The shamanic impulse is a universal, human impulse. Shamans have existed as far back in human history as anthropological and archaeological evidence has gone. But this expression of shamanism looks different across cultures, and it evolves with the culture. As Westernized cultures in contemporary times experience an increase of the shamanic impulse, a shamanic Renaissance seems to be taking place. Many are here now at this time to do the work of bridging the gap between the broken shamanic lineages and to revive the dying wisdom of true elderhood. This new form of shamanism is a mix of the old and the development of the new- blending to create a shamanism that is relevant to the times we are in.
But the shamanic initiation process is generally long and difficult. Neither the initiation nor the impulse should be confused with role of shaman. In other words, there is a distinct difference between a shamanic individual (someone who has experienced initiation and identifies with the shamanic impulse) and a shaman. A shaman is someone who has gone through significant initiation, who has endured many tests, crossed many thresholds, and who has transmuted vast amounts of the prima materia of life to become the medicine carrier, the healer, the hollow bone. But more than being the one who was wounded and who healed thyself, forging a deep and powerful medicine, and surrendering to Spirit, a shaman is someone who has learned the technical skills (or the specifics of the practice) in order to offer his/her services in very specific ways to others in the community who are in pain and/or are suffering. To be shaman is an act of service- a very specific role, providing very specific types of services.
Many people who seek my services are shamanic individuals. They are people who have had a spiritual awakening, a consciousness shift, a spiritual crisis, and/or a shamanic initiatory experience, and as a result are experiencing ‘symptoms’ of this. These symptoms affect the whole being, and manifest on all the layers, in all the bodies- emotional, spiritual, cognitive, physical. But it is not for me to say who you are or what you are. It’s just that I can offer myself wholly in service, but two things I cannot do is put a cat back in a bag, or remove the stripes from the tiger. What I can do is teach a tiger how to accept his stripes and tame his unruly nature.
If the shamanic path feels like it’s right, I always encourage those to lean into the initiation process and begin honing the skills and cultivating the wisdom to serve you when your healing process is complete enough that you are ready to begin to be in shamanic service to others.