Shamanism is commonly accepted in many cultures of the world. Some of the topics of this Introduction are: What is shamanism? How does one become a shaman? Shamanic traditions and culture Origins and roles of shamanism Stanley Krippner Shamans of the 20th Century “A shaman is a magico-religious practitioner who self- regulates their attention so as to access information not ordinarily available to members of the social group who sanctioned the practice and whose physiological, psychological and spiritual conditions they attempt to ameliorate including stress and illness among members of their community.” Practitioner who can voluntarily alter his or her state of consciousness The shaman’s practice is socially-sanctioned by the practitioner’s community The Four D’s of Shamanism Dreaming Dance Drumming Divination Reveries or trance states that transmit the thoughts of another person Dreams where they are in faraway places Rituals which may predict future happenings Mental procedures to produce effects on distant physical objects or living organisms Shamanism works the constraints of time, space and force Operates outside of our current knowledge of physics Works for the benefit of the community Does so in various altered states of consciousness Mircea Eliade (1988) “A shaman is a man or woman who journeys in an altered state of consciousness, usually induced by rhythmic drumming or other type of percussion sounds, or in some cases by psychoactive drugs.” Such journeys are generally undertaken to help other people such as members of the community: Diagnosing and treating illness Divination and prophesy Acquisition of power Establishing contact with guides or teachers in a non-ordinary reality And contact with spirits of the dead Doore (1988) The shaman usually remains conscious and in control of his or her own faculties Typically suffers no amnesia upon return to ordinary reality Winkelman (1984) Magico-religious practitioners who: Occupy a socially-recognized role Who have developed the ability to interact with non- ordinary dimensions of existence Have specialized knowledge of spiritual entities Winkelman (1984) Magico-religious practitioners who…”have special powers to influence the course of nature and human affairs in ways not ordinarily possible and who occupy a culturally recognized role involving the supernatural, having special access to spiritual entities.” Winkelman, 1984 Have special powers that allow them to influence the course of human affairs Affect nature in ways not normally accessible to ordinary human functioning and abilities Winkelman (1984) Four basic types of shaman practitioner Complex consisting of all types of shamans Shaman-healers Priests, priestesses and sorcerers Diviners, seers and mediums Rogers (1982) The shaman is a “practitioner of mystery beyond the understanding of most members of his or her community.” Siberian, Central Asian and Finno-Uralic (Finland and the Urals) Celtic (Northern European) Native American in North America South America South and East Asia A person may be born with a propensity towards many of the abilities that are shown by shamans They may then train in shamanic practices However, unless they are accepted by their community and use their abilities for the benefit of their community, they cannot be fully accepted as shamans Considered wise men and women of their community who demonstrate a wider view of reality and possess the ability to intercede for and aid members of their community They may be chosen at birth, either through a hereditary link to a shaman relative or through a process of initiation and training May be “special” from childhood and recognized by the elders of their community Heinz (1991) describes the process of becoming a shaman, consisting of three divisions The Call Initiation Training Heinz (1991) Initiation preceded by a selection process that may consist of being called to serve, the role may be inherited or the individual may decide for themselves to become a shaman and look for a teacher to train and initiate them Rogers, 1982 – The call may come through: Revelation and mystical experiences Seeing visions or having epileptic seizures Displaying erratic behavior Surviving a deadly disease Being struck by lightning Having an unusual birthing Having unusual birth defects Being born a twin Sharon (1978) says it is agreed that: Shamans are unusually gifted or perceptive members of their community May be bestowed on someone who has had NDE, OBE or who has inherited the gift Usually an inner voice from the spirit world is heard followed by a change in behavior Nicholson (1982) Initiate goes through varying degrees of physical and psychological ordeals such as: Forced rhythmic dancing Sensory deprivation & seclusion Fasting and dehydration Beatings & other physical ordeals Sleep deprivation Hyperventilation (fast breathing) Ingestion of hallucinogens (only within a shamanic or religious context) Involve cultivation and control of imagery Heinze (1991 – quoting Eliade) cites 4 major criteria for shamanic initiation and training Shaman is expected to experience “dismemberment and rebirth” during training Expected to go on an ecstatic journey and act as a guide for wandering souls Expected to master the fear of fire, and Expected to have animal guardians and to assume animal form Shamans emerged during the hunting phase of human civilization (Rutherford, 1993) Celtic cave paintings from around 30,000 BC show shaman dressed in skin and antlers of animal being hunted Acted as diviner of rich hunting fields Intercessory between hunters and hunted Conciliation between animal spirits and hunted Rutherford (1993) shaman call, initiation and training intended to produce bridge between worlds – death and rebirth, enlightenment, awakening and rebirth Teachings typically conveyed by word of mouth Heinz (1982) described study of demographics Shamans aged 17 to 70 years of age 70% accepted vocation when over 30 years Gender of shaman not important to clients Clients “attracted to the shaman with the most powerful spiritual connections.” Shamans enter an altered state of consciousness or trance state in order to fulfill their intercessionary roles with the spirits, for spirit intercession, divination and for healing Many shamanic teachers employ rituals to generate an altered state of consciousness and to train shamans Some involve artistic traditions such as the Tattwa symbols, sand painting and cave art Shamanic cultures know the potential of rhythm and took advantage of “resonant cavities”, caves and kivas, that could amplify the effects of these rhythms Ancient musical cultures developed instruments that aided trance such as drums Modern research confirms the findings that certain rhythms facilitate trance state Shamans are able to utilize altered states of consciousness to mentally travel to other dimensions and locations This is often known as spirit or astral travel The shamanic term “magical flight” appears to be similar to Out-of-Body Experience or OBE Dr. Felicitas Goodman studied trance postures and found that they facilitated certain types of healing and divination states One of the shaman’s roles is that of healer Doore (1988) Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ill health may be helped by the shaman Currently, western medicine has no place for shamanic healing Usually apprenticed to an older shaman who teaches knowledge to the young student until pupil is old enough or ready to participate in an initiatory ceremony in which the student overcomes a danger, either physical, mental or both. Dangers involved in entering the spirit world First done in training, then during initiation ceremony Student becomes aware of both malevolent and beneficial entities, both human and animal, some of which he employs as allies Shamans are not usually self-taught Shamanism has traditionally used certain plants and plant extracts to facilitate spirit travel in its rituals Shamans have also stressed that the ability to develop spirit travel can be obtained through mastery of their spiritual and physical selves Spirit travel was usually accomplished by experienced shamans Shamanism also includes the ability to enter an altered state of consciousness or trance state in order to access information for individuals or for the community This might be achieved through the use of certain rituals, ritual objects, dance or dreams The shaman perceives a world of total aliveness in all parts, in all parts sentient, in all parts capable of being known and being used. This pan-animism yields to the practicing shaman its powers and principalities and these, in turn, can be used for healing, for renewal, and for bringing into the profane world the transformational power of sacred time and space. Nicholson (1987) So, apart from traditional shamans who can call themselves by that title? Heinze states that only the following can think of themselves in that way: They can alter their state of consciousness at will Can fulfill the spiritual needs of their community Are mediators between the sacred and the profane And use symbols and rituals Today modern science views shamanic skills as evidence of mental illness. However, shamanism is culture specific Heinze’s 1982 survey found that shamans considered themselves chosen and were able to move easily from one reality to another. They operated on altruistic motivation and none showed signs of mental illness Can we be modern shamans? Do you have healing abilities? Do you have divination abilities? Can you voluntarily alter your state of consciousness to access information? Can you affect your external environment? Are your specific abilities sought by and sanctioned by members of your community? You may be a modern shaman!