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What is shamanic practice?

Interest in shamanism in the west continues to grow. But what might you learn if you embark on learning to be a shamanic practitioner? This article gives you a brief overview.

3 Core Applications:

While the practice of shamanism continues to grow in the West in the form of neo-shamanism, its practice can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with it to understand what is involved.

In general, neo-shamanic practice is a sacred and spiritual practice used for one or more of the following:

Personal spiritual development and empowerment;

Healing oneself and others using different healing practices;

Developing a sense of oneness/connection to nature and the world.

Two Core Principles:

Shamanic practice is underpinned by two main principles.

The first principle is that Earth, and everything on it, is living and conscious. This not only includes what we normally consider to be living – the animals, plants, algae, fungi and bacteria - but also the rivers, stones, soil, clouds, stars, and oceans.

The second principle is that, in addition to the normal reality that we usually perceive with our senses, there are also other realities. These are often called spiritual realms. Both the ‘ordinary’ and ‘non-ordinary’ realities are understood to exist in parallel, with both being inhabited by different beings.

Shamanic practice is then the process through which you learn to develop a deeper connection with this wider consciousness, how to tap into its healing, wisdom and regenerative power, and how to work with the different beings inhabiting the different worlds.

While shamanic practice does involve learning to use different tools and methods, such as for healing oneself and others, it is ultimately a sacred path of spiritual development. 

Many facets of learning shamanic practice:

Developing shamanic practice as part of a wider process of spiritual development can include many different facets. What is included in your journey and is developed will depend on your teacher and personal orientation. But it could involve:

Developing journeying or dreamtime skills, including learning how to go beyond your normal perception and tap into intuition.

Honing your senses and awareness of your connection to the natural world;

Learning to escape the limits of your cognitive mind and expanding this to become aware of your ‘felt sense’;

Learning to perceive and explore different realities and to tap into their regenerative power;

Working with spirit guides for insight or for healing oneself or others;

Developing ability to work with the dead and dying, sometimes including mediumship;

Divining, reading omens, or prophesising;

Engaging with knowledge and insights held by ancestors;

Learning diverse practices for healing yourself or others. Such healing usually involves a deep, energetic and fundamental change and can have profound effects;

Developing ability to be present, reducing worry or valorising past and future;

Dissolving ego, developing humility and wisdom, transcending your sense of ‘self’;

Land healing;

Using plant medicines;

Learning how to create ceremonies and rituals that create sacred space for celebration, transitions and healing.

To learn about shamanic practice you need to give it a go. It is an experiential process of transition, change and development so just reading about it in a book will probably not be sufficient. The best place to start, and to see if it is for you, is then to find an introductory course that will give you sufficient immersion in shamanic practice to get a feel for it. See our article on becoming a shamanic practitioner for more information.  

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