Getting Technical With Shamanism

Shamansage In a previous article, I shared my first experience with a Shaman (which I hope you found intriguing and helpful). As a follow-up, I’d like to go into some in-depth detail about the intricacies of the session including the Shaman’s tools and the rituals performed. Hopefully, this will serve as a cursory guide to the Shaman experience.

Cleansing the Sacred Space
First off, the word Shaman, from an ancient Siberian language, translates to “the one who knows.” The role of the Shaman is thousands of years old, and is associated with indigenous cultures all over the world.

In ancient times, a Shaman was considered a social, psychological, medical and spiritual healer. There were no doctors or hospitals centuries ago, so the Shaman provided all these services to their tribe. It’s hard to imagine a life without doctors! Today, the Shaman serves as a spiritual and psychological healer, whose skills alleviate a host of ills. It is believed that Shamans aid in spiritual healing by building bridges between the material world, the astral underworld, and the energy realms of the sky.

Typically, the Shaman begins the session by standing in the center of the room, calling upon the spirits of the four cardinal directions: South, West, North and East, and Mother Earth and Father Sky. This ritual serves to create a sacred space which allows us to enter our quiet, inner world where healing can begin. The Shaman faces in each direction sequentially, blowing scented water from their palm while the archetype for each direction is summoned. Each direction has an archetype that Shamans believe are primordial energy spirits with their own qualities and powers. The archetypes are identified as follows: South- the serpent, West- the jaguar, North- the hummingbird, and East- the eagle. The last step in creating the space is when the Shaman summons the Mother Earth, touching the ground, and finally, Father Sky, as they reach to the heavens.

Opening the Chakras
Smudge stick incense is commonly used in Shaman rituals, as it was in mine. This is a wand made of various dried leaves or herbs that produces fragrant smoke when burned. The Shaman ignites the pointed end of the stick, and holds it over a bowl of sand. Blowing on the glowing surface creates the fragrant “smoke” which cleanses the sacred space, strengthens energy, and helps to balance the Chakras.

The Shaman runs the incense over the body, utilizing a specific motion thought to open the Chakras one at a time. This begins at the top of the head and continues down to the last chakra, at the base of the spine. To clarify, Chakras, or energy centers, are defined as whorls of energy permeating the metaphysical layers of the body and serving as focal points for the absorption and transference of energies. Tradition holds that there are seven major Chakras in descending order: the crown, brow, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and base Chakra. Each is associated with different core issues, which is where we hold our emotional, genetic and karmic histories, retain our fears and traumas, and experience the loss of our true power and voice. The result of a blocked Chakra can cause us to “disconnect” with ourselves and others and make us physically and/or psychologically ill.

Shaman’s Tool Bag
If a Chakra is partially blocked, a quartz crystal is placed on the area where the energy is obstructed. Shamans use different types of crystals for Chakra balancing and healing. In my case, I believe the Shaman used double terminated crystals, which have natural terminations (points) on both ends of the cylinder shape. Double terminated crystals are thought to move energy in two directions at the same time therefore unblocking negative energy, and creating balance.

Bird feathers also appear in the Shaman’s bag of tools, and are believed to gather unwanted energy from the body and whisks it away. Feathers provide our connection to the “air” forces, in relation to the four elements Earth, Wind, Air and Fire. The Shaman chants in a low voice, while making arced motions with the feather hovering over the chakra, as if to ‘scoop out’ any negative energy blocking it from flowing correctly.

At the end of the session, the Shaman closes up the chakras one by one, and thanks the spirits of the four cardinal directions — which closes the sacred space that was opened for the ritual.There are countless healing rituals practiced by different cultures, of which the Shaman experience is merely one. However, it is the one I have familiarity with and can recommend as enriching and fascinating. It’s interesting to see after all the medical advancements we have made, some rely on ancient wisdom to complete the job.

7 thoughts on “Getting Technical With Shamanism

  1. Nagihan

    Kaye,I’m sure you know the work of Michael Harner on perons of high deerge. I have also worked with Martin Prechtel of New Mexico and Guatemala (Lake Atitlan) and his work in three volumes beginning with Honey In the Heart is wonderful. I hope you have found them.

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  4. Amy Buckmaster

    Heidi Kentwood,
    I saw a Reiki healer several times within my former Chiropractor’s office. She read my aura and worked the energy healing over my being. I did notice differences each time. I did feel better. Take a look in your local listings to see if you have any Natural Practicioners in your area. You may find Reiki or Shamanism closer than you think.


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