When people attend some of my shamanic ceremonies they are often stricken by the simplicity of the work. I myself, was also quite surprised at shamanism (in general) simplicity when it comes to ceremony and ritual. What I would later come to realize was the complexity of shamanism comes not from the practice itself but the understanding of the Spirit World and the spirits. In core shamanism specifically, the foundation is given and from there what you build ontop of it comes the complexity and depth that we come to expect. But often times, even within indigenous groups and cultures, shamanism is still relatively simple. The complexity comes from the layers of understanding and spinning of the cultural ties.
And so, naturally, when people attend shamanic ceremonies (and more specifically Neoshamanic and core shamanic ceremonies) they are often stricken with a “Why is this so simple, and yet it works so well?”
I often shrug, because to be honest I don’t fully understand the reason. Nor do I particularly care for the reason why. What I care about, and what many shamanic practitioners and shamans in general care about are the results of the work. Did it work? Yes? That’s all what matters. Could the symbols and the ceremony be understood? Yes? That’s all what matters. Could those who participate be involved and also reap the benefits of the ceremony? Yes? That’s all what matters. That’s because, shamanism, at it’s core is a problem solving and solution finding system. How complex or simple that spiritual technology is relative to the shaman or shamanic practitioner.
Some spirits have very specific ways in which they are worked, and so for those particular spirits the ceremonies and rituals are done exactly as they were given. This is more prominent in lineage traditions or classical forms of shamanism but they can be found in core shamanism as well. Ceremonies become rituals when our spirits come to expect us to do things a certain way, and through the power repetition and the consistency of results is that power better understood. In classical shamanism the power that they draw on is through their lineage, they use specific ceremonies and rituals to contact and work these spirits.
By contrast, the power of shamanism that we–those who practice Neoshamanism or core shamanism–tap into is the spirits themselves (just like classical shamanism). We co-create with them and in that creation we develop something meaningful and powerful for ourselves, and often times for our communities that we serve and work with. What I personally care about, when it comes to shamanism, is the results. Is it working. And if it isn’t, why isn’t it working? My ceremonies revolve around my shamanic journeys and the ceremonies I receive from my spirits. I don’t particularly care if they’re simple, I care if they work. Are they effective. It can be an incredibly frustrating thing for other people, and I understand that. They want to know why things work, even though they are quite simple. The reality is our ceremonies and spiritual technology works because we are working with spirits. We are co-creating and building on a foundation, in this case core shamanism.
People have a misinformed belief that power is found in complexity, or lineage. And though this certainly can be true, what is most important in shamanism is that a person is a vessel for the helping spirits. That they are able to embody their spirits and retain that power and use that power to create results. If the answer is no, then what kind of practitioner is that person? Or why are you practicing something that doesn’t work for you?
Lineage and culture are powerful ways to connect to spirits. Inherit in them are certain safeguards and by understanding the culture and lineage you are being adopted into (or perhaps that you belong to) you are accessing the power of that lineage.
People often forget that everyone of us have ancestors, who are one point or another, practiced shamanism. Shamanism is the oldest spiritual practice known to mankind. When we engage in shamanism we are tapping into our ancestral heritage and birthright. What is not okay is co-opting, stealing or adopting sacred ceremonies that do not belong to you. There is no reason for it. You cannot understand something you do not belong to. We have, in core shamanism and Neoshamanism specifically, all that we need. We have the skeleton whereby we can build our foundation and by co-creating with our spirits we gain a better understanding. We develop our own stories to share. We develop and understand the Spirit World and the helping spirits that unfold with each journey. We have no need to steal from other cultures because we have all the foundation we need to get us started in recreating and rebuilding our own forms of shamanism.
There is power in ceremony and ritual. There is power in what we do. It might be simple but that complexity and depth can be built. Are ceremonies are simple because we jump straight to the heart of our intention, the purpose of what we are doing. And in that simplicity is its greatest strength. Core shamanism is accessible, and for better or for worse, it works. It works for myself and many people who come to practice it and integrate it into their lives.
The other thing to understand is that at this moment in time shamanism in the Western world is for the individual, for better or for worse. That is to say many people, myself included, are using shamanism mostly for ourselves for healing and guidance. Some of us, myself include, work in small communities or take it to the general public and offer workshops and shamanic services. It’s important to understand this because relatively speaking what an individual is doing has no bearing in the world as many people who practice shamanism in the Western world do not appropriate from cultures, many like myself highly discourage cultural theft, instead we practice shamanism simply as it is and how it has been presented to us. From the skeleton we build and continue to build our understanding of the invisible worlds. We use it for ourselves, our friends and families and very few (though they certainly exist) present themselves more than what they are. This is why I’m particularly as transparent as I can be and as honest as I can be.
The purpose of this blog is to introduce shamanism in your daily life, especially for those who are interested in shamanism or who are practicing shamanism. For those wanting to learn I provide many resources that I personally found helpful in my own discovery of shamanism, and for those already practicing shamanism I am providing content that they may wish to incorporate or hope to inspire them and empower their practice.
Shamanism is simple because it doesn’t need to be complex, we choose to make it make complex or we work in co-creation with spirits that ask or demand certain things be done a certain way. The power of shamanism is the spirits themselves, without them we would not be able to do the work we do.