Shaman is an Evenki word from Siberia meaning one who “sees” or “penetrates to the source.” Shamans are local leaders who perceive the fundamental nature of the universe and see the big picture.

Around the world shamans are called by many local names, among them sorcerer, healer or curandero/a, walker between the worlds, medicine man/woman, priest, transformer, psychopomp and so on. Shamans may inherit the role from their ancestors, come into it by surviving an accident or disease, display talent for it as a child, or merely seek training on their own.

Both males and females function as shamans for their communities although women often raise their children first. Generally, to become a shaman requires a many years of rigorous apprenticeship with many tests and initiations along the way.

Not everyone who begins their training succeeds at becoming a shaman. Some even may die in the process.

Shamans are typically high functioning people-highly respected by their communities as advisors and consultants, dedicated to healing, manipulating reality, divining, forecasting, or prophesying future outcomes. They can choose to enter altered states at will to perform a variety of functions including as ceremonialists, engaging in the creation of art, trance dancing, chanting, and healing.

Shamans know where to access power and information from nature. They study and communicate with plants, animals, elements, and the spirit world. They are excellent problem solvers, diagnosticians, psychologists, storytellers, teachers, and hypnotists.

Historically, in many parts of the world, kings, queens, and emperors were always trained shamans and if not personally trained, they always employed shamans to advise them on many matters.

Quite probably the human race would not have survived without the presence of shamans because they were the first doctors, knew what plants could be used for medicines, and could see where to direct the hunters to find game. They could predict the weather and had many skills that were critical for the survival of their tribes and communities.


The Society for Shamanic Practice is a modern day organization that supports those who aspire to follow a shamanic path by providing information from experts in the field through professional journal articles, audios, monthly new moon ceremonies, and opportunities to participate and learn about shamanic practices through conferences and annual member events. Consider becoming a member if you are interested in joining our community and enriching your shamanic practice.

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