacred area) in your home, where you honor your ancestors and the natural cycles of life. In the Native American shaman tradition, you may also use the tool of the medicine wheel , showing respect and appreciation for the four elements.

In a shamanic path you can expect to practice meditation and visualization, prayer, dancing, shamanic drumming, ceremonies to honor the spirits of nature, connecting with sacred nature sites, fasting, vision quests, sweat lodges, and other techniques. You might use entheogens under the guidance of a shamanic teacher. Entheogens in the Shamanic tradition are not to be used casually: they are part of an initiation rite into the mysteries of the spirit world. For example, in Peru you may work with an ayahuasqueros, a shaman who uses ayahuasca (psychedelic tea) to receive divine revelations. Some New Age therapies also use Shamanic techniques as part of their healing.


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Shamanic Journeying & Shamanic Training

You can dip your toes into shamanism by practicing a shamanic journey – the basic practice of contemporary core shamanism. This lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and involves using rhythmic sound (drums/rattles) or dance (free form) to move into a very relaxed state. You are then able to access a different reality, which may feel like a lucid dream. You may meet spirit guides and power animals, and ask them for guidance. This is not like an out of body experience: you may still be aware of what is around you. Each person’s experience of shamanic journeying is unique. You can plug into a CD or book to guide you into a shamanic journey, but it’s better to do it with a group or experienced teacher the first few times at least, for guidance and safety.

To find a shamanic teacher to work with, or to experience shamanic healing from a shaman, see here. Schools such as The Foundation for Shamanic Studies offer training in shamanic practices. Some cultures are skeptical about this, believing a shaman is only born, not made, but others believe we can all develop shamanistic abilities. You can do a longer course or a weekend workshop. Shamanism is powerful medicine: don’t stretch yourself beyond your comfort level, and make sure you’re in good emotional and mental health before you start practicing. Don’t get sucked in by anyone claiming to be able to make you into a shaman for large amounts of money. And remember shamanic healing is not a replacement for medical care and attention.

Restoring our Connection to Nature & Retrieving the Soul

In a world of concrete, mobile phones and constant busy-ness, we have become disconnected from our roots in nature. Practicing shamanism restores our connection to nature, reminding us that our lives are inter-woven with all life on earth – and that includes the invisible realm. Through restoring this connection, we can re-balance our health and well-being and gain access to deep wisdom. Shamans believe that our visible world is constantly overlapping with the spirit world . To practice shamanism is to become a messenger between the two. The idea is that when you are unwell in any part of the mind-body-emotions, you lose parts of your human soul. The shaman heals by returning the lost parts of your human soul (soul retrieval), and cleanses your soul of negative energies. Traditionally, shamans are called to the path by a rite of passage, like an illness or psychological crisis. This is the ‘wounded healer’ archetype: to heal others, you have to know suffering first. And who of us hasn’t? But Shamanism is not a navel-gazing, self-obsessed path. Because everything is connected, a practicing shaman has deep concern for everyone and everything in his or her community: plants, animals and all of life.

Shamanism: A Connecting Thread Across the Globe

Shamanism was the basic way our ancestors related to the world around them, and goes back as many as ten thousand years ago. It has continued in various forms across all five continents, with peoples in Tibet, North and South America, and Africa continuing to practice traditional Shamanism. The concept of the shaman came to the west after the Russians conquered the shamanistic Khanate of Kazan in the 16thCentury. Western scholars then found that similar religious traditions existed across the world, and the term ‘shamanism’ came to be used for many of these magical religious paths. Other Shaman names include Tang-ki- the Chinese name for a shaman – and Dukun – a Shaman of Indonesia . The term ‘shamanism’ has become very popular in the West in recent decades, especially with New Age followers. The contemporary use of shamanism is known as the Neoshamanic movement.

How will this help you to transform your problems and pain?

Shamanism is a deep journey into our intuition and to connection with nature and spirit, that nourishes and heals us by restoring the parts of us we have lost.


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