Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung
Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual and healing practice known to man. In fact, shamanism and shamanic healing date back to over 100,000 years and have been practiced all across the globe — well before our current technologies of communication were possible.
Shamanism organically arose all over the world, all throughout history, as a response to the needs of people. Shamanism is an ancient collection of traditions based on the act of voluntarily accessing and connecting to non-ordinary states — or spirit realms — for wisdom and healing.
The word “shaman” comes from the Siberian Tungus tribe, and it directly means “spiritual healer,” or, more cleverly, “one who sees in the dark.”
Generally, there is one shaman per community. The shamans access the spirit realm for the purpose of individual and communal growth and healing — they do this by restoring and removing energetic pathways, recovering soul parts, and communicating with non-physical helpers to discover the spiritual aspects of illness and find answers to life’s seemingly impossible questions. This reality-penetrating ability marks them as the world’s very first doctors, storytellers, mystics, and even psychotherapists.
Shamanism comes with a great responsibility. Alongside simply accessing these worlds, they must possess the ability to transform what they have learned and experienced into a concrete change in the physical world.
This capacity to apply wisdom from the spirit realm in order to heal and transform the physical realm is what differentiates shamans from other “spiritual travelers.” For example, a medium can access these realms, but they lack the physical action while there. As well, a sorcerer may take action in an altered state, but their focus is generally not upon healing.
Shamans also act as great teachers, for they teach that everything is spirited; that all things are interconnected and alive, including (but certainly not limited to) the Earth itself, the stars in the sky, and even the wind in the air. For this, it is also the shaman’s role in a community to demonstrate and maintain the harmonious balance of humankind, nature, and spirit.
Although shamans in some ways may act as teachers, many shamanic healers do not consider shamanism to be a religion. They feel this way because, within shamanism, there are no dogmas, no sacred text, and no single founder or leader. While individuals of religious practices may practice shamanism, not all shamans are part of an organized religion.
Vision Quest Art by Whitney Freya
What is a Shamanic Journey?
That invisible and mysterious place outside of time and physical reality (as we know it), has been referred to and looked at in many different ways: The Spirit Realm,
Non-Ordinary Reality, The Parallel Universe, The Other World (Celtic traditions), Dreamtime (Australian aborigines), and countless others.
However this spiritual place is perceived and named, it is precisely where shamans go during their shamanic journeys.
A shamanic journey is always performed in a ceremonial context, as these realms are not to be taken lightly. Shamans enter these altered states of consciousness in order to communicate and connect with helping spirits to retrieve information; the information attained is generally brought back for healing purposes.