The word “Shaman” comes from Siberia and it means “one who sees in the dark.” Shamanism is a visionary tradition – a shaman literally “sees” into other worlds, into other dimensions, through a state of altered consciousness in which he or she can “journey” to receive information and guidance with which to assist their clients. Shamanism is ancient, it predates religion and is instead a system of belief.
There are many different “lineages” of shamanism – from South America, North America, Siberia, Australia, Africa and the Artic. There are many common themes that run across all of the lineages.
The definition of a Shaman is someone who works in conjunction with spirit, whether this be a spirit of an ancestor or one from the higher realms, a power animal or animal helper – even the spirit of plant, rock or stream –for the benefit of his or her community. While he or she may well receive guidance in their work from spirit, most lineages use this information in conjunction with the ancient traditions and systems of healing which has been passed down to them from generation to generation. Alternatively, a shaman might be called to the path by an act of nature, such as being struck by lightening, a near death experience, or by the receipt of a vision in which they are called to the path.
A shaman uses the information gained from their spirit guidance and the wisdom of their lineage to carry out shamanic healing for individuals, dwellings, situations, the Earth and even the deceased! Traditionally, he or she had many roles within the community, and is often a wearer of “many hats” ie, healer, priest, doctor, adviser, therapist, confidant, diviner, mystic or spiritual adviser and teacher. Shamans are often called upon to perform ceremony to ensure a person, community or land is in “right relationship” with nature and spirit. They recognise that it is not enough to simply clear away the past energetic and emotional trauma of an event, but to also return the person to wholeness through a process known as soul retrieval, in which valuable aspects of a persons energy and personality (soul) which left as a result of trauma, is is returned to them.