According to famed American psychologist and consciousness pioneer, Stanley Krippner, shamans are “community-assigned magico-religious professionals who deliberately alter their consciousness to obtain information from the ‘spirit world.’ They use this knowledge and power to help and to heal members of their community, as well as the community as a whole.”
Krippner describes shamans as the first physicians, diagnosticians, psychotherapists, religious functionaries, magicians, performing artists, and storytellers.
In shamanistic cultures, all adults are responsible for their relationships with spiritual energies, including those of their home environment (geography, animals, and plant life,) their ancestors, their own personal spirit guides, Spirit, and the quantum field.
However, as shaman we are unique in that, we not only travel to non-ordinary realms, but we work with spirit to create changes that manifests in the physical world, for the healing of individuals or the community. This separates shamans from other types of practitioners. For example, mediums use altered states of consciousness, but they do not take action in those altered states.
According to Christina Pratt in The Encyclopedia of Shamanism, a shaman is a practitioner who has gained mastery of:
- Altered states of consciousness, possessing the ability to enter alternated states at will, and being conscious while moving in and out of those states.
- Mediating between the needs of the spirit world and those of the physical world in a way that can be understood and worked with.
- Serving the needs of the community that cannot be met by practitioners of other disciplines, such as physicians, psychiatrists, priests, and leaders.
A shaman is a specific type of energy healer who works through the energy of alternate states of consciousness to enter the invisible world, which is made up of all unseen aspects of the world that affect us, including the spiritual, emotional, mental, mythical, archetypal, and dream worlds.
There are three categories of modern-day shamans:
- Some come from an unbroken shamanic tradition and continue to practice in that tradition, usually in their native culture.
- Some come from a shamanic tradition and serve as a bridge between, tradition and the modern Western world, often by adding ceremonies and rituals.
- Some are called by Spirit to serve the needs of their community as shamans, even though they may be long separated from their original shamanic roots.
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