Shamanism in the Modern World

by Shaman Elizabeth Herrera S

hamanism, if one is familiar with it at all, usually conjures up an image of a medicine man (shaman) wearing a

loincloth, animal teeth strung around his neck, sprinkling healing herbs into a fire, with smoke rising around him. In some cultures, this image still holds true. Howev- er, shamanism has also become part of the modern world. While the shamanic rituals vary in

different tribes and cultures—with some urban shamanic practitioners relying on nothing but their humble drums—the one commonality is that shamans act as catalysts between our ordinary reality and the spirit world.

Brief overview of shamanism Shamanism is a generic term used for the oldest known spiritual practice, and is still practiced by indigenous people on every continent. In North America, shamanism would be called Native American spirituality. During a shamanic journey, a shaman

uses a visionary process to travel to the spirit realm to request healings, receive divine messages, help guide lost souls home and commune with nature and the universe. In the spirit realm, a shaman interacts

with spirit guides, ancestors and enlight- ened beings. Power (totem) animals act as protectors

and guides for the shaman. Power animals can be a part of a shaman’s journeys for many lifetimes or brief periods during

16 NA Triangle

which their archetype power is needed. Te spirit realm has three “worlds”:

the lower, middle, and upper. No realm is better than the others—they simply offer different experiences that are appropriate for different circumstances. I have found the practice of shamanism

to be life changing. I attended a workshop advertised in my healthcare provider’s newsletter, thinking it a lecture series. During the initial class, the teacher talked about shamanism for several hours. Ten she announced, “It’s time to shamanic journey.” I was shocked. I didn’t think it was possible for someone other than a traditional shaman to do this. Although I had never done any metaphysical activi- ties prior to this, I participated in my first shamanic journey. Te teacher methodically pounded on

an enormous buffalo drum while we lay on the floor with our eyes closed. Te drum’s deep vibrations eased me into a trance. I zipped around the spirit realm, exploring like a child at an amusement park. Te im- ages were so vivid that it was mesmerizing. I found my power animal that night. Aſter the six-week, once-a-week

workshop ended, I continued to shamanic journey on my own, building a relationship with my power animal and spirit guide. Eventually, despite being an atheist, I re- quested healings for friends and family, and was amazed when they came into fruition. Te connection to the Divine power opened my mind to the wonders of the

unseen world, which affects every aspect of our lives and even the entire universe. Trough shamanism, I learned that we are all connected—the earth, sky, nature, animals, winged and sea creatures, and mankind—singing one song of unending love. Te practice of shamanic journeying restored my belief in a higher power. Over the years, I’ve seen how the

Divine power accessed people’s deepest levels (their subconscious) to help them release anger, fears and trauma. Tis release allowed healing to take place. Te long-standing practice of shaman-

ic journeying remains as viable as ever. Shamanic healing sessions are now offered in homes, spas, chiropractic offices and wellness centers. I’m sure there is valuable wisdom from the tribes that remains un- tapped, but the connection to the Divine power is as true and powerful as ever. Shaman Elizabeth Herrera is a heal-

er who began her shamanic path with a certified Sandra Ingerman instructor, then continued her learning through the Foun- dation for Shamanic Studies. Elizabeth in- herited her rebellious spirit from her father who was raised by his grandparents. His grandfather, a full-blooded Apache who smuggled sugar and flour from Mexico into Texas, exchanged gunfire with Texas Rangers, and crossed paths with Pancho Villa. She is the author of Shaman Stone Soup and other books. To learn more, visit See ad on page 26.

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