Why Study Shamanism?

By Maggie Wahls
This is probably the most common question asked today. And you know why so many people ask it? Because we are brought up in a society that does not have Shamanism. Worse than that we are brought up without community.

In the old days we were raised with a strong community around us. We lived together, played together, grew up together and sometimes even died together. We had elders and doctors and teachers and medical advisors right within this strong close knit community. Think of the Klingit tribes of Indians who live in Alaska. Although they may seem isolated from the outside, they are completely self contained with a very strong sense of communal identity.

But today, we are lucky to have a strong family or church community and in many ways we are less fortunate than long ago.

In the old days, the elders would watch the children and find what each child was strong in and had a knack for. Then that gift or gifts were encouraged and the child grew into whatever came naturally to him or her. If a child seemed good with numbers, that talent was grown and the child might become the treasurer for the community. If the child was given to visions he or she may be groomed to be the community’s visionary. If the child could speak to the animals, perhaps the child would become the communicator to the spirit world. Each child would have one or more gifts he or she was born with. It was the community, the elders, the teachers, and the parents who realized the blessings and were happy to help the child be what he or she was meant to be in life.

Today we have no such possibility for ourselves or for our children. For the most part, we are raised to fit into a box; to learn what everyone else learns and to ignore or abandon anything that does not fit into society’s box. If our parents see us talking to the birds we are taken to a psychologist and told not to do that. In fact there is very little encouragement to develop the gifts and talents that we were born into. And so our society is losing out on the largest talent bank ever assembled on this planet today. [Read more…]