What Does a Shaman Do?

Shamans guide and protect a community that depends on them. They heal people, animals and the environment, find lost things and people, and work to keep the community in harmony with nature.

Shamans receive their power directly from the spirit world. They do whatever their spirits guides and teachers tell them to do. Shamans do whatever they must to protect and heal their people and to keep the community in harmony with each other and the environment.

Shamans go into deep trance (theta state) to journey to the spirit world to do their work. In trance shamans actively work with energy and manipulate images and metaphors to cause change to happen in the real world. When the shaman is successful, the sick and the mentally ill are cured, and lost people and things are found.

In the spirit world the shaman may bring back lost souls, battle with spirits or with sorcerers, finding lost items, get spiritual guidance, or find remedies for injuries or illness.

Shamans also often guide the dead to the spirit world, help hunters find food for their people, and help bring rain or protect their people from extreme weather. Shamanic Ceremonies In the shamanic world, ceremonies are powerful magical events held for specific purposes. Ceremonies are done to change the energy of the past, present or future, or to cause things to happen in the spirit world and in this world.

Shamanic ceremonies generally include some ritual elements, such as cleansing, prayer, and protection. The ceremonies themselves, and even the ritual elements, depend on interaction with the spirits and energy.

No ceremony ever happens exactly the same way twice, because the energy is different every time. The shaman must be constantly aware of the energy and the response from the spirits throughout the ceremony.

The shaman constantly adjusts what he or she is doing according to what is happening. For example, the time spent on cleansing and protection may be longer or shorter, depending on what the shaman senses from the spirits at the time.

Shamans may do public ceremonies where they may sing, dance, do surgery, recite poetry, make sand paintings, do sleight-of-hand, or administer plant medicine. Shamans do whatever the spirits lead them to do to get the desired results.

A single healing may include physical, spiritual, magical, theatrical, and psychological components. Shamans use whatever works.

Shamans also use private ceremonies to heal themselves, increase their skill and powers, and protect themselves and others while they are working with the spirits.

Making a Living Members of the shaman's community and the families of the people they help usually give them gifts, such as animals, food, or money in return for their help. But most shamans still need to support themselves.

Most shamans must also work, gathering food and plant medicines, hunting, gardening, herding animals, or whatever else people in their culture do to make a living. Where a traditional culture exists alongside a modern, westernized culture, a shaman may even have a modern day job.