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Becoming a shamanic practitioner

What is involved in a becoming a shamanic practitioner? This article gives you a brief explanation of how learning shamanic practice is an experiential process and how you might explore what it involves. 

Becoming a shamanic practitioner is experiential and can be profound

Developing a shamanic practice requires learning from experience. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, you can’t learn it by reading from a book or by watching a powerpoint presentation. You have to get on the bike and give it a go. On the journey you will also learn things you didn’t think of before or did not understand. For example, when I progressed as a kid from my tricycle to a two wheeled bike, I learnt about gears. This had a profound impact on how well, or how far, I could ride. Similarly, as you develop your shamanic practice, you will gain new insights that re-shape the way you relate to the world.

In my own journey, I have learned many new things, and much more that a bunch of tools and methods. This often occurred through transformative experiences and healing. Perhaps the most profound aspect I have learned has been the way I have become more and more perceptive of how I am part of everything around me. This developed and evolved over time as I shed old patterns and perspectives, and I could not have understood these aspects without an experiential process. Ultimately, shamanic practice has brought me greater peace, courage, conviction and sense of direction in our confusing and challenging world.

What I have always loved about developing my shamanic practice is that you do not need to believe in whatever anyone else might say you should or should not be experiencing. Shamanic practice does not have a framework that demands how we must see the world and there are no gurus or leaders. While you will greatly benefit from learning about shamanic practice from experienced guides and teachers, and over time you will develop a language that helps you share your experience with others, only you can make sense of what you experience for yourself and how this changes your relationship to the world.

Shamanic practice is also remarkably flexible and adaptive and can be integrated with many of your existing beliefs. I have worked with people from many different spiritual backgrounds who are surprised at how well it complements their current outlook. They are also often surprised how easy and natural it seems for them to engage with shamanic practices from the outset. 

There are a growing number of people out there that can help you develop shamanic practice. So, just like learning to ride a bike, you can start with your stabilisers on, then gradually progress from your tricycle to riding your two wheeled bike, with gears and all. So, while you do need to jump in, you don’t need to jump in with both feet. 

Where to start?

If you are curious about shamanic practice and connecting with nature, the way to learn about it is to just give it a go. Fortunately, there are plenty of introductory courses out there led by experienced practitioners that can help you. Some of these courses are online and some face to face. Both can work well. But just like learning anything new, make sure you choose a course that will give you enough time for you to get a good feel for it. A short seminar will give you something, but this is not likely to be sufficient. So, find something like an experiential weekend course or equivalent that is immersive, and which allows you to try some basic practices, such as how to do shamanic journeying and how to find a spirit guide.

If a shamanic training course feels too much for you right now, you can also book in a healing session with an experienced shamanic practitioner. That will at least give you a sense of what can be involved. But be aware there is a big difference in developing your own practice that empowers you on your own learning and healing journey compared to receiving healing from others, no matter how experienced your healer might be. So, if you are truly curious, and not just after a healing session, then the best way to explore shamanic practice is to join an introductory course of some kind. 

I fondly remember my first ‘official’ experience of shamanic practice when I joined a weekend introductory course some years ago. The experienced teacher asked how many of us were familiar with shamanic journeying. Most people raised their hands, but I did not. I had not heard of the term. In the ensuing shamanic journey we were led through, I was surprised to find that I had already been doing it for about 20 years. I just lacked a language to explain what I had already been doing for so long, nor had been part of a wider community of practitioners where I could share my experiences and develop that language. Yet, only one month after my first course I found myself at the start of a two-year intensive training programme to become a shamanic practitioner. In short, on the introductory course, I felt like I had come home.

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