Exactly what is Shamanism? First, we should start by understanding the importance of one person within a tribe or group of indigenousness peoples. This person is the one who all peoples of the tribe look up to, sometimes more than their chief. They are the ones who live at the edge of society but are still revered by everyone.
Why? Because the tribe depended on this person for survival, it doesn’t matter what this person is called, as their title isn’t one of ego, or one of pride. But instead it is one of servitude, of healing, and mysticism. They are known by many words, titles, and names. But at the core, they are the same.
The Tungus Tribe of Siberia call this person a Šaman (Pronounced Shā-man or Shay-man), from the term Shamanism was coined. The Lakota people of Northern North America call them Wicasa Wakan; the Arrernte people of Central Australia call their Shaman the Kurdaitcha; while the Xhosa tribe of South Africa call theirs an Igqirha.
As you can see the traditional practice of Shamanism isn’t related to only one person or culture, but to many around the world. And at the core of this practice, surprisingly, much of it is the same or similar. The techniques vary, and the tools as well, but the uses, practicality, and understandings are the same, and have been for the past 80,000 - 100,000 years or so. Shamanism is so used and so important, it is our birthright to the point it is ingrained into our soul essence and thus into our DNA.
Modern shamanism was introduced into the world by a man by the name of Michael Harner. He studied around the world with various tribes, groups, and peoples that actively used shamanism as a means of survival, and what he finds and documents he wrote into a book, ‘The Way of the Shaman’.
From there a few people studied under Harner, namely a lady by the name of Sandra Ingerman, whose work, studies and practices has allowed her to train thousands of people and introduce Core Shamanism into the culture of cities and countries worldwide. She has spoken at many conferences, including the likes of the UN and many workshops and trainings as well. She has written many books, of which I recommend if you wish to study and deepen your knowledge of the practice.
It is from here that Shamanism has blossomed and has become an integral part of many people’s lives, and it is from these people, we as a worldwide culture, are heralding in a new age of healing and growth.
If you would like to learn more, you can refer to our blog series "What is Shamanism?". We do recommend that you also do your own research as there is more information out there than we could ever compile here.