Shamanism is an ancient form of priesthood. Shamans currently and historically exist throughout the World in all cultures.
The Shaman acts as a bridge. While bridging other dimensions in the universe, they also use what is local in the environment as an aid in returning a person or situation back into balance. They see distress as a spiritual confusion or loss of place and function in the universe. One must essentially place most important emphasis on the Whole/Holy Body as the vehicle for Universal Creation and Divine Evolution. Thus, a birdís own body would be itís holiest ground as it relates to the Broader Reality. In human form, the individualís own mind-body system would represent his/her holiest ground as it relates both within the cosmos and the broader human condition. The total focus of the Shamanís work would be the full functioning and movement of Spirit throughout the person, down to the level of the cells and organs, and would include the full operation of bio-field surrounding it. Any blocks, in any part of this system\person would represent Spiritual confusion as to the personís place and function in reality.
Thus, all means established within a broader Shamanic Tradition would be to open the Internal Creative Forces and re-connect the person to the Broader Creative Forces, or God.
The historical paths to becoming a Shaman are many and varied. Remember that before the modern global village concepts of instant communication and mass travel a would-be Shaman lived in a small village like all our ancestors. These tribal settings were all located in different ecosystems. That is, some were tropical, some cold, located alike in prairie, forest, mountainous, steppe, desert and other environments. Each place had itís own unique energy, and specific flora and fauna. You won't find a whale in the desert; so each potential Shaman had a very different life experience and local resource with which to work. Also, mythological systems run specific to different areas and environments.
Individuals were called to become Shaman for varied reasons. Some were simply born sensitives. Some individuals had a near-death experience, mental break, disease or accident which caused them to search for a method of personal recovery. Through trial and error they found a mineral, plant, location, or ceremony specific to their cure. Upon their own recovery they became Shamans specialized to that problem. People came to them for their secret knowledge when in a similar situation, and thus a new Shaman was born into their community. Still others had a Big Dream, went on a vision quest or entered an apprenticeship with another Shaman. Some became Shamans because it was family or cultured tradition, much like doctors run in families. Some were forced to become a Shaman because of a strong village need. Sometimes the Shaman and elders watched the children, searching for a distinguishing sign or omen; they looked for the trouble maker, the curious one, the adventurer, the leader, the shy one. When they found what they felt was the right personality they placed that child in training often against the persons will; the needs of the tribe were considered more important.
Today there are still traditional Shamans in every culture. Recently there has been awakened interest in this profession, and some people are again studying the Shamansí path. Eastern Long Island has itself become a hot bed for New Age and wholistic movements; here we still have a few active Indian Tribes where you can find the modern Shaman busy at work. Even in the most modern of environments, they still find life experience skills and special knowledge upon which to call.
Everywhere there are healers, therapists, psychics of all types. Instead of days searching the jungle for an herbal cure, you can drive to a health food store. If you seek a little secret knowledge for yourself, there are metaphysical bookstores and shops to be found. In short, Eastern Long Island is living the Shaman's evolution; itsí tradition, culture, and actuality represents the contemporary Shamanic world.
Jeremiah P. Huck has been practicing as a professional Shaman for ten years. While a generalist, he does specialize in integrating traditional knowledge with modern skill, training and experience. He lives in Manorville.