The Role of an Authentic Shaman Teacher
In the Western world today, more and more non-tribal Westerners are seeking out a teacher of shamanism and in response, increasing numbers of shamanic teachers are now appearing on the screen. But how do we ensure that we will be drawn to an authentically initiated individual who will serve us well?
In the beginning of our connection with this ancient wisdom tradition, some of us decide to seek out teachers in the indigenous world, often through participating in travel groups or tours into remote regions of the world. These tours are usually accompanied or led by an acknowledged or self-proclaimed expert, and these experiences can be intense, exciting, and life-changing. However, we frequently discover that just because someone seems to be an expert, the knowledge may be quite limiting and superficial. In addition, these experiences usually lack an ongoing connection to facilitate our shamanic training and to develop shamanic skills. Thus, we continue to search.
Accordingly, some of us seek out indigenous spiritual elders closer to home, yet we usually discover that there are very few now who know the old traditions and fewer still who may be inclined to share their spiritual wisdom with outsiders. Some of us are lucky, though, and find an elder who has chosen to extend their knowledge to everyone, regardless of culture, race or ethnicity.
Then there are the growing numbers of spiritual seekers who become aware of the shaman's path through reading the published works of individuals who have 'spent time' with indigenous peoples. Some find their way into relationship with these individuals, who offer knowledge as well as experiential training in seminars and workshops at institutes and conference centers.
For Westerners, the hands-on experiential workshop offers opportunities for intense immersion in the shaman's worldview and practice. These structured settings provide tools and techniques designed to bring us into an enhanced connection with our spirit helpers, our spirit teachers and our guides, creating a good working foundation for our own practice. In the shaman's world, it is always understood that the real teachers are found on the other side. Only the spirits can convey true teaching as well as authentic initiation to the shamanic practitioner.
Accordingly, the job of the authentic shamanic teacher is to facilitate this connection...
Once the shamanic aspirant has been brought into relationship with their helping spirits, the role of the outer teacher is essentially done. Yet it is also true that many return to work with a singular teacher in serial training workshops in order to deepen their practice in specific areas such as working with ancestral spirits, soul retrieval and transpersonal healing, or exploring the dimensional realities of the Upper Worlds.
In doing so, Westerners discover that the ancient methodologies of the shaman, developed across tens of millennia by our stone-age ancestors, are the birthright of all human beings everywhere. If we go back far enough, we are all descended from indigenous tribal peoples, Westerners and non-Westerners alike, and they all had great shamans.
This means that it is not required that you be a Zulu or a Siberian, a Mayan or Hawaiian or Native American to practice shamanism. The practice, the method, is essentially the same the world over. It belongs to all.