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 Post subject: Shaman questions
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:58 am
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ok so im new here. I heard of shamans before, but after reading some of the people's experiences, I'm now really interested in shaman stuff. Could you guys sum up what a shaman is. And I would like to know if shapeshifting is true, what are spirit animals and if it's possible for anybody to become a "shaman." Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Shaman questions
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:47 pm 
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Let us start with Animism.

Animism, from the greek anima which roughly means something that animates or gives life to something.

Sir Tylor in his Cultural Anthropology paper of the 1800's Primitive Cultures *(which can be found online), originally defined Animism as a belief in souls (which would include almost every religion in the world). It was later expanded to: a belief in human and non-human souls.

The specifics of animist beliefs vary with cultural and regional significance. To over generalize, however, humans are the only ones animated or inhabited by spirits or souls (anima). Animals, places, things of significance, can, and often do, have spirits.

Animism, then, is the functional element of the belief systems (its not a religion in its own right, but is a characteristic of religions used to define elements within them) that allows for human interaction with the other layers of reality, land of the spirits, dream worlds, lands of the dead, and so on as specific to the individual cultures. It also permits humans to interact with the specific spiritual influences of these elements that impact life (weather, hunting, sickness, luck, etc...) through proscribed means (also culturally relevant in indigenous traditions).

Neo-Shaman, Euro-Centric Westerners seeking to find that connection with the Animist past of Ancestors, do not have an existing shaman culture to call upon. They either adopt one, or begin to borrow from existing cultural examples (which is a matter of some contention in many circles; the proprietary rights of culture to ideas and iconography, verses the rights of the individual to seek truth and knowledge beyond the color of skin and racial heritage.

Shaman, then, is a generic scholarly term used to loosely identify the figure/s within systems that is recognized communally as the person/s who deal with the spirits by profession in systems that qualify as shamanic. The real names for the offices within these societies are numerous and varied, specific to the culture and in some cases to the individual bands and/or tribes. The term 'shaman' should only be used as a generic term in substitution to having listed all the correct and proper titles as a concession to efficiency and a compromise to those who see the borrowing of the term as an exploitation.

What we are talking about (Animism and Shamanism), however, does not fit within a neat and tidy little box. Each person will develop their own 'working definition' for what they do and how they do it, what it means both to them and in the greater world around them. There may be some commonality in views and techniques, but not enough to form a coherent and convenient definition.

The techniques and formulas can be learned and studied, the processes copied and cloned, but the experiences are always personal and individual. The messages are all addressed to one person and specifically compiled and intended for that person alone. It is an individual and experiential path of personal awakenings and realizations that is difficult to share as the experiences and interpretations of things will not only vary, so to will the lessons each learns.

How do you summarize for someone, a conceptual idea that covers an impossible range of individual interpretations and variations without sounding enigmatic, cryptic, and vague?

Word games aside, becoming a 'shaman' (as a generic term not intended to insult any specific tradition) is a process with a number of steps within those specific traditions. The answer, then, would be dependent on the specifics of the tradition itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Shaman questions
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:18 am 
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RVillegas wrote:
ok so im new here. I heard of shamans before, but after reading some of the people's experiences, I'm now really interested in shaman stuff. Could you guys sum up what a shaman is.


Welcome RVillegas

A Shaman (to use the Tungus name) is generally accepted as being a member of a community (who share a belief system where the spirits of all things are to be honoured) who has answered an inner calling to serve that community as a healer, ceremonialist and intermediary between the spirits and the people.

Each culture has its own ways of determining the signs which call or make a person suitable for training as a shaman but some of the generally accepted signs are:

* Hereditary line - being born to a lineage of healers
* being singled out as a child by another shaman for training
* being recognised by another shaman
* shamanic illness
* spontaneous trances and dreams which are interpreted by a trained shaman as an invitation by spirit.

Many people are interested, called to know more or to learn about animistic, panentheistic, pagan or similar beliefs to find their place in the world but few are actually prepared to give up their comfort, time and lifestyle in order to dedicate their life to the spirits and minister to their community.

RVillegas wrote:
And I would like to know if shapeshifting is true,


I guess that depends what you mean or understand by 'truth'? Can a person literally transform themself into a physical animal? I've not seen this but I have experienced 'being' an animal elsewhere while my body was still here. What others saw was still true to them.

RVillegas wrote:
what are spirit animals


My own understanding is that each species has an essential spirit which hold the overall traits, characteristics and 'powers' of that species. They are our teachers, guides, gatekeepers, protectors, allies and helpers often imparting some of their traits to us to help us grown and evolve. We honour each individual as the embodiment of that essence.

RVillegas wrote:
and if it's possible for anybody to become a "shaman." Thanks


If the spirits have chosen to work with that person - yes. If the person is prepared to undergo the increasingly difficult tests which spirit face us with through life - yes. If a person is capable of interacting with the spirits clearly (able to journey, go into trance for themselves and others) so as to accurately understand and/or relay information from the spirits - yes. If the person is capable of putting the spirits first, trusting them completely and dedicating their life to allowing their spirits to help others through them - yes.

Lots of people are interested in the beliefs which surround shamanism and that is wonderful because it brings us back to a primal truth about the world we live in and allows us to live with respect for the world around us but few are truly capable of living shamanically, 24/7 for the rest of their lives as a servant of the spirits, the earth and their community.

The fact that you are interested and have found this site to ask the question means that something is prompting you to learn more - whether you are being called and are capable/willing to go further is a question only you and your spirits can answer.


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