To step onto the shamanic path as a practitioner is to engage with a practice of ego-dismantling and truth restoring. We keep humble. We call a shaman a shaman with the understanding that they keep themselves humble and are always in the process of doing the inner work, meanwhile having done all the necessary training and preparation work in order to hold a clear container of wholeness for healing projects and sessions. This process cannot be rushed and it is a deep responsibility to take this title.
Shamans in indigenous cultures are expected to have tribes who elect them and keep an eye on the egoic element. To be a shaman or a shamanic practitioner is to offer oneself in service to restoring wholeness in the best possible way. The ego state depends on security and is often manufactured from fear and would inhibit the emergence of pure solution.
Originally all organised communities would have had different technicians of the sacred who were called to look after different aspects of creative life and keep life in harmony. Each role would be a calling to individuals. I believe that everyone is shamanic. In the past, shamanic life would have been the original state of being for all cultures. That aim of restoring the natural state of being to all living things would have been something to keep going rather than as we know it now as something to see as far away and bring back into our world. The subject of animism comes closest to this way of describing the shamanic way. Animism honours and appreciates the spirit in all living things. You can imagine the worlds of the fairy stories and the tales of Celtic life being so much more achievable if you acknowledge that reality is governed by our perceptions. For cultures where everything was seen as alive and with a spirit, the whole process of communication with the worlds around humans would have been so much more interesting and developed. In cutting this reverence for the spirit of all things out of our lives we have cut out certain languages and senses too.
Our earlier ancestors had developed cultures which were led by the understanding of the way in which reality was made and what was needed to keep it flowing. Each member of a community would have a practice that helped the natural flow of things to keep in harmony. It was understood that every aspect of life, every thought behind a deed would have an effect on everything else. In languages the word 'I' would be obsolete.
So pots would be made with this reverence in mind. Seeds would be sown with this reverence in mind. The weather, the soil, the animals and the tools would all be held with a respect and graciousness for their contribution to life and their importance as being a member of earth's community that would each help to bring a peaceful and positive environment into being. In a community, everyone would be given the conditions to be heard and seen so that their innate sensibilities and gifts could be brought our into the world. There would be so many ways to serve the whole. Shamanic culture would be held by those whose calling was to delve deeper into the laws of shamanism and keep order and there would be healers and sacred artists of different flavours with distinct gifts and styles. But essentially, everyone would be working with the same aim in mind. You can see how the structure we have inherited today could come from this but the difference in aim has distorted everything.
In essence, in shamanic cultures, everything would be listened to and considered. This is what we are bringing back into being as we embrace shamanic practices. This is what we are restoring when we look to a vision of how to bring healing to today's world. Shamanism in the present is as much about helping individuals to heal as it is to bring in structures and containers that are healthy and non-hierarchical. Often it is the structure that is sick rather than an individual and the present day requirement of shamanism calls us take responsibility for the organisation of how we are held as members of the earth community and install temples for listening and flow.