Shamanic healers conduct energy from the spiritual realm, calling upon spiritual helpers such as power animals or other spiritual forces. Shamanic work is used to treat a range of emotional and physical illnesses.
The word shaman originated from a word in Siberia and came to be applied to all medicine men and women of indigenous cultures whose practice includes the flight of the soul. An anthropologist studying indigenous cultures throughout the world began to find that for different cultures, there were similarities in the way the medicine men and women worked with healing and connecting to the spiritual aspect of people and the world. While there were differences specific to culture, there were specific practices that could be found in most cultures.
Shamanism is the practice of these intrinsic techniques, either for healing or to gain spiritual knowledge. Shamanism must be studied within its cultures, including our contemporary ones. However, the foundations of shamanic practice do not change, nor have they changed since ancient times. It has adapted to fit the times or the culture, but its core nature has always been the same.
Shamanism is not a religion, not unless you want to make it into one. It has been and is being practiced by peoples of many religions, from Christianity, to Judaism, to Hinduism. You will find shamanic practitioners of every faith.
What do Shamans do?
Shamans work with the spirit or the soul. They heal illness at the soul level. They gain knowledge and insight from working with the spirits of nature such as rocks and trees, the land, and they gain knowledge from working with spirits of animals and humans such as their ancestors. For the shaman, everything is alive and carries information. You can call this spirit, energy, or consciousness.
In order to communicate with the spirit or consciousness of these things, the shaman will shift his or her own state of awareness. Shamans can do this through various means, such as meditation, repetitive sounds such as that of the drum or rattle, or through the help of hallucinogenic plants. The shaman will then “see” through a new set of eyes, they will see what is going on with you on a spiritual level.