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Thread: What Is A Shaman and What Does A Shaman Do?

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    Default What Is A Shaman and What Does A Shaman Do?

    In order to understand more about what a shaman is, we need to first understand what a shaman does.

    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 are female shamans not called a shawomen?

    Women shaman are 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
    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-ŝairl
    Ukrainian female shaman — Znakharka
    Voodoo female shaman — Mambo
    West African spirits — Kontomblé

    So how can a shaman help you?

    There are lots of articles on my blog, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 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.

    The first article, 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.

    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.

    And A Greco-Roman Tragedy describes the history of shamanism and shows how it was driven underground by Christianity.

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Ishtar Babilu Dingir; January 9th, 2012 at 02:55 PM.
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    Do not forget Inca, which I am cuurently in training to be, look forward to more questions

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    Thanks, Dig. What's an Incan shaman called?
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    I will let you know next week when I hope to complete the biggest part of my training.

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    Great... we've got several shamans here among the old members, but we've never had an Incan one.

    I look forward to hearing more about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    . . . . including the ingestion of psychotropic herbs (datura and ayuhasca, to name just two)
    Ishtar, I have read from many sources that datura is highly toxic. Here is a part entry from Wikipedia for instance:
    " All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested "

    Has anyone here ever tried it?

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    Not me, Linda. I don't use any kind of psychotropic herbs. I go into trance by the beat of the drum.
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    A fair while ago I did a degree in film and my dissertation was "The shamanic qualities of film and T.V", much to the annoyance of Academia! Well actually I was lucky to have a self proclaimed Witch as a tutor, who got where I was coming from.

    I still have it, it is an academic paper so is probably a bit dry for most but although it annoys some shamans (in my opinion the closed minded ones!) there are some nuggets in there! I'm thinking of either putting it up as a blog or perhaps updating it and filtering out some in threads.

    Good luck Dig in your training, I am quite fimiliar with the Inca traditions my ex wife being Peruvian

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    This is very useful thank you

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    Yes this may well be what I was looking for thank you pointing me in this direction

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    The Sami shaman is called Noaidi. North Norway-Sweden-Finland-Russia.

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    Fire in the Head, great reading!

    I'm carefully reading your info, then suddenly a picture of Cuchulainn the Celtic wild frenzy of all fighters are added with a few lines about the fire in his head and what it might be.

    It makes me think abit.. please consider that I don't have my history knowledge straight

    Now, I tried to read some of Cuchulainn story but I can' find anything about him being a master of Fire in the Head, so my question is; Did he use shamanic work when being this warrior he was?

    In Ireland..To me it seems (very simple description here) that first there was the Shining people (elf people) that lived in harmony with the earth energies, as the Danan people. Then the Celtic people enters from Spain and starts the war and conflicts, as any war the man with the weapon doesn't want to kill but he's told to do so, the war was gruesome, so a few of the Celtic people starts their learning by the Danan's etc.

    In Norwegian Sami history there's bin said that during the 1600's christianity was forced hard upon the native Sami people, the christian priests destroyed the runes, the stones, drums, rattles, totems and even tried to burn the 'mountains' as a symbol to end shamanic believes. They took their children to christian schools (this didn't end until 30-40 years ago). Also they killed the shamans because they belived and worshipped the 'devil'. This was a great suffer to their society, the few shamans that managed to flee used their abilities to put a 'curse' on the christian leader. The man got sic and within a year he died of an unknown disease.

    I'm abit curious, cause to me it seems that now and then it kind of slips thru that Shamans might not always did their work for the good of the spirits.

    newborn

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    Glad you're enjoying these articles, newborn!

    Now "the great Celtic warrior Cuchulainn" ... was he historical or mythological? I was watching the movie Troy last night, and not for the first time, wondered the same thing about that story, particularly with regard to Achilles. I think that these stories about great warriors were myths or stories designed to inspire soldiers to go into battle. In Ireland, you get lots of different stories about such characters....

    My information about Cuchulainn's fire in the head came from the book of the same name, which I thoroughly recommend - and it's that book that I took the title of my article from: Fire In The Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit by Tom Cowan. I'll have a rummage around later and see if I can find my copy and try to find the actual extract - that's if I haven't lent it out!

    To answer your other questions, yes, there are bad shamans but they are known as sorcerors. But in addition to that, the Christian church deliberately demonised shamanism just as the establishment are trying to demonise esoteric websites and forums today. Magic is just a tool - like a knife. You can use it to chop up food ingredients to make a wonderful banquet for your friends, or you can use it to stab them. The good or evil is in the intent ---although I don't particularly like using absolute terms like 'good' or 'evil'.
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    Many thanks Ishtar!

    Yeah, I see some christians throw out their hateful messages here and there, even as comments on your site.

    I have with interest looked at the library section. Yesterday I watched the documentary about Egypt, The Pyradmid Code and wow! That was a mind opener for sure!
    Since it's hard to know what to buy as there's tons of books to choose from I appreciate alot your own recommendations. I will check out Tom Covan, the list of good books starts to become a long one.

    newborn

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    I should have maybe underlined the point that the shaman, when he or she journeys, often feels a burning in the head. Well, I do anyway! It's not painful, but it's like a signal to me, when it ignites, that I'm entering another dimension or coming near to a portal on the Land. But you can't actually see it. It's not like I have flames coming out of my head!
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    hehe, yeah, I got that part, its really interesting, and it tells me that I haven't experienced it yet or at least if it was there for a second I didn't notice it.
    If I ever get to this part I will know what it was, there's so much 'wierd' stuff happening at times that it can be very confusing for a newborn.

    Also 'How to get a Camel through the eye of a needle' was very helpful as interesting.
    In Ireland, I was experiencing an ecstatic moment for several minutes in a healing circle called 'the spirit boat', the quote below is what happend to me exactly, so I think I had an third eye opener that day.

    "when thine eye be single, thy whole body will be filled with light"

    newborn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    Glad you're enjoying these articles, newborn!

    Now "the great Celtic warrior Cuchulainn" ... was he historical or mythological? I was watching the movie Troy last night, and not for the first time, wondered the same thing about that story, particularly with regard to Achilles. I think that these stories about great warriors were myths or stories designed to inspire soldiers to go into battle. In Ireland, you get lots of different stories about such characters....

    My information about Cuchulainn's fire in the head came from the book of the same name, which I thoroughly recommend - and it's that book that I took the title of my article from: Fire In The Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit by Tom Cowan. I'll have a rummage around later and see if I can find my copy and try to find the actual extract - that's if I haven't lent it out!

    To answer your other questions, yes, there are bad shamans but they are known as sorcerors. But in addition to that, the Christian church deliberately demonised shamanism just as the establishment are trying to demonise esoteric websites and forums today. Magic is just a tool - like a knife. You can use it to chop up food ingredients to make a wonderful banquet for your friends, or you can use it to stab them. The good or evil is in the intent ---although I don't particularly like using absolute terms like 'good' or 'evil'.
    Also wasn't there something about gods being 'jealous' of our mortality? Interweining this with a film about war, death glory, conflated with the 'fabulous life', glamour and fortune of Bradd Pitt - It's just so wrong, it's a a total 'mindf*ck' I think. Really though isn't the power of 'Suggestion' itself a form of virtual sorcery? And Celebrities are, though for the most part, unconscious, magicians.

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    Aaah, you watched it too, Timeless? Yeah, that line of Brad Pitt's Achilles about the gods being jealous of humans' mortality was just part of his moves to get the princess into bed, methinks. I don't think it would ever have worked on me, though, even if it was coming from a muscle-bound Brad Pitt!! I wouldn't have been able to resist giving him a lecture about who the gods really are ... and that would have turned him right off!

    But seriously, Odysseus was also there ... I can't believe that he was a historical character. I think that the Iliad was just the ancient Greek version of the Alamo... or something like it!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    Aaah, you watched it too, Timeless? Yeah, that line of Brad Pitt's Achilles about the gods being jealous of humans' mortality was just part of his moves to get the princess into bed, methinks. I don't think it would ever have worked on me, though, even if it was coming from a muscle-bound Brad Pitt!! I wouldn't have been able to resist giving him a lecture about who the gods really are ... and that would have turned him right off!

    But seriously, Odysseus was also there ... I can't believe that he was a historical character. I think that the Iliad was just the ancient Greek version of the Alamo... or something like it!
    I can't remeber the film that well as I haven't seen it since it was released, and at the time, with a mere passive interest in mythology it blew me away. One line that stayed with the "macho" side of me was "let no man forget how mencaing we are, we are lions!", telling them to take immortality because 'it's yours' by going to war....and then the first charge on the beach. This stuff really does appeal to the Ego - Big time! It's psychic warmongering and I could see how such a well-told story would've worked, until one learns to see through it I suppose.

    Haha, it confuses me quite a bit too.
    Last edited by Timeless; August 18th, 2013 at 01:56 AM.

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