The term shamanism comes from the Manchu-Tungus word šaman. The noun is formed from the verb ša- ‘to know’; a shaman is literally “one who knows.”
We don’t have a word in English that describes individuals who practice ancient healing modalities in this country. “Medicine Women and Medicine Men” are terms that may be more familiar and used when referencing indigenous healers. These are terms that have been used interchangeably by many scholars. The shaman is the mediator between the supernatural powers and humankind, and the medicine-man/woman is primarily the curer of diseases through traditional techniques. The shaman may also be an expert in medical knowledge of the supernatural disease processes. Some shamans are medicine-women/men, and conversely, some medicine-women/men are shamans.
The scholars and anthropologists of The Foundation of Shamanic Studies have brought back the healing methods of indigenous peoples worldwide. They have come to understand a common path that the shaman takes to do healing work. This methodology is referred to as Core Shamanism and is offered to anyone seeking this path.
Core shamanism allows us to learn practices that connect with our specific land, plants, animals, or spiritual guides. You need only to be human with a compassionate heart to learn these methods and rituals of the shaman. I respectfully use the word shaman and shamanism to describe aspects of my work, but I am not a shaman. I practice this spiritual healing methodology, and I respect the ancestors of animistic cultures where it originated. I am a practitioner of core shamanism.
“The specific intent of this approach is to practice a methodology which is the common property–by heritage–of all humans. The original inventions of elements of this common heritage are lost in the mists of time, but are certainly tens of thousands of years old. As such, they cannot be attributed to any specific living group and thus become the property of all living people.” ~ Bill Brunton
To have a deeper understanding of the evolution of shamanism in America, please enjoy Bill Brunton’s article: “The Reawakening of Shamanism in the West.”
The path of direct revelation
Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice that exists on every continent dating back 40,000 years. This spiritual practice is based on the concept of animism, which holds that all things on this planet have a spiritual essence. Our ancestors believed that their health and survival depended on maintaining a relationship between the natural and spiritual worlds. They relied on the shaman to act as their intermediary between the visible and the invisible worlds. Through rituals designed to work with the helping spirits, the shaman facilitated the community’s wellbeing and addressed the spiritual disharmony believed to be at the root of an individual’s illness.
As humankind modernized, organized religion succeeded in marginalizing shamanic practice. But over the past thirty years, interest in shamanism has surged in the western world. Dozens of books on the topic continue to be published every year. In addition, many western therapists and health practitioners have incorporated shamanic techniques into their practice. For these professionals, this practice is by no means to take the place of traditional or alternative healing methods. Still, they seek an integrative approach to healing that adds a deeply personal and profound spiritual dimension.
The Shamanic Journey
Discovering non-ordinary worlds
This kind of journey refers to shifting of consciousness and going into a trance state. While in a trance the shamanic practitioner travels to a “non-ordinary” reality with a specific intention to meet with their spiritual guides to get information (for themselves or on behalf of others) and then intentionally returns to ordinary reality to share the information.
There are many ways that we can see or perceive information while doing a shamanic journey. Many of us have a mixture of the “Clairs” while journeying. The most common of these is Clairvoyance, which is the ability to receive information about a person, object, land, or physical event through means other than the known human senses. Clairaudience – Sound, Clairsentience – Feeling or touch, Clairconscious – Knowning, and Clairsalience – Smell, are all ways to convey the information is given in a shamanic journey.
The Foundation for Shamanic Studies was founded by internationally renowned anthropologist Michael Harner, in a three-fold mission to study, to teach, and to preserve shamanism. The Foundation has built a reputation of consistency and dependability by providing reliable training in Core Shamanism to interested learners worldwide.
Sandra Ingerman, MA Sandra teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. She has trained and founded an international alliance of Medicine for the Earth Teachers and shamanic teachers. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture addressing the needs of our times.
Betsy Bergstrom is a full-time Spiritual Teacher and Shamanic Practitioner. My role and goal in teaching is to remember and to bring wisdom tradition teachings from their origins in the past, into the present to bring needed enrichment and grace in these times and strengthen these traditions as they go forward into the future.
Stephen Gallegos, PhD. Steve Gallegos was born the state of New Mexico in the southwestern United States in 1934. Of Native American, English and Irish descent. For over 30 years, he has taught people how to access their wholeness through developing a relationship with their deep imagination. Steve discovered and developed the Personal Totem Pole Process© as a way of meeting the inner animals and beings of the deep imagination.
Shamanic Practitioners The mission of the Society for Shamanic Practice (SSP) is to gather and share extensive knowledge and resources about the practice of shamanism in all its forms, its evolution in the modern world, and how shamanism can be applied in the 21st century. We are dedicated to supporting practitioners at all levels of experience and to helping create an educated and empowered community who walk this spiritual path with integrity, respect and practicality.
Shamanic Teachers (Sandra Ingerman) This is a list of instructors available throughout the country to teach basic shamanic journeying.
Nan Moss – Down to Earth — The Shamans Circle is the shamanic teaching collaborative founded by Nan Moss, David Corbin, and the late Linda Crane. They offer workshops in shamanism, led by Nan Moss, David Corbin, and esteemed guest teachers, at their center in Maine and in other locations around the country. Workshops include the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Basic and Advanced courses.
Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is an internationally respected author, artist, visionary and master storyteller of the Ute and Picuris Pueblo Indian traditions. He holds a Masters Degree in Political Science and has devoted his life to the understanding of vibration and its role in the creation of conscious reality.
Tom Cowan is a shamanic practitioner specializing in Celtic visionary and healing techniques. He combines universal core shamanism with traditional European spirit lore to create spiritual practices that can heal and enrich one’s own life and the lives of others.