What is Shamanism?

Shamanism is an ancient form of spiritual healing. It may be the oldest form of healing on the planet, dating back approximately thirty thousand years. It has been found in indigenous cultures in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Central and Northern Asia, Eastern and Northern Europe and Africa.

Shamanic healing techniques have withstood the test of time and are amazingly similar around the world – despite geographic and cultural differences among practitioners.

Shamanism includes healing techniques – such as soul retrieval and power animal retrieval – to help restore power to individuals.

What is a Shaman?

A shaman is a healer who moves into an altered state of consciousness to access hidden realities, otherwise known as the spirit world. Shamans retrieve power, information and healing from this world.

The word shaman comes from a Siberian tribal word.  This word means “one who sees in the dark” (the hidden realities). Any person who is able to experience an altered state of consciousness and travel to the spirit world is thought to be a shaman. 

Shamans believe that all problems, physical, emotional or mental, have their root cause in spiritual imbalance. A shaman works to restore balance and wholeness by addressing the root cause of the problem

Core Shamanism researcher Michael Harner

Michael Harner, Founder, Foundation for Shamanic Studies

Shamanism might be considered the world’s oldest spiritual practice.

Shamanism was almost lost

In many cultures, shamanic traditions and practices were lost due to religious and political oppression.

In much of contemporary society, those people who interact with spirits are often considered to be – at best – naive. At worst, they are considered delusional.

Indigenous shamanic practices survive only in remote jungles of the Amazon or in the harsh climates of the Siberian subarctic. Many of these indigenous shamanic practices are disappearing today as these peoples are more and more connected with outsiders.

While working with indigenous peoples around the world, the anthropologist Michael Harner learned various similar shamanic tribal practices embedded in very different  cultures. He coined the term Core Shamanism to refer to these universal, near universal and common features of shamanism. These core shamanic practices exist in almost all shamanic cultures.

Michael Harner coined the term Core Shamanism to refer to these universal, near universal and common features of shamanism.

Harner set out to make record of dying shamanic practices to ensure they were not lost or forgotten.

Shamanic Journeying

Training in Core Shamanism teaches students to alter their state of consciousness through non-drug induced techniques. In this altered state, students  discover their own hidden spiritual resources.

This process is called journeying. The altered state is supported by a drum beat (sonic driver), which facilitates a shift in consciousness and punctuates stages of the journey. By journeying, students access hidden worlds and make contact with helping spirits. These helping spirits are compassionate, enlightened beings that provide wisdom and healing. 

Visiting the spirit realms and being in relationship with helping spirits changes us. Our perspectives broaden and deepen. Our hearts open. We become more loving, and we wish to help those around us.

Shamanic Healing

Shamanic healing restores power. Power loss is the spiritual cause for illness, an unhappy life, addictions, accidents and even poor luck.

In the shamanic view of life, traumatic events cause us to lose our power, or pieces of our soul.  Soul loss is a defence mechanism.  It allows pieces of the soul to ‘take shelter’ until the trauma is resolved. Many of us experience soul loss at an early age simply to cope with the conditions of our lives. However, the soul does not often return on its own. 

Shamanic Healing relies on a number of techniques. These include:

  • Soul retrieval
  • Power animal retrieval
  • Energy extraction
  • Passing on the power
  • Empowerment

All shamanic healing techniques are non-invasive and gentle, but go a long way in our healing processes.

If you’re interested in learning more about Shamanic Healing in Ottawa, please reach out!