Shamans are found in all cultures and religions all over the world. Shamanically gifted individuals have been present through all the ages of human evolution as prophets, sages, healers and messiahs whose contributions have built the foundations of the world's great religions e.g. Abraham, Moses, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ (Yeshua), the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Lao Tzu and Confucious. Some have become famous healers like Jesus, his disciple Paul and twentieth century healers like Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Mother Meera, João de Deus ("John of God"), Gabrielle Roth and the famous pioneer of modern psychology and psychotherapy, Carl G. Jung
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In days gone by, shamans were rare and unique individuals with special powers (to heal, teach & guide) and special access to the spirit world that were not available to ordinary mortals. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, shamans in many cultures, religions and societies around the world became increasingly aware that a "New Age" was dawning - an age of more widespread human "awakening" - also known as "self-realization", "gnosis" or "enlightenment".
The "Way of the Shaman" or "Path of Priest-Healer" would no longer be restricted to selected individuals, but would become increasingly open, as a lifestyle choice, to a wider range of people.
What are Shamans?
Traditionally Shamans have been individuals who seem a bit out of the ordinary in being able to mediate between the ordinary material world and the world of "spirit" or deep areas of the human psyche. In many cultures the "world of spirit" (sometimes called spiritual dimension or "other side") has meant the world of God, Gods, angels, departed ancestors, ascended masters, spirit guides or other celestial divine beings.
In the twentieth century a University of London physicist called David Bohm resurrected and mathematically substantiated the concept of a universe in which the material world is interwoven with an unseen dimension of mysterious intelligence (variously referred to as spirit world/divine/God/astral plane etc). The research of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake also supports this type of physical-metaphysical-interwoven view of reality.
In a rational, 21st century, non-religious, non-magical context shamans can also be seen as the mediators between the conscious and unconscious parts of the human mind. Without harmony and integration of the conscious and unconscious aspects of our psyche we experience unease, stress, struggle and strain in our lives. This may manifest as unresolved conflict (on an "inner world" or "outside world" level), recurrent frustration, maybe even "burnout", depression, physical health problems or mental illness.
Rigid, bigoted, fundamentalism can also be seen as a manifestation of disharmony between the conscious and unconscious aspects of our psyche. Unresolved conflict in our inner world seems to reflect (be "mirrored") in unresolvable conflict in our outer world. Narrow-minded or bigoted fundamentalism may manifest in arrogant political, religious or scientific belief systems which deny the intrinsic connectivity, expansivitiy, flow and harmony of the human unconscious.
What do Shamans do?
As unique members of society, Shamans are part healers, part teachers and part spiritual guides. Their life is not easy, typically including periods of intense suffering via which qualities of compassion, wisdom and understanding evolve. Typically also, they have a close connection with the natural world - animals, birds, plants, trees, the environment, mountains, streams, the sea etc. Close connection with the natural world is a source of well-being, resources and ancient universal wisdom for shamanic peoples.
A Shaman uses a spiritual being commonly called a "Spirit Guide" to navigate the spiritual worlds (unconscious mind) and provide protection while "journeying" in the Lower World (archetypal unconscious) or Upper World (heaven realm). In Christian and Muslim variants of the Shamanic tradition, God / Allah is accessed via Jesus Christ or Mohammed (pbuh).
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How do Shamans heal? What do they teach? What path can they guide us on?
Shamans are experts in "alchemy" - the art and science of transformation. If you want to change your current life experience (recurrent patterns) you will need to navigate the process of change. Sometimes we decide in our mind that we will do things differently, or create something new in our life, but find ourselves repeatedly falling back into old patterns and old, unwanted experiences. "Stuck" lifestyle patterns include such things as, for example, "Yo-yo" dieting or stubborn addictions to drugs, depression or dysfunctional relationships.
Are Shamans super-human?
It must be emphasized that Shamans are NOT superior human beings despite any the remarkable qualities, gifts or insights which they often possess. They are ordinary human beings with a specialised adaptation and role in society - a special purpose and destiny. In some areas of life, shamans can be quite weak. At times in their life they may need the support of more "grounded" (familiar with, and wise to, the ordinary, worldly-wise practicalities of "everyday" people, money, society's rules and systems etc) and socially skilled people. Shamans may need this support in order to integrate themselves and their work more fully into the community at large. Without this their potential contribution may not be realised and they become susceptible to societal "marginalisation", rejection or persecution - occupational hazards for shamans!
What are the pitfalls for Shamans and Shamanic healers?
Like all human beings shamans are vulnerable to being taken over by ego, pride or arrogance. They are also vulnerable to the "projections" of others - i.e. to being "demonised" (at one extreme) or "idealised" as a perfect (wonderful) human being or perfect teacher (guru) at the other extreme.
Genuine Shamanic healers have a healthy understanding that they are instruments ("channels") of divine will and the divine grace of healing and forgiveness. They know that they are not "God" and resist the temptation to rescue or heal "all and sundry", because they understand that suffering often has a purpose which must be fulfilled before the afflicted person or "victim" can be released to "move forward" in their life (or "lives") journey.
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