Other Asian areas:
There is a strong Shamanism influence in the Bön religion of some Central Asians, and in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism became popular with Shamanism peoples such as the Tibetans, Mongols, and Manchu beginning in the eighth century. Forms of shamanistic ritual combined with Tibetan Buddhism became institutionalized as the state religion under the Mongolian Yuan dynasty and the Manchurian Qing dynasty. However, in the Shamanism cultures still practiced by various ethnic groups in areas such as Nepal and northern India, shamans are not necessarily considered enlightened, and often are even feared for their ability to use their power to carry out malicious intent. In Tibet, the Nyingma schools in particular, had a Tantric tradition that had married “priests” known as Ngakpas or Ngakmas/mos (fem.). The Ngakpas were often employed or commissioned to rid the villages of demons or disease, creations of protective amulets, the carrying out of religious rites etc. The Ngakpas should however, been grounded in Buddhist philosophy and not simply another form of shaman, but sadly, this was most often not the case. There have always been, however, highly realised and accomplished ngakpas. They were in their own right great lamas who were of equal status as lamas with monastic backgrounds. The monasteries, as in many conventional religious institutions, wished to preserve their own traditions, sometimes at the expense of others. The monasteries depended upon the excesses of patrons for support. This situation often led to a clash between the more grassroots and shamanic character of the travelling Chödpa and Ngakpa culture and the more conservative religious monastic system. Shamanism is still widely practiced in the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), where shamans are known as ‘Nuru’ (all women) and ‘Yuta’. ‘Nuru’ generally administrates public or communal ceremonies while ‘Yuta’ forcuses on the civil or private matters. Shamanism is also practiced in a few rural areas in Japan proper. It is commonly believed that the Shinto religion is the result of the transformation of a shamanistic tradition into a religion.
Initiation in Shamanism
Shamanic Initiation generally occurred during visions, dreams and trances. The spirits elected a new Shaman by making themselves known to him. Often there was a life threatening illness. The Shamanic faculty may also be passed down through the bloodline. Sometimes it comes from a vision quest. The Shaman takes a Spirit flight. The flight symbolically heals the rift between man and the sacred. The Shaman also faces horrific Underworld journey`s. Often the Shaman is dismembered and then reassembled bone by bone. After election the novice Shaman is usually trained by a more experienced Shaman.
Making the Journey in Shamanism
Shamanism is traditionally an oral teaching. As such you will really learn more from a Shaman teacher then a book or website. The main thing is that the Shamanic experience is totally natural. Journeying is much like dreaming except it is conscious and always has a purpose. You are also always able to direct your movements. There are many questions for you to journey on. You may ask about love, relationships, work or other problems. You may also journey to meet ancestors, guides, gods or journey for healing. Define your sacred place before you start. Make sure the room is as dark as possible. You will need your drumming music. Clear your mind. Relax. Some people like to journey lying down while others like to sit crossed legged. Allow a feeling of trust to envelope you. Take several deep breaths in rhythm. Start the drumming. As the drumming sounds go to your journey center. Hold your purpose in mind and see what unfolds. Ride on the drumbeat. Dont try and analyse your journey while your on it, do this afterwards. Now is simply the time to experience it.
Sweat Lodge in Shamanism
The purpose of the Sweat Lodge is to cleanse the body, mind and spirit. It is an ancient purification ritual from native America. The Sweat Lodge is a circular beehive structure made from branches to form its frame and then covered with rugs. Inside you sit naked around a fire pit. The Shaman places white hot stones into the pit and then pours cold water over them to produce the steam and heat. You are then cleansed physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Meeting Totem Animals in Shamanism
One of your first journeys may be to meet your Totem Animal. This may in fact be a good purpose for your first visit. Afterwards your animal guardian may accompany you on your journey`s. Your animal may speak with a human voice or gesture.
Pouch in Shamanism
Many people in Shamanism like to wear a medicine bag around their neck filled with sacred objects. These objects may be stones, crystals, herbs or twigs. These objects connect the Shaman with their special powers. It also establishes a relationship with other levels of reality. The pouch may be circular, made of cloth, with cord around the edge and gathered up at the neck. A Power Bundle is a larger version. It may be spread on an alter, burnt in the case of herbs or shaken in the case of a rattle. A Crane Bag is similar to a Power Bundle. It derives from Celtic beliefs. The Crane Bag contains the Shamans tool kit.
Ritual in Shamanism
Ritual is an outer sign of inner change. A trance state may be brought by drumming, dancing or rattle shaking. Movements may be those of an animal. There may be cries which appear to come from different corners of the room. Rituals are involved in initiation rites. Shamans also have ritual costumes. A costume is a sign of the sacred. Journey`s are often depicted on the costume. Song and music is also an important part of shamanic ritual.
The Rattle in Shamanism
The Rattle has a multidimensional voice that whispers down the paths of the Otherworld. The Rattle sets the scene defining sacred space for shamanic work. You may wish to sound the Rattle to signal the start of Shamanic work. You may rattle at each corner of the medicine wheel. Shaking of the Rattle is a signal to the consciousness to switch to an altered frequency. It is usually used as a preliminary to the Drum. The Rattle is also used in Shamanic healing. It diagnoses a complaint by noticing the alteration in the voice as it is passed over the body.
Middleworld in Shamanism
The Middleworld is sort of the world we inhabit in an everyday sense but not quite. Were closest to the Middleworld at dusk, dawn, daydreaming, seeing spirits, sense things or feel things. The Middleworld is close when we feel close to nature. Middleworld is the song of the stream and the whisper of the wind. Recognising the Middleworld is understanding that Nature is our Mother. The true beauty of the Earth is still there in the Middleworld. We can visit the Middleworld in Shamanic journey`s. Middleworld journey`s often involve going back or forwards in time. Middleworld journey`s usually relate to current issues. Shananic Journey`s begin in a special Middleworld location. The creatures you will meet in the Middleworld are totem or guardian animals, nature spirits, Gods or Goddesses.
Give Away in Shamanism
The Give Away derives from Native American Indians. It has two aspects. One is to let go of what we no longer need. This may include unhappiness, prejudice and others which are allowed to flow out into the cosmos. The second part of the give away is to give to others what they need. Sometimes this may mean letting go of what we value. The give away is an expression of trust in the universe. In practising the Give Away we become part of the river of life.
The Drum in Shamanism
The Drum is associated with Otherworld journeys. It is sometimes called the Shamans Horse. This is because you ride the drumbeat when taking Shamanic journey`s. You should not listen to the drumbeat but instead let it carry you. Simply ride the beat. When the time of the journey is coming to the end, the Drum beat will change to that of a call back signal. Drums are usually decorated with the symbols of the Shamans special power or medicine.
Eskimo groups comprise a huge area stretching from Eastern Siberia through Alaska and Northern Canada (including Labrador Peninsula) to Greenland. Shamanism practice and beliefs have been recorded at several parts of this vast area crosscutting continental borders.
Native American and First Nations cultures have diverse religious beliefs. There was never one universal Native American religion or spiritual system. Though many Native American cultures have traditional healers, ritualists, singers, mystics, lore-keepers and “Medicine People”, none of them ever used, or use, the term “shaman” to describe these religious leaders. Rather, like other indigenous cultures the world over, their spiritual functionaries are described by words in their own languages, and in many cases are not taught to outsiders. Many of these indigenous religions have been grossly misrepresented by outside observers and anthropologists, even to the extent of superficial or seriously mistaken anthropological accounts being taken as “more authentic” than the accounts of actual members of the cultures and religions in question. Often these accounts suffer from “Noble Savage”-type romanticism and racism. Some contribute to the fallacy that Native American cultures and religions are something that only existed in the past, and which can be mined for data despite the opinions of Native communities. Not all Indigenous communities have roles for specific individuals who mediate with the spirit world on behalf of the community. Among those that do have this sort of religious structure, spiritual methods and beliefs may have some commonalities, though many of these commonalities are due to some nations being closely-related, from the same region, or through post-Colonial governmental policies leading to the combining of formerly-independent nations on reservations. This can sometimes lead to the impression that there is more unity among belief systems than there was in antiquity. Navajo medicine men, known as “Hatalii”, use several methods to diagnose the patient’s ailments. These may include using special tools such as crystal rocks, and abilities such as hand-trembling and trances, sometimes accompanied by chanting. The Hatalii will select a specific healing chant for that type of ailment. Navajo healers must be able to correctly perform a healing ceremony from beginning to end. If they don’t, the ceremony will not work. Training a Hatalii to perform ceremonies is extensive, arduous, and takes many years, and is not unlike priesthood. The apprentice learns everything by watching his teacher, and memorizes the words to all the chants. Many times, a medicine man cannot learn all sixty of the traditional ceremonies, so he will opt to specialize in a select few.
The Mayan people of Guatemala, Belize, and Southern Mexico practice a highly sophisticated form of shamanism based upon astrology and a form of divination known as “the blood speaking”, in which the shaman is guided in divination and healing by pulses in the veins of his arms and legs.
In the Amazon Rainforest, at several Indian groups the shaman acts also as a manager of scare ecological resources.
Among the Mapuche people of South America, the community “shaman”, usually a woman, is known as the Machi, and serves the community by performing ceremonies to cure diseases, ward off evil, influence the weather and harvest, and by practicing other forms of healing such as herbalism.
Lowerworld in Shamanism
The Lowerworld is a place of great power. Here we can draw on ancestral gifts. We can find links with our roots and our transformative powers. The Underworld is the powerhouse of the three worlds. All true growth begins in the secrecy of the underworld. Creativity begins in the Lowerworld. Most cultures have heroes and heroines who make an underworld journey in search of strength, knowledge and rebirth. Lowerworld is also the home of all that is feared and repressed. Lowerworld journey`s can be difficult and you should have some experience before starting them. The Lowerworld is usually approached via a tunnel.
Deers in Shamanism
Deers are graceful yet sensitive. They are very alert and easily smell the approach of an enemy. Deer people are also very sensitive. Their thinking is fast as is their response. Deer people have a gentle touch. They can teach you the way to understanding and kindness. Deer people are prepared to change. Deer people can teach us the powers of love.
Badger in Shamanism
Badgers teach us how to defend ourselves if needed. Badger teaches us courage. Badgers will come out fighting if cornered.
Frog in Shamanism
The Frog is the Totem of the Water clan. The Frog helps us get use to change. From one place to another, from one idea to another. Frog helps us catch our breath when we are overworked.
Beaver in Shamanism
The Beaver is a hard worker. The Beaver is a power animal. Beaver people are practical. They are also productive. They are strongly linked with their five senses. Beaver can teach us how to finish what we started. They can show us how to put plans into action.
In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is a mystical kingdom hidden somewhere beyond the snowpeaks of the Himalayas. The sacred texts of the Tibetan Canon, say that a line of enlightened Kings has dwelt in Shambhala guarding the the secret doctrines of Buddhism. It is said that when the world declines into war and greed, and all is lost, a King of Shambhala will emerge from the secret city with a huge army to conquer evil and herald the Golden Age.
Crows in Shamanism
Crows are powerful birds. They are scavengers. They usually live in groups. They are at home both in the sky and on the ground. Crow people like to keep the peace. Crow people do not like being alone, but prefer to be around groups. Crow people are also associated with the Goddess of war, Morrigan. The Crow does not always bring the knowledge people want to hear.
Eagle in Shamanism
Eagles bring the light of the soul. Flashes of intuition comes from the Eagle. The Eagle enables us to soar. Eagle is the realms of spirit and fire.
Bat in Shamanism
Bat teaches us to face our deepest and darkest fears. Bat speaks of the initiatory experience of the Shaman. Bat helps us through endings so new ways of life may come to birth.
Cat in Shamanism
Cat can teach us how to be in harmony with our instincts. Cat shows us how to be relaxed. Cat can teach us when to strike and when to sleep. The Cat also shows many sides of feminine energy and Goddess wisdom.
Dog in Shamanism
Dog teaches us the meaning of true loyalty. Dog teaches us to remain faithful to what is important to us in life.
Grizzly in Shamanism
The Grizzly is the most powerful of Bear. The Grizzly knows where to find healing roots and herbs. The Grizzly shows us how to search internally. Grizzly tells us when to meditate.
Falcon in Shamanism
The Falcon is a bird of prey. It rides on the wind searching the Earth for movement, new ideas, fresh perspectives and broad panoramas. Falcon people are like this. They take the broad view, descend on what is worthwhile, but yet dont stay long. Falcon people often do not reap what they sow. They are often impatient. They need freedom and stimulation in their lives. As a totem the Falcon can connect us to imagination and vision.
Fox in Shamanism
The Fox is a master of camouflage. Fox teaches us how to keep unseen while we do our business. Fox teaches us how to wait quietly for opportunities.
Goose in Shamanism
The Goose is a large bird that likes to live in lonely and windswept places. They are very determined and have been immortalized in folklore. Goose people are also loners. They are determined and practical. They are family orientated. The Goose brings unexpected blessings.
Otter in Shamanism
The Otter is at home on the Earth or in the Water. They enjoy having fun. They are loyal and caring. Otter people are humanitarians. They are unconventional and do not like to follow the crowd. Otter brings playfulness into your life. They teach you not to take things too seriously.
Dolphin in Shamanism
The Dolphin symbolises the breath of life and the spirit of communication. Dolphins is connected with the rhythm of nature. Dolphin can teach us how to achieve solutions for Earth. Listen to the message of freedom from the Dolphin.
Rabbit in Shamanism
The Rabbit is timid. The Rabbit is concerned with facing fears and then dealing with it. The Rabbit can show us the way to the other world. Rabbit can help us turn our weakness into strength.
Hare in Shamanism
The Hare teaches us to make sacrifices along the way. The Hare was strongly valued by the Celts. Hare shows us the way to the otherworld.
Butterfly in Shamanism
Butterfly brings us transformation. It is the Totem of the Air clan. The Butterfly means freedom. It is about living for “now”. To go where the winds take us.
Mouse in Shamanism
Mouse can help us see danger and drawbacks. Mouse looks very closely at everything. Mouse is keeper of the South and Noon. Mouse is of closeness of closeness and emotions.
Smudging in Shamanism
A way of defining sacred space and cleansing the aura by use of herbs. The herbs used are Cedar for cleansing, Sage for protection and Sweetgrass for calling in the presence of Spirit. These herbs may be used as one or all together. You may also buy smudge sticks especially for this purpose. Smudge sticks will ignite without charcoal. The herbs or smudge stick can rest in a large seashell. Fan the smudge with feathers. Feathers represent winging us to another dimension.
Owl in Shamanism
The Owl see`s well at night. They fly soundless. Owl people are often wise. Owl people are positive and optimistic. They are also generous people. Owl can give you deep insight. They can help you to expand your consciousness.
Hawk in Shamanism
Hawk is the Totem of the Fire clan. Hawk awakens us to true awareness. Hawk brings us messages from our unconscious mind. Hawk tells us to light the fires of our Spirit.
Turtle in Shamanism
Turtle is the Totem of the Earth clan. To native American Indians the Turtle represented the Earth Mother. Turtle teaches us to make sure we are balanced before dashing around. Turtle shows us how to nurture ourselves from the Earth.
Turkey in Shamanism
Turkey means gifts. Turkey may give you a gift, from a legacy to a rainbow. Turkey may also mean you are the gift giver. Either way you are blessed by Turkey.
Salmon in Shamanism
The Salmon is a very powerful fish that shows great strength and determination. The Salmon appears often in Celtic beliefs symbolizing wisdom. Salmon people are far sighted. They are able to fix upon a goal without needing to plan every step. They see meanings that others miss. Salmon people can show us how to acquire a solid sense of self.
Stag in Shamanism
Stag is an Otherworld animal that is wise in the ways of the hidden. Stag symbolises fertility and the mysteries of nature.
Swan in Shamanism
Swan teaches us to surrender to the flow of the universe. Swan teaches us to accept ourselves for what we are. Yet Swan also teaches us to embrace change when it arrives. Swan is a helper in the process of initiation.
Horse in Shamanism
The Horse can carry us to the Otherworld. Horse energy is energy of the Earth. Horse is associated with Welsh Celtic Goddess Rhiannon. The Horse passes through gateways in all dimensions.
Snake in Shamanism
Because of the way snakes shed their skin they represent the cycle of transformation through birth, death and rebirth. Snake people are often very wise. They have the power to renew themselves. The gift of the Snake person is that they are gifted healers. The Snake is associated with the Celtic Triple Goddess Bride.
Wolves in Shamanism
Wolves can sense danger at a distance. They have good smell and are excellent trackers. Wolves have a strong sense of pack and family. Wolf people are receptive. They have strong sense of instinct. Wolf people have strong emotions. The Wolf is a teacher and mentor. Wolf shows us how to hunt for meanings.
Sow in Shamanism
The Sow was sacred to the Celtic Goddess Cerridwen. The Sow has Underworld qualities. Sow symbolises the trio of transformation. Sow shows the connection between womb and tomb. Sow teaches us how to change.
Bear in Shamanism
Bears are very strong and resourceful. They possess enormous stamina. Bear people are very independent. They arrange their environment to their wishes. Bears are gentle people when left alone. But if cornered they come out fighting. The Bear is a powerful ally on Shamanic journey`s.
Woodpeckers in Shamanism
Woodpeckers keep pecking away until they have achieved their goal. The Woodpeckers drumming on the trees makes a sound like the drum of the Shaman. Woodpecker people are also in tune with the rhythms of life. Home and family are important. The Woodpecker can teach us how to build our nest. They can show us how to listen to the rhythms that control our life.
Squirrel in Shamanism
The Squirrel prepares long and careful. The Squirrel teaches us to prepare for the future. Squirrel also teaches us to get rid of that which holds us back.
Altar in Shamanism
An Altar provides special focus and concentration. Creating your altar brings your spirituality into the here and now. It is a place for love to gather. Always keep your Altar simple. Place on the Altar things you feel are important such as crystals, shells, candles, statues and anything else of spiritual importance to you.