By Patrick John Coleman with Merrick Jacobson
A shaman understands that they are nothing special or unique and neither should you. They should not be revered, worshiped or excessively praised. While a shaman has natural abilities, there are also skills learned through intense training and experience. A shaman is an evolutionary function of humanity. Shamans have been made for thousands of years to assist with humanity’s various problems and issues. Dance, music and art all came from shamans in the past. And shamans in our culture have certain skills that can be explained with current scientific methods. There are some skills that can’t be understood but thanks to the work of anthropologists, scientists and psychologists, our culture is gaining a deeper awareness of what a shaman is and what a shaman does.
Psychologist Stanley Krippner has done extensive work in demystifying the shaman for people in our culture. He has visited lots of tribes and participated in countless rituals and his experience with shamans has normalized it for him. In our culture, the perception of shamans and shamanic experiences is still stigmatized and misunderstood. But through the work of psychologists like Krippner and various anthropologists, we are starting to see shamans become better understood in modern times. Once thought to be crazy, Krippner calls the shamans the sanest people alive. But this ancient spiritual practice was almost lost due to an invasion of Christian missionaries to countries where shamanism was practice.
Cultures who had “witch doctors” were told their shamans were evil and encouraged to convert to Westernized Christianity. This left them ill-equipped to handle what their shamans normally handled. Christian missionaries brought techonlogy, medicine and practices that were very seductive into cultures that had existed for thousands of years relying on their shamans. As cultures started to perceive their shamans as antiquated or disposable, they quickly found out that Western medicine and practices could not be shoehorned into their lives. The missionaries made promises they never intended to keep and once most of the shamans were gone, the missionaries got bored and left the cultures to fend for themselves. Many cultures simply died out.
Not realizing that Shamanism had been around for 50,000 years or more, missionaries thought these cultures needed saving. And they did. Christianity is a mere 2,000 years old and is a religion based on worshiping God. As a spiritual practice, it fails on almost every level. However, Shamanism is not a religion although it is often classified as such. It is a practice. Shamans can help the tribe find food or shelter and anticipate severe weather. As mediators, shamans solve conflicts or disputes. Take these shamans away and the culture can’t survive.
The late anthropologist Michael Harner pretty much single-handedly prevented shamans from going extinct and if it hadn’t been for his book The Way Of The Shaman, spiritual practices from indigenous cultures might have been stamped out due to Western influence. Certain countries disallow Westerners from visiting or staying with particular tribes to preserve cultural legacies from being corrupted by Western practices.
We have arrived at a point in our culture where shamans are most definitely needed and because of this, we see them awakening in large numbers. A shaman is chosen by the spirits because of their talents in particular areas such as dance or art or even the ability to speak in public. And the training a shaman-to-be undergoes plays up to the strengths of those natural abilities. But there are some skills unique to shamans of all flavors and here we will discuss them and what they mean for those who choose to work with a shaman.
In this article, you will hear from both an experienced shaman and from a shaman in training. It’s rare for us to speak publicly about such matters and here we only give an overview. These are but a few of the many skills a shaman employs to be of service.
A shaman doesn’t “think” in the way a human might think. There is a deeper understanding for the shaman as to what thoughts actually are. Meditation is simply letting thoughts arise and leave without judging them. Having an ability to do this without being in meditation is one of the skills to master. You can yell at a shaman and they won’t really care. You can even be mean, although it’s not recommended. A shaman has gone through an intense training to be able to handle people throwing tantrums, being upset and also threatening them.
To be able to view an intense situation as manageable is the skill of a shaman. To not judge a situation or a person’s behavior does take quite a bit of mental discipline. A shaman understands that a thought really doesn’t mean anything and a person is not their behavior.
In addition to this, the shaman’s psyche is completely malleable. Recently “Quantum Thinking” has been hailed as a “new mental superpower” with the ability to view an issue from all sides. But shamans have been engaging with this for thousands of years. That’s why shamans make great mediators and problem-solvers. Because shamans exist outside of a society, they truly have no skin in the game. They have no human motivations outside of the basic needs and comfort a human requires. They don’t need to be liked or befriended, so consulting a shaman about a particular issue you are having means that they will be able to view it from multiple sides and even non-human ones.
Divination And “Psychic” Abilities
Recently I was in communication with the host of a popular podcast that discounted spiritual or psychic abilities and even went so far as to call them fraudulent. They arrived at their conclusions by lying to spirit workers about their experiences and even pretend to be possessed by demons so that they can receive an exorcism. I asked them about their methods and even if they were interested in speaking with any one of the shamans I know for a true spiritual experience. They directed me to an independent organization for scientific testing and they rejected the offer to speak to us and preferred to go about their campaign of calling psychic abilities fraudulent. They don’t even know what they are talking about, nor do they even care to be better informed.
Psychic abilities are simply an ability to understand how the human mind works and a deep understanding of cause and effect. It’s not supernatural to the shaman. It is completely natural. Thoughts have a quality or an energy that the shaman is sensitive to. Certain thoughts feel a certain way and through training, a shaman can almost predict what you are going to say before it’s said. These types of psychic abilities have been scientifically tested but that research is rarely talked about. While everyone has an inborn psychic ability, the shaman has developed theirs as a skill to assist with divination.
Divination is the ability to look at something and gain information from it. Whether it be from a deck of cards or a scattering of stones. To the shaman, everything is information so a building and it’s architecture can reveal just as much as conversation about its history.
As with the podcast that promotes these things as fraudulent, it’s necessary for them to continue to promote that idea since their livelihood depends upon it. They were offered the opportunity to speak with an actual shaman with the abilities they say don’t exist and they weren’t interested. Psychic abilities are real and science has not yet developed the tools to adequately measure them. Until there is a physical way to measure thoughts and feelings, the physical sciences (as they currently are) will never be able to prove these things exist. And anyone who cannot comprehend how these things work will, of course want to remain ignorant about it. A shaman completely understands how limited the human intellect is. That’s why a shaman prefers to get his information from spirits or other dimensions.
What are “spirits” anyway? A shaman can communicate with spirits. The shaman is often trained just by spirits. They cannot be defined in human terms but to anthropomorphize them is a mistake. Many of them are helpers and some of them can be quite petty. A shaman considers them deliverers of information and can discern what they are getting from them.
In The Book On Mediums, Allen Kardec lists all the different types of spirits and also how a medium can interface with them. A shaman’s mediumship skills allow him to “interpret” what the spirits are telling him and sometimes allow a spirit to inhabit his body or speak through him. This ability is gained through intense experiences that a human being could not deal with. It’s not scary or weird to those who are experienced with it. A shaman can decide which spirits to allow and which to dispense of if they are not helpful. And receivers of what spirits convey can discern for themselves. The shaman is merely a conduit for the spirits and the information is not coming from him at all. He is merely a vessel for these communications when they come through. A person asks, and the spirits answer. It’s as simple as that.
Universal And Unconditional Love
The shaman loves everyone and can empathize with almost any person’s situation. There is no hate or no judgement in the shaman’s heart simply because the shaman has endured great hardships and would not wish to put anyone through anything. The shaman loves the unloved, primarily. And that can make the shaman a target for those who cannot love themselves.
As the shaman’s entire life is marked by periods of intense suffering and rejection, part of the training involves being sequestered by spirits. They took pity on him and gave him the tools which the shaman shares with everyone. It’s not necessarily secrete knowledge, but it can only be gained by intense suffering that no one would ever want to experience. That is why no one really wants to be a shaman.
There is a stigma, too, that the shaman is delusional or mentally ill and that further separates him from the very culture he is helping. It’s natural to dislike the very ones who can help you. A shaman has been reduced to nothing so he really needs nothing. The shaman is a mirror for fears, insecurities and anxieties so he often isolates and keeps to himself in order to live a peaceful. To take that personally means not understanding what a shaman is or what it is all about. Conversation with a shaman can bring up your greatest fears and the shaman might stay away from those who are unwilling to do deep personal work.
The shaman has no friends or family and exists primarily to serve the needs of those in his community. The call has been answered so the shaman keeps company with spirits and the Divine and anyone in the shaman’s life is there by choosing. Befriending a shaman is unwise as their lives are open to spirit meddling. And thus so will everyone in the shaman’s life. And unless you are up to the challenge of daily spiritual work, a relationship with a shaman can be frustrating.
There are scores of other skills that a shaman can have depending upon the situation. What keeps it interesting is that you can never really know what comes up around a shaman. It makes life interesting and exciting albeit a bit overwhelming.
Depending upon the framework, one might experience dimensional shifting or timeline jumping. These cannot be adequately explained in human terms but the shaman cannot really be understood to be a human and to do so is quite erroneous.