Shamanic Feathers

Shamanism Explained: My Experience on the Shamanic Path

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “What even is shamanism exactly?”

You are not alone.

Even elders of this work have asked this question, not because they don’t know, but because the work is dynamic and changing.

It seems to be that much of what comes from the spirit realm from the great mystery is of course, shrouded in mystery. Shamanism is different from other healing modalities because it comes from a place of embodiment, understanding and experience versus information and a technique. It’s actually not a technique at all.

I wanted to share a little bit more about:

  • The fundamentals of shamanism, 
  • My experience and personal journey with shamanism, and
  • Some of the differences and nuances between shamanism as a lifestyle, shamanic healing as a modality, and as an approach to helping improve the lives of ourselves and others.


Shamanism Fundamentals

The origins of Shamanism stem from Northern Europe and Asia. The word shaman comes from a specific culture in Northern Siberia. 

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 sort of practice and way of being seems to be common in basically every single human culture.

To access communication with the unseen realms, shamans use a trance state derived from a lot of variety of practices. Dancing, plant medicine, drumming, breath-work, and ceremony are all ways shamans use to connect with the spirit realms. In this place, there is a lot of wisdom that cannot be accessed by the rational brain, and can only really be accessed by our 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 actually the heartbeat of the earth. And so when we align our heartbeat with the heartbeat of the drum, we are actually aligning our heartbeat with the earth and 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. So this is that dreamy state where we tend to get intuitive hits, psychic information, and just access again stuff that 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.


Umm, is This Even Real?

When we begin to have shamanic experiences, we tend to hide or deny them because we’re not really sure what to make of them. Bringing us back to the question, “Is this stuff real?”

In my personal opinion, it doesn’t actually matter if this is the whole truth of what’s happening. 

Maybe there’s literally a spirit that’s coming down and whispering things into my ear, or maybe it’s simply the way that my consciousness can understand it. It is powerful, nevertheless.

This is a large part of 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 is felt within. They are devoted to creating situations where we can feel the embodiment of God… of life within us.


Shamanism and the Cycles of All Things

On one level shamanism is about communicating and interacting with all of life. Through this, we develop a greater respect of all of the things that we are surrounded by.

The Shamanic way of life also includes understanding the cycles and basic laws of nature that we are all working through. This is everything from the seasons, from agriculture, from planetary shifts, to our own life cycles. We will all walk through different cycles throughout our lifetime.

As an example, I am deep in a process of truly reintegrating the feminine back in with me.

We talk about feminine energy as the root of creativity, pleasure and joy. But really, the feminine is more about being wild, uncultivated, and sometimes it can even look like chaos. Especially compared to our rational masculine counterparts. 

Learning to truly embody the feminine requires your deepest trust and 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. Which means I am gifted with this extra lens to understand and interpret the experiences I’m having.

When I feel like I’m hitting a block or a wall, I can take a step back and understand where I’m at 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.

As you develop your own relationship to your own cycles, you’ll begin to see where other people are in their own cycles much more quickly.


Shamanic Healing, Authenticity, and Letting Go of Shame

So I’ll use this as a transition point to where we can move into shamanic healing work and where it is today.

Back in the old days, the Shaman was the holder of wisdom and energy within the community. They were in charge of maintaining 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 important 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.

We are coming back around to that now. The return to shamanism is so hip right now because we are learning to refocus on our inner knowing and personal power.

There’s a little game that’s going on right now in the media about who’s a real shaman and who isn’t. 

We need to let this idea go.  

We all have the capacity to do this work. 

Shamanism has entered back into the collective consciousness because life is asking us to become the shaman of our own lives.

We are being asked to 

  • 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 in general had to go underground for centuries. So when people come in and can share without the fear, it feels like they are being disrespectful and we try to push them back down.

By doing this, we end up doing the same thing that was done to us. We want to feel safe to share more freely, but we are actually 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 being able to see it, question yourself, check your integrity WITHOUT embodying self hate and self doubt.

The haters are essentially holding their wounds out to you. You don’t have to take it and swallow it down. 


The Reawakening

As we are reconnecting with our spiritual gifts as a community, we can let go of the old idea that a shaman is separate from ourselves.

We are being called to remember the shaman within.

Within that process, we’re collectively rebuilding the self trust to move from our inner knowing and direct experience.

We are putting an end to the game of finding the bad guy in us and shaming them, or trying to rise above them. 

And the game of finding the bad guy in our family or community and trying to shame them or cut them out.

And the game of trying to find the bad group in our society and trying to shame them and cut them out. 

This is like having wound on your arm and trying to heal it by cutting it off and now we’re just walking around missing a part of ourselves that actually did have a function and was wanting to be seen and respected and included.

Shamanism is the process of becoming fully human. In all the ways… 

In our sexuality:

Seeing and respecting it and not needing to hide our wildness, being able to yell and scream and sing and use our voice 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. 

There is no hierarchy. All the different aspects that make us human are beautiful. They are our power.

Throughout the course of our lifetime, we will be walking around the wheel over and over again. 

Our job is to collect all of these aspects of ourselves until we find ourselves whole again.

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