Shamanism is now a blanket term for all nature-related healing or magical works, but when I was a child (growing up in a normal, American family… of psychics!) it was associated mainly with the medicine or spiritual workers of tribal life. My mother’s side of the family was populated with people who worked with “the craft” using natural herbal medicines, spiritualism, Tarot and empathic love life workings. We were known as a family of “Wise Women” which is what my maternal Grandmother actually preferred to be called.
Meanwhile, my Father’s side was filled with Cherokee Shamanic energy. My paternal Grandfather was a spirit Shaman for their tribe in Chandler, OK and by watching him from the time she was a small child, my Grandmother eventually grew up to be his most interested student! At that time (during the late 1800 and early 1900s) that particular tribe was breaking up and flowing into the mainstream of American life, and yet she still learned the sacred practices she went on to pass down to me. So to me all things “shaman” are all things Grammy!
To me the Native American way of life is encapsulated by being in tune with the earth’s cycles. A Shaman was someone who learned to communicate with nature, animals and the dead. My Grammy or my Dad would take me out in the forest to “walk silent” and “listen to the wind.” When you listen to the wind, you can feel the energy of the coming weather, you are attuned to the sounds around you, and like a doctor listening to a patient’s heartbeat and lungs, you can tell the “health” of your environment. We celebrated birth and death as passages into a new energy form. We tuned in to the “natural path” before we walked – the way that would cause the least problem, or offer the best way to “share” our experience. We honored the food that came from the earth and our brethren the animals. We sang songs to the Sun and the Moon, and told stories of the wisdom of the wild beings with whom we shared the earth, so that we too could understand and practice that wisdom. All of that considered, to me, “Shamanism” is dealing with the basic foundation of all life — nature in the way that is the most harmonious and beneficial for all the sentient beings who share in it. The Cherokee call it “The Way.”
My experience with Native American tradition is such a huge part of who I am that I can’t even begin to list the ways it has impacted me. My first impulse is not to blame, it is to understand WHY something happened, or is happening. I am drawn to the “nature” of human beings and their relationships with each other as opposed to just their face value interactions. I feel that the energy around a person speaks to me and I can feel the energy of their pets, their home, and their surroundings as well. By staying in tune with the world around me energetically, I believe I can see more accurately and feel more deeply what is needed in a given situation – I feel truly “tuned in” to the events my clients desire to understand. Let’s face it, people are calling to get clarity and information that is above and beyond what they can see for themselves!
Shamanism (in its modern definition) allows me to be calmer and to see things in a much simpler way. I use my own spiritual practice to stay connected to my ancestors and tuned into the guides who speak so softly that each of us must be very still at times to hear them. Try it tonight. Sit in your home with no TV, no music, no computer and let yourself absorb the quiet. Slow your breathing. Light a candle and watch as your “wind” (breath) undulates the flame. What does it make you think about? Listening to the wind can apply to listening to the energy inside your home. Is it calm? Is it hectic? Does it relate exactly to the attitudes and behaviors of those that dwell in that energy? Listen to the wind, and find how it speaks to you.
Have questions about Shamanism (or any spiritual tradition) and what it can do for you? Join the conversation!