Shamanic journeys are used to reach the inner parts and places within our world. The information found there is used to re-balance and heal our every day lives.
According to famed American psychologist and consciousness pioneer, Stanley Krippner, shamans are “community-assigned magico-religious professionals who deliberately alter their consciousness in order to obtain information from the ‘spirit world.’ They use this knowledge and power to help and to heal members of their community, as well as the community as a whole.”
Krippner describes shamans as the first physicians, diagnosticians, psychotherapists, religious functionaries, magicians, performing artists, and storytellers.
In shamanistic cultures, all adults are responsible for their relationships with spiritual energies, including those of their home environment (geography, animals, and plant life) their ancestors, their own personal helping spirits, and Spirit, the creator force.
However, the shaman is unique in that he or she not only has increased facility for traveling in non-ordinary realms, but also uses their spirit relationships to create changes that will manifest in the physical world, for the healing of individuals or the community. This definition differentiates shamans from other types of practitioners. For example, mediums use altered states of consciousness, but they do not take action in those altered states. And sorcerers take action in altered states, but not necessarily to heal.
Abilities of shamans
According to Christina Pratt in The Encyclopedia of Shamanism, a shaman is a practitioner who has gained mastery of:
- Altered states of consciousness, possessing the ability to enter alternated states at will, and controlling themselves while moving in and out of those states.
- Mediating between the needs of the spirit world and those of the physical world in a way that can be understood and used by the community.
- Serving the needs of the community that cannot be met by practitioners of other disciplines, such as physicians, psychiatrists, priests, and leaders.
A shaman is therefore a specific type of healer who uses an alternate state of consciousness to enter the invisible world, which is made up of all unseen aspects of the world that affect us, including the spiritual, emotional, mental, mythical, archetypal, and dream worlds.
Shamanistic perspective on disease
The perspective on individual disease is different in shamanism than in the conventional medical view. In a shamanistic view:
- Similar symptoms or diseases do not stem from the same underlying root energetic problem.
- Community disharmony often manifests in individual illness.
- Any illness may have a significant underlying spiritual or energetic issue, regardless of the form in which that illness manifests – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or relational.
Certain illnesses are more likely to have a spiritual component that may respond to shamanic healing techniques. These include psychological diagnoses like depression and anxiety, ADD/ADHD, autism, and addictions.
Illnesses that manifest physically may still have significant spiritual underpinnings. This is especially true for illnesses that have atypical or premature presentations, such as a degenerative illness that normally occurs in elder years occurring in a young adult.
The sense that something is “missing” or that “I haven’t been the same since…” can often be indicative of an energetic loss of some type, including soul energy loss. Shamanic healing is often part of a multi-pronged approach to an illness, and is fully compatible with both conventional medicine and other integrative treatments, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and others.