Final Essay by Rev. Cynthia Vickers
Being a Shaman in today's world is just as mysterious an endeavor as in the past. The studies in this Master Shaman course has provided insight into the history, tools, and attributes of shamanic practice within the diverse cultures. Shamanism is a world wide phenomena dating back in to Paleolithic times.
Where the shaman ultimately exists is within the psychic ability of the individual's conscious connection to life. All life! The studies here in this course break down the areas of consideration of the shamanic connection.
As a shaman, a person understands life forces as energetic imprints or fields of light, they are able to work with and within this prismatic subtly to support the health of a individual animal, plant or even the energies/health of earth herself.
The shaman has usually been born with the gifts and then is responsible to unraval, define and understand their gifts in order to control them to support both herself and others through life experience. The more powerful the understanding and control of these gifts the more community seeks the use of these insights to support health and welfare of the entire group.
The shamans connection and understanding of earth and the universe's vital forces of life is not a new phenomena as stated above. The Shaman is the "initiate mystic" who has been guided to the knowledge that touches the universe. The earliest societies have documented on this.
A Shaman understands the use of plants for healing the physical body, as well as expanding mind consciousness, these are their practiced arts. A shaman also understands the effects of sound on a person and utilizes the drum and rattle to support altered states of awareness and ecstasy. This shift in awareness was often assisted with the practice of ritualistic dance and chanting to produce the ecstatic state as well. These practices assist the shaman into a will less state of ego-tic control to a knowing-ness and connection to the all that is. The oneness of the universe.
Music is still used today as a method to switch our moods or connect ourselves with our memories and dreams of the future. Again, we see how humans understood the effects of sound on the human psyche and developed the tools to access alternate realities.
I became seriously caught in these lessons right at the beginning. The course quickly distinguishes the origins of the word/ label Shaman to the area of the Siberian Tungas. Shaman comes from the Siberian language of the Tungas, or Saman meaning tired. It is stated as a shaman being used to describe a gifted person. Christianity has created the slang of Shame an as the Russian dialect there long "a" sound.
The original Shaman of the Americas were woman, as were Volva, the female Shaman of the Norse. The last female Shaman in America was around 600 years ago and for the Norse the men removed the female shaman when they created the brotherhood of Shamanism approximately 200 years ago.
The "Volva" Shaman of the Norse captured my curiosity immediately.
The Christianization of the Norse Shaman is found in the clothing of the Volva. These once powerful women wore newly killed animal skins- usually a polar bear- turned inside out so the blood stained skin would be exposed to the weather while the fur rested against the nude body of the Volva. Tufts of the fur were exposed around the edges and she wore a pointed inside-out skin hat and boots. However, the boots were put on when the Volva became Shaman and were never replaced, thus they became black with age. Christianity eliminated the Volva, but retained her garb as that worn by Saint Nicholas of the Santa Clause, who was originally a Catholic Priest." This is seriously both amusing and fascinating at the same time.
The accessories also held fascination for me regarding the power placed on the authentic development of the regalia and how the movement to male shaman displaced women by men having the right within the community to create the correct equipment such as with the blacksmiths.
Learning the pathways of a shaman and that of a priest also offered a wonderful discourse as to the work of shaman. This created a clear discussion on evaluating my own description as to whether Shaman or priest.
I am Shaman, nature created and divinely directed by grace to the wondrous beauty and power available to all connected with the energies of the universe.
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