Shamans are commonly referred to as witches or sorcerers, and today there are many charlatans who take advantage of those who are genuinely looking for some aids in their healing journey. But shamans were highly respected individuals in ancient societies. They were known to be seers, wizards, and medicine men. As anthropologist Michael Harner explains that, ‘the shaman is a self-reliant explorer of the endless mansions of a magnificent hidden universe… he brings back his discoveries to build his knowledge and to help others.’
From New Age spiritualists to yogis and neo-shamans, healing is slowly becoming an important aspect in our society. Many of the modern healers are being trained in deep forests, or on the top of the mountains to understand the process of inner healing or spiritual healing.
Thanks to the incredible works of experts such as Michael Harner, Terence Mckenna, and Michael Pollan, our way of regarding our health and well-being, in general, has changed. We are starting to question the curing method of mainstream science, for example, in regard to cancer. There have been many instances, where people from western societies have adopted alternate ways of treating depression and cancer.
What makes the alternate way of healing or curing appealing is the focus given to the spiritual body rather than the physical body. And that kind of healing technique is very prevalent in eastern doctrines and shamanism in most societies.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is a very ancient spiritual practice that was prevalent in many hunter-gatherer and tribal societies. It involves rigorous self-discipline methods whereby the practitioner called shaman undergoes intensive training in order to be able to travel in the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC), which is basically achieved during meditation, hypnosis, dancing, or listening to monotonous drum beats and also by ingesting a mind-altering substance. According to professor Mircea Eliade, ‘the shaman leaves his body and ascends to the sky or descends to the underworld. He commonly works to heal a patient by restoring beneficial or vital power, or by extracting harmful power.’
To further understand the concept of shamanism here is a quote of Terrence Mckenna, ‘theories about the world are based on direct experience…‘a shaman is a provisional scientist making it up as he or she goes along constantly willing to revise and keep it open-ended….. We are adrift and embedded in a matrix of unexamined linguistic excuses for avoiding looking at how weird it is. And that is what the shaman is not.”
Thus, a shaman is a traditional healer, a medicine man or woman who goes through a self-discovery journey and acquires knowledge to help his or her community.
Below we have compiled some incredible pictures of shamans around the world.