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What is a Shaman?

smudge kit, feathers, shells, sage

When I am asked what I do for a living most people look at me blankly if I say I am a shaman. Times have changed, gone are the days when everyone knew—a long-ago time when every village/tribe respected and relied upon the skills of a medicine person (one of many names in many different cultures for a shaman) to heal their physical ills and injuries and to help keep them in balance in the physical as well as the spiritual world. In those times a shaman was healer and priest.

Nowadays we live in cities instead of small tribes/villages, and few of my neighbors know what I do (although they sometimes unconsciously seek me out when there is a problem). The people in need of the services that I offer use internet search engines to find their way to my website door. The village has become very large indeed!

Times have changed, but the principles of shamanism remain the same.

Shamanism is a path of surrender—the shaman becomes the hollow bone for the healing energy of Spirit—our hands and feet are offered in service to All Our Relations.

Shamanism is about permission, respect, and service with positive intent.

Shamanism is power with responsibility; service with, not power over.

Shamanism is a dance and a conversation in connection between the Stone People, Plant People, Animal People and the People. Through spider web-like lines we are all connected one to another, and like a giant web we can see the torn areas that can be mended through ceremony both for personal and global healing—healing that is accomplished with the assistance of our allies in both the physical realm and the realm of spirit.

Shamanism is the whisper of guidance carried by our ancestors and passed from generation to generation within our very cells: insights and visions in the smoke and flame of ceremonial fire touched by the breath of the winds, the promise of strength and perception from the power animals, the ancient knowledge held in trust for us by the bones of Mother Earth, the Stone People, the tendrils of green healing that lovingly assist us with all manner of healing remedies, gift of the Plant People.

Then or now, few people practice shamanism professionally—it is a calling rather than a job choice. However, often without realizing it, many people incorporate aspects of shamanism into their lives in seemingly mundane ways.

When we bring stones/crystals, plants, animals and water fountains into our homes we are seeking to strengthen the ancient shamanic spiritual and energetic connections that we have with All Our Relations.

The most common shamanic activity practiced worldwide is smudging. Smudge bundles are now sold in convenience stores but most people who use them are only aware of the physical aspect—when we light the smudge bundle we are actually calling upon the Plant People and the spirit of that particular plant to assist us with clearing heavy energy from our homes and our personal energy fields.

Few are called to be shamans for the village, but everyone can apply the principles of shamanism to their lives, homes and businesses.

How does one learn to do that? The answer is at once both simple and difficult: be humble, listen, and apply. Know that everyone is your teacher, that the universe will send you report cards on your progress and ask you to let go of what no longer serves your highest good. Be willing to let go, to surrender control and be the hands and feet of Spirit.

And what will you receive if you do?

A life of change without resistance, the ability to maintain balance and flow, one where you are constantly guided on your path—a path that offers you contentment and a sense of harmony and well-being, both physical and spiritual. And, the delight of connection manifested in awe-inspiring and beautiful ways: a butterfly or bird that graces you with a touch of their feet, the feel of the tides and awareness of a timeless connection, the gentle caress of the winds on your cheek when there is no breeze, the sure knowledge that you are not alone, and that you are loved and a part of All That Is.

(photo ©2008 Rose De Dan)

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