What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is an umbrella term used for certain (ancient) spiritual and philosophical traditions and practices found in (indigenous) cultures all over the world. Though varying greatly in their individual expression, ‘language’ and ‘colour’, the countless and sometimes astounding similarities in the underlying belief systems, symbolism, cosmology and (ritual) practices of these different shamanic cultures across the globe is what has led to the broad modern day meaning of the word Shamanism (originating from the language of the Tungus tribe in Siberia).
Central to shamanism is the belief that we live in an ensouled world, and the role of the shaman as intermediary or messenger between the human world and the spirit world (through the achievement of altered states of consciousness, or ‘trance’). A shaman will often work with a person on a soul level which, by restoring balance to the whole, will manifest as healing on all levels, including physical. The role of the shaman in traditional cultures however goes far beyond that of simply healing the sick. Shamans are the storytellers and spiritual leaders, both the keepers of tradition and the bringers of change. Through sacred ritual, ceremony and their strong connection to nature and spirit, they protect the balance and health of the communities they serve and guide the souls of the living on their path, as well as of those of the dying in their transition to the other world.
Different from, say, body- or even purely energetic work, shamanic forms of healing, since they mostly work on the level of the soul, rely on ceremony and ritual to ‘cultivate’ a sacred space and setting into which the healing powers of nature and spirit are invited. In this sense the shamanic practitioner is himself not so much a healer as he is a ‘vessel’ or ‘channel’, creating and ‘holding’ the space in which healing can take place.
These are powerful forms of spiritual, energetic and physical healing which require time, care and dedication from both participant and practitioner. They often utilise the elements (fire, water, air and earth), the powers of the four directions (east, south, west, north, which together form the Medicine Wheel), spirits of nature like those of animals or plants (through the use of Medicine Tools crafted from their parts), or sound to invite profound and lasting transformation in ourselves, and by extent, to the world and the people around us. Shamanic rituals and ceremonies lead us back to the core, our origins, and the home that most of us have lost inside ourselves.
Some practices also involve the ingestion of certain sacred plants (or animal compounds) that may produce a range of physiological (sometimes psychoactive) effects. An example of a healing ritual using a medicine from animal origin is Kambo (the frog medicine cleanse), which you can read more about below.
Shamanic rituals and ceremonies lead us back to the core, our origins, to connection with spirit, and the home that most of us have lost inside ourselves.
I have developed myself in the practice of various shamanic healing arts, and can (myself or in collaboration) offer different kinds of healing sessions, rituals and ceremonies (both in a one-on-one or group setting). Aside from working energetically, with the Medicine Wheel, the elements and through connection with spirit, I also sometimes work with certain shamanic medicines. These are sacred plants (or animal compounds) that are used ceremonially to bring healing through their energetic and physiological (sometimes psychoactive) effects. One of these is Kambo, which you can find more information about below (and on the dedicated page). I also collaborate with other facilitators under the name ‘The Winged Tribe’ to offer retreats in the south of France, during which we do various kinds of (shamanic) healing work and ceremonies, about which you can also find more information below (and on the dedicated page). If you are curious about the possibilities and what I offer in terms of shamanic healing work, or would like to discuss whether any specific healing work could be suitable or beneficial for you, please feel free to get in touch.
Fierce as she is thoughtful, the Bear has long been seen as a wise teacher and symbol of healing and spiritual awakening. The ‘Medicine’ of Bear is one of powerful and transformative healing, patient guidance, playful curiosity, honest reflection and deepened spiritual inquiry. The Bear has been a close ally and guide to me on my own journey of healing, and its Medicine has strongly informed both my path and the work that I do. Through Kermode Grove – with its name borrowed from the white Spirit Bear of the Americas, held sacred by native peoples – I seek to spread the healing and teachings of this medicine, the Sacred Medicine of the Spirit Bear.
Maurits Kabo Bierman