What is Shamanism?
  Shamanism is humanity's oldest healing practice; as nearly as anyone knows, it is as old humanity itself. The word shaman means "to know" or "to see in the dark" in the language of the Tungus people (modern-day Tuva, in central Asia), and refers to the capacity of the shaman to access spiritual and healing powers beyond the physical world. Shamans gain this knowledge and power by making contact with spiritual guides and teachers, both in this reality and non-ordinary reality. They use their gifts for the benefit of others and the community, and to maintain balance between their people and the rest of the world. True shamans never use their gifts to harm or gain power over other people. Shamanism is not a religion per se, and so it is compatible with all religious practices -- though naturally the specific form of shamanic practice will be shaped by a person/culture's religious beliefs.

Medicine Wheels
  Many shamanic traditions include the idea of a Medicine Wheel, a symbolic representation of essential teachings and healing wisdom, built around the physical directions and expressing important associations between the elements, sacred animals and plants, stones and minerals, concepts/principles, and so on. In some traditions, the medicine wheel incorporates six directions (East, South, West, North, Up, Down) or even seven (if we include Center). Other traditions, such as the Celtic, recognize five directions (E, S, W, N, Center) and construct their symbolism and mysticism around that. This website is modelled after Medicine Wheel. Each direction will introduce you to the shamanic practices of a distinct culture, while the center outlines the essential elements which all forms of shamanism share, a commonality known as Core Shamanism.

Who practices shamanism?

Shamanic practice is still an integral part of the lives and communities of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world. The term "indigenous peoples" refers to those largely Earth-based cultures which exist today as they did in the distant past.

Some examples (with links to pages on this site): Inuit and other Arctic cultures (Canada, as well as Asia/Siberia) ; Native Americans/First Nations  (North America) ; Meso-American/Central American Indians ; South American Indians ; Tibet ; Nepal  ; Okinawa  ; Aborigines  (Australia) ; Maori  (New Zealand) ; and the Celts of Ireland, Wales, and other Celtic-influenced regions of the world.

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