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What Is Shamanism?

What is Shamanism?

When I am asked what I do for a living most people look at me blankly if I say I am a shaman. Times have changed, gone are the days when everyone knew what shamans were. A long-ago time when every village/tribe respected and relied upon the skills of a medicine person (one of many names in different cultures for a shaman) to heal their physical ills and injuries and to help keep them in balance in the physical as well as the spiritual world. In those times a shaman was healer and priest for the people.

Nowadays we live in cities instead of small tribes/villages. Few of my local neighbors know what I do (although they sometimes unconsciously seek me out when there is a problem, usually animal-related). Instead the people in need of the services that I offer use internet search engines to find their way to my website door. The village has become very large indeed!

Times have changed, but the principles of practicing shamanism remain the same.

Shamanism is a path of surrender—the shaman becomes the hollow bone for the healing energy of Spirit—our hands and feet are offered in service to All Our Relations (all who share this world with us).

Shamanism is about permission, respect, and service with positive intent.

Shamanism is power with responsibility—service with—not power over.

Shamanism is a dance and a conversation in connection between the Stone People, Plant People, Animal People and the Human People. Through spider web-like lines we are connected one to one another, and like a giant web we can “see” the torn areas that can be mended through ceremony both for personal and global healing—healing that is accomplished with the assistance of our allies in both the physical realm and the realm of spirit.

Shamanism is the whisper of guidance carried by our ancestors and passed from generation to generation within our very cells: insights and visions in the smoke and flame of ceremonial fire touched by the breath of the winds, the promise of strength and perception from the power animals, the ancient knowledge held in trust for us by the bones of Mother Earth, the Stone People, the tendrils of green healing that lovingly assist us with all manner of healing remedies, gift of the Plant People.

Then or now, few people practice shamanism professionally—it is a calling rather than a job choice. However, often without realizing it, many people incorporate aspects of shamanism into their lives in seemingly mundane ways.

When we bring stones, crystals, plants, animals and water in the form of fountains into our homes we are seeking to strengthen the ancient shamanic spiritual and energetic connections we share with All Our Relations.

The most common shamanic activity practiced by villagers and city dwellers worldwide is smudging. Smudge bundles are now sold in supermarkets and convenience stores, but most people who use them are only aware of it as a physical action—however, there are also spiritual and energetic aspects to the act of smudging. When we light the smudge bundle we are calling upon the Plant People and the spirit of that particular plant to assist us with clearing heavy energy from our homes and our personal energy fields.

Few are called to be shamans for the village, but everyone can apply the principles of shamanism to their lives, homes and businesses, and widen and deepen the lines of communication with animals and All Our Relations.

How does one learn to do that?
The answer is at once both simple and difficult: be humble, listen, and apply. Know that everyone is your teacher, that the universe will send you report cards on your progress and ask you to let go of what no longer serves your highest good. Be willing to let go, to surrender control and be the hands and feet of Spirit.

And what will you receive if you do?
A life of change without resistance, the ability to maintain balance and flow; one where you are constantly guided on your path—a path that offers you contentment and a sense of harmony and well-being, both physical and spiritual. And, the delight of connection manifested in awe-inspiring and beautiful ways: a butterfly or bird that graces you with a touch of their feet, the feel of the tides and awareness of a timeless connection, the gentle caress of the winds on your cheek when there is no breeze, the sure knowledge that you are not alone, and that you are loved and a part of All That Is.


Learn how to connect more deeply with animals, restore balance to your life, increase intuitive skills, and help heal the Earth with live Reiki and shamanic teleclasses, available worldwide.


An earlier version of this article was published in 2014 at You are welcome to share this article with others by email, on your blog or to your mailing list so long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. All links must remain in the article. And, you must include the copyright notice and the bio.

©2017 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.

Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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