What is shamanism?
The Shaman is usually regarded as a healer as well as a mediator between the normal - ordinary - world or reality, OR, and the spiritual world, the so called non-ordinary reality (NOR). He is an expert for communication with the helping spirits by changing his everyday consciousness to an altered state and "journeying" to NOR to retrieve power and information for his clients and tasks.
Traditional Shamanism is a complex of beliefs and behaviours embedded within a variety of cultures. Shamans are distinguished from other healers, mediums and various religious practitioners.
These criteria are helpful:
- Usually shamans have direct contact with spiritual entities.
- Strict control of one or more spirits. Spirits do not usurp or "control" the shaman's consciousness without his or her permission.
- Control of an altered state of consciousness (the shaman determines when to enter and when to leave the altered state).
- They focus rather on the "normal", material world than looking for personal enlightenment.
- The ability for the "magical flight of the soul", i. e. the shaman's journey.
Comparison of data from tribal cultures show a cosmological pattern. In general shamans experience three worlds: The Upper, the Lower and the Middle World. Upper and Lower World are the realms of the compassionate helpful spirits of the shaman.