Western Anthropologists adopted the term Shaman as a universal reference to the Traditional healers and Spiritual Ceremonialists of indigenous cultures worldwide. The term Shamanism is used to describe those universal ancient spiritual practices and ceremonies of indigenous cultures . Though all Indigenous cultures have developed their own unique customs, their core Spiritual practices share universal guiding principles.
Shamanism refers to a universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all indigenous people, from which their healing practices and egalitarian beliefs originate from. All the ancient indigenous Ceremonial practices are deeply rooted in the natural world and a reverence for all Life. Shamanism is the means by which human beings throughout the ages have sought to strengthen their connection with the spirit realms. Nature is viewed as our teacher, the means through which the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit (God) ultimately communicates.
The word Shaman is thought to have derived from the Evenki word šamán, from the southwestern dialect spoken by the Sym Evenki people. This is a Tungusic term that was later adopted by Russians interacting with the indigenous people in Siberia. The word was brought to Western Europe in 1692 by the Dutch traveler Nicholaes Witsen who reported his stay and journeys among the Tungusic and Samoyedic-speaking indigenous people of Siberia in his book Noord en Oost Tataryen.
It is often said that the path of the Shaman is the way of the wounded healer. There are individuals today who chose to become a Shaman, although the majority seem to be called by Spirit. When a Shaman is called to be in service, their life is often disrupted. These disruptions often occur in such a traumatic ways, that there is no returning to the life they once knew.
Many Shamans experience recurring childhood dreams which often include visitations by spirit animals. If they were fortunate enough to be born into the indigenous cultures, elders would be alerted to these dreams and their internship would begin at a very young age. However, most modern shamans must struggle to find their way alone, and without the benefit of elders guiding them in their formative years.
Traditionally the indigenous healers would look after the well-being of individuals. Over time, the healers would continue to learn and develop their skills. Eventually, they may be selected to be the ceremonial or spiritual leader of their people. The Spiritual leader or Ceremonialist are proficient in various age-old protocols and preside over sacred ceremonies. Some of these sacred ceremonies are intended to heal the community while often they are extended to a larger world-wide community of all relations.
Shamans are the stewards, wisdom keepers, and caretakers of Mother Earth. They recognize the Great Mystery, Great spirit (God) in Nature and in all living beings. Shamans are the intermediaries between our world and the spirit realms. The Shamans communicate with Archetypal energies, Spirit Animals, Nature’s elements, Spirit guides and Guardians in order to build relationships, to bring healings and provide protection. Shamans are co-creators, working with the elemental energies of creation, the Universe, and the Great Mystery, dreaming our world into being.