Who or What is a Shaman?

Who or what is a Shaman?
thoughts and sharings by Linda HenningSPLetter1

When I began my journey on the path of working and being with those who are called shaman and/or don, I found myself journeying to Peru with a psychologist, anthropologist, consiousness researcher by the name of Dr. Alberto Villoldo.  Very quickly I realized that he was to be my first teacher of the Peruvian/Inca wisdom.

The first definition he shared was concerning The Shaman’s Path.  Little did I know that would be the name of the circle/ayllu I would be teaching/sharing in San Diego beginning in 1998. This noble path insists on a tradition of service to self and others.  Alberto suggested that if I chose to walk the Shaman’s Path my goals needed to include: 1. Bringing love, joy and beauty into balance in my world, 2. Being a caretaker of the earth (Pampamesayoq) and 3. Dying consciously.

I have learned that Shamans believe that creation is an open system…..that we all take part in the art of creating life each day.  Every act that we do, every thought that we think, every dream that we dream, every emotion that we feel is part of the creative process.  Therefore, a shaman brings great mindfulness and varying levels of consciousness to every moment of their lives.

In shamanism, the maintenance of one’s personal power is fundamental to well-being.  The shaman has the advantage of being able to move between states of consciousness, at will, using   “nonordinary reality” states to become a seer or tracker to acquire firsthand knowledge of our hidden universe.  An intimate relationship with nature spirits gives these people allies to accomplish their personal and planetary healing work.

The question often asked is concerning the tools the shaman uses but I find it more important to focus on the intent of these special luminous beings.  What is their relationship to the clouds, rocks, family, animals, plants, etc.  Everything to them is alive.  There is no such thing as a spiritual practice because everything in the world is already spiritual.  Through the use of ceremony, karpi, rites of passage, transmissions, despachos they teach us to connect with the lineage and the cosmos.

From them I have learned to gather my personal power and serve for the good of all and to define myself by who I am becoming not who I have been……..change my perception, change my world.  And yes, to learn that dying consciously is something I do daily with great gratitude as I leave what no longer serves me behind.


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