Shamanism is ancient and every culture had their own form of shamanism. Shamanism in Europe is at least 17,000 years old, as shown by cave paintings in Lascaux and other places. Remains of sweat lodges have been found in Siberia that are 40,000 years old.
All over the world - with the First Nations People, the Celts, the Inuit or the Aboriginies - there are common elements to their shamanism. For instance, the knowledge about the non-ordinary reality and it's residents, or that all around us has a spirit. We 'civilised' cultures have often lost our original shamanism.
Since the 1970s people like Alberto Villoldo, Tom Cowan, Carlos Castaneda and Michael Harner were allowed to learn the knowledge and return it to those who have forgotten it.
Shamanism can have different meanings for everyone who wishes to follow the path - sometimes it's a passion, sometimes a hobby. Sometimes a worldview, sometimes a religion. Sometimes a job, sometimes a calling. Sometimes a way of life, sometimes help in life... The beautiful thing about it is that everyone is allowed to discover for themselves what it means to them. This is a freedom granted to every feeling being.
How does a shamanic practitioner work? A shamanic practitioner always works in connection wth the spiritual world, with his spiritual helpers. He or she works as intermediary between the worlds. Tools such as drums, rattles, feathers and smudge herbs are used. They help raise, hold and move energy and help call spiritual helpers. White sage or cedar is often used for smudging. The singing of healing songs or prayers form another important part of shamanic healing work.
What does shamanism mean today? Today, alternative healing techniques and spiritual guidance are needed more than ever. Given all the material wealth of our lives it is easy to overlook that one or the other may feel an inner emptiness. There are diseases where classic medicine cannot provide any real solution. That's where shamanism may be able to help. In times of trouble shamanism can help you keep yourself stable and centred, so that you can always act mindfully. Whether at school or at work, shopping or in a relationship, you are always dealing with fellow people and fellow animals. And that's why, in my opinion, shamanism is as powerful now as ever - because it's about people, about feeling beings.
Shamanism can be a great gift to those wo are called by it.