What is Shamanism?

What is a shaman and what does a shaman do?

In order to understand how a shaman can help you, you will first need to know what a shaman is and what a shaman does, because we’re really not like anyone else. Shamanism is a technique through which we contact intradimensional beings, known to our ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years as the spirits. Shamanism eventually morphed into the Mystery religions and then was driven completetely underground by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century CE.

Shamanism, or shamanic healing, is making a comeback today and I’ve been a practising shaman for a number of years.

A shaman is someone who crosses into other dimensions where he obtains information, guidance and healing from the benevolent entities that he meets in those dimensions. These entities have been given many names throughout history — devas, spirits and gods to name but a few. The shaman then brings this information, guidance and healing that he gleans from these entities back to his tribe or community.

The shaman crosses into other dimensions while in a trance state. This is what’s known as the shamanic journey. It is not a physical journey. The shaman’s physical body does not go on a journey. If you saw a shaman crossing into another dimension, all you would see is his body prone on the floor looking like someone who’s asleep — except for the occasional twitch as power surges through him.

The trance state is also known to scientists as the theta state. They have found that if a person is exposed to a certain rhythm (between 4 and 7 beats per second), their brain will enter the theta state. This is why shamans use drums, and the beating of the drum is the usual, classical way that a shaman enters a trance — although there are many other ways, including the ingestion of psychotropic herbs (datura and ayuhasca, to name just two).

The shaman lives in two simultaneous realities: the inner dream space in which spiritual encounters transform perception of the external world, and the external world which becomes the stage on which the shaman acts out his divine purpose as healer. Each time the shaman enters trance for the good of patients and community and confronts the agents of affliction, there is psychological integration for the shaman. The shaman brings together heaven and earth, spirit and humankind. Shamanism appears in every culture. Amongst Tibetan people, it predates (and is woven into) Buddhist philosophy and practice, and is a vital and living wisdom tradition practiced from ancient times into present day.

From the Ghe-Wa (Tibetan Death Rite) for Pau Karma Wang Chuk Namgyal, by Larry Peters (for Shaman’s Drum.)

Why am I not called a shawoman?

I am not called a shawoman because the ‘man’ bit of the Siberian word ‘shaman’ does not refer to the male of the species. So it is not a gender specific word and that’s why a bunch of shamans are not called a bunch of shamen. The correct collective noun would be a bunch of shamans. Or a gaggle of shamans … or something like that.

Anyway, as mentioned, the word ‘shaman’ comes from Siberia. But thousands of years ago, there were shamanic practises of one kind or another all over the world, in every populated country. And so the shaman and shamanism was known by many different names, and it might be useful to know a few of them, so if the word comes up in different cultures, we’ll know what they’re talking about.

Andean (Quecha) shaman — P’ago
Arab (pre Moslem) — Baksylvk
Australian shamanism — Wulla-mullung
Australian spirit — Budian
Bedouin form of shamanism — Fugara
Celtic shaman – Druid
Chinese shaman —Tang-ki
Hawaiian form of shamanism — Huna Kane
Indian Vedic shaman — Rishi
Indonesian shaman — Dukun
Inuit shaman — Angakok
Jewish shaman — Baal Shem (in Hebrew, it means “Master of the Name”)
Korean female shaman — Mondang
Korean shamanic initiation — Nae-Rim-Kut
Lakota spirits — Wakan Tanka
Meso American shaman — Nagual
Mongolian shaman – Boo
Nigerian shaman — Babalawo
Norse female shaman —Voelva/Volva/Vala/Seidhkona
Peruvian shaman —Sheripiari
Siberian shaman – Shaman
Tibetan shaman — Pa’wo
Tibetan shamanism — Bonpo
Turkish shaman — Sahir-þairl
Ukrainian female shaman — Znakharka
Voodoo female shaman — Mambo
West African spirits — Kontomblé

So how can I help you?

There are lots of articles on here about the different sorts of healing that shamans do, and to make it easier for you, I’ve listed the main ones below. Basically, shamanic healing would not be the ideal first port of call for mending a broken leg ~ it’s more about restoring the health of your mind-body-spirit continuum and overcoming all the obstacles that no longer serve you in your life’s journey, and it is transformative, rejuvenating and revolutionary. If you’re feeling like you’re in the doldrums, shamanic healing will kick start your life.

If you’re new to shamanism and shamanic healing, please do check out these articles as they will give you a good grounding in the subject and also a better idea of what a shaman or shamanic healer can do for you.

If you think you may be born to this path, this video, Are You Destined to be a Shaman, will give you more information that will help you decide.

Fire in the Head, is about what a shaman is, and how being a shaman differentiates us from other spiritual healers.

How To Get A Camel Through the Eye of a Needle is about shamanic counselling, or learning to journey to get advice and healing from your own spirits. This is something I can teach you how to do.

Eating People Is Wrong is about how the shaman can help you reclaim your power after it has been stolen from you.

What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted? is about another role of the shaman, that of soul retrieval, in other words, finding and returning a lost soul fragment to you, after it got lost or was stolen.

The Way of Brigit – An Ancient Route to Self-Transformation is about initiation into the Underworld.

The Weather Shamans of Waterworld is about shamans that control the weather.

The Journey of Coming Forth Into Day describes how part of the role of the shaman is guiding the souls of the dead to their next destination.

The Never-Ending Journey is a personal account of how I became a shaman.

If you’d like a book to go deeper into the subject, can I suggest my own Stories in the Stars: What our ancestors were trying to tell us. Just click on this picture, and it will take you to where it’s on sale on Amazon in the UK. If you’re in another country, your own Amazon, as well as all good online bookstores, will also have it.
14 replies to What is Shamanism?
  1. Hello there, I just found you on twitter. I can’t wait to read all of your blog. I am too experiencing both realms simultaneously but I have zero training. I was told before that I am an “authentic.”. Do you have any information on the “Ram Gods?” Most especially one that may have been “abused?”. You might possible can point me in the right direction. I ran into a shaman on the other side and even there he/she was more concerned about selling their book than answering the question. While there I spoke directly to their spirit guide myself and he/she suggested to me that the “abused Ram God” needed a lawyer. Does this make any sense to you? Thanks..


  2. The name most Central Asians used for a spiritual healer was ‘taltos’ -or a derivative thereof. The taltos went into the ‘tengri’: meaning ‘ocean’ to meet up with the ancestors and resolve issues here on Earth. ‘Tenger’ in Hungarian means ocean. Many Native American tribes are also connected to this form of journeying, called in English “tengerism”..


  3. When I was a child 7 figures swarmed around me….all half man half bird, ox, snake, etc. 3 were holding staffs…that week I was trying to catch this white owl only I saw. This relates to the movie the 4th Kind and I could really use some help. Not sure what I am looking for but PLEASE! LadyMaverik@live.com


  4. Agreed about Wakan Tanka. It is difficult to give all the names of Spirit ally healers here. Kam is another name from the Tungus area but I don’t know which clans use it other than Urianchai.


  5. You might want to do some research on what you are claiming is the Lakota name for a shaman. The word you used means Great Spirit that Shakes the Ground when he Walks.
    Wakan means Sacred/Holy. Tanka means buffalo/Shakes the Ground when he Walks.


  6. And also u forgot that, theres a shamanism boom in mongols originated countries. some say ancestral spirits are coming almost to every family leaving no choice to those who are chosen


  7. Mongolian shaman on the 1st photo, Munkh-Erdene zairan (zairan means male shaman), one of the most powerful Khalkha-Shamans, is the one who is responsible for healing “the horse boy”.



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