Who are shamans?
Shamans are personal beings who are involved in the practice of treating the spirits in a world beyond human understanding. Shamans are able to do this as they have the capacity to take a journey into the world of spirits. They enter the world of spirits where they are able to master the myths behind these spirits. Shamans are extremely vital in the communities where they are found as they help these communities in various ways.
For example, they guide their communities during difficult times, for instance, in times of sicknesses, death, pain or when people are faced with difficult choices concerning their lives (Moss, 2010). Shamans can be said to be people with specialist knowledge in a given religious system.
The shaman has a great knowledge on the spiritual world, as well as human soul through ecstasy. Thus, they have the power of an unaltered state of mind. This is what enables the shamans to connect with the spiritual world. By so doing, the shamans bring numerous benefits to the community (Moss, 2010).
Where are they?
Currently, shamans can be found in Eurasia in countries like Siberia, Inner Asia and Mongolia. This is mainly due to the fact that their religious beliefs are closely linked to hunting and gathering activities in society. Shamanism has developed as a result of human beings desiring to exert their control, as well as influence to the natural world and traditional cultures and religions are said to be the oldest forms of healing (Moss, 2010).
Consequently, some people estimate that shamanism originated a long time ago and has been part of many religions practiced world wide. For instance, shamanism has been practiced in parts like the Oceania region, Tibet, South America, Korea, as well as China (Moss, 2010).
What are their practices for healing?
A shaman plays several roles that are clearly defined. As a revered and essential community member, a shaman acts as a dream interpreter, a link between the physical and world of spirits, physician, spiritual minister and a psychiatrist. On the other hand, outsiders perceive a shaman as being a primitive medical doctor.
However, to believers in shamanism, the healing rituals undertaken by the shaman offers an avenue for existence with a moral interpretation (Moss, 2010).
Healing is one of the major activities undertaken by shamans. There is a difference that exists between shamanistic healing and the conventional healing done in the traditional biomedicine. The difference is in the health implications of a symbolic reality in the two practices (Moss, 2010). This is in terms of mediating that which separates the biophysical and psychocultural aspects of medicine and science.
Shamanism healing entails performance of rituals and the ritual activity performed both at the symbolic and social levels has effects on human functioning. A ritual performed by the shamans does have health implications. However, in most cases, healing activities in shamanism involve critical rituals performed as a response to crises in society (Moss, 2010).
More so, there are rituals for social transition which in most cases, act as rites of passage. Shamanism healing also includes calendrical rituals normally held on specified days annually. These calendrical rituals enhance solidarity and integration in the society as a whole. As such, they are vital in recognition of a stage of development in one’s life (Moss, 2010).
Some Shamanic ritual that appeal to me
The rituals which appeal to me are those performed by the Lebu healers in Senegal. In their healing rituals, the shaman healers of the Lebu dress like hyenas. These healers are then confronted and scared off by a noble lion, normally more powerful than the hyena.
In this ritual, the hyena and lion do have a symbolic meaning where immorality and human weaknesses in society are represented by the hyena. Essentially, these shamans use the hyena to depict all the negative things happening in society while the lion is used to symbolize morality. Evil spirits have to be scared off to maitain morality (Moss, 2010).
One major practice of shamanism is having the power animals. These power animals are what acts as people’s guide in their daily lives. Normally, these animals are seen as the guardian spirits. Thus, these guardian spirits are what represent the power, character quality, as well as the strengths of given people who believe in them.
Additionally, in shamanism, these power animals keep changing from time to time. More so, the animals are viewed as having different strengths and they are responsible for infusing people with personal power (Weor, 2010).