Fairly often I am asked the question, ‘When did you decide to become a Shaman then?’ It’s an interesting question and it carries with it many pitfalls on answering. So without making too much of it, here is a list that might allow you to glean that information and understand a bit more. I refer you to the wonderful Sacred Hoop article that I shared – all about the myriad of Shamanic practice and its origins. Go look and share the article then sign up for the quarterly magazine. In Western culture the Shaman is an enigma wrapped up in theoretical jargon of anthropology. The biggest source of common knowledge came about with the Native American Nations and those anthropological persons studying that culture came to call the Medicine / Holy men (and women, though not quite so recognised at that time) Shaman. It stuck. It fit the criteria from other studies on a whole other continent. It also became very ‘precious’ and for good reason.
Now it’s an interesting word ‘Shaman’ it’s not Native American at all… it’s Siberian, an Evenki word it is a bit of an enigma in itself as it is a multiple of descriptives. Teacher, healer, sage, the one I like is ‘the one with eyes to see in the dark’ see what I mean, BIG descriptor for what would seem a small word? Then again, look at the descriptives we have for another small word – love – oh how many ways !
And so to the list!
The anthropologist Le Barre noted the ways a Shaman could be called.
- Near death/death experience.
- Mental breakdown.
- Hereditary – following the bloodline (one in every generation)
- Apprenticed, being chosen by the incumbent Shaman to fill their place.
At no time does anyone ‘choose’ for themselves. There is one choice… Hobson’s Choice! By that I mean there really is none. There was a piece written about a young lad who didn’t want to take on the role – he was told that in order to not be Shaman he had to leave the tribe, go off by himself speaking to no-one, being with no-one ever again. The result would be that he would go mad thereby putting the second option into play! Hobson’s Choice – no choice at all.
It’s not an easy path to walk. You don’t just do it on a Sunday, or once a week. It’s not a lifestyle choice.
Yes, there are many, many people seeking spiritual awakening and solace and other things. They will go and take a course in Shamanic practice, for most though, it is a private thing, or an adjunct to whatever else they do. This doesn’t in any way dilute the experience for them but also it doesn’t mean they are ready to do some spontaneous Soul Retrievals or Past Life healings.
For others it may be like a coat we have that doesn’t quite fit – it’s nice and all, it serves a purpose and it’s engaging and interesting and having ‘worn’ it once it goes back into the cupboard for as long as it takes to relinquish it to ‘something I did once’.
For a few it means coming home. A long journey to find the path they are to walk. In those shoes, that are for them and them alone. Their lives are changed by it and even this has degrees of change. Our pleasant world is far away from the life of a tribal people, far away but not all that strange. These will go farther, they will seek more teaching. They will drink in knowledge and learn to work with Spirit. The description in the Hoop article of who the Shamans are – little birds, souls on the tree of life alone on a branch apart from all the rest.
When Spirit calls, the Shaman listens. Spirit can and will take a person through many challenges. Spirit will take a person to sit with their most inconvenient truths. Spirit will give choices – those choices can be more challenges. In order to go forward there are many ways to take. To walk in Shamanic shoes is to walk a hard road. Once Spirit calls and you answer that is the one choice that you can feel you made voluntarily!
It’s not called hollowing the bone for nothing. Another way that is mentioned is a saying ‘You can always tell the Shaman in room. They are the ones with the ‘mad eyes’!