Note: You won’t want to miss this: “Coast to Coast,” hosted by George Noory, provides a link to hear the show where he interviews Sandra about healing from a shamanic perspective. Sandra discusses how emotional and physical illnesses represent spiritual imbalances, caused by the loss of a person’s guardian spirit or by trauma that has torn away part of the person’s soul. Through shamanic therapy, these spirits and soul parts can be retrieved. Also, a person can accomplish this through dream work. Hear it from Sandra!
“Shamanism: A Modern Look at an Ancient Practice,” written by Mary Martin and presented by Associated Content, is a basic outline of “everything you always wanted to know about shamanism.” Martin frequently publishes informative articles on the Associated Content website, not only on indigenous religions, but on disaster preparedness, cuisine, holiday traditions, as well as a plethora of other topics. Martin has also worked as a school teacher, and has put a lot of energy over time into serving as a community volunteer.
In her article, Martin emphasizes that shamanism isn’t magic, and that it can be practiced by anyone, of any religious persuasion, or with no religious beliefs altogether. She notes that all shamanic cultures have recognized three levels or planes: the Upper World, the Middle Zone (Earth) and the Under World. The shaman creates a sacred space, and every sacred space becomes the center of the Universe. Martin says,
The shaman learns how to enter the spiritual realms so as to gain knowledge, spiritual growth and healing. This wisdom is used to benefit not only the practicing shaman but also others and the Earth.
A more complicated and detailed examination of one corner of the field is found in a blog post titled “Indian religion isn’t shamanism.” Author Rob Schmidt makes the case that “shaman” is not the right word to use for indigenous North American holy men and holy women, and, in fact, may even be considered offensive. Schmidt titles his site “Newspaper Rock — where Native America meets pop culture.” In this post, he goes on to summarize several scholarly articles, and quotes the opinions of several authorities, on the question of the “shaman” term.
Stephanie Leishman, in “Pregnancy Workshop Meditation,” casts light on one of the specialized areas of shamanism: midwifery. Leishman, the mother of three, is one of the 15 women involved with the School of Shamanic Midwifery, created by Jane Hardwicke Collings. It’s quite a fascinating peek into a field that very few people have awareness of. Just plain garden-variety midwives run into enough difficulties in our culture. Adding a shamanic element could very well alarm some people, and it’s good to have more enlightenment on the subject.
At Aeclectic Tarot, we find evaluations by two different people of the new Shaman Tarot, created by Massimiliano Filadoro. Reviewer Lillie describes how the traditional deck has been “re-envisioned to better describe the shamanic experience,” noting that the familiar pentacles, swords, wands and cups of the four suits have been replace by drum, stone, skull, and bow. The imagery of the various cards is drawn from many different shamanic traditions — Native American, African, Celtic, and so on. Lillie goes into great detail exploring the changes in the face cards, as explained in the deck’s accompanying booklet with enough clarity that even a novice can follow along.
Reviewer Alta says the new design reflects the ways in which shamanism and the Tarot echo each other’s principles and presents an integrated picture of the four paths of shamanism. She particularly admires the artwork.
In Awakening to the Spirit World, co-authored by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman and with contributions from four additional authors, one entire chapter is titled “Medicinemaker: Mystic Encounters on the Shaman’s Path.” In this book, we are reminded of some basic principles that apply to any variety of shamanistic practice the world over. Sandra compares the shamanic tools to wrenches or drills, in that they are fine tools, but they can’t accomplish anything without human intent backing them up. Our deliberate focus and willingness are also tools, which only we can bring to the practice:
Nevertheless the tools are so powerful that just by one’s willingness to pick them up, they will begin their extraordinary work.
Source: “Shamanism: A Modern Look at an Ancient Practice,” Associated Content, 03/10/10
Source: “Mary Martin,” Associated Content
Source: “Indian religion isn’t shamanism,” Newspaper Rock, 03/06/10
Source: “Pregnancy Workshop Meditation,” Journey of One Shamanic Midwife, 01/27/10
Source: “Shaman Tarot Review,” Aeclectic Tarot
Source: “Awakening to the Spirit World,” Amazon.com
Image by kogakure, used under its Creative Commons license.