A Walker Between Worlds

February 19, 2004

HU 345

Stage Analysis Part Two

Shamanism is a great mental and emotional journey that involves the shaman and the patients to transcend their normal, ordinary definitions of reality to a deeper level of consciousness. Shamanism is the sustenance of human vitality. It is a system of healing based on spiritual power from personal helping spirits whom the shaman encounters on journeys into other realities. Shamans seek spiritual power in the form of healing, knowledge and understanding. A shaman is a person male or female who has chosen a quest in life beyond most adults that involves discipline, mind training, courage, and perseverance.

It is often difficult for westerners to understand that shamanism is a spiritual practice and a method of healing that is not dependent upon any culture\'s official religion. Priests differ from shamans in the sense that Priests tend to go by the book. Performing rituals that have been done the same way for generations. Shamans learn from each
generation and change what best suits each patient and shaman relationship. Shamans honor the ancient wisdom of our ancestors and learn from it. Marie-lu Lorler, a Native American Indian shaman, relates some ancestral wisdom:

“Generally, shamans use a lot of metaphors and stories for explaining their visions. This is how rich spiritual heritage can be dated back to the beginning of time. The sun and the earth are the pure essence of life. They are often referred to as our great grandparents. Traditional shamanic story telling reflects that our great-grandparents, who are our ancestors, loved each other very much and their love produced growth in this world. Their love created three realms of life: plants, animals, and humans. This life is obligated to share a deep respect for each other and its creators. For shamans, the stones of the earth are their oldest relatives. Stones have lived longer then any other realm of life, and in turn hold the truth and memories of the world since it began. This truth can only be accessed by talking and listen to the stones. Shamans call them their brother stone.”

Three Worlds of a Shaman
Shamanism is typically based on three principles. First, human beings are able to understand and work productively in altered states of consciousness. This can be induced by monotonous sounds, such as steady drumming or chanting. Second, a person can enter other realms of reality normally imperceptible to people who are not working in an altered state of consciousness. Third, a person can bring back helpful healing knowledge for themselves and others from those realities.

A tree is a classic representation of the mind of a shaman. A tree has 3 main sections, a trunk, branches, and roots. The trunk represents the normal ordinary reality that we all live in is known as the middle world. The roots represent the lower world or underworld where a shaman journeys to reach helping spirits and deceased souls. This is often the hardest world to reach because the shaman may have to enter through his or her deepest fears. Most healing work is done in the lower world. The branches represent the upper world. This is where the heavenly spirits are held. The shaman can contact the gods and the realms of immortality here. Dream interpretation is a good example of assistance from the upper world.

Shamans are masters of energy as a medium of transformation to the spirit world. The spirits can appear in any form (i.e. plants, animals, ancestors, etc.) while in an altered state of consciousness. The spirit world may be thought of as a shape shifting state of consciousness that responds to the needs of the individual shaman. Some spirits can be heard as our great ancestors who give insight into the healing processes. It is possible that the spirits need to work with the shaman so they can come to an end or a new beginning. Spirits sees the shaman as a kind and humble servant dedicated to making life better for others.

Healing Spirits
What the shaman does during a session is less important than the way he or she derives the power to perform. Shamans are able to visit invisible realms of reality that often include shape shifting and consorting with the dead. Each shaman has