Shamanism is perhaps the oldest spiritual practice known to human kind, dating back at least 40,000 years, and practiced by cultures across the planet in a variety of forms. It is a spiritual heritage that belongs to us all.
Shamanic World View
A shaman is a person who can travel at will and with intent into the unseen world; sometimes called “non-ordinary reality”, “the Spirit World”, “the Dreamtime,” “the Afterworld”, etc.; for the purpose of bringing back knowledge, power and healing for themselves and their community. The word “shaman”, pronounced SHA-mahn, is a term borrowed from the indigenous peoples of Siberia meaning something akin to “one who sees in the dark”, but is now used to refer to those that perform spiritual work in this particular way, no matter what part of the globe they hail from.
The shamanic world view is an expanded world view that reveres all of nature and sees all creatures, all beings that live upon the earth, and even the planet itself as interrelated - like family, and able to communicate with us. Shamanism accepts that there is a deeper “non-ordinary reality”, or spiritual reality, beyond our everyday “ordinary reality”. Through shamanic practices we are able to interact with both of those aspects of our world, the ordinary and non-ordinary. Shamanic practitioners generally hold that doing so is vitally important to the well-being of all life.
Shamanism explores the relationship between humankind and the environment, including the spiritual realities, in order to seek personal and planetary harmony and balance, solve personal or community problems, and restore personal power. It places humankind firmly within nature; not outside of it, and it reminds us of the importance of harmony with, and stewardship for, all that is.
Shamanism is a path of knowledge, not of faith. It is a cross-cultural healing and problem solving method that co-exists peacefully with many religious traditions.
“Core Shamanism” is a term developed by Michael Harner to refer to the universal, near-universal, and common practices of shamanic peoples the world over. Core shamanic practices are a set of tools and means of accessing the non-ordinary realms that are not tied to a specific culture or a particular set of religious beliefs or ceremonial rites. Harner distilled all that he learned over the course of over half a century of extensive, in-depth study and experiential work with practicing shamanic cultures into a stripped down or “core” path that is appropriate for use by people the world over. These core practices can be built upon by each individual (or group) as their relationship with the unseen world develops and grows.
The most utilized of the “tools” in core shamanism is the classic shamanic journey. A shamanic journey takes place in an altered state of consciousness with a clear intention or purpose in mind. In an expanded state, usually aided by percussive sound, the person undertaking the journey travels outside of time to experience the wondrous realms of “non-ordinary reality” and will often interact with the beings that populate it. These helping, compassionate beings hold great knowledge, wisdom and potential for healing, and are referred to by shamanic practitioners as “spirits”.