Shamanism is a word that broadly expresses a great range of beliefs and way of communication between human beings and the spiritual world. When it exists, there are two categories of shamanism believers, that is, the people who believe and practices shamanism and the specialists. The common people are not usually given any title while the professionals are referred to as shaman. For one to become a shaman, is usually trained highly and are selected in a spiritual way. Shamans are viewed as the bridge between the spiritual world and the human beings. Shamanism though opposed and probably associated with witchcraft, it is real and helped may during its time and it still exist today, though hidden in the various forms of worship.
This belief has been found to heal terminal illnesses in a way they call mending of the soul. They believe that illnesses come as a result of increase in problems affecting the soul. Consequentially, they treat these illnesses by ensuring that they alleviate all the problems that affect the soul. A shaman has a role of getting into supernatural divisions in order to find the problems affecting the entire community. The shamans operate ideally in the spiritual worlds and hence are in place to alleviate imbalance that exists between human world and the spiritual world. His key goal is therefore healing the sick. Generally their roles can be termed as: restoration of health, cleansing people, purifying, repairing, enhancing the existing conditions between the individuals and the environment, and also explaining the things that happen day to day, which common people cannot decipher.
Socially, shamans act as mediators and healers. There are cases that shamans have been found to exorcise evil spirits. As mentioned above they have the power of healing by gaining access to the spiritual world. In the spiritual realms, they tend to find spirits that do guide them in all their journeys. These journeys are to seek the parts that have been lost from the victim’s souls. They are known to remove all the energies that are not constructive to the human soul and instead direct all the energies to more constructive dimensions which maintain a healthy soul (Harner, 1990).
A shaman healer is mostly a product of destruction in the sense that he undergoes so many problems some even that takes them close to their graves. A young shaman sometimes undergoes through a sickness that nears him to death. This in turn helps them to go to the under world in order to learn how to extract the information that is useful from the sick people and the entire community and learn to offer help to their pestering problems. It is also vital for them to fall sick to the great levels in order to understand sickness. For in the real sense for one to be able to cure a certain disease, then he or she must have had control over such situation before. Most of them have other healing ways including the knowledge of medicinal content of herbs since they believe that even though the illness can be caused by bad spirits there is also a chance that it can be healed by both the spiritual and physical means.
As a mediator, a shaman has the role to communicate with the spirits on behalf of the community. A shaman is also able to communicate with the spirits of the dead people and can find a way of appeasing them and thereby resolving the problems that are affecting the community. The spirits in questions are categorized and referred by animal names depending on the character of the spirit. For example, Native Americans have a spirit that is referred to as jaguar since jaguar is typically a kind of an animal that swims in water, trends the surface of the earth, and can also climb trees. Therefore they prefer it since it symbolizes its existence in the sky world, earth world, and to the underworld (Rutherford, 1996).
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As per their way of life, Shamans live like ordinary people and earn their living as other people in the community. This is supplemented by contributions provided by the members of the community as a kind of payment to appease the spirits. Depending with the region of the world, shamanism tends to differ among many nations and cultures but there are distinct beliefs that are common to all forms of shamanism. As per Eliade, the common beliefs are that spirits in question can either be evil or good, a shaman has the power to heal any sickness associated with evil spirits, shaman has the ability to communicate with the spiritual world, shaman’s spirit often leave the physical nature to the spiritual world in search of disturbing answers, spirits do exists and they have definite roles in the lives of individuals and the society. Also in about all regions practicing shamanism, the shamans, have to call upon the images of animals which acts as guides of the spirits and the carriers of the messages. There is also a common belief that shamans are able to tell the future through throwing of bones, and any other forms of divination (Stevens, 2004).
In actual sense, in healing a shaman virtually, gets into the body of the patient in order to fight the spirits and bring healing to the infected spirit. Some societies attribute shamans to having power to kill and to heal, in such a case; they are confused with witchcrafts who curst evil spell to people. In practice shamanism employs traversing of the axis mundi and getting to the spiritual world by altering how the consciousness is transmitted, getting into euphoric dreams. To affect trance there are various method that are used, many of them being used together. These includes, use of plants for example tobacco and cannabis, there is dancing, music, singing, fasting, vision quest, and sword fighting (Wolfe, 2002).
Today shamanism has fell in many countries due to the fact that as people become educated, they tend to forget about their traditions terming it as outdated and non helpful. It therefore largely exists today in undeveloped countries and regions such as jungles and deserts and places like Africa and some parts of South America where shamanism had largely dominated in old days. Most regions practicing shamanism have gender variation. In Europe, it still exists as a traditional form of religion, in places like Altaic, among Hun peoples, in Udmurtia and also in Mariel (Aldhouse-Green, 2005). In Cyprus traces of shamanism are seen in the way folk dances are performed. They seem to borrow so much from the traditional ways of worship and also the incantation form of worship. Healers are also present today in Cyprus.
China on the other hand, being an industrialized country remains on the top with the long history of shamanic practice. These practices are still there today with the group of male chauvinist shamans rejecting the existence of female shamans. In Korea, the practice is still in place especially in the southern parts, with women are mostly taken as shamans who are mostly consulted for marriage and financial matters. Shamanism can be obtained via inheritance and are seemingly from low class in the society. It is evident that the shamanism that exists today is a reinvented form mostly carried on by many esoteric and occult circles. Many churches today also try to identify themselves with power to communicate with spirits. Many spiritual leaders travel to Peru today to seek help to leaders who use ayahuasca, which is said to effects some form of spiritual meetings and resulting to revelations that are divine.
In conclusion, shamans are the same as the prophets of today and they are there to mediate between human beings and the spirits. Shamanism still hides itself in the face of the new religion considering how occult groups have adopted it and made it modern and no matter how it is opposed and denied, it will continue to thrive in the remote regions or the countries that had its strong roots. Shamanism is a form of worship like any other and should be respected as other forms are respected since it comes to solve the problems that do affect the community and it recognizes that there are supreme spirits that are in control.