The shamanic path is not easy, nor is the path to how to become a shamanic healer. Following this path and developing your shamanic gifts takes dedication and hard work. Yet, despite its challenges, it is filled with amazing realizations and in-depth analysis of the self. It’s a path worth traveling. Along the way, you’ll become a better version of yourself and help influence others to do the same.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to answer the question, “How do I become a shaman?” so you can begin your shaman training and find a teacher to guide your journey.
You’ll explore these topics:
- What is a shamanic healer?
- How do I know the shamanic path is right for me?
- What is shamanic healing (and shamanism)?
- How does shamanic healing work?
- Is shamanic healing real?
- What is modern shamanism?
- What are the shamanic gifts I will learn?
- How will becoming a shamanic healer change me?
- How Do I Become a Shaman?
- Should I find a shaman teacher?
- Should I join a shaman training?
What is a shamanic healer?
The textbook definition of a shamanic healer recorded in the dictionary is “a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically, such people enter a trance state during a ritual and practice divination and healing.”
According to Gaia.com, “Shamans are those who work with the invisible realms to bring healing, peace, and wholeness to the world.”
Different cultures and lineages have varying protocols for becoming a shamanic healer. Still, it is universally accepted that a shaman lifts the community to a higher vibration and understands their personal truth without judgment or stereotypes.
Asking what is a shamanic healer and what they do is often the first sign you’ve been called to be one.
How do I know the shamanic path is right for me?
Many healers are shamans, and they don’t even know it yet. But there are a few ways to tell if the way of the shamanic healer is the one for you.
Many shamanic healers hear the call like a gentle nudge.
They might also have an initiation or traumatic experience that propels them into awakening a different worldview.
You’ve likely felt that nudge. You’re here, after all, trying to answer the question, “How do I become a shaman?”
Many, maybe just like you, spontaneously interact with the invisible realms, like hearing and seeing spirits. Almost all have an intense journey of self-healing, want to help heal others, and are called to restore balance in the community.
Against popular thought, I believe shamanic healers are not more powerful than others. Anyone can learn to access this part of them. However, those healers called to the path are usually naturally gifted in spiritual ways.
Shamans are empaths.
- Are you sensitive to others’ emotions and can feel the emotions around you and their energy? Can you easily gauge if someone is hurting and absorb the energies from others?
Shamans are intuitive.
- Can you trust your intuition to make the right decisions for you most of the time? When your intuition is telling you something, is it always right?
Shamans don’t fit in with others.
- Do you feel like you don’t fit in with anyone? Are you different and don’t go with the crowd?
Shamans are creative.
- Is it simple for you to express emotions creatively? Are your creative juices constantly flowing? Is it easy to tap into your creativity?
Shamans feel a strong calling to help others.
- Have you known your entire life that you are special and are meant to help others but don’t understand how? Are you the person everyone comes to for help with their problems? Are you easy to speak with? Do you find people open up to you?
Close your eyes and listen to your heart. What does it say?
Imagine yourself as the confident shamanic healer you are ready to become. What does it look like?
What does that feel like in your body? Does it get suddenly excited? Does it feel like a little nudge? Do you feel your heart scream yes, followed by a little burst of fear in your belly?
If it does, you are on the right track.
Our fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin. Part of the shamanic path is getting better at responding to those nudges with less resistance. Shamans usually have a very deep desire to help and might even have a dream of exactly how they want to help, too.
Take time to sit with that dream, notice what you see, and let yourself know it is possible.
Suppose you answered yes to any of these questions or experiences. In that case, there’s a strong chance you might be called to become a shamanic healer and help the world with your shamanic gifts.
What is shamanic healing (and shamanism)?
Shamanic healing comes from a place of embodiment, understanding, and experience. It is different from other healing modalities that focus on information and techniques. How and why it works is shrouded in the great mystery that is, even from our elders—as is much of what comes from the spirit realm.
We know that the origins of shamanism and shamanic healing stem from Northern Europe and Asia.
But the practice of shamanism (the belief that by working with the spirit realms, we can heal the sick and help return lost souls and soul parts home) is found all over the globe. This same practice and way of being seems common in every human culture.
To access communication with the unseen realms, shamans use a trance state derived from various practices. Shamans connect with the spirit realms by dancing, plant medicine, drumming, and breathwork. In this place, much wisdom cannot be accessed by the rational brain and can only be accessed by the intuitive brain.
The use of the drum is one of the ways that we access the trance state. Traditionally speaking, in some cultures, it’s believed that the drum is the actual heartbeat of the earth. And so, when we align our heartbeat with the heartbeat of the drum, we are aligning our heartbeat with the planet so we can hear the messages from the earth and see them more clearly.
Modern science would say that the monotonous repetition of the drumbeat helps us access the theta wave state. This is a dreamy state where we tend to get intuitive hits, gain psychic information, and access the stuff our rational brain can’t access. Experts believe that theta waves are important for processing information and making memories. They’re also linked to different types of learning.
Shamanic healing is the process of becoming fully human, including in our hearts and sexuality.
In our sexuality…
Seeing and respecting our sexuality and not needing to hide our wildness. It’s being able to yell, scream, sing, and use our voices to make beauty.
In our hearts:
Being able to love ourselves so much that we can have boundaries.
Being able to love others so much that we can compassionately challenge them.
Remembering what it is to dream and move and what it is to speak to the spirit realm.
Remember what it is like to listen to life.
Knowing there is no hierarchy and all the different aspects that make us human are beautiful. They are our power.
It is understanding that in our lifetime, we will walk around the wheel, again and again.
Our job is to collect all these aspects of ourselves until we find ourselves whole again.
That collecting and becoming whole is shamanic healing.
The shamanic path also includes understanding the cycles and fundamental laws of nature we are all working through. This is everything from the seasons to agriculture, planetary shifts, and our life cycles.
Throughout our lives, we will all pass through different cycles.
For example, I am deep in the process of truly reintegrating the feminine back in with me.
We discuss feminine energy as the root of creativity, pleasure, and joy. But really, the feminine is more about being wild and uncultivated. Sometimes, it can even look like chaos, especially compared to our rational masculine counterparts.
Learning to embody the feminine truly requires your deepest trust in the process. It will bring you into its embrace and teach you patience. It will teach you ease. It will teach you that life is trying to give you exactly what you’re asking for, and we can just stop for a moment and see it and trust its methods.
And so, I know that I’m in that cycle. This means I am gifted with this extra lens to understand and interpret my experiences.
When I feel like I’m hitting a block or a wall, I can step back and understand where I’m in this cycle. Learning to surrender to these teachings is bringing me closer to wholeness and more in flow with life itself.
With any teaching cycle, you will come to new layers throughout your life.
We must remember that everybody else is in their own cycle, and they might not be learning the same thing at the same time as you. Or, they might be learning the same thing but on the opposite side of the circle, on the opposite side of the wheel.
When you embrace the spiritual leadership path and develop your relationship with cycles, you’ll begin to see where other people are in their own cycles much more quickly.
How does shamanic healing work?
Shamanic healing works with shamans, bridging the spirit and physical worlds, bringing wisdom and information over the bridge. This wisdom is used to help heal individuals and restore balance in the Great Community as a whole.
Shamanic healers are skilled at navigating invisible realms like time, aspects of the psyche, the subtle body, dream worlds, and natural and mythical elements. Using altered states, they then take that information from the spirit world and translate it in a way the community can understand and process. This is important! They might be in touch with some higher ascended energies, but if healers can’t share the information in a way that can land with people, knowing it is meaningless.
Shamans get great results because they view everything as having essence or fundamental energy. Blocks in the flow of energy cause disharmony in the body or psyche, and shamanic Healers know energy likes to move and flow and how to facilitate that through their body.
When energy gets blocked, it causes depression, anxiety, mental disorders, physical ailments, general discontentment, or struggle during transitions in life.
Since shamanic healers can see the pathway out of patterns, they can accurately locate the root of the problem, interact with the energetic or spiritual component of misalignments, and mediate between the spiritual and physical realms to remove and heal the cause of the block itself. It is also after-care and well-taught shamans will offer continued support for integration.
Is shamanism real?
When we begin to have shamanic experiences, it’s not uncommon to hide or deny experiences with the unseen because we’re not really sure what to make of them, leading us to the question, “Is shamanism real?”
The truth? It doesn’t actually matter if shamanism is real and the whole truth of what’s happening.
Maybe there’s literally a spirit coming down and whispering things into my ear, or maybe it’s simply how my consciousness can understand it.
Either way. It is powerful.
This is a large part of shaman training, mystery school, religion, and spirituality in general. We can’t define God.
We can’t reduce a concept that is largely an understanding and embodiment into a logical frame without cutting off parts of it. We can’t explain what mystery is. We can truly only point to it.
In the same way, much of religion and spirituality is used to create an experience where the beauty and the mystery of the universe are felt within. They are devoted to creating situations where we can feel the embodiment of God… of life within us.
What is modern shamanism?
In the old days, the shamanic healer was the keeper of wisdom and energy within the community. They maintained the wholeness of individuals, the community, and the land, along with rituals or practices that the collective would participate in to acknowledge this connection.
But it is vital to notice, the ritual is not where the power comes from. The power is in our own personal experience of having a deep connection with life and sharing that connection with the community. That’s where our power truly lies, and that’s modern shamanism.
Today, as a people, we are returning to shamanism. The return to shamanism is hip because we are learning to refocus on our inner knowing and personal power.
As is often the way, many like to debate who is and isn’t a modern shamanic healer.
We need to let this idea go.
Everyone can do this work.
Shamanism has returned to the collective consciousness because life asks us to become the shaman of our lives.
Modern shamanism asks that we …
- reconnect with the spirit realms
- reconnect with the earth
- take responsibility for ourselves and how we interact with life
- understand our own cycles, and
- share our medicine with others.
It’s not lost on me that so much of this work and spirituality had to go underground for centuries. So when people come in and can share without fear, it feels like they are being disrespectful, and we try to push them back down.
By doing this, we do the same thing that was done to us. We want to feel safe to share more freely, but we are doing the policing now instead of saying, “Yes, I love you, I am you, come forward, come closer.”
It’s good to have integrity checks, but part of doing the inner work is seeing it, questioning yourself, and checking your integrity without embodying self-hate and self-doubt.
As we reconnect with our spiritual gifts as a community, we can let go of the old idea that a shamanic healer is separate from ourselves.
When you ask, “How do I become a shaman,” know this instead–we are being called to remember the shaman within.
Within that process, we collectively rebuild the self-trust to move from our inner knowing and direct experience.
We end the game of finding the bad guy in us and shaming them or trying to rise above them. We end the game of finding the bad guy in our family or community and trying to shame them or cut them out. We end the game trying to find the bad group in our society and trying to shame them and cut them out.
Playing the “find the bad guy” is like having a wound on your arm and trying to heal it by cutting it off. When we cut off part of ourselves, we are left with a missing part of ourselves that actually did have a function and wanted to be seen, respected, and included.
What are the shamanic gifts I will learn?
Shamans will work their entire lives to develop their gifts and senses, especially the primary four of intuition, spirit guides, cycles, and time and location. These are the gifts that help healers walk their own path.
We learn these shamanic gifts from being around other healers and shamanic teachers and being part of the experience.
That is how we learn to nurture our gifts ourselves.
Here’s how I developed mine when I learned how to become a shamanic healer.
The Shamanic Gifts of Intuition & Spirit Guides
Early in my shamanic work, I was never called into the shamanic gift of deity work in my work animals, humans, etc. But then, like most paths, we eventually learn to embrace all gifts along the way.
Around the same time, I grew curious about Goddess work, and I began to feel the calling that this was just what I needed. It was a simple thought born from intuition.
I immediately knew what to ask for. My intuition brought me to my guides.
Freya first came to me during a shamanic journey. Initially, I thought nothing of it.
But then, I discovered that one of my shamanic students was in the midst of a deep study with Freya.
Then, when I was speaking with a new client whose dog barked in the background, she said, “Quiet Freya!”
Then, during a psychic reading, Freya came through.
At last, there were just too many synchronicities to ignore, so I started a dialogue with her.
Because Freya embodies the masculine and feminine union so well, I felt called to ask her it.
As soon as I started feeling into her vibration and asking for her wisdom and teaching, she began to respond. Sometimes, with direct information. Sometimes, with a feeling. Sometimes, in my dreams or journeys. Sometimes, messages through other people.
She was teaching me to be fierce and compassionate at the same time.
After Freya showed up, Isis started to come in.
Before participating in a plant medicine ceremony, I always tune into my intuition before I begin.
This time, my shamanic gift of intuition guided me to ask about accepting parts of myself that I want to change. This question opened me up to a past life with a teaching about portals.
After this experience, Isis started to appear everywhere. She is actively teaching me and preparing the ground for my next healing cycle.
When you work with guides, they prep the territory of your soul so you have the tools to navigate this next round of teaching. They also help you know what round you’re on.
These goddesses challenged me to go to the dark corners of my soul and supported me with the deepest love. They held me with compassion instead of force or demeaning.
The Shamanic Gifts of Cycle, Location, & Timing (that I never expected)
When I moved to the suburbs and stepped into stereotypical middle America, complete with homeownership and decorating it to look and feel nice, I never expected the shamanic gifts of cycles and locations to teach me so much.
This move felt so foreign to me because it represented everything I had fought against for years. And, it was everything that I feared.
While it feels like being conventional, I decided to lean into stability, laying a foundation, and putting down roots—things I had always avoided.
When I was young, I saw mainstream things as harmful to the earth and detrimental to communities. So, I gathered everything together that represented conventionality and made it bad.
Some of that thinking is still with me today. It’s how I keep myself separate and “them” the other. My goal used to be to change other people’s minds, so there wasn’t so much suffering in the world.
And this is where the shamanic gift of sensing cycles teaches me.
In this new cycle, I’m still learning to accept the conventional. Not by telling myself I must love it, but by becoming conventional and loving myself anyway.
And so, my greatest healing right now is moving through that original fear. I’m learning to heal the part of me that makes others wrong.
Here I am today, on this property that we are in the process of renovating.
Both my partner and I are learning to find our balance, between cultivating and cutting off, wildness and function, and with each other.
I am thankful for all the goddesses, spirit guides, animals, and human guides who have prepared me to let go of being separate and apart.
I smiled when I arrived here and started to get a sense of the land.
I am letting this place whisper its dreams to me.
And whispering my dream.
Knowing I am here to heal this part of me—and embrace the shamanic gift and sense of what cycle I’m growing into—and that it has perfect timing.
How will becoming a shamanic healer change me?
You will change once you embrace your calling—and this is likely the greatest gift becoming a shamanic healer has in store for you.
You’ll heal. You’ll hone your shamanic gifts and tools. You’ll come to understand the natural cycles of life and death in profound ways as you learn how to become a shamanic healer.
You’ll get to know your true self, connect deeply with others, learn to trust your wisdom, and lead a purpose-driven life.
You’ll come to use your shamanic gifts and tools to move through stuck energy.
Usually, when we get close to a breakthrough, we bring in worry, confusion, overwhelm, judgment, or doubt.
Shamanism gives us tools to navigate these places, so we don’t get stuck.
When we come to them, we have the tools to know where we are and what to do. It doesn’t take long to stop calling in all those cover-ups and watch your fear turn to joy.
You’ll get to know your true self.
Shamanism is a deeply personal exploration. You get to know yourself beyond the material realm while restoring your natural connection to the spiritual realm.
Those spiritual moments you occasionally encounter become the place from which your life flows—always.
You’ll connect deeply with others.
Shamanism is a way of being that penetrates cultures, careers, families, and our relationship with the earth.
The more you know yourself, the more places you can access that connect you with others. In turn, you find a connection to the community wherever you are.
You’ll trust your inner wisdom.
You already have deep awareness. You already interact energetically with others. On the shamanic path, you become of that deep awareness and learn to trust yourself and your intuition. This shamanic gift becomes a strong partner in your life.
This self-assurance gives you the keys to move forward, build the life you truly want, and drop the game of constant judgment or second-guessing as you become a shamanic healer.
You’ll lead a purpose-driven life.
The spiritual path is about direct experience. There are no religious texts or deities, dogmas, or hierarchies. Each person is unique and has a unique purpose.
Becoming a shaman will connect you directly to your purpose. On the way, you learn how to heal yourself, so you always have that skill.
Even if you don’t have a desire to be a healer, the incredible truths you learn on the shamanic path bring peace and up-levels your career and relationships.
How do I become a Shaman?
You start by answering that deep longing inside you–that inner knowing you’re called to shamanism. Accept the call and know that shamanism is real and that you already have everything inside of you that you need to follow this path.
Should I find a shaman teacher?
Finding a shaman teacher will set you on the right path to becoming a shaman. Although finding the right teacher may be difficult, once you find them, they can teach you their wisdom and learnings that will propel you a lot farther ahead than if you were doing it alone.
Be prepared to be committed to the path.
It will require you to spend your time and energy learning the practice, especially if you find the right teacher. All great things come from commitment; becoming a shamanic healer is no exception.
The good news is that you don’t have to change who you are or make drastic sacrifices to do so.
Show I join a shaman training?
Just like finding a shamanic teacher, joining a shaman training will also set you on the right path to becoming a shamanic healer. The training will guide you through every step, help you to relieve blockages, and connect you with your own source of spiritual energy.
If you feel that you were called to be a shamanic healer, that means you hold very special gifts that shaman training could help you define. Shamans are here to help the community through healing, and to do this, you need to heal yourself and get in tune with your inner wisdom. This is the real shamanic path. Doing your own healing work so you can then help others.
The truth is that you are reading this article, and that shows you’ve heard the call to become a shaman.
Holton Healing Art’s Shaman School is open for enrollment. We’re here to support you and your shamanic path—and show you how to become the shamanic healer you know you’ve been called to be.