• Nicole Berrios, L.Ac.

What is Shamanism?


If you found yourself on this page, you very likely are wondering what in the world shamanism is. Perhaps you have heard of it before but don’t really know what it entails. Or perhaps you have never heard the term but are curious. Or maybe you know what it is but you are wondering how it can be practiced by non indigenous people. Well my friends, you are in the right place as this article will cover all of it!


What is Shamanism?


Simply put, shamanism is a form of spirituality (in fact, it is the oldest form of spirituality known to mankind). It is a way of life and a way of viewing the world and everything in it as spiritual.


Shamanism is NOT a religion. There is no dogma, nor doctrines or sacred texts. There is no god or pantheon of gods to worship. As I mentioned above, shamanism is a form of spirituality, in particular the practice of “animism”, which is a term that describes how everything in our physical existence has its own individual spirit.


Everything from the sky, the elements, the rocks and the trees (and of course, your beautiful self) has a spirit and a consciousness of sorts. Shamanism and those who practice it understand this phenomenon and seek to live in harmony with the physical and spiritual aspects of all things on the earth. To practice shamanism is to live in tune with nature and both the physical and spiritual worlds.


What is a Spiritual World?


Because shamanism acknowledges that everything has a spirit, it stands to reason that there is a spiritual world, hidden but all around us. Shamans and those who practice shamanism, can access this hidden spiritual world for guidance, healing and more.


There are 2 different types of realities: ordinary reality (this is where we as humans live) and non-ordinary reality (this is the world of spirit). Non-ordinary reality can be further divided into 3 specific regions: the upper and lower worlds (this is where animal spirits, spirit helpers, ascended masters, gods and angels hang out), and the middle world (this is basically like a warped version of our regular ordinary reality world, sort of like the Upside Down in the show Stranger Things) Typically, ancestor spirits, the elements and things that go “bump in the night” hang out in the middle world of non-ordinary reality.


Is the World of Spirit Real?


Recent research in quantum physics is only now starting to grasp what our ancestors have known all along: there is more to life than meets the eye. Since humans live in ordinary reality, which is a very dense and physical plane of existence, it may seem unbelievable that there is a world of spirit, hidden from our view but all around us. Combine that with the fact that humans currently live so far removed from the natural world and it is no wonder that many people do not believe in the world of spirit.


With all of the gadgets and gizmos at our disposal and the constant need to be “plugged-in” to virtual reality, we as a society have become so utterly disconnected from nature that the common knowledge our ancestors had is now a distant memory for those of us in present day. So I am here to remind you and your soul: the world of spirit is real, it always has been and it always will be. And the easiest way to tune into the spirit world is through, you guessed it, nature!


Who Can Practice Shamanism?


The awesome thing about shamanism is that it can be practiced by literally anybody. You can follow any religion (or not), live in any part of the world and have any number of individual circumstances and you can still practice shamanism. Many people associate shamanism with indigenous tribes, and while it is true that indigenous peoples may have their own shamanic practices and techniques unique to them, it is not exclusive to them.


Core shamanism is a term used to describe the basic elements of the practice of shamanism that are the same regardless of which part of the world it is practiced in. This is because the world of spirit transcends space and time and the shaman who accesses the spirit world will get similar information, regardless of where they are geographically located. But because every individual is unique, anybody who practices shamanism will learn the same basic “core” principles, but the information will be transmuted in a way that is unique to that individual.


What Can Shamanism be Used For?


As I’ve already mentioned, shamanism is mainly a spiritual practice and a way of life and looking at the world through the eyes of animism. It can therefore be used as a form of individual spirituality and personal growth and development. It is a great way to stay connected to the natural world in a way that is severely lacking in modern society (much to our detriment, I may add). It can also be used to gain individual wisdom or insight as well as to help one feel more connected to the whole.


Traditionally, shamanism has been used as a healing practice. The village shaman would work to heal their tribe members from various physical and spiritual ailments to help make the people more empowered, physically robust and better able to withstand the challenges of life. Spiritual ailments (which I talk about in detail on this page) are rampant in modern society (maybe even more so than in generations past), mainly because we have become so far removed from the natural world and our connection to all things spiritual.


As shamanism is beginning to experience a comeback in modern society, these traditional healing practices are starting to be used again. And not a moment too soon, as we are all dealing with various major crises on the worldwide stage.


The Bottom Line


For as long as there have been people walking on planet earth, there has been shamanism. Even if it fell off the radar a bit over the years from witch hunts through industrialization, it never went away and is enjoying a severely needed resurgence. And exploring shamanism and all it has to offer can be exactly what your soul has been looking for to finally feel at peace in the world.


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