Shamanism has been a part of my life since my early youth. I started out by learning runes, for writing at first and later for their esoteric meanings. The runes led me to shamanism. I still vividly remember a course on runes and their powers held by the sami Noaide (a shaman) Ailo Gaup. I was 16 years old and this intensive weekend course gave me a foundation for further explorations into the world of shamanism. Nature has always been an important part of my life, long before I even knew of the word shaman. As a small child, when every one else watched cartoons on the television, I was watching David Attenboroughs fantastic documentaries on nature. While all the other kids were in the playground, I was in the woods, climbing trees, building huts, exploring nature. My grandfather was a great inspirator to me and the love he held for the whole of nature is something I will carry with me all the way to the other side. He had the ability to see the beauty of all things, all creatures and people and taught me to do the same. Had he not grown up in a christian society that condemned shamanism, he would for sure be a shaman.
For me shamanism is not a religion, it is a set of tools for connecting with and understanding the workings of nature, the earth and the universe. It is to see the soul of all creatures and to see that even a rock has spirit. I have not grown up in a culture where shamanism has been a tradition for a long time, the lines of shamans has been broken. The closes I get around here is the shamans of the sami people, the noaide, but this does not stop me from living my life according to a shamanistic world view.
The word shaman is probably from the Evenki culture, a Siberian tribe, and it is the title given to the tribe’s medicine men. The word is now used as title for medicine med and women from tribes all over the world. Not only tribal people use this title, it is widely used by people from all cultures and backgrounds. It is not a protected title, so anyone may call hir self a shaman, but be aware, there are huge differences in the skills and knowledge of shamans around the world. A traditional shaman is one who communicate with spirits or who travel to the spirit realms, to heal, to help, to find food and hunting rounds, to forsee the future or to make decisions. A modern day shaman can be any of those things or even none of them. Common to most shamans are the uses of ecstatic trances, extensive herbal knowledge and insight in the ecology nature.