What is Shamanism, anyways?
Last May, I was super excited when Trevor Bishop asked me to be a guests on the Hauntings Live podcast.
We talked about the basics of shamanism, and Trevor asked me some tough questions!
When someone asks me what is shamanism’ I always hesitate. You’ll see it in the video.
It’s hard to answer, because I didn’t learn any of this from books, (unless you count the lore on the Irish/Scottish side of things, but I think we can agree that’s a bit different.) Everything I know about spirituality, I either learnt from the elders (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and from experience.
When someone asks me, ‘what is shamanism,’ a series of images enters my mind.
Spirits dreams I had as a child. My first sweat lodge ceremony. An memory of an elder sitting in front of shaking tent, talking to us before he begins. Being acknowledged by a young man as I worked with the cedar alongside other women. My son raising his voice to the Creator in song as we bury a pipe, our picking wild ginger in the forest, and countless conversations in my favourite elder’s office, a man who changed my life.
And later, I think about a circle of stones and those ancestors telling me it was time to move, of the gift of a rattle, an octagon drum that represented not “The Community” but “MY community”, and a new drum that represents a new life. A circle of women with whom I’ve laughed and wept in equal measure, and countless offerings and prayers made to those Celtic deities. I think of land spirits that welcomed me home, and a vision of a client, filled with light, heartbreakingly beautiful.
When Trevor asked me ‘what is Shamanism’, I pretty sure I resorted to a very wobbly academic answer. “Shamanism has been around for ten thousand years, etc.”
Look, if you want to know what Shamanism is from a more academic perspective, I encourage you to give a listen to the Three Worlds Podcast by Nicholas Breeze Wood. I’m a big fan. Nicholas is also the editor of Sacred Hoop Magazine (highly recommended), and a powerful shamanic practitioner and teacher in his own right. He’s the guy who, when someone asks me what is shamanism, I wish I could answer like!
But I am not nearly that articulate – I must leave that up to Nicholas and his peers; those true scholars and academics. There are many, they are impressive, and I’m so grateful to them for sharing their work as they do.
Unfortunately, just as I will never be the tall, quiet, women, nor will I be the kind of spiritual person who can quickly sum up all that is the shamanic path. The best response is for me to say, ‘let me show you,’ and then take your hand and guide you along as you experience shamanism for yourself.
But in the meantime, take a listen to this podcast. I’m not sure if I helped fill Trevor in, or simply confused him further, but I think it was good discussion.
Since this interview, I’ve kept in touch with both Trevor and his partner, Chris Larocque, who does angel readings out of their home in Western Ontario. I went for a reading just last week and really enjoyed it (thanks again, Chris!) Do make sure you reach out to them, if the idea of learning about your the angels that surround you is compelling!