Roots of Shamanism

The word shamanism is borrowed from the Tungusic Evenki and has been first used some 500 years ago . The history of shamanism however has its roots even in the prehistoric society  . The oldest evidences of shamanic practice known to our scholars is found in a French cave Lascaux . The carbon dating showed that the cave painting in Lascaux are at least 30 000 years old.


roots of shamanism


What is a shaman exactly ?


Simply said , the shaman is the spiritual guide of the ancient mankind . The shaman is the link between the material world and the spiritual realm . He is able to communicate with the spirits and to shamanism nowdayscooperate with them for the sake of the community . The shamanic rituals are conducted in a state of trance triggered by different means and techniques. The shaman uses musical instruments , songs and dances in order to achieve  an altered state of consciousness . Entering a form of deep trance in which he is able to tap in the realm of the spirits .The first evidences of usage of psychedelic plant like mushrooms , herbs and etc. is in fact related with the shamanic rituals . The shamans were not only the healers of the soul , they were also adept herbalists and physicians .


We can say that the shamans are the first healers known to man. 


They were powerful and influential persons , guides to their tribes . Their opinion was of major importance, as they were in direct connection with the spirits . The shaman influence was equal to the tribal chief . Sometimes depending on the situation even the chief itself had to comply with him . The shamans were not only healers of the body and the soul . They played the role of soothsayers , they performed rituals to ensure hunting success and the prosperity of the village. The shamanism thrived in the age of the tribes and is preserved till today .


In a lot of countries and cultures the ancient art of shamanism is still is a major part of the live and is even protected by the government .


A bright example of the preservation of this cultural heritage is Peru . The Ayahuasca brew(the wine of the gods) used by the local shamans is considered sacred and protected by the government . 


shamanism ayahuasca brew


As the author and explorer Graham Hancock says in his book Supernatural, “transformed beings” – half humans half animals can be found in prehistoric cave arts and are evidences for an altered state of consciousness  . Such painting are found in caves in south and north America , Europe , Asia and even Australia .


The shamanism and the usage of recreational herbs is often considered a trigger for the art as the paintings in Lascaux for example .


The shamanic knowledge is ancient as the human itself and containing mysteries and secrets still to be discovered . It is a way to look at the world that surrounds us by a different perspective  To help us understand that what we are seeing is just a part of the picture . May be this is what we need these days . To stop thinking only as a material beings and to peep in our souls . To peep in a long forgotten place that surrounds us and was always part of our lives .


Related Literature


by Piers Vitebsky


Shamanism, History, and the State

by Nicholas Thomas


The Shamanism Bible: The Definitive Guide to Shamanic Thought and Practice

by John Matthews


Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

by Mircea Eliade, Willard R. Trask and Wendy Doniger