Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How the Role of the Shaman has Evolved

In the early hunter-gatherer cultures, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the shaman's role covered a lot of territory. The shaman was the healer, the seer, priest, storyteller, judge and even war leader at times. As society became more settled, moving to agriculture and cities, there was more excess food to support those who didn't directly work at finding or making the food. This lead to specialization. Roles that were originally part of the shaman were taken on my others. Priests, diviners, storytellers and others developed their own niches in the culture, and the role of the shaman become more focused on direct communication with the world of spirit.

This original state developed to what we see today in many traditional cultures. The shaman takes care of healing the wounds of the spirit while the medicine man or woman heals the ills of the body. The two often work in tandem for their patients.

In our post-tribal world, we see that the shaman is re-emerging in response to a need that is not being met by the mainstream religions or modern psychology. This need is the soul's hunger for connection – with the earth, our ancestors, the divine and our own selves.

This is the work of the shaman in our current western culture: To bring the pieces of the whole Self back together, realigning mind, body and spirit into Human Being.