Shamanism is the oldest and most widespread healing method and spiritual practice we know of today. It dates back at least 40,000 years, with shamanic cultures having being found in six continents. While social systems and cultures of shamanic communities are diverse, there is also a remarkable similarity in the principles and practices of shamanic cultures.
The term ‘shaman’ means ‘the one who sees in the dark’. This term 'shaman' came from the Tungus tribe, first recorded in 1672 by Russian colonisers visiting Eastern Siberia. The term implies an ability to experience and tap into the regenerative and interconnected nature of reality, and perceive aspects of life that goes beyond what might be considered 'ordinary'.
While much of the shamanic knowledge from traditional communities in the west was lost over recent centuries, shamanism has seen a revival from the 1960’s in the form of neo-shamanism, as many people tried to find new ways of living and as they sought to empower themselves. Results of the 2022 UK 10 yearly government census, for example, found that shamanism had the most rapid growth of any spiritual belief and practice.
Unlike religion and science, Shamanism does not have a framework that demands how we must see the world. There are no gurus, spiritual masters or leaders. Instead it demands everyone to learn to see with his/her own eyes. It is a path of self-empowerment based on human individual experience. The interpretation of those experiences lies within the individual and their immediate community.
Shamanism honours the earth as a living conscious being. This includes people, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, oceans, winds, stones, clouds, and stars. Everything is considered to be permeated by an eternal life force and a sacred consciousness of all that exists. A typical practice of ‘journeying' helps shamanic practitioners communicate with this sacred consciousness.
Shamanism can be used as a spiritual practice, philosophy, way of life, and method for healing oneself and others.
Modified from 'Embracing shamanism: Guide to shamanic journeying"