Friday, 28 August 2009

Welcome to the sunrise of Shamanic Hearts


Shamanism is a spiritual practice which uses altered states of consciousness to connect and work with helping spirits for empowerment healing and guidance. Learning and practicing shamanism is on the rise internationally in many modern forms: courses, trainings and workshops are available throughout the fields of holistic healing and personal and spiritual development. Shamans, shamanic practitioners and teachers advertise their services across the media while intrepid programme makers travel to tribal settings and film or take part in shamanic initiations, rituals and ceremonies with varying degrees of sensitivity, respect and sensationalism.

Shamanic Hearts explores contemporary experiential shamanism: how people learn and use these ancient healing ways to live well and make positive changes in themselves and the world around them. Contributions will include articles on aspects of shamanic culture and practice, findings from shamanic community research projects and sharing of individual experiences of life on the shamanic path.

While the aim is to incorporate many kinds of discussion in these posts, our main focus is on first-hand experience: 12 years of teaching and practice in this field offers a rich resource to draw from with many contemporary shamanic voices willing to share this extraordinary work.

We will also be looking at what it might take for the roots and shoots of shamanism to live side by side with acceptance and mutual respect. Shamanism has lasted for over 40,000 years and is spread across the globe. All contemporary shamanic practice exists because of its ancestry and owes gratitude and acknowledgement to the traditional shamanic cultures where, in many cases, shamanism continues to be practiced today.

What is an ethical approach to shamanism in the 21st centaury? Is it possible for this prehistoric spirituality to survive its journey from the times and peoples where it originated and thrive with integrity in our modern global culture? How can we practice with genuine relevance to the culture and the times we live in? What actual use does this sacred work have in our everyday lives?

The global shamanic revival raises controversy about how people with no hereditary shamanic tradition use or misuse shamanism. Practicing and teaching for the wrong reasons or without adequate knowledge or training is one of the concerns in our fast-track commercial society. Inappropriate use of traditional cultural practices is another hot potato and this argument has further ethical and political perspectives, because in the wake of historical colonialism and continuing abuses of the human and spiritual rights of indigenous peoples: a lot of hurt and injustice remains to be addressed.

Looking from a different perspective shamanic practice has proved to have a universality, which allows people from all walks of life and any culture, faith or religion to expand their consciousness and bring wisdom and healing into their lives and the lives of others. The potent and profound resource of spiritual reconnection which shamanism offers seems to ignore the borders that humans impose and serves the interest of global health and restoration, which argues that it is good and even necessary to share this healing way in our troubled times.

As a Western European teacher and practitioner of contemporary shamanism, my experience shows me that there is no quick fix to these ethical dilemmas. It becomes clear that the practice of shamanism, like everything under the sun, has its light and its shadows. What we can do is to pay attention and keep asking, “How, if at all, can people with no traditional shamanic heritage make use of shamanism with respect and care?” This blog aims raise awareness and keep eyes, hearts and minds open to this question and all the issues it raises. At the same time our intention is to build bridges between ancient, traditional and present ways of healing and living that can benefit everyone. By sharing explorations, experiences and ways of practicing shamanism we hope to give something back and give thanks as well as inspiring new ways of cooperation.

I have been deeply moved by the help, healing and wisdom of my helping spirits and the abundance of wise and powerful teachings and healings received by the groups and individuals I have worked with over the years. Shamanic Hearts is a space for people to share some of these special experiences and teachings with the wider world.

We welcome participation in this blog, so if you have a contribution you feel would serve the aims and spirit of Shamanic Hearts you are warmly invited to submit a piece to me at We also appreciate your feedback, which can be left as comments to this blog.

1 comment: