Witch doctors, psychics, mediums, spiritualists are but just a few of the many names associated with Shamans. Many of us have heard these names echoed since childhood, but do we really know who these people are? In the United States these people are viewed as outcast; there hasn’t been a need for them in a very long time. Science, and modern technology have exiled the Shaman into the fringe of society. They remain a mystery to most, but beckon the
open-minded. The Shaman is a spiritual wayfarer, that hasn’t thrived in the United States since the arrival of the white man, and his conquest of nature.
There are many definitions for shamanism, but few reveal the true nature of the Shaman. In simple terms, the Shaman is a person called upon to serve as a herald for the realm of the dead, but a Shaman is much more. A Shaman is someone who has explored, and gained a great understanding of their inner being. They can tap into the force that flows throughout the world,
and manipulate it. A Shaman can alter his conscience so that he may travel to other worlds filled with objects, and various kinds of spirits. In the spirit realm, a Shaman can gain knowledge in order to help in healing, and other matters at hand. He is a spiritual advisor, and a healer of both
physical and mental ailments.
A destined Shaman is typically clued in to their destiny by various forms of suffering. The most common clue is an extended illness for which there is no apparent cure. During this time of suffering, the chosen person has dreams, visions, and journeys to the spirit realms, and are usually accompanied by a guild spirit. This spiritual guild commonly informs the ill person
of their fate to become a Shaman. There is usually hesitation on the part of the chosen one, but the suffering breaks down the will of that person. In the end, the destined assumes the role as Shaman, and his suffering diminishes. With the guidance of an elder Shaman, or sometimes just their spirit guild, the new shaman is initiated into their new existence. It is a existence between
this earthy realm, and that of the dead.
An initiate of Shamanism goes through an significant transformation. As a result of the suffering, and rigorous training, the initiate experiences the death of his ego. In western psychology, the ego is the part of the psyche which experiences the external world, or reality, through the senses, organizes the thought processes rationally, and governs actions (Webster’s 434). This death is a way of cleansing the Shaman’s psyche, and allowing the id to take over. According to the Webster’s definition, the id is the part of the psyche that is regarded as the reservoir for instinctual drives, the source of psychic energy, and irrational wishing (Webster’s 669). This would make sense because the Shaman taps into the instinctual knowledge, and the psychic energy. This death is also significant because with this death of the ego all the societal
norms that inhibit the powers of the Shaman are gone as well. The Shaman does dwell on the fringes of society because society tends to diminish a shaman’s connection to the life force which is so vital to their power.
To be a Shaman requires an awareness of nature that is rarely found in our modern society today. Nature is where a Shaman’s power comes from. A Shaman is immersed in the natural world; avoiding the more “civilized” aspect of society. To be disconnected from nature, is to be disconnected from their source of power. Modern civilizations have moved away from nature, and have replaced it with science and technology. One of the shortcomings of our society
today is that we are so seized by our daily routines that we have lost touch with the simple joys of living on this planet. Instead of sitting outside, and enjoying nature most people in the United States simply watch television. Therefore modern society contradicts the earthly realm of the Shaman.
Modern science and technology has an objective; which is to improve, and ultimately defeat nature. Nature is viewed as the enemy.