…and use of the word Shamanic!
The other day I was reading through The Oracle, a free Holistic Therapy articles and listings magazine in Glastonbury. In the December edition there is a listing for someone offering Shamanic Hairdressing. Now, I asked myself, what is Shamanic Hairdressing? I was never taught anything about hairdressing during the four years I spent studying and training as a Core Shamanic Practitioner, and for that matter, nor would I have expected to.
Ever since I became interested in Shamanism, (after reading The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner) I have become increasingly aware of how often the words Shaman and Shamanic are misused. I’ve seen adverts for people offering a plethora of different treatments and potions, which use the prefix Shamanic and I have seen websites where the practitioner alludes to being a Shaman, despite clearly having little or no background in Shamanic studies or Shamanic training. It would appear that the words Shaman and Shamanic have become the latest buzz word to use, when you want to boost peoples’ interest in your product, treatment or workshop. As well as Shamanic Hairdressing, I have seen adverts for Shamanic Flower Essences, Shamanic Tarot Readings, Shamanic Homoeopathy, Shamanic Massage, Shamanic Guided Visualisation and the list goes on…
I studied and trained in ‘Core Shamanism‘, which was initially developed by Michael Harner in America and further developed by Jonathan Horwitz in Europe. Both are anthropologists, both are Americans, both developed Core Shamanic practises and both offer Core Shamanic training courses, along with Sandra Ingerman, who also writes very accessible books on the subject. Sandra Ingerman – Amazon. Send me a message if you would like my list of good Shamanic books to read.
At the end of 2009 I began my four years ‘Core Shamanic’ training with Jane Shutt & Christine Mark, who had both previously trained with Jonathan Horwitz. My training was very comprehensive, covering all areas of Shamanic work, including; Shamanic Healing & Extraction, Shamanic Counselling, Shamanic Soul Retrieval and Shamanic Psychopomping, as well as learning how to middle world journey and work with the spirits of the land.
Throughout my training, my teachers Jane and Christine, often reiterated that you are bestowed with the title Shaman, by your Power Animal and Spirit Teachers and this is not offered lightly. Before they will even consider bestowing you with the title of Shaman, your Power Animal and Spirit Teachers will expect to have gone through a lengthy process, which includes developing a regular Shamanic Journeying practice and learning how to communicate with them and in turn how to interpret and understand their teachings, as well as studying and learning your craft and the many different Shamanic techniques and practices. This doesn’t stop once you’ve completed your training, as it is an ever growing set of practices and techniques.
The teachings, knowledge, information and wisdom my Power Animal and Spirit Teachers offer me, take many different forms. Sometimes they can be delivered in quite a filmic form, often they include metaphors, sometimes their teachings are verbal, whilst at other times they might be quite visual. How your own Power Animal and Spirit Teachers choose to communicate with you, will depend on both you and them. It is unlikely any two people will receive teachings, delivered in the same format.
My Power Animal and Spirit Teachers, initially bestowed me with the title of Shaman, at the end of my four years of study and training, back in September 2013. It was a very personal experience that I am unlikely to forget. More recently, in October 2015, I participated in a Ritual & Ceremony for Samhain, facilitated by Tarquin Raven. The Ritual & Ceremony involved passing through a veil between the two worlds, in order to enter into the Otherworld. There I met my Power Animal and Spirit Helpers who again bestowed me with the title of Shaman. This time it was as one of the Shamans for my Tribe. My Tribe are the Albion Faeries, with whom I have been involved with for over five years.
Traditionally the Shaman’s role is to serve the needs of his or her tribe. One of their principle duties is to restore balance. Today, the role of the Shaman, in western society, is to serve the needs of his or her community, as most western Shamans are not born into a native tribe. For my Power Animal and Spirit Teachers to have bestowed me with the title of Shaman, was a great honour. However, for them to bestow me with the title of Shaman for my Tribe, was truly humbling. It went well beyond my wildest expectations of the Ritual & Ceremony I attended, back in October 2015. My next Blog will be about the role Ritual & Ceremony plays in all of our lives.
The practice of Shamanism involves journeying to (in Michael Harner’s words) ‘Non-Ordinary Reality’. This is done through learning different classic Shamanic, non-drug induced techniques, such as repetitive drumming, rattling and dancing, which help you alter your consciousness, which in turn, enables you to enter ‘Non-Ordinary Reality’. There you can discover your own Power Animal and Spirit Helpers and gain access to your own hidden spiritual resources, transform your life and eventually learn how to help others, should that be your calling.
To experience Shamanism in action, you would either need to be in the presence of a Traditional Shaman (Indigenous Shaman) or work with a western Shamanic Practitioner.
Despite being bestowed with the title of Shaman (which I accept with honour) by my Power Animal and Spirit Teachers, out of respect and to honour the Indigenous Shamans of the world, I prefer to refer to myself as a Shamanic Practitioner – as I do practice many different forms of Shamanic; Healing & Extraction, Counselling, Soul Retrieval and Psychopomping. So for the purpose of clarity, I consciously choose to advertise myself as a Shaman, who works as a Shamanic Practitioner.
In addition, it is also as a direct response to the ever growing number of people who have given themselves the title Shaman, whilst having little or no background or training in Shamanic practices. That is not to say that there isn’t a plethora of legitimate Shamans out there, it’s more to say, just be careful if you see someone claiming to offer Shamanic Hairdressing etc, or calling themselves a Shaman. Oh and if you do find out what Shamanic Hairdressing is, do let me know!
Love, light and laughter to you all,
Blog cover photo taken by Tom Koukoulis – with thanks.