Do You Believe In Magick? Part 10 – Shamanism

Originally Posted 1/30/16; Updated  12/16/18; Restored 4/25/22

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of spirits. Think of it as summoning magic by means of trance, ritual, dance, or music forms, Using tools and techniques of consciousness -such as journeying, visualization, drumming and ecstatic dance. They perform rituals working with animal and plant totems, nature spirits, or ancient gods; using natural hallucinogens, and cultural symbol systems. In modern culture, Shamanism is referred to as witchcraft or sorcery and is considered one of the most heretical practices by the Christian church.  Creatures such as zombies, ghouls and some types of spiritual entities are products of Shamanistic rituals and summoning.  

Necromancy shares Shamanism’s core practices of performing rituals, having sacrifices, and utilizing a spiritual connection. Practitioners of necromancy believe they can accomplish three things with the aid of the spirits of the dead: 1) will manipulation, 2) illusions, and 3) knowledge:

  • Will manipulation affects the mind and will of another person, animal, or spirit. Demons are summoned to cause various afflictions on others, “to drive them mad, to inflame them to love or hatred, to gain their favor, or to constrain them to do or not do some deed.
  • Illusions involve reanimation of the dead or conjuring food, entertainment, or a mode of transportation.
  • Knowledge is allegedly discovered when demons provide information about various things. This might involve identifying criminals, finding items, or revealing future events.

The act of performing necromancy usually involves magic circles, conjurations, and sacrifices.

  • Circles are usually traced on the ground, though cloth and parchment are sometimes used. Various objects, shapes, symbols, and letters may be drawn or placed within the circle, that represent a mixture of Christian and occult ideas. Circles were believed to empower and protect what was contained within, including protecting the necromancer from the conjured demons.
  • Conjuration is the method of communicating with the demons to have them enter the physical world. It usually employs the power of special words and stances to call out the demons and often incorporate the use of Christian prayers or biblical verses. These conjurations may be repeated in succession or repeated to different directions until the summoning is complete.
  • Sacrifice was the payment for summoning; though it may involve the flesh of a human being or animal, it could sometimes be as simple as offering a certain object. Instructions for obtaining these items were usually specific. The time, location, and method of gathering items for sacrifice could also play an important role in the ritual.

Another related practice is that of Sciomancy, which dates back to the Greeks. Sciomancy is a form of divination that uses shadows, of the living or dead, to foretell the future. The term is derived from ancient Greek scia which can mean shadows or shades as well as manteia or prophecy. According to this form of divination, the seer examines the shape, size, and color of shadows as well as any changes in its appearance and then draws portents for the future. According to common beliefs of sciomancy, if a headless shadow was projected from a living being or no shadow was visible at all, then it presaged significant misfortune, most likely ending in the death of the person before the year was through. 

Apart from shadows of living beings, skia in Greek also refers to shades which can be likened to shadowy forms of beings who are raised from the dead. In this sense, sciomancy involves divining the future by communicating with the spirits of the dead and is thus a form of necromancy which uses the help of the dead in any way so as to foresee the future.   One of the instances of sciomancy occurs in the Bible when the soul of Samuel is conjured up by the witch in order to foretell Saul the event of the battle he was about to begin.

The practice of sciomancy as a form of divination is very ancient. Practitioners believe shadows to be mystical things and that they contain part a part of the human soul; thus losing a shadow or a part of it during the practice of sciomancy is akin to losing one’s soul or dying. Practitioners believe that the spirits of the dead can come back to the world in the form of shadows since they are already separated from their earthly bodies. Because of the significance of this concept of shadows a specific form of divination developed around it.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shamanism (/ˈʃɑːmən/ shah-mən or /ˈʃeɪmən/ shay-mən)

The word “shaman” originates from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia and may have roots that extend back in time at least two millennia. The term was introduced to the west by Russian forces in 1552. The term “shamanism” was first applied by western anthropologists and used to describe unrelated magico-religious practices found within the ethnic religions of other parts of Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.”Shamans claim to gain knowledge and the power to heal by entering into supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community, to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements.

Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit the shaman restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. Most shamans have dreams or visions that convey certain messages. The shaman may have or acquire many spirit guides, who often guide and direct the shaman in his/her travels in the spirit world. These spirit guides are always present within the shaman although others only encounter them when the shaman is in a trance. The spirit guide energizes the shaman, enabling him/her to enter the spiritual dimension.

The shamanic séance serves is a public display of the shaman’s journey to the spirit world. Performances usually involve intense trances and consist of at least these four elements: dance, music, poetry and dramatic or mimetic action. The use of these elements serves the purpose of outwardly expressing his mystical communion with nature and the spirits for the rest of the tribe. Other elements would include drumming, chanting, elaborate costumes, miraculous displays of physical strength, and audience involvement. The fundamental purpose of the dramatic displays seen during shamanic ceremonies is to lead the tribe in a solemn ritualistic process.

The goal of these séances ranges from recovering the lost soul of a sick patient, divining the future, appealing to ancestors, manipulating the elements, leading lost souls, officiating public religious rituals, and finding a lost person or thing. he shaman changes his voice mimetically to represent different persons, gods, and animals to show his progress in the spirit world and his different spiritual interactions.

Shamans perform in a “state of ecstasy” deliberately induced by an effort of will. Reaching this altered state of consciousness requires great mental exertion, concentration, and strict self-discipline. Mental and physical preparation includes long periods of silent meditation, fasting, and smoking. In this state, skilled shamans employ capabilities that the human organism cannot accomplish in the ordinary state. Shamans in ecstasy display unusual physical strength, the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, the bearing of stabbing and cutting without pain, and the heightened receptivity of the sense organs. Shamans make use of intoxicating substances and hallucinogens, especially mukhomor mushrooms and alcohol, as a means of hastening the attainment of ecstasy. The use of sleight-of-hand tricks, ventriloquism, and hypnosis common in these rituals does not explain the more impressive feats and actual cures accomplished by shamans.

Purification by fire is an important element of the shamanic tradition dating back as early as the 6th century. People and things connected with the dead had to be purified by passing between fires. These purifications were complex exorcisms while others simply involved the act of literally walking between two fires while being blessed by the Shaman. Shamans in literature and practice were also responsible for using special stones for controlling the weather. Rituals are performed with these stones to attract rain or repel snow, cold or wind. This “rain-stone” was used for many occasions including bringing an end to drought as well as producing hailstorms as a means of warfare. Animal sacrifice has been part of some shamanic practices for over 5,000 years. When a person is sick due to his soul being lost or captured by wild spirit, one method of cleansing the person is by offering a substitutional body.

Drawings of Shamanic Dance Moves Shamanic Fire Dance

The shaman’s attire and chief accessories are his coat, cap, and tambourine or drum. The transformation into an animal is an important aspect of the journey into the spirit world undertaken during shamanic rituals so the coat is often decorated with bird’s feathers and representations of animals, colored handkerchiefs, bells and metal ornaments. The cap is usually made from the skin of a bird with the feathers and sometimes head, still attached.

The drum or tambourine is the essential means of communicating with spirits and enabling the shaman to reach altered states of consciousness on his journey. The drum, representing the universe in epitome, is often divided into equal halves to represent the earth and lower realms. Symbols and natural objects are added to the drum representing natural forces and heavenly bodies.

Fantasy Renaissance Wiccan Shaman
-Whimsical Shaman
Neo Shaman performing a ritual. No Copyright infringement intended.

Neoshamanism comprises an eclectic range of beliefs and practices that involve attempts to attain altered states and communicate with a spirit world. Neoshamanic systems may not resemble traditional forms of shamanism. Some have been invented by individual practitioners, though many borrow or gain inspiration from a variety of different Indigenous cultures. In particular, indigenous cultures of the Americas have been influential.

However, certain generalities may be drawn between adherents. Most believe in spirits and pursue contact with the “spirit world” in altered states of consciousness which they achieve through drumming, ritual dance, the use of entheogens, and attempted communication with animal tutelary spirits, called “power animals” Most shamanic systems might be described as existing somewhere on the animism/pantheism spectrum.

According to York (2001), one difference between neo-shamanism and traditional shamanism is the role of fear. Neoshamanism and its New Age relations tend to dismiss the existence of evil, fear, and failure. “In traditional shamanism, the shaman’s initiation is an ordeal involving pain, hardship, and terror. New Age, by contrast, is a religious perspective that denies the ultimately [sic] reality of the negative, and this would devalue the role of fear as well.”

Michael Harner founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies which claims to aid Indigenous people in preserving or even re-discovering their own spiritual knowledge. Harner professes to describe common elements of “shamanic” practice found among Indigenous people worldwide, having stripped those elements of specific cultural content so as to render them “accessible” to contemporary Western spiritual-seekers.

See also: Imitation of sounds in shamanism and Shamanic music

Power Animals (Totems)

“Power animal” is a broad animistic and neoshamanic concept that was introduced into the English language in 1980 by Michael Harner in The Way of the Shaman. In Harner’s view, power animals are much like the familiar spirits of European occultism, which aid the occultist in their metaphysical work. The use of this term has been incorporated into the New Age movement, where it is often mistaken for being the same as a totem in some Indigenous cultures.So, let’s break it down:
There are many variations of shamanism throughout the world, but several common beliefs are shared by all forms of shamanism. Common beliefs identified by Eliade (1972) are the following:
  • Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.
  • The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.
  • Spirits can be benevolent or malevolent.
  • The shaman can treat sickness caused by malevolent spirits.
  • The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on vision quests.
  • The shaman’s spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guidesomens, and message-bearers.
  • The shaman can perform other varied forms of divinationscry, throw bones/runes, and sometimes foretell of future events.

Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits which affect the lives of the living. Although the causes of disease lie in the spiritual realm, inspired by malicious spirits, both spiritual and physical methods are used to heal. Commonly, a shaman “enters the body” of the patient to confront the spiritual infirmity and heals by banishing the infectious spirit.

Basically, this is a religion where the leader/witch-doctor/priest, gets higher than a kite and talks to demons, Astro projects into other dimensions and through demonic power: can cause or heal disease, control the weather, turn into an animal, perform superhuman feats of strength and endurance, and even make you a better hunter. SOUNDS LIKE MAGICK TO ME.  Whether or not these people can provide a service, such as healing or predicting your future, they are performing these acts through the use of demonic spirits.  This practice is an abomination in the eyes of GOD.  It will lead you to a path of death and damnation.   I would like to believe that you don’t really want to go there.  If this is the life you want, then you are likely from the bloodline of the fallen ones or you are under their influence.

Shamanism is centered entirely on Altered State of Consciousness!

Psychedelics, Drugs, & The Bible: Fallen Angel Sorcery

Do You Believe in Magick continued Part 11 – Out of Body Experiences