“Elements of Shamanism”
by Roel Crabbé
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
On this and the following pages, you can find a lot of information about shamanism, various aspects of shamanism, our vision, and our workshops on shamanism. On this page, you will find more information about the origin of shamanism and the basic principles that are part of it.
These days shamanism is a term that covers many loads. It is an ancient path that has its roots all over the world. When we go back in time far enough we find shamanism on every continent. It is the path that, in essence, goes back to the ancestors of every nation. But shamanism is still alive and always will be. Because it occurs in the inner reality and experience of the soul, to which everything is inextricably linked.
Originally the term shamanism was used in anthropology to denote specific techniques from Siberia. Today, however, the term includes much more than that. Whether we are talking about the Tungus from Siberia, the Aboriginals from Australia, the Shuar from the Amazon, the Lakota from North America, the !Kung from Africa, the ancient Celtic movements from our regions, or contemporary shamanism, we can always recognize the core of shamanism, deeply interwoven with the life and consciousness of the original peoples.
Although the form varies from culture to culture, there are some basic principles in shamanism that can be found everywhere:
Everything is animated and connected.
Everything is permeated with essence, with soul power and therefore consciousness. The shaman makes no distinction, there are no things that are ‘less’ or ‘more’. Everything is animated and everything is holy. This realization leads to the awareness that everything is connected and influences each other. Nothing stands on its own. That is why in many of the original cultures the circle is such an important element. As many shamans say: “Everything wants to be a circle.” We want to feel complete. We want to let go of the illusion of separation and return home to the circle in which everyone is equal and everything is connected.
This vision in which everything is animated is called ‘animism’ and is the core of shamanism worldwide. This also means that everything is permeated with consciousness and that everything can be communicated with. And this is one of the foundations within the shamanic work: the communication of consciousness, from soul to soul.
The shaman is the traveler between the worlds.
The shaman has always been the one who maintains conscious contact with the spiritual world. He or she is the ‘traveler between the worlds’. He journeys between the worlds to get information or power that he puts at the service of the community and the greater whole. These techniques form the foundation in the traditional forms of healing, divination, and problem-solving. In the reality of the shaman, ‘soul’ is the building block. He or she sees everything as his/her brothers and sisters, as part of the circle.
Working with consciousness teaches him that there are infinite powers in the universe. The shaman develops relationships with these forces, who thus become ‘spirit friends’. These friends are allies who support him or her in his life and work. They help him to see and understand what to do to nurture harmony and let go of separation.
The role of ecstasy.
The shaman works with consciousness and learns to control his mind and consciousness. Mircea Eliade described the shaman as: ‘the technician of ecstasy’.
The shaman or practitioner of shamanism works through trance. He or she is trained to bring his mind to other wavelengths so that he can enter other realities with his consciousness. One of the best-known ways to do this is to use the drum. The fast, monotonous rhythm of the drum allows the shaman to open the gates of his mind.
It is not without reason that the drum is called ‘the shaman’s horse’. Also, other channels to reach trance are used within shamanism, such as rituals, dance, singing, darkness, postures, the use of hallucinogenic plants, etc.
The keys are awareness and inspiration.
The shamanic work is the work of consciousness, which is regarded as the basis of all life and all forms. The shaman knows that the dimension of consciousness is immense and infinite. There are no limits. Many shamans or practitioners of shamanism therefore have a deep-rooted realization that, in essence, they know nothing.
That is why many cultures speak of ‘the Great Mystery’. The universe is a masterpiece that continues to unfold endlessly. Living in this realization opens doors of wonder. The shamanic practitioner, therefore, grows in surrender and is willing to surrender to the stream. He or she focuses on the wonderful path that life is and the vigor that is permeated by everything in the universe.
In my vision inspiration plays a major role. Inspiration comes when we allow the flow of infinite possibilities. Inspiration is available everywhere. It is that flow of endless possibilities that invites us to become bigger, more radiant, happier, simpler, healthier, and more loving.
Inspiration is the driving force of creation. And inspiration is knocking on our door non-stop. It is the voice with which creation invites us to grow, to unfold all the beauty and power that is present within ourselves.
“Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment” – Rumi
It is just like the poet Rumi put it so nicely: ‘it is up to us to let go of our ideas that we can know and understand everything so that we can come home to life itself and not our idea of life. Shamanism offers us the opportunity to teach ourselves to listen to the Creation again and to be a part, to be a real part of these wonderful times.
The shamans and teachers who touch me the most have great respect for creation. They have a passionate enthusiasm for experiencing their lives. And they realize they don’t have to know, explain, understand. They have learned that the road will unfold itself and have a deep-rooted faith in life itself.
This wisdom shines in their eyes, in which you can see both old sages and smiling children. Their words are spoken from the heart and they have understood that they only need to focus on one thing: love.
© Roel Crabbé – 2008