SPIRITUAL TERMINOLOGY AND MEANINGS

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Shaman

What is a shaman?

The title of shaman or shamanism is a blanket term used to describe the similar sacred practices of indigenous peoples scattered across the globe. A shaman is a practitioner of shamanism who interacts with the spirit world through trance states and has cultivated the ability to transmute energies for healing and other purposes.

Shamanism in the West

In the west, many non-indigenous practitioners have appropriated their ideas of shamanic practices and created a brand of neoshamanism that does not always accurately represent the practice’s original roots.

As with many indigenous religions and practices, a shaman or medicine man/woman is called to the practice and hand-selected by the elder shaman for training. These practices are handed down through a sacred lineage and require years of not only training, but self-purification. No shaman is self-proclaimed, they are called. Chosen. Specific practices and beliefs may vary widely by culture, and as such, those practices and beliefs should be preserved through the lineage. If a shaman does not know the culture and history of their lineage, they are likely a neoshaman and maybe appropriating and exploiting native practices for financial gain.

Can non-indigenous people be shamans? 

Yes, but only if they have been trained and initiated by someone within the cultural lineage. Whether or not the lineage allows initiates from outside the culture is largely up to the individual practitioner.

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