Saturday, November 18, 2017

Shamanism basics

The word "shaman" entered our modern languages from the Evenki people/ Siberia.
In their language it describes a person who is excited or in ecstacy.
Asked after a job description, Evenki shamans describe it as "keeping the balance between the visible and invisible worlds."
A shaman is someone in a permanent ecstatic condition with special techniques and tools to send his soul on a journey to get in contact with the supernatural. Not more, no enlightment, no perfect role model, no priest, no Übermensch...

It is not a position, people desire to have, the traditional shamans often live a regular, sometimes poor life, being off duty relatively
normal or even troubled people, consumed by their work. They are very often feared and if possible, avoided. It is a little bit like the fire department: you re happy to see them if you need them, but even more when not.
They inherit their destiny from their grandparents mostly and we can probably very well imagine how popular a long, painful path as a complete weirdo in service of all people and spirits in today s modernizing society is...

Naran Bö, Evenki shaman, picture taken 1931

Shamanism is clearly not a religion by itself, more a development or blossom of animism, meaning a mindset, that all existence is interwoven with spirits or intelligences.
Markings of a shaman are f.ex., that he or she possesses no individual power, all power comes from the spirits. The shamans special ability though is to control or ride these.
Is the person controlled by spirits, we call it a medium.
Also plant medicine is not necessary a part of traditional shamanism, here lies the difference to the medicine man.

drawing of Evenki shaman 18th century

Shamans usually are recruited from among the little special, but intelligent members of the society/ tribe. People who are in balance with themselves and the world.
If that is not the case, the shaman will become evil and only interested in him or herself.

Safe travels