Shamanism: A Direct Experience

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world. The term “shamanism” is presently often used as an umbrella term referring to a variety of spiritual practices, although it was first applied to the ancient practices of the people of Siberia.  Shamanism is a phenomenon centered on the ability to achieve various states of trance or ecstatic religious experience.

The worldview of shamanism is that health equals balanced relationships with all living things. When someone is ill, shamanism attempt to restore power to them by putting them back in harmony with life. This idea that all things are connected, while a very ancient concept, is also a concept for the future.

From the perspective of the indigenous people from whom the ritual postures emerged, healing is typically viewed as the restoration of balance. In this paradigm physical, psychological, and social maladies are the result of imbalances, and in order for healing to occur the source of the imbalance must be identified and balance restored. The healing or re-balancing is commonly thought to be accomplished through the intervention of a healer, someone who has a special gift and has undergone training and apprenticeship with an experienced healer.

Shamanism: A Direct Experience using the Cuyamungue Method
In the context of ecstatic trance using the Cuyamungue Method, there is no person who is the designated healer. Instead, the person facilitating the trance uses a ritual process to create a “sacred space” and to call upon the help of healing spirits, provides the rattling or drumming that stimulates the nervous system to initiate the trance, and assists afterward in understanding the meaning of the visions. However, during the trance the individual who is in the posture and experiencing the trance functions in the roles of both healer and patient, interacting with the spirits and integrating the events of the trance while also receiving the benefits of the “treatment.” When individuals undergo a healing trance using a ritual posture, they may report discernible energy shifts or flows in their bodies, visions of colors and patterns of light, experiences of healing journeys or rituals usually accompanied by animal spirits or other spirit beings, and/or an over-riding sense of well-being. In some situations the individual in trance may experience directing energy toward the healing of others.

The Bear Spirit Posture
With more than 35 years of experiences, The Bear Spirit Posture is a wonderful example of a our practice and provides a consistently strong experience of healing when utilized during the Cuyamungue Method. Among small societies around the world, the bear has been identified as the animal spirit most called upon for healing human ailments. In reporting on The Yavapai of southern California believed Bear was the first great shaman. The prototype for the Bear Spirit Posture is a Kwakiutl wood carving of a shaman standing in the posture with a huge bear standing behind him and presumably empowering him.  More information on the Bear Spirit Posture