posted on Jan, 15 2003 @ 08:05 PM
Shamanism is a word borrowed from the Siberian Tungus tribe, one of the first shamanic cultures to be studied. The office of Shaman is a unique one,
and is present in the history of every hunter/gatherer culture around the world. In tribal culture, the Shaman is the link between the people and the
worlds of the spirit, employing ecstatic trance states to travel to other dimensions. The Shaman is the priest, healer, magician, diviner, and the
mediator between the living and the ancestors.
The state of ecstatic trance is central to shamanic practice, and is achieved through various methods (and combinations of methods), including
self-hypnosis, hallucinogens, and repetitive drumming. Many of the major themes of religions- ascension to heaven, descent into the underworld, etc.,
are believed by anthropologists to have originated in shamanic practices.
One becomes a Shaman generally by heredity or selection, and through rigorous and sometimes difficult (even dangerous) training and initiation. Beware
of dubious claims of anyone offering high riced 'workshops' in idealized Native Shamanism- most shamanic traditions are practiced in secrecy and are
not available to outsiders or curiosity seekers. It is highly unlikely that a true initiate will go on the workshop circuit, and many tribal leaders
consider these to be exploitative and offensive.