Shamanism past and present

The Roots of Shamanism

Shamanism goes back beyond the birth of civilisation to the dawn of humanity. Cave paintings exist that show shamanic practices such as journeying and drumming which have been dated to around 30,000 to 40,000 years old.

Most cultures across the globe have shamanism embedded in their history, right up to our modern day. The shaman has been the person to go to for community issues to ensure good harvest, for emotional, spiritual and physical healing, and to care for the general well being of individuals, the community and the earth that they live with.

Modern day earth based spiritualities have their roots firmly in shamanism whether this is Druidry, Witchcraft or Heathenism. Many of the practices of these traditions are shamanic.

The core of the shamanic practice is journeying to the spirit realm for advice, guidance and/or healing with the shaman travelling in a trace state to another realm, traditionally the Lower, Upper and Middle realms.

It’s usual to journey under the influence of the drum beat or hallucinogenic plant products – but the drum beat works just fine! What is important is that the shaman or the journeyer is able to drop into that dream like state where they can move out of their head and delve into their subconscious and the spirit realm.

For thousands of years the shaman has performed the role of witchdoctor, counsellor, wise man or woman of the community and in many cultures they would craft spells and talismans which would help the recipient to achieve what they wanted, usually for an energy exchange.

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Shamanism in the UK

Shamanism relies on Mother Earth and nature for insights, wisdom and guidance. It doesn’t acknowledge any particular person being in control or in power. The shaman is often referred to as a hollow bone – nothing other than a channel or a messenger through whom spirit can do its work. The shaman just facilitates or enables this to take place.

So although the shaman was seen as an important part of the community it wasn’t a position of power in fact being a shaman was viewed as more of a curse than a blessing. Because of this it wasn’t possible to use shamanism to control a community, people were guided by their own intuition and nature connection.

Shamanic practices dwindled as more controlling spiritual paths became evident with christianity being a prime conspirator against shamanic work. They have systematically gone through the communities of whole countries plying them with drugs, medicines and modern foods, written down wisdom and head knowledge and eventually convinced the communities that the shamanic practice of working with nature and spirit is pointless and ineffective. In many communities the control of the incoming zealots was so powerful that the shaman was actually turned on and killed by his own villagers.

In some corners of the world the original shamanic way still thrives in remote areas, such as in South Africa, Nepal, Tibet, and pockets of other countries. In the “modern world” as people become more disillusioned with the malpractice of big organisations and corporations, including religious instructions and the medical services, they begin to turn back to nature and the old ways, and this is shamanism.

Any field of plant medicine and plant spirit medicine is shamanic in its roots. Homeopathy, herbal remedies, tinctures are all working with the spirit of the plant, which is shamanism. So as these alternative remedies gain strength it wasn’t a big leap to see the foundation structure of shamanism come back to the fore. More than ever at this time as humanity moves towards a place of reconnection with Mother Earth, living in harmony with her, shamanism and other earth related, earth based spiritualities are gaining ground.

The ground swell of interest is so powerful that nothing can hold it back. There is so much lost knowledge that awaits rediscovery, knowledge that can be rediscovered as it is in our DNA, and we simply have to journey to access this knowledge from Mother Earth, Father Sky, our guides, teachers and supporting power animals.