Shamanism: Interaction With Spirit World

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This paper’s emphasis is on explaining shamanism’s common practices. Shamanism has been in existence for at least 40,000 years. The word shaman comes from the people of Tungus, a central tribe of Siberia, and acts as a noun and verb. As a noun it means ‘one who is created, moved or brought up,’ and as a verb it means ‘knowing in an ecstatic manner.’ Shamanism is a method of spiritual healing that gains immediate knowledge of the sacred. The shaman embarks on a ‘soul trip’ or ‘magical flight’ which includes a mystical experience in abnormal reality. Healing takes place while the shaman is in a state of trance. The spirits work through the shaman to identify a disease, interpret dreams and visions, guide the dead’s souls, restore harmony, and recover lost souls.


A shaman is a person born into an indeginous society, who has the gift of communicating with the spirit world in an altered state, using a variety of techniques available to achieve this state. A shaman directs and moves energy to restore the harmony within the individual, between the individual and the community, and between the community and the spirit world. Shamanism is a Western, conceptual construct developed to describe an understanding of the noticeable parallels between modern practices similar to the practices of a traditional indigenous shaman. Shamanic is an adjective used to draw attention to noticeable cultural elements such as myth, folklore, art and spiritual activity that can associated with various ideas found among the diverse peoples of our world in various forms of shamanism. Therefore, shamanism is a new theoretical Western construct, derived from comparative anthropology. Surviving indigenous’ shamanic’ traditions will continue to interact with spirits in their own unique ways, regardless of the arguments that may arise in the academic world as to how certain Siberian words, shamans, might apply. To be asked to explain shamanism is like to describe the impossible.

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Very few modern healers will define themselves as ‘ shamans, ‘ simply because they are conscious of the term’s historical and socio-cultural background. They realize, however, that there is some sort of equivalence between their own practices and those of ancient shamans. We understand we are the early ancestor’s grandchildren and have access to the same pool of knowledge (based on the morphogenic or morphogenic field notion of Rupert Sheldrake, otherwise known as the collective unconscious, according to Carl Jung). Today’s modern shamanic ceremonies and practices, through guides, ceremonial leaders, sangomas, medicine men / women, curanderos, curanderas, pajes, and so on, use the same methods that were used in other parts of the world many generations ago. These are timeless devices. They are devices that are handed down from person to person through many rows.

Although an element of shamanism is entering altered states, it is clear that one does not have to be a shaman in order to access a modified state. The shaman’s position is to grasp the altered state and be able to travel there at will in his particular setting on this planet using techniques made available to them (Singh 2017). This can be drumming, dancing, plant consumption, singing, or a number of other techniques. We try to teach the individual how to cure themselves, by witnessing the moment, by seeing alternative realities that can influence the person (Shaman Durek 2018). An important point about shamanism is that the shaman realizes we’re not alone. This means that the (benevolent) spirits are interested and involved when one human being works compassionately to alleviate another’s suffering. Since shamanism is not a religion as such, but rather a spiritual practice or process, it cuts through all religions and creeds to deep ancestral memory points. This precedes all established religion as a primary system of belief, and has its own mythology and cosmology populated by deities, gods, and totems. Shamanism is not a system of beliefs. It is based on experimental healing ceremonies, information retrieval, and so on. It’s a’ system of knowledge’ The shaman is dealing with what he knows, with what they experience not with what they are told to believe. They communicate with the spirits of the world. They don’t have to believe in them, they know them and works with them to bring healing to a particular situation. They’re not manipulating him. We realize this is very important as shamanism is not a faith system.

Formalized religions most likely started from ancient shamanic roots and still hold in all things the shamanic threads of deep connection with the divine, although shamanism is not formalized. Alternatively, it is a community of practices and experiences shared in cultures around the world by traditional healers (Singh 2017). The methods are adaptable, and with different cultures they coexist. Shamanism has always adapted to the culture it represents. Although it existed in ancient times, it is not an ancient system. It’s a system that works in the present as it did when it was implemented by our ancestors.

At the moment there is shamanism. It exists in life, and at the moment there is life. It’s not about either the past or the future. Life is’ now’ and shamanism offers an understanding of life and nature; a spiritual practice found throughout the world in ancient and modern cultures. Over the past 4 years, this awareness has shaped my life.

My exposure to shamanism was through a series of traumatic events in my life that shattered my existing belief system and opened me up from a different perspective to understanding the world. It’s been more an ongoing adventure than an introduction. By observation and commitment, self-knowledge is achieved. It’s going to take some time. It took a long time to shift my level of consciousness from the brainwashed system into my peers ‘ education and surrounding influences. It took time to even realize that the practice to which I was drawn was not a belief and therefore not a religion. The disintegration of my personal life as I know it sparked my interest in the direction of shamanism. And from experience, a reconstruction of reality.

So what do we accomplish in shamanic style gathering from drumming, sacred dance, sweat lodges, sight searches, fire ceremonies, sacred plant ceremonies, ancient sangoma rituals, Native American rituals, and many on earth and plant-based technologies of creating altered consciousness states? How do we benefit from it? Why are we doing this?

Having participated in a few ceremonies and rituals, I can speak from experience that on many levels of being, these kinds of ceremonies benefit us in many ways. The most important thing is the healing and balance that the ceremony brings to the community or group of people that are gathering for the ceremony. When we meet for a common purpose, it tends to bring together people who share similar values and goals and the interaction which happens around the ritual is always a large part of the healing that occurs at a community level. The rituals also bring personal healing. If you have the opportunity to calm your mind and concentrate on yourself, we can resolve traumas from our childhood or even things that have been carried over from past lives. Common emphasis, purpose and honesty are crucial because when people feel safe and realize they are protected and cared for, they are more able to deal with deep wounds on a spiritual level. Because of their level of support and commitment to the group’s common purpose, the families who assemble are all partners in the healing that takes place. Through experience, the team is also growing in strength. Therefore, as members of a particular shamanic community learn to know each other and trust each other, in ceremonies the strength of their healing capacity is increased. Friendship and relationship cooperation are central to this lifestyle and cosmology (Shaman Durek).

A pillar of shamanic wisdom is that we are Earth’s caretakers and that we must return to the belief that part of our intent is always to seek healing in rituals— for the good of all sentient beings or all relationships and the earth— an awareness that all things are linked and that healing must take place on both a global and personal level. Care and reverence are always part of a shaman’s job for the Earth Mother and all the creatures that inhabit Her. The very spirits and deities that support the shaman in the ceremonies are part of the earth as we are, and care is always taken to respect the spirits, plants and animals we share this planet with (Shaman Durek).

Most of the valuable insight I have learned with a certain individual in a ceremony is the awareness that allows the individual to become a better person for the good of themselves, their families and their culture, and to realize things about themselves that need to be changed in order to repair relationships. Many details about how to be better, how to be happier, how to live in harmony, how to love and be loved by people in ceremonies. These are simple but profound topics. Shamanism has a way of making complicated things quite simple. The solutions to many of our personal problems that seem to be complicated are often very simple. Take care of your body, take care of the Earth, take care of your family, friends, children and relatives, respect our ancestors, be productive, embrace abundance as the nature of things, trust the world, and aspire to be conscious and aware of the fact that we coexist on this earth with a multitude of other beings on the physical and spiritual levels.

While we use both singing and drumming and sometimes use other instruments, in the normal sense, a shamanic ritual is not a musical performance, and songs are focused more towards spirits than towards an audience. There are many items that follow from this. Above all, a shamanic ritual performance is a series of acts rather than a collection of musical sounds. The focus of the singer is geared towards their vision of the spirit world and contact with the spirits, not towards the participants. It is also important for the ritual’s success to give it its own clearly defined context, which is quite different from any type of entertainment. From a musical point of view, the distinctive feature of discontinuity is shamanic ritual performances. Breaks may occur because a spirit is hard to communicate with, or the shaman who leads the ceremony needs to call a different spirit (Shaman Durek 2018).

We’ve always had the’ now.’ From a shamanic point of view: the future will unfold to establish the past as it has for centuries in the present, and that will not alter any individual, ancestor, demi-god or god. That being that we mark God as a living being is better described as being the cosmos, the Great Spirit, the life force of all things. Shamanism recognizes the extension of reality and that we are constantly moving into a new moment or reality. Because there is always the opportunity for improvement and healing, regardless of whether the odds seem to be against it. Shamanism is not researching old practices; it is the introduction of modern spiritual understandings. It is the ability to understand and use technology that enables us to reach other realms for the purpose of our continued survival as human beings on this beautiful planet and to learn how to do so in a symbiotic relationship with other Earth’s inhabitants-animals, fish, birds, insects, plants, trees and other humans. Shamanism is about life and family, health, joy and plenty. The shaman’s efforts in alternative realities are to be able to maintain and enjoy life in this reality; also to understand and respect and communicate with the spiritual deities and beings that inhabit other dimensions, not to be controlled by them. A shaman recognizes the god within, and an external god does not control.

​ References

  1. Hills, T. T. (2019, December 12). Why did shamanism evolve in societies all around the globe? – Thomas T Hills: Aeon Essays.
  2. Shamanism: A Direct Experience. (n.d.).Timothy C. Thomason:
  3. Notes from a Shaman: Moving Negative Energy and Why the World Is in Upheaval. Shaman Durek: (2018, August 31).
  4. Adlam, R., & Holyoak, L. (2005). Shamanism in the postmodern world. Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 34(3-4), 517–568.
  5. Singh, M. (2017). The cultural evolution of shamanism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41. doi: 10.1017/s0140525x17001893


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