Shamans are those who work with the invisible realms to bring healing, peace and wholeness to the living world.
Most shamans are not seeking this path, they're called to it.
Each of these invitations from Spirit identifies the soul as one who possesses the unique gifts and strengths to become a shaman.
However, there's nothing glamorous about this occupation. In fact, many people deny the calling until it becomes destructive to resist. The life of a shaman is one of great sacrifice, often being at the beck and call of Spirit. Much like a doctor or policeman, there are no days off - people are in need anytime, anywhere. Granted, the rewards are abundant, but nothing resembling a normal life should be expected.
Witch doctor, medicine (wo)man, magician, dream walker, even sorcerer, have all been used to define the shaman, yet none really capture the complexity of the role. Shamans walk between worlds to retrieve medicine, wisdom and guidance which will benefit their community.
By forging working relationships with plants, Spirits, and ancestors, remedies are offered to bring relief to the living.
It's the shaman's duty to be in service to community and to learn to walk the unseen planes, where most ailments begin. Great dedication, commitment and creativity are required to be successful, as each patient, Spirit and plant offers its own unique teachings and challenges.
I've never met an anxious shaman; most exude a calm confidence that's unshakable. They've conquered their demons, faced death many times and typically found worldly woes paltry in comparison.
This is not a path for the faint of heart nor those seeking glory. Being a shaman is a path of sincere devotion, requiring full commitment and many divergences from the status quo.
You may find reputable teachers online, through referrals or even in your dreams. Following your own intuition to find the teacher who matches your sincerity and is willing to have you as an apprentice is the most exalted path. Discernment is necessary, as not all shamans hold the same integrity.
Real teachers hold power. They share their wisdom willingly with no jealousy or hesitation. As Matt Kahn offers, "masters inspire other masters." They do not compete, nor do they hold you back. To find this caliber of teacher is the greatest effort required on your path to becoming a shaman.
A shaman is a fierce guardian of the physical world and must have personal mastery in certain areas. The shaman's heart must be pure and clear with a great love for humanity and for the Earth. The gifts that flow through us are not ours; they are bestowed by Spirit and must be treated with great reverence. Dishonesty, ill intent and harmful behaviors will be swiftly balanced by the fates. One can be stripped of their skills and title completely.
These are spaces which require courage and faith to traverse. Here are the lessons of mastery one must attain to become a shaman:
Respect of the Earth
An intimate space of honor and connection between the shaman and the Earth must exist for any teachings to be granted.
Honoring the rites, spaces and actions of the ancestors is paramount and must be respected.
We all travel while sleeping, but it's shaman who awakens within the dream to bring back the knowledge to heal her people.
Relationship with Spirit Allies
In feeding alliances with plants, ancestors, animals, Gods and Goddesses, we are able to receive the divine blessings to assist those who seek us.
Commitment to Self
Seeking out the places of doubt and fear, being honest and in integrity, the shaman must balance humility and power to keep permission to do this work.
A Shaman's Toolbox
While mastery of the invisible realms is the truest skill for any shaman, there are also tools in this physical world which aid us in our ceremonies.
The method through which we enter other dimensions.
Drums and Rattles
The tools to induce the trance state to take the journey.
Feathers are considered a great gift granted to us for our commitment and respect of the animal realms.
Blessings from the Earth which can amplify healing.
The ingestion of plant materials (like Ayahuasca, mushrooms, or Wachuma) to aid in the merging of the worlds; not used by all shamans but a beneficial ally.
Relationship with Spirit may be rewarded with a Icaro, a sacred song which the plant offers for healing.
Gongs and Singing Bowls
Vibrational frequencies can alleviate pain, open chakras and activate deeper spiritual states.
A Way of Life
Being a shaman is a way of life. It's a path of devotion, and isn't for the weak or faint of heart. It takes great courage to walk in places and offer wisdom that many in our society don't acknowledge.
A friend once told me that in her job, she was respected but not admired. I laughed, for in my role as shaman, I believe I'm admired but not always respected by society.
It takes a fearless heart to go against the flow. And this is one characteristic I've found in every shaman I've met. They are not stronger, smarter, or braver than others. They walk hand in hand with Spirit, using faith as their guide, and trusting in the relationships with the allies they have built. They see the illusion of the world and seek to heal within themselves every wound and doubt so that others may learn to do the same.
So committed are they to a greater truth that they offer themselves in service to help others cross the chasm to see the world as infinitely more magical, connected, and expansive than what we simply see and touch.
If you feel the call, I hope you join us in these spaces where Spirit, magic and possibilities still exist.
text by Andye Murphy