What is Shamanism?

The Earth is a living, conscious being

Built from living relationships, built upon living relationships, She holds a wisdom that is ancient and true.

Her language isn’t formed from words.

Her intelligence doesn’t need to be interpreted.

She speaks to us all… She speaks loud and clear, for those who know how to listen.

Since those ancient times, the times when Red Ochre Woman walked upon her surface, shamanism has held the tools to make this listening possible.

It’s not listening with the ears that we speak of (though that IS one way that you may hear). But listening through the heart, the womb, and the sixth sense of the mind.

Shamanism is a path.

It’s not a doctrine, a religion or a prescription. It’s a way of being, a knowing, a guidance and simply, a “way”.

Those who practice usually tell stories of how Shamanism found them. The choice is rarely cut and dry, and often follows initiation of some kind.

What DO Shamanic Practitioners DO?

Many people may claim to be shamans in these modern times, yet few are gifted the title. That is how it works – it’s an honour bestowed upon an individual by their community. SO be wary of those who claim if for themselves.

Shamanic practitioners, on the other hand, are those who practice (clearly!) YET this essence of practice is a spectrum. Some may journey, meet with Spirits and glean SO much pleasure, insight and information from the shamanic realms, doing it mostly for themselves.

Whilst others may walk deep in the shadowlands, make healing their profession and heal, retrieve soul pieces, and transition the living to the other realms.

The Journey

The backbone of shamanic practice is the journey.

This is a journey into other realms – beyond ordinary, “consensual” reality (that’s the reality that you and I see around us, and both agree on) and into “non-ordinary reality”.

This isn’t one place.

It’s “non-consensual” meaning that what YOU experience of these lands (or skies, or seas or fantastical places) may not be the same, even slightly, as what I experience. Yet what we each perceive, is exactly what we need.

These places usually exist in layers – worlds – that stack, merge, and connect to each other. Though not always. In them live beings, friends, or foes who guide, reveal, and trick… Or not.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Shamanism is slippery. It’s flowing and intangible and ultimately pretty personal.

Its why shamanism has been SO hard to categorize, systematize and pin down into neat little boxes by anthropologists and scientists over the years. Unlike religion, which is man-made, shamanism is Earth-emergent. And because the surface, character, qualities, colours textures and cultures of the Earth all change as you traverse her surface, so do the shamanic practices and traditions born from her.

A shamanic healing received in Siberia may hold some similarities to one received in Bhutan, but be fundamentally different. A soul retrieval offered in Lithuania may resemble one proffered in England.

OR they may be completely different.

Yet the fundamental, cross-cultural threads that all weave the fabric conjoin at several points. The journey. The Spirits. The healing. The sentience of all life.

What is the Journey for?

What is any journey for?

To seek

To learn

To discover

To transition

To get from one place (or state) to another.

The shamanic journey can be taken for the practitioner, or on behalf of another. It may be a “fact-finding” mission – a metaphorical walk through the woods to figure stuff out and pick up details about a situation somebody is in. OR, it could take the form of full-on healing. Speak to people (or beings), move things around, recover objects, give them away, reach into the past, the future, or any other place or state and make alterations, and the journey becomes a catalyst for change. For change that happens in this reality: Consensual reality.

Because you see, the worlds are connected. If you DO something there, in those far away places, it’s not really so far away at all. The changes will ripple through all layers of life and be felt on all layers of life…

If you try and figure this out with your mind, your left-brained mind, you will always be in the dark.

A LONG time ago I realised that trying to make ‘sense’ of the shamanic ways is a futile exercise. Because sense exists in the realms of the left-brained, logical lands. And these lands are different.

My favourite description of shamanic places (and I forget where it came from…) is that they are the dream of nature. And as you may well already know, as soon as you try to figure out a dream, its magic escapes. Does this make it any less real?


Your dreams keep coming, every time you succumb to sleep. Just as the shamanic realms keep breathing. Whether you enter or not.

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