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What is Shamanism?

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

I asked this exact question several years ago when the idea of modern day Shamans was presented to me. My first thought was very old, very wrinkled and very wise man with a bone nose ring. Given the immediate interest I felt in Shamanism I was very glad to find out that my imagined vision of a Shaman was completely false!

Many modern day Shamans look just like everyone else. We wear the same clothes, work the same jobs, drive the same cars and travel the same way everyone else does. The majority of the differences are deep on the inside. There are some outward changes as well, my favorite being the anti-aging effects I have noticed! It’s a wonder what less stress, worry and anxiety will do for your skin. I call my Shamanic practice my “modern day fountain of youth”. 😊

Even with that reference to the fountain of youth, my favorite changes I see in myself are definitely on the inside. It takes some time to really integrate and live the 12 principles and truthfully it is still something I continue to practice daily. It’s kind of like Abraham and the Law of Attraction, you can’t get it “wrong” and you’ll never get it done. 😝 When you choose to walk the path of the Shaman you step onto the medicine wheel, with each of the directions of a compass corresponding to a particular area of growth, certain “problems” that we as humans face, and brings with it the medicine to change those areas of your life.

There are so many different native tribes with their own version of Shamanism that are all a little different. I am trained in a Peruvian tradition and plan to visit my ancestors there one day. I love seeing the images and hearing the stories from my teacher of her time in Peru. It is amazing that these native traditions are still applicable today, especially with our modern day conveniences like social media. They may be even more applicable today than they were thousands of years ago.

Part of the medicine wheel training is learning about the 12 practices of Shamanism. 12 principles that lead and guide us in action and in thought. This part also takes time. It’s natural for humans to need time to adjust to new concepts, and the 12 practices are no different. Below I will outline a few that hold special significance to me.

At the very beginning of the medicine wheel training I learned about the Practice of Non-Suffering. Where we no longer write stories about our pain. Seeing the wisdom in this and really integrating it into every day life is a process. It is so easy to be very practiced at telling our stories to anyone who will listen and many times we convince ourselves that since we can talk about it without any negative emotional reaction, we are “over it”. When we re-tell the story it keeps the pain alive in a way that can be controlled. For me, the Eternal was clearly sending a message to let it go, to stop talking about it, to stop re-wounding myself. The idea that telling those stories over and over was actually cutting the wound back open is something that many of us have to sit with for a while.

Another practice that I believe particularly applies to our society today is Not Colluding with the Story or the Consensual, which basically means that Shamans are amoral, we are not meant to collude with our Families, our Friends, the Societal happenings that we experience. Not colluding is about owning our own stuff and doing our own work and when working with clients, not colluding in their story and staying off of their drama triangle. Our society is so entertained by collusion that this practice also has special significance for me.

The last Practice I will mention here and probably my favorite is the Practice of Simplicity. Living in simplicity is choosing to approach our world from a place of innocence and wonder. To start each day fresh without holding onto yesterday’s experiences or allowing them to taint today’s vision. It reminds me of my favorite quote from Anne of Green Gables. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” It truly is.

These are only 3 of the reasons why I believe Shamanism to be so important and why I am so delighted that I was introduced to this path! The 12 Practices truly do teach to live life to the fullest and to create a life that you love living.

For more information on the 12 Practices and how you can begin to integrate them into your life and experience, please send me a message here!

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