The other day I received an email that expressed some very definite opinions about shamanism. It stated that if one is not born in a culture that seems to be disappearing, taking its shamanic heritage with it ~ one has no right to talk about shamanism, to write about shamanism or to teach shamanic techniques to others that are interested in those techniques.
Somewhat to my surprise the email highlighted one area with a strong shamanic tradition, implying that this is the only area ‘true’ shamanism still exists.
While everybody has the right to their opinion, I guess what it boils down to is how shamanism is defined. And when different ways in which shamanism is practiced are compared, there are a couple of things that seem to be of equal importance to all of them: the strong bond with, and respect for nature, the travels through ‘different worlds’, and the path that connects those ‘worlds’ with our personal life path.
How these are expressed depends on the area where the shaman lives, the function of the shaman within his or her community, and the culture that is prevalent in this area; in this community.
In some areas, or cultures, there is still a shamanic tradition that is very much alive. In other areas, like in our western societies, the old shamanic traditions have given way to a more ‘scientific’ approach to life.
Yet there is an ever greater yearning to reconnect with shamanism ~ with nature.
The more clear it becomes that our environment is changing, and that those changes are taking effect more rapidly than we would hope they would ~ the more people are paying attention to their ‘carbon foot print’, to the effect they have on their environment and on nature. For some this means that recycling becomes part of life, while others may look more in the direction of shamanism.
Even though at first the established shamanic traditions will gain interest, eventually this interest will almost certainly result in a new and different expression of shamanism. Due to the area and cultural dependence of shamanic expression, it is most likely that the shamanic expression that will emerge will be a merger of both the rediscovery of our shamanic roots ~ going back to shamanism as it was practiced in our area at one time ~ and the application of the core values of shamanism in a manner that fits our way of living; our culture as it exists now.
This doesn’t mean that this new expression of shamanism is worth more or worth less than the age old shamanic traditions are; only that shamanic practices evolve into a new day and age...