- According to archaeological and ethnological evidence, shamanism has been part of nature practices for some 10 to 20,000 years. Some suggest it’s much longer back than that.The basic concepts are found all over the world, from Siberia, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The word ‘Shaman,’ is actually a Tungus (Siberian) word for a spiritual practice or profession that is still practiced today. Shamanism is not rooted in any organized religious tradition, but is instead a system of abilities utilized for contact with divine spirit. Shamanic systems vary, but there are basic similarities in most. But before we can begin understanding what Celtic Shamanism is, we need a common understanding of what Shamanism is itself. There are of course, many definitions, so let’s cover a few.
- In the Donning Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary, June Bletzer, PhD, describes Shamanism as a very highly respected profession where one serves his tribe with psychic skills and healing abilities which is intermingled with influential guidance, protection and advanced knowledge from the Etheric World.
- Websters Dictionary defines shamanism as the religion of certain peoples of ancient peoples, based on a belief in good and evil spirits who can be influenced only by shamans.
- In her renowned work Witches & Witchcraft, Rosemary Ellen Guiley describes Shamanism as a system of belief and healing practiced by a Shaman who enters an altered state of consciousness, which enables him/her to communicate with guardian and helping spirits to draw upon divine energy.
- Kenneth Meadows in Shamanic Experience, describes shamanism as The practice of the principles and techniques which involves working with the energy of nature that exist both inside and outside the individual self as both manifest forms and unmanifest potentials.
- From The Celtic Shaman, John Mathews defines Shamanism as only one of a number of labels used by various cultures to denote someone who through trance and ecstasy, enters other states of being which he/she usually lives. Returning with news and guidance from which all humanity can benefit.
- One of the foremost authors on Shamanism, Mircea Eliade explains, the fundamental characteristic of shamanism is ecstasy. In all probability the ecstatic experience in its many aspects is coexistent with the human condition in the sense that it is an integral part of what is called man’s gaining consciousness of his specific mode of being in the word. Shamanism is not only a technique of ecstasy it’s theology and it’s philosophy finally depend on the spiritual value that is accorded to ecstasy.
- In Spiral Dance, Starhawk states Witchcraft is a shamanistic religion and the spiritual value placed on ecstasy is a high one. It is the source of union, healing, creative inspiration and communion with the divine.
- Margot Adler, in Drawing Down the Moon, refers to the definition put forth by one of my favorite authors on Shamanism, Michael Harner. And this is the definition we’ll use through out this article.
- Shamanism is best defined as a method to open a door and enter a different reality. A shaman is someone who enters an altered state of consciousness and goes on a journey in order to gather knowledge from a different reality populated by spirit, the spirit of plants and animals, and the divine self both within and around the individual. The methods used depend on the culture. Some cultures use drugs, others use drumming and ecstatic dancing. And still others utilize chanting, dancing, trance, meditation, wine, fasting, vision quests and sexuality.
- Shamanism is a very highly respected profession wherein one serves his or her community as a spiritual leader. Providing guidance through psychic skills, healing abilities and communications with Divine spirit. Believed to be learned from a past incarnation and initiations, along with study and practice in the current embodiment.
- The Shaman, in the strictest definition is more often viewed through it’s secondary meaning “one who is dedicated to a spiritual life achieving a level of leadership and teaching”. The profession can be found under various other titles such as Mantis, Druid, Medicine Man or Woman. The Greeks called them Bhopa.