What Is Shamanism?shamanism

It’s hard to ignore the increasing prevalence of ancient healing practices in mainstream Western societies. From yoga and meditation studios to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine doctors, many people are searching for alternative and natural methods to fight illnesses, prevent future ailments and find a balanced life.

While yogic philosophy and acupuncture have taken hold of many in the west, one traditional healing method from a place much closer to home is still cloaked in mystery.

What Is Shamanism?

Shamanism is a practice in which a shaman interacts directly with the spirit realm through altered consciousness, such as trance. It is commonly believed that these individuals can help heal the sick, escort the spirits of those who have passed on, and communicate with other realms.


While shamanism in its original form applied only to tribes of people indigenous to northern Asia, it is not uncommon to associate it with the healing practices of other indigenous tribes throughout the world today.

Lots of people will use “shamanism” to discuss the healing rituals and beliefs of many cultures, including those indigenous to the Americas.

Shamanism Today

While it is still not as mainstream as yoga or reiki sessions, many individuals are turning to shamans to help clear emotional or energetic blockages, treat illnesses, prevent diseases, and help with overall well-being.

Shamanism is not regulated and is often passed down from generation to generation. Few classes or workshops can teach shamanism, as it is a lifelong journey. However, finding a practicing shaman is easier than you would think. Many spas, yoga studios, and even doctors’ offices have begun offering shamanic sessions.

What is a Shaman?

Shamans are individuals who can travel into the spirit realm and retrieve information. This information can help heal sick or injured people, provide emotional or spiritual well-being, or help guide souls from the physical realm into the spirit realm.

It was thought that a shaman would be able to master altered states of consciousness, allowing them to enter these realms at will and be able to control themselves as they moved between the two.

Shamans would also be responsible for keeping the peace and mediating between the physical and spirit realms. This would require them to be able to present the needs of the spirit realm in the physical realm in a way that could be understood by all. Keeping the balance of both realms is an essential task for a shaman.

These practitioners serve the community by meeting needs that no other profession can. Shamans tend to help individuals who need more assistance than a priest, leader, physician, or psychiatrist can offer.

What Do Shamans Do?

Shamans are oftentimes viewed as a bridge between the physical world and the spiritual realm. These individuals possess the ability to walk seamlessly between the two realms and communicate with both. They can pull information from the spiritual realm and bring it into the physical one, as well as walk spirits from the physical realm into the spiritual.

Today, the work that shamans do varies greatly depending on who they are. Some shamans focus mainly on helping individuals explore their own paths, removing emotional or spiritual blockages, and guiding them inward to self-realization.

A person who may seek out a shaman tends to live in a culture that deals heavily with shamanic practices. However, today shamanic practices are being sought out even by individuals who don’t have a history with the practice. Usually, these individuals are not happy with the progress they are making with traditional methods and are searching for an alternative.

Shamans tend to work in partnership with other professionals, like doctors or psychiatrists, to help create a multidisciplinary approach to healing illnesses and ailments. Together, they use a combination of physical, botanical, and spiritual therapies to help patients achieve success and balanced well-being.

How Do Shamans View Disease and Illness?

Even though shamans usually work alongside practicing doctors, especially in the west, they have a unique view of illness and disease.

For shamans, just because symptoms or diseases seem similar, it doesn’t mean that they come from the same problem. They would treat each ailment as its own illness and work through every issue until the root of each is found and resolved.

Since shamans walk between the realms and provide mediation, it is not uncommon for community disharmony to manifest in an individual as an illness. This can stem from the physical or spiritual realm or, sometimes, both.

Shamans believe that no matter how an ailment or illness presents itself (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or relational), the real cause is rooted in spiritual or energetic issues. Along with this belief, there is a thought that certain illnesses may respond greatly to shamanic healing techniques. Psychological diagnoses like depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, autism, and even addictions are thought to respond well to shamanic treatments.

When an illness has a physical manifestation that seems premature, like degenerative diseases occurring in a younger person, shamans believe that there are significant spiritual causes.

Another common ailment that shamanic healing can help with is when an individual experiences a life-changing event. When someone feels that something is “missing” or they “haven’t been the same since..”, shamans believe it can signify soul energy loss.

While shamanic healing can be used as a stand-alone treatment approach, it is more common to find shamans working with doctors, acupuncturists, Chinese medicine doctors, chiropractors, and therapists.

How Do Shamans Heal?

A shamanic session involves the shaman moving or removing energies that are present in areas they should not be or retrieving and rearranging energies that an individual lost. Most commonly, shamans will attempt soul recovery to return lost pieces of the client’s soul, allowing them to heal and feel full.

In addition to working with the energies inside a person, they also must move and orientate the energies surrounding them. Shamans aim to achieve balance and harmony within their client, the client and the physical world, and the physical world and the spiritual world.

Harmony is achieved when everything is balanced within the individual and the world around them.


Shamanism is an ancient healing practice where a shaman can walk between the spiritual and physical realms by entering a trancelike state. Shamans can use this ability to help create harmony and balance within individuals and the world around them.

Shamans today work with other professionals to help individuals achieve emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being and happiness. They do this by either retrieving lost pieces of the client’s soul and returning them to them or removing negative energy or blockages that are not meant to be there.

While shamans usually come from a long line of healers, today many people who are not a part of a shamanic culture are being called to this line of healing. You can find a list of shamans and learn more about the practice on The Foundation For Shamanic Studies website.