What is a Shaman?

With our visiting Shaman Mauro in town, we are being asked the question, ‘What is a shaman?’ quite a lot, so we thought we would have a little go at answering.

Obviously generalisations are going to be unsatisfactory, and we apologise in advance to any shamans out there who we sell short, for theirs is a complex and varied world. However, if we are going to plump for a generalisation, that of Ken Wilber is a good starting point: if it can be said that many spiritual traditions or modalities look upwards, shamanism looks downwards and backwards.

Where some, in other words, may seem to invoke the heavens, looking upwards, shamans will seem to invoke the earth, looking downwards: theirs is the world, then, of earthy symbolism, of animal symbolism, of mother nature.

Shamans will often also pay more attention than others to lineage, to family history, to blood lines. To that which has gone before.

Anthropologically, shamanism is billed as the first of the emergent spiritual traditions. Viewed in terms of consciousness, spirituality is simply the knowing of something beyond the personal (transpersonal), and the emergence of shamanism many thousands of years ago is thought to represent the emergence of the first human consciousness of the transpersonal.

This is not to say, of course, that shamanism is in any way primitive or undeveloped - ancient does not mean archaic (we know of a wonderfully inciteful and dedicated shaman who will consult via Skype!). A good shaman such as Mauro has simply chosen this set of tools to assist him in his consciousness or awareness of the transpersonal, or spiritual.

And it is this consciousness that Mauro brings to his sessions with his clients.


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