Shamanism linguistically means knowing. Although, some languages interpret the term “shaman” as a “holy one”, others like “monk” or “priest”. The word is associated with positive emotions, deep knowledge, inner light and spiritual powers.
Actually, it is a practice deepened into religious experience that involves ceremonies and rituals, which in turn cannot be done without various tools. Shamans use these tools to reach the state of mind and extraordinary powers that normally are unavailable to ordinary people living their routine. Various shamanic tools help to enhance healing properties, to contact those in the otherworld, to attend the souls of those who have just died on their way to another realm. Tools and ceremonies can differ depending on culture.
What do we know about the image of a shaman? The records of different historic periods prove that shamans have been of different genders, ages, skin colors. It is an amazing universe that unites unique extraordinary people from little-known and poorly researched cultures and tribes, whose life and traditions may seem very unusual or even wild to urban dwellers. The centuries-long insoluble ties with nature and its elements make these people stronger and wiser in the aspects that simply do not exist in the life of stone jungle inhabitants. The very thought of the unseen magic connection between some furrow-faced Koryak woman with a reindeer amulet on her door and a young guy in his teens educated by the remaining keepers of the Khanty and Mansi traditions sends shivers to the spine. Do you feel this bond too? Maybe, you will find some shamanic tools here, that will help you reveal more powers and unlock the hidden potential of your mind and hands.
Regardless of a religious system, nationality and culture, these amulets and instruments embrace the whole universe of the people who feel that unbroken bond with nature, its utmost wisdom and ability to share more knowledge and skills with the individuals who open their mind wider and agrees to play a unique role in his/her community. Laws of nature exist beyond countries and nationalities, beasts do not care about your origin, their rules and instincts are food, blood and survival. They certainly have the energy that would be able to make you stronger and see deeper into the world – just let it get into your hands.
The very fact that you are reading this article probably means that you share the special system of belief – the system uniting unique individuals residing on various corners of the world. In the reality of advanced gadgets and neural networks, they still know the value of rituals practiced for more than 10,000 years. Shamanism has had up and down periods, heated and spread in different times by travelers and herding communities, involving more followers who felt more comfortable away from big cities and closer to wild nature. Whilst they can’t totally escape from the modern reality, they can step into the mind of ancestors and inhabitants of the other world through the use of shamanic tools.
A shaman is a kind of a spiritual leader in a community whose members are pressed close together and united by the same traditions, roots and beliefs. This person has no political or economic power, but his power is larger, because he has trust and hope of people. He gives guidance, shares wisdom, helps to heal various diseases, clarifies the laws and occurring phenomena of nature. He calms people’s minds, enhances their energy and establishes harmony in families and the community, he may even contact the otherworld and souls of the dead. He is the one to give a helping hand in the situations where others cannot decide, find harmony, settle conflicts or simply let their beloved ones peacefully go to the better world if a tragedy happens.
Such extraordinary abilities come to shamans through long-time observing and learning of the spiritual side of human beings and the universe. They devote their lives to providing special aid to their tight communities. They sacrifice themselves for well-being of other people often putting at risk their own health – both physical and emotional.
For more clarity and better understanding of the universe, shamans traditionally perform rituals and ceremonies, using various tools. Some help contact spirits, others – avoid rain or drought. Regardless of the shaman’s goal, he/she will hardly be achieving this goal without special instruments.
Musical instruments in the shamanic practice
It has long been known by shamans, that beat and rhythm open the way to the spiritual world. They use drums to repeat the heartbeat and blood pulsing of humans or beasts to create the favorable atmosphere for a shamanic ritual. The sounds of a drum are soothing and healing, although they are not similar to the music of a drum-centered rock band.
Shamanic drumming is aimed to arouse primitive and primal instincts in all the purity of the human nature. It’s surprising for many how such drumming may be comforting to the ears. It’s hard to explain in words and phrases, and better be experienced personally.
Some other musical or sound-producing instruments are applied by shamans to ward off evil energy and spirits. The meaning of rhythm in this case is actually the same, shamans use certain acoustic patterns to bring peace to the mind and produce a healing effect. To clear a space or someone’s mind, shamans may apply rattles. These tools are both soothing and healing.
It’s hard to comprehend but musical instruments and particular melodic patterns allow shamans align human bodies and harmonize organs, the flow of blood, spiritual and mental balance. Most shamans carve their own musical instruments with their own hands. Such articles are unique and full of special energy, which makes them ideals for spiritual sessions and rituals.
Shamans often use the power of strong beasts for various rituals and ceremonies. They come in the form of claws, skins, feathers, fur, hooves, horns, fangs, paws and more. Strong, smart, fast and physically developed animals are able to give their energy even after being killed. Once domesticated, animals lose their wild power, and only a reindeer is an exception.
Natural attributes taken from beasts are widely used in shamanic practices as independent items or decorative elements. They represent a part of ritual creativity and act as a source of live wild energy which is not typical for humans. Beast elements often function as amulets given by a shaman for luck, better health or prosperity.
It’s hard to encounter a shaman who treats a fire as … only a fire. A huge part of shamanic rituals belongs to burning and smoke, the special aroma produced by the fire. Senses are heightened by the smoke, producing the healing and purifying effect, known to shamans since ancient times. Some shamans have been using certain plants to achieve a hallucinogenic effect but it’s not for getting high, but rather for alternated consciousness in order to get deeper into the issue.
Besides, fire is associated with life itself. It’s a sacred element of nature that symbolizes strength, passion, energy… It can both purify and destruct. It must be said that the smoke produced by the fire is an oracular tool used by shamans to foretell the future.
One more interesting tool for shamanism is a mirror or any other object with a reflective surface. Everything that can reflect the reality – water, for example. The image on the surface of the water or in a mirror supplemented by ceremonial actions helps struggling with evil energy, cleansing and healing. Water is believed to have clarifying abilities, so one’s way to harmony can lay through the water. And a shaman can help to perform the needed ritual – to divide the truth from the false, to see yourself as if from aside, as if in the parallel reality.
Of course, in the changing modernizing world, shamanism is changing as well, but it never betrays traditions. In the tough situations, in which your will and energy do not seem enough, you can address the higher power, and a shaman can act as a wise guide to success and harmony.