What is a Shaman?

The term “shaman” originates from Siberia; the same type of person would be a “kahuna” in Hawaii, or a medicine man or wise woman in other cultures. This kind of person is involved with healing (spiritual and physical) and with spiritual matters, alternate realities and the world of spirits. The Hawaiian term originally referred to the people of knowledge and wisdom in every area of activity, rather like Masters of craft Guilds. These could be fishing, farming, or weather, as much as healing or spiritual matters.

My use of the term builds on these past associations – I use “shaman” as a general term for people of knowledge and skills in the powers of the mind, including extended sensory perception (ESP or psychic) abilities, with the calling to travel, mediate and communicate between different “worlds” on behalf of their community.

That’s rather a long sentence, so let’s look at some specific characteristics of shamanic abilities, according to my definition:

• Ability to travel between “worlds” (states of mind / perception / reality tunnels)
• Mastery of aspects of the Unseen / esoteric (can be different specialisms)
• Enhanced sensory awareness with close appreciation of and links with the natural world
• Works in harmony with the world, so tends to be someone who appreciates and cares for the environment and every living thing.
• An experienced shaman would be well aware and familiar with the world of spirit and the physical world, and equally at home in each.
• An experienced shaman would move with awareness and elegance through the world with respect for all living things – they would leave a small footprint.

A shaman with these qualities may be found building sustainable dwellings, may be an eco-warrior, or a naturalist, a complementary health practitioner, a teacher or spiritual leader. They might be an overtly spiritual person, or a very practical person who lives in a spiritual way (for example in their connection with the land).

They may very well not choose to call themselves a shaman, or think of themselves as one, but they are living shamanically when they live in harmony and balance with nature and spirit, respecting and appreciating all things. In the past, their awareness of spirit might have taken the form of animism; nowadays it could take the form of spiritual or religious belief in God, or one Spirit / universal consciousness.

These represent my understanding and some examples of “living shamanically”. A “Shaman” (capital S) – or shamanic practitioner is someone who, as well as living in this way, undertakes to act as a go-between on behalf of the community in some way. Their skills may be manifest in healing, bringing knowledge, guidance, wisdom, solutions on an individual, business, community, national or even international basis.

In a business setting, a Shaman would bring spiritual insight, wisdom, and a different kind of communicating and negotiating skill to conflicting interests, negotiations and takeover bids. Shamans are able to mediate and bring spiritual insight and different perspectives that connect people in a more harmonious, balanced and healthy way. This is essential for the healthy functioning of the company as a whole, its departments and divisions, and each individual in the workplace.

Shamans must be able to find the neutral point of balance and to act as a bridge.
They can heal disharmonies between individuals in conflict, different bodies of interest, political parties, lobby groups in the community etc.

The Shaman can also find the disharmony within physical buildings and structures, for example, and so could bring different perspectives to town planning, traffic systems etc.

I am not suggesting that shamanic training alone would make someone able in all these diverse areas – but shamanic training alongside training and qualifications in different professions, would add another dimension of ability and skill – which has, perhaps, been missing in our 21st century world.

If you want to expand your life experience and skills and add a fresh perspective to your world, take our 8 week online Practical Shamanism course.