by Brant Secunda
Shamanism is a way of life, a way of living in harmony and balance on Mother Earth. The Huichol Indians of Mexico say that it is our responsibility as human beings to be good caretakers of the earth. It is our responsibility to nurture our environment, ourselves and all that lives on the altar of Mother Earth. This is the healing way of Shamanism.
The word “shaman” is thought to be derived from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. Anthropologists coined the term and it is now universally used the world over, but each culture or tribe has their own word. In the Huichol language the word for shaman is “mara-akame.” This translates as “Deer Spirit Person”, one who is a messenger of the universe, or messenger of the gods.
Shamanism is an ancient technique of healing and finding a connection to the spiritual world of nature. In the world of shamanism, we say that everything is alive and sacred, such as the plants, trees, stones, mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans and springs. Everything is alive with sacred energy, “kupuri” and when we feel connected we are inherently blessed and healing takes place. When we connect with all of life in this way, we help to heal our bodies, hearts and spirits.
Shamanism involves developing love and a special appreciation for the world of nature. Don José Matsuwa, my Huichol grandfather, often said “love the gods with all your heart and you will feel whole and complete, Grandson.” He instructed to do this every day. When we try to find our inherent connection to nature, we feel better, happier.
Another aspect of shamanism is to go to sacred places of power, to go on pilgrimages. A sacred place might be an ocean or a powerful mountain, like Mt. Shasta, the 14,000 ft peak in northern California. The Huichols would call such a place “a dreaming god”. The Indians know Mt. Shasta as “the healing mountain”. The Huichols go on pilgrimages often to pray and ask for special blessings at such places. We can tap into the life force that Mother Earth has to offer and ask for something special for our life. Journey to a “kakuyari” or place of power to find your connection to nature.
Shamanism also involves ceremony and dance. Ceremony and dance are done to honor life, the four seasons, the four directions and all that lives. It honors the special relationships between people, the four-legged ones, the winged-ones, the mountains, and all the nature powers. Thus a human being becomes complete.
In essence, shamanism is a way of life that brings one into balance. In this case, balance is defined by one’s relationship to nature. The more in touch we are with the world around us, the more complete our inner soul becomes. I have been fortunate enough to be able to dedicate my life to this connection, but everybody, no matter where they live, has the opportunity to find this connection everyday of their life. All it takes is the awareness to purposefully dedicate time to creating this bond. This bond is inherent to each one of us and so it is only natural to develop a spiritual connection to the natural world. This is Shamanism.