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What is a Traditional Indigenous Shaman?

What is a Traditional Indigenous Shaman?byShaman Elder Maggie Wahls

The roots of my traditional indigenous family lie deep in the lands of the reindeer people, a nomadic tribe from before written history who cared for the reindeer and in exchange were given their food and clothes and all sustenance from that mighty animal. These people often spent months alone leading their herds to the best grazing lands in the high plateaus of the Himalayas and outer Mongolia.

The principal function of this ancient indigenous shaman is the healing of any illness that may afflict the members of one’s tribe. This shaman not only brought healing to physical maladies but also to illnesses of the soul, in order to heal the fracturing or fragmentation of the mind and spirit to bring wholeness. This shaman had the ability to use altered states of ecstasy produced through sheer will and balance to enter other realms of consciousness not possible for the average man. Here the shaman is able to explore the mystery of man’s mind as well as the collective unconscious mind that we all contribute to and in so doing to bring this knowledge and power into his or her practice to benefit us all.

The traditional indigenous shaman knew that illnesses and dis-ease of any kind grow out of an imbalance between that person and the natural way. When the energies of a person contradict the ways of Nature then that person’s energy begins to be depleted and this can cause all kinds of mental, emotional and spiritual dis-ease. When a group of people or a community or tribe contradicts the ways of Mother Earth and Father Sky, huge dis-eases and disconnects can occur. It is man who causes the balance to be shattered by mans thoughtless words and actions out of ignorance or lack of responsibility for this home of ours. You can see why the traditional Shaman is even more needed today than ever before. Yet there are less than 50 true traditional indigenous shamans left on the planet today. Why? Because the world’s religions have persecuted the traditional shaman and his beliefs that we are all united children of Creator.

Vestiges of the original teachings of Traditional Shamanism can sometimes be seen in the writing of ancient religions as they incorporated parts of Traditional shamanism that suited their purposes and also to entice the indigenous peoples to embrace their religion just as the Catholic missionaries built churches over the holy grounds of the Native Americans and chose their holy days to coincide with the seasonal celebrations of those indigenous peoples. Over time the native Americans would hopefully forget their “pagan” ways and pray instead to the saints and attend Mass to replace the ceremonies of their forefathers. The chod ritual of the Tibetan religion where the monk uses drumming and visualization to ceremonially offer his gods the flesh of his own body can be seen as the death, burial and resurrection of the more ancient shamanic initiations and is another example of traditional teachings still surviving within the cover of religion today. How odd isn’t’ it that even today there are ancient rituals and rites and practices that recall Traditional Shamanism. What does that say about the power of the traditional Shaman?

So traditional shamanism is about living in a balanced cooperative relationship with all sentient beings of Mother Earth and Father Sky as well as all our brothers and sisters. And hopefully, for those who have the immense privilege of learning traditional Shamanism from one of the very few traditional indigenous shamans left on this planet, we can once again grow into harmony within ourselves and create a congruous, balanced, beautiful planet once again. The Traditional Shaman negotiates a harmony between the ways of man and the ways of nature and energy. This is Traditional Shamanism. Its not about money or fame or power or title or accolade. It is a path that leads to certain death for the Shaman practitioner and is done for the good of others, not for personal gain.

Copyright 2010 – 2017 Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls

About the author:
Copyright 2010 – 2017 Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls

Shaman Elder Maggie is one of the world’s most beloved Traditional indigenous shamans handing down her family’s own shamanic wisdom to a select few apprentices through an online course offered at . If you are interesting in learning traditional shamanism or would like a free consultation just visit


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M. R. - July 5th 2010 11:44:14 AM
So it isn't about having an arsenal of recipes for how-to healing? It's about a lifetime of experiences that allow the apprentice to learn ways of being in balance and about the ways of Spirit? And all kinds of healing, too? Heavy...

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