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  • Kitty Edwards

New Shamanism: Where Did It Come From

With the current revival of shamanism and shamanic healing, we are at last beginning to recognize the spiritual and psychological value of much that our ancestors knew.” – Sandra Ingerman

A shaman is one who is trained in the use of altered states of consciousness. It is believed that shamanism and the wisdom traditions of trance, journeying, shape shifting and energetic healing have been practiced for some 10,000 years in all regions of the world. While individual practices may have local distinctions, the foundational techniques are universal.

Shamans may come from indigenous backgrounds or be quite removed from their indigenous roots. While the word "shaman" itself has origins in the Tungus people of Siberia, the term is used more generically today to describe the medicine men and women of the rain forests, the high mountains, the great plains or the urban canyons of our large cities.

Shamanism is not a religion, but it is a spiritual practice. There is no liturgy and no dogma. The wisdom of the shaman comes from a rich relationship with the natural world. Shamans understand that everything in the natural world has consciousness. By recognizing the energetic connection between all things, shamans transform perceptions and core beliefs, support healing, strengthen relationships and promote personal development.

In the 1950s, Mircea Eliade, in Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy , was the attempt to compare and contrast shamanism throughout the world. In the 1970s and 80s, anthropologists such as Michael Harner and Alberto Villoldo studied with indigenous shamans and wrote books on shamanic practices. Their goal was to preserve the indigenous wisdom as well as to develop training programs to bring these techniques to our modern world. The Foundation of Shamanic Studies and The Four Winds Society have trained thousands of students in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia to perform ancient rituals, ceremonies and healing techniques to support their local communities and clientele.

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