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"It is only recently in this long history that healers and therapists have begun to compartmentalize their spiritual approaches and healing methods into various camps and specialisms (such as aromatherapy, reiki, massage, crystal healing and so on) and the shaman would originally work with all of these and more (many still do) to provide the right medicine for his or her people.
Many of the things we now accept as the inventions or discoveries of modern science and psychology are also to be found in shamanism and its traditions from thousands of years ago. So for example, physics now tells us that we live in a 'quantum universe' where all things are part of and mirror the whole, where all is comprised of energy and where this energy can be made to change its shape and form (e.g. from a particle to a wave) depending on our interactions with it.
In fact shamans have been saying the same thing for thousands of years, although they have used different words of course. Black Elk, the Sioux medicine man written about by John Niehardt in his book Black Elk Speaks was quoted 200 years before quantum physics for example, remarking that 'we are all one' and that all things are part of the whole, the 'sacred hoop' of life.
As for changing the nature and form of energy through our interactions with it, the Shuar people of the Amazon have long had an expression that 'the world is as you dream it' which says much the same thing - i.e. that we create our own reality by virtue of the way we view the world..."
"How do people become shamans? It begins with a calling - not always in the sense of a spiritual vocation which implies a desire on the part of the shaman-elect to become a shaman like someone who wishes to become a priest might have, but a calling by the spirits who have recognized the natural gifts and skills of that person and have chosen him to become their partner in the work they will do together.
Often the call begins as a whisper - with an awareness on the part of the shaman-to-be that the world is not quite as he has been taught to view it, that there are signs, subtleties and shades of meaning out there, not black and white, scientific or mathematical certainties. He may have 'special knowledge' - the ability to see, hear and know things that others do not for example, a future-seeing awareness of things about to happen or an 'active imagination' that sees things (spirits) that others can't
If the shaman ignores these signs and does not explore what they mean the whispers from spirit will often get louder until they become a roar. If he still ignores them, he is likely to enter what is known as an initiatory crisis. A mysterious illness (of mental, emotional, physical or spiritual nature - or even all four at once) may suddenly afflict him for example, a disease for which there is no known cause and often no orthodox cure. Such is the story of Black Elk, who was close to death as a child and could not be saved by medical healing, only by the spirits themselves.
The classical literature also describes people being struck by lightning, near-fatally wounded by wild animals or hit by a mysterious shower of rocks that falls from the sky. These may be literal descriptions of physical events but they also have a symbolic or mythic quality (lightning = enlightenment; shower of rocks = falling beneath a heavy load). The event takes the shaman-elect out of ordinary reality as he is required to lay in the relative isolation of a hospital bed or a healing room to recover from his injuries, or to enter the landscape of his mind and personal myths in the case of mental or emotional distress. He begins in this way to see beneath the veneer of the 'normal' world and more deeply into himself and the nature of reality."