Shamanism finds its roots in humanity's oldest pre-historic Earth religions. The word “Shaman” originally comes from the Evenk people of the Tunguska region of North Asia. It eventually found its way into common usage as a term describing the magico-religious practices of indigenous cultures in other parts of the Americas, Asia (North and South), Africa and Australasia.
Shamanic traditions are as varied as the groups and individuals that practice them, even within the same culture, but some common motivating themes can be found among them.
1.) The importance of worship of the elements.
2) The importance of mediation between humans, animals, the environment and the spirit world.
3) Responsibility for the cultivation of altered states of consciousness in order to access the energy, higher awareness, and guidance necessary for divination and healing and genuine self-realization.
4) The assumption of leadership roles which entail the protection and transmission of certain deep cultural values of the community or communities in which they operate.
To get a better idea of some of the core values of Universal Shamanism, it might help to look at the prayer text below. This prayer is flexible and can accomodate references to whichever symbols or deities happen to seem relevant at the time and place of prayer or those who may be participating in the prayer activity.
The forces of modernity, scientific rationalism, monotheism and industrial civilization have taken a heavy toll on Shamanic traditions, as they have on the cultures which have practiced them. However, despite such ravages, a great many Shamanic traditions have, through their astonishing resilience and timeless relevance, kept aspects of their practices alive. While this may be more common in places such as Asia, Africa and South America, the Shamanic traditions of Europe have fared less well into the modern age. However, dedicated practitioners affected by this deficit are able to find resources and inspiration by reconstituting available Shamanic rituals and symbolism in light of parallels drawn from the more intact lineages of Shamanic practice in numerous other parts of the world.
In it's contemporary expression, Shamanism is believed to be symbolic of the need for humanity to reconnect with its archaic roots in order to find solutions to modern crises of consciousness and ecological imbalance, both locally and globally. In the context of humanity as a technologically advanced globally interconnected society, modern sensibilities along with technological innovation such as the internet and social media have played a powerful role in shaping the expression of even more divergent forms of Shamanic practice and awareness.
While there are fully-fledged Shamanic Practitioners (both archaic, modern and everything in between) there are also those who either knowingly or unknowingly, use one or a number of shamanic methods in the process of divination or healing (e.g. The I Ching, Crystals, Runes or sage smudging, Tantric and yogic practices) seperately from a fully-fledged Shamanic practice. In either case, the overall goals are broadly similar. They encompass a deep-seated conviction for aiding in the exploration and nourishment of human processes of inner realization and wellbeing with a view to maintaining the integrity of our relationship with the Earth, animal and spirit worlds. This role is considered vital not only for individual and social wellbeing, but also as a primary force for the successful evolution of human consciousness and the maximization of the evolutionary potential of our species as a whole.
My Personal Vision Quest
For me, being a Shamanic practitioner includes the experience of:
deep and boundless compassion for all living things
a sense of self as a co-creator, creatively expressing my intent in direct partnership with a sentinent and participatory universe.
an ever-deepening realisation of the workings of the natural environment and the human relationship to it at both the biological and subtle energetic levels.
complete inseparability from the forces of nature (both without and within)
a deep reverence for the harmonious workings of the elements: earth, air, fire, water and space
intense wonder at the revelation of vital ancient wisdom traditions for the purpose of keeping them alive in the modern world
profound joy associated with making a contribution to increasing the positive evolution of our planetary consciousness
direct awareness that our true human identity exists beyond ego and dualism, and is not in any way bound or dependent upon external conditions
passionate enthusiasm at the role of modern scientific understandings in exploring, unraveling and redefining the nature of the relationships between spirit and matter
spiritual completeness and gentle confidence gained by engaging deeply with awareness of inner-space
innate knowledge that true power and personal fulfillment lies within and is not dependent on having power over others
primal empowerment arising from the assumption of responsibility for mediating between the worlds of nature, spirit and man for the benefit of all, regardless of worldview
liberated awareness of the power of consciousness beyond the limitations of time, space and the physical body
profound realization that what we typically describe as supernatural or metaphysical is actually fundamental to the normal human experience of reality.