Shamanism: The Difference Between Contemporary and Traditionalists


When it comes to the people who seek a ceremony, there are always going to be questions asked about what it is that makes us different than a traditional shaman. That when it comes to such, people are always going to ask why we do things the way we do or why is it we don't do things like traditionalists. And that is fine to ask why, for like life, there are different paths and ways of meeting the same end goal and none makes anyone greater or lesser than the next. However, with that being said: there is a clear line difference between the two. There is a fine line between what makes these two very different, but neither is lesser or greater than the other in terms of "authenticity" if you will.

So What Is It That Makes A Traditional Shaman?: When people often say traditionalist, they often get in their head that a traditional shaman is someone from the indigenous people of the Americas or a descendant of those bloodlines working with ancient methods both physically and metaphysically that has served to help those for thousands of years. And while such does fit the vast description to what people today would consider a shaman, there is more to that than what we as people are sold the belief of especially when it comes to those who grew up on television. When it comes to the origins of Shamanism itself, it can be found all over the world and origins that can be traced all the way to Siberia, Northern Asia and more than just the Americas and that the term for Shaman can be found in different parts of the world in different descriptions but all serving the same purpose of working to help those in both the physical and non-physical realms and is something more than race or genetic bloodline. A traditional shaman would be someone that was both admired and feared by one's community because of the power they held for being able to work in the realms of physicality and the realms of the unknown that lay beyond our human senses, they would be a figure a person would've known from a very young age that held a lot of wisdom and sacred practices to help those in their tribe and help ward off the ills that may befall a person. That isn't to say that people who practice traditional methods of working with traditional medicine and instruments aren't by any means traditional, but those who often attack others for being "non-traditionalists" or for not being of a certain racial background or having a genetic bloodline leading back to Native American ancestry forget that they aren't 100% traditional either in the essence that we don't live in the world of tribal/early man society like those before them did and they too probably use a lot of the modern world gifts to spread word of what they do and offer their services while trying to blend in their traditional methods. To be truly a traditionalist by all means of the definition is essentially borderline non-existent or exists in very isolated fragments around the world, so what is "traditional" is merely a fragmentation of the original, but doesn't make them any less of such for their dedication to upkeep the old ways as much as possible.

So What Is It That Make A Contemporary Shaman?: When it comes to a contemporary shaman, there is still an essence of tradition in a sense that they still work with sacred methods and sacramental things and hold respect and value to the ancient ways and mean nothing ill or disrespectful to the practice and presences within. However, in the line of contemporary shamans is an understanding that traditional ways of doing this isn't exactly up to snuff with the modern world and modern man and that most people if introduced to the ways of old and typical settings could be potentially unsettled and unnerved to say the least for most modern people aren't use to being among nature and insects and bugs and if working with something like Ayahuasca: could be driven to the point of insanity and making their experience anything but beneficial or helpful if overwhelmed. That modern man needs a bit of a softer introduction to such a realm and to be brought in incrementally because the point of such, while it is can be a rough process inning of itself and a journey of many highs and lows unto itself, doesn't have to be rougher than it needs to be and can be made to where the person can get the healing they were searching for without throwing them off a cliff and such scar them more than help. This isn't to say traditionalism doesn't have it's place or such is bad by any means, but rather not everyone can handle the old ways like those who grew up with such being around them day in and day out and like any other shaman: we are working with the tools we have at our disposal no different than anyone else. If the shamans of the old world had some of the luxuries the modern world like a stereo to harness the vibrations and frequencies in a flute or rattle or the rumble of a drum or easier accesses to different scents both native to their land of origin or from abroad to experiment with: they would've if such was at their disposal. That's what a shaman does when you really break it down is they work with a broad set of tools to help those around them regardless if they themselves knows all the whys and hows but just that they know it works, and such is no different in the world of today but with just a blemish of modernism to help try and keep to the original structure while also making it palatable to the modern person.

In short, there is nothing wrong with being one or the other in the world of shamanism despite all the people who want to cause grief and problems for those working on either end of the spectrum. What matters most is that the person who is the practitioner is looking out for the well being of those who wish to seek their services regardless if they learn more traditionally or modern. That as long as their best interest is in making sure those seeking them are well and that they aren't seeking to abuse the process for ill gains or ill intent, what does it matter if it's one or the other? If the individual seeking them got what they were looking for and can freely return should they need to keep digging, who cares if they take a traditional route or the modern route if all lead to the person finding what they are looking or at least the first step into seeking what they wish to find to feel whole again? If you're truly wishing to help others and truly seeking a better world, then such shouldn't matter for there are different paths we can all take to reach the same end goal because everyone is different just like the paths they walk.

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 © 2015 by Aya Quest