Plants Used By Shamans

By Viola Woolcott

Shamans and spiritual seekers have been using plants for millennia. Teacher plants are a gift from the plant kingdom. A consciousness raising medicine. They are one of the most common, sacred ways for gaining knowledge of the universe. But bear in mind that the teacher plants are not necessary for the shamanic journey, they are a tool to give help to those who find it difficult opening to the universe.

The plants seem to communicate with animals as well as humans as their psychoactive molecules join certain brain receptors. Depending on the psychic skills as well as the intent of the shaman or spiritual seeker the plant spirit can exchange information with its embedded intelligence.

The spirit world and the use of plants are very closely related. The Shaman uses the teacher plants for healing as well as to achieve ascendance into the spirit world.

These plants listed below are used for altering states of consciousness and the aromas have been used at spiritual welcoming.

Plants to induce altered states of consciousness as well as incense (aromatics) like:

=> Ayahuasca – Quechua for Vine of the Dead – also called Yage
=> Cannabis
=> Cedar
=> Datura
=> Deadly Nightshade
=> Fly agaric
=> Iboga
=> Jimson weed
=> Morning Glory
=> Psychedelic mushrooms
=> Peyote
=> Sage
=> Salvia Divinorum – also called Diviners’s sage
=> San Pedros Cactus – named after St. Peter. Guard and holder of the keys to heaven
=> Sweetgrass
=> Tobacco

Caution: Teacher plants should only be taken in the presence and with the guidance of a master of the plants in a safe environment. Every person will have their own unique experience. The teacher plants should only with the greatest degree of respect.

What Is Shamanism Interview With Abraxas Jan Irvin Andrew Rutajit

Posted By Ina Woolcott

The definition of shamanism is a broad one. it’s a knowledge of medicinal plants, everything from medicinal to spiritual purposes. Shamans also are able to communicate with the ‘spirit’ world.

So…what is Shamanism? This video tackles that tricky question and attempts to shed light on such a clichéd and misrepresented word.

Special Guests: Jan Irvin & Andrew Rutajit, authors of ‘Astrotheology & Shamanism in Christianity and Other Religions’.

Topics discussed are

* The origins, evolution & ideology of Shamanism (and how it has been misunderstood in our New Age era). * Healing * The reality that Judaism and Christianity, like most religions, were fertility, solar cults who utilized entheogens in a widespread manner. It just wasn’t the priest who partook of the ‘funny herbs’. * Clues in the Bible, Gnostic texts and the Judeo/Christian tradition that point to the positive usage of entheogens and hallucinogens. * How the war on drugs (which is also the war on the Goddess) began hundreds of years before Christ with a changing Jewish Priesthood, fanned out into the Christian worldview centuries later, and continues today with the same nefarious intentions. * The spiritual and scientific effects of using certain entheogens such as mushroom, natural LSD and cannabis. * Evidence of entheogens also in Hinduism and Buddhism. * Redeeming John Allegro and his controversial discoveries of The Dead Sea Scrolls * ….. And much more!

Gnostics have always been accused of being ‘out there’. But ‘out there’ often means an inward journey into the wellspring of gnosis.
Related links:

Practices Of The Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The Shaman’s role is to portray the healer in the shamanic society, they gain the knowledge and the power by going into a trance and ascending into the heavens and bringing back the knowledge they seek.

There are times when the shaman may need some help in entering the spirit world. They may use healing plants or sometimes spirits of a deceased shaman.

In some of the societies a shaman can use a magical force they call a Quechua. In a case like this, if a person has come to the shaman because they believe they have been cursed by evil spirits or even witchcraft, then the shaman uses this magical force and enters the affected person’s body and cleanses out the bad spirits by ‘extraction‘.

When a Shaman heals someone, conventional medicine is not an option, the shaman makes his own medicines and usually he makes them from herbal combination of plants.

In many societies the shamans acquire information and skills from the plants and it is through the plants that the shaman can exercise his healing powers. But before a shaman can do that he gets “permission “ from the patron spirits.

In South America, sometimes the spirits are brought about by singing the songs called icaros. Before the spirit can be summoned the spirit must teach the shaman their song and only then can the spirit be brought forward.

In some culture the Shaman’s use a totem such as rocks, they are said to have special powers because the totem is a symbol of the spirits. But these are ancient symbols and are not too common these days.

Usually the shaman enters the spirit world by influencing a change of his consciousness. He enters in an ecstatic trance, either auto hypnotically or with the help of entheogens. The techniques used are different every time and are often used together.

These are some of the techniques for inducing such altered states of consciousness:

=> Singing
=> Drumming
=> Fasting
=> Icaros – Medicine Songs / Medicine Songs
=> Listening to Music
=> Vision Quests
=> Mariri
=> Sweat Lodges
=> Dancing

Plants to induce altered states of consciousness as well as incense (aromatics) like:

=> Ayahuasca – Quechua for Vine of the Dead – also called Yage
=> Cannabis
=> Cedar
=> Datura
=> Deadly Nightshade
=> Fly agaric
=> Iboga
=> Jimson weed
=> Morning Glory
=> Psychedelic mushrooms
=> Peyote
=> Sage
=> Salvia Divinorum – also called Diviners’s sage
=> San Pedros Cactus – named after St. Peter. Guard and holder of the keys to heaven
=> Sweetgrass
=> Tobacco

In Particular to their tradition, shamans will observe dietary or customary limitations and sometimes they are more than just cultural. Shamans and apprentices who participate in a ceremonies that includes the ingestion of the Ayahuasca brew have to follow strict dietary guidelines.

Shamans do have a belief in witchcraft and sorcery called ‘brujeria‘. These beliefs are mainly in the South American region. They often compare shamans and sorcerers as this, shamans’ cure from sorcerers that cause harm.

Xhosa Tribe Of South Africa Bantu Ancestry

By Ina Woolcott

The Xhosa tribe are peoples of Bantu ancestry who live in south-east South Africa. In the last 2 centuries they have spread throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country. Presently around 8 million Xhosa people exist. The peoples are divided into several sub-groups – the main subgroups being the Bhaca, Bomvana, Mfengu, Mpondo, Mpondomise, Xesibe, and Thimbu – with related but distinct heritages. They have their own language, with Xhosa being South Africa’s most common home language, after Zulu, to which Xhosa is closely related. One characteristic of the Xhosa language are the renowned click sounds (15 of them), originally borrowed from now extinct Khoisan languages of the region.

The name “Xhosa” is meant to have originated from a tribal leader called uXhosa, although there is also a theory that the word xhosa may be a deviation from Khoi-khoi or San meaning ‘fierce’ or ‘angry’ – the AmaXhosa are known as the fierce people. Their language is known as isiXhosa.

In 1994 the apartheid system – a system of ethnic separation in South Africa from 1948 – of bantustans, the Xhosas were denied South African citizenship, and tried confine them to the nominally self-governing “homelands” of Transkei and Ciskei, now both a part of the Eastern Cape Province where most Xhosa remain.

Lore, Religion, Rites and Arts and Crafts

The traditional Xhosa belief includes diviners/seers, also known as sangoma. These people serve as herbalists, prophets, and healers for the community. Women in the main fulfil this role, after taking a 5 year apprenticeship.

The Xhosas have a strong oral tradition. One tradition holds that the first chief and acknowledged “father” of Xhosa society was Tshawe. Here it is generally accepted that he was the patriarch of loose confederation of clans that eventually became the Xhosa, though this cant be dated accurately. Then, the Xhosa were more a group of related clans than a united nation. They were loyal to Tshawe, but were sovereign chiefdoms, governing their own daily affairs. These clans gradually expanded to meet their needs. Soon Xhosa speakers stretched west to the Groot-Vis river, North into modern day KwaZulu/Natal, and inland to the Drakensberg mountains. These clans were loyal to a local monarch, with no single chief ruling the entire nation. Some well known chiefs of this period included Vusani of the Thembu clan, Gambushe of the Bomvana clan, and Faku of the Mpondo clan. Another story claims that the leader from whose name the Xhosa people take their name was the first ever human on Earth.

The key figure in this tradition is the imbongi, or praise singer. Iimbongi (plural) traditionally live near the chief’s “great place” (the cultural and political focus of his activity). They accompany the chief on important occasions. The imbongi, Zolani Mkiva preceded Nelson Mandela at his Presidential inauguration in 1994. Iimbongis’ poetry, called isibongo, commends the work and adventures of chiefs and ancestors.

The supreme being is known as uThixo or uQamata. Ancestors act as intermediaries and have a role in the lives of the living, they are honoured in rituals. Dreams are very important in divination and when contacting ancestors. Traditional rites include rituals, initiations, and feasts. Today, modern rituals generally concern matters of illness and psychological wellbeing.

One traditional ritual that still regularly takes place is the manhood ritual, a secret rite initiating boys into adulthood. The initiates (abakwetha), live in isolation sometimes several weeks, frequently in the mountains. White clay is put on their bodies and they observe numerous taboos. The pinnacle is ritual circumcision.

This has sparked controversy in this modern day and age. Over 300 circumcision and initiation related deaths occurred since 1994. There has been a spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV due to circumcising initiates with the same blade

Girls too get initiated into womanhood and are secluded, but for less time and they aren’t circumcised

Amongst other rites, there is also the seclusion of mums for 10 days after giving birth, aswell as the burial of the afterbirth and umbilical cord near the village. This mirrors in the traditional greeting ‘Inkaba yakho iphi?’ translating directly to ‘where is your navel?’ The answer tells someone where you live, your clan affiliation, your social status, and it also holds a wealth of cultural information. Most importantly, it determines where you belong”

In the 1820’s, Christian missionaries set up outposts among the Xhosa. The first Bible translation was done in the mid-1850s, though the Xhosa did not convert in great numbers until the 1900s, especially within the African Initiated Churches. There are some denominations that blend Christianity with the more traditional beliefs.

The traditional diet foods include goat meat, beef, mutton, sorghum, maize and umphokoqo (dry maize porridge), umngqusho (made from dried, stamped cord and dried beans), amasi (milk that is frequently sour ), beans, pumpkins and vegetables.

Traditional crafts include pottery, weaving and beadwork. Traditional music features drums, mouth harps, stringed-instruments, rattles, flutes, whistles and especially group singing accompanied by hand clapping. For various ritual occasions there are songs – a well known Xhosa song is a wedding song called Qongqongthwane, performed by Miriam Makeba as Click Song #1. There are several other modern groups who sing, record and perform in Xhosa. The Xhosa were introduced by missionaries to Western choral singing. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, part of the National anthem of South Africa, is a Xhosa hymn written by Enoch Sontonga in 1897.

In the 19th Century the first newspapers, books and plays in Xhosa came into being. Xhosa poetry is becoming ever more acclaimed. Some films have also been made in the Xhosa language

Famous Xhosa people

Nelson Mandela – the former President of South Africa is a Xhosa-speaking member of the Thembu people. Charlize Theron – the South African film-star is a competent Xhosa-speaker. Helen Zille – the Mayor of Cape Town and leader of the opposition in Parliament is a competent Xhosa-speaker. Other famous Xhosa speakers include – Amampondo, Stephen Biko, Fats Bookulane, Brenda Fassie, Ken Gampu, Chris Hani, General Bantu Holomisa, Archibald Campbell Jordan, John Kani, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Govan Mbeki, Thabo Mbeki, S.E.K. Mqhayi, Victoria Mxenge, Bongani Ndodana, Bulelani Ngcuka, Makhaya Ntini, Winston Ntshona, Percy Qoboza, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Enoch Sontonga, Oliver Tambo, Zwelithini Tunyiswa, Desmond Tutu, Ashley Buti , St John Page Yako, Dr. George Clark.

For information of the tribes use fo Silene Capensis, the Dream Root used for lucid dreaming click here: Silene Capensis

Purpose Of The Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The role of the Shaman is one of the oldest spiritual practices in the world. In his own way he has many purposes. Many people wonder what that purpose entails as they are not familiar with the Shamans powers (refers to energy), knowledge and abilities he is said to own.

Shamans believe that the main causes of illness is separation from the Source.

The Shamans primary task is to keep the people as a whole as well as assisting any individual who suffers with loss of Spirit or Soul. Shamans have sacred healing powers as well as ceremonial responsibilities. They use a repertoire of different healing methods like energy healing, body work, crystals, dance and sounds as well as shamanic medicines, removing damaging energies which are believed to cause illnesses and despair. Shamans believe that the main causes of illness is separation from the Source.

The Shaman is the doctor of the Soul for both the community as well as for the individual, as he is the middle man for the person in need as he has the power (energy) to be the communicator between the spirit world and the modern day world. He retrieves lost or stolen Souls as well as their fragments. To the ill and dying he restores health, interprets dreams as well as messages from spirit. Ceremonies are carried out to mark rites of passage or other meaningful milestones in someone’s life. At births and death he assists, helping in the arrival as well as the departure of Souls to and also from this world.

The Shaman must also work on himself as he has to free himself from ego and projections to give his full attention as well as being fully present without being judgmental or energetically drained. He lives by the soul and the spirit concept. The soul concept deals with healings based on the belief system. The spirit concept is based on giving hope and also wellness.

Shamans Initiation

By Viola Woolcott

Shamanic initiations happen during dreams, vision quests and trances. Spirits choose who is to be a shaman by making themselves know to him. He must be able to experience a number of cultural imageries. Some of the images they may see are when they travel to the spirit world, where they interact with their spiritual guide and where he is often dismembered and then reassembled bone by bone.

The shaman can be initiated through a ‘calling’. Often through a very serious illness or near death experience (NDE) where he may see visions of spirits or meet the ghosts of his ancestors. He attains the secret of life and the power to heal by knowing death and returning from it. The Greeks believed that one way of becoming initiated was to be struck by lightening and survive because of the possession of magical powers. The shaman is one who through consequences of his own crisis achieves certain higher powers.

Being a type of intermediary between the earthly world and the spiritual world, the shaman takes a spirit flight in a trance state using a form of astral projection, which symbolically heals the rift between man and the sacred. Once he is in the spirit world, he communicates with spirits requesting assistance regarding healing and other matters.

Shamanic abilities can also be passed down through the bloodline.

It has been known that the shaman-in-training must also undergo a terrifying initiation in which he faces and resolves his fears.

The majority of shamans in most cultures are men. When women are chosen to be shamans, they are very often exceptionally powerful. Some tribes have an ambiguous gender-identity and they dress like women as well as staying celibate.

After the initiation and until he reaches a level of mastery, the shaman is trained by a more experienced shaman.

To become a shaman, one does not have to belong to a native tribe. Through schools, intense workshops or psychological or spiritual teachers shamanic training can be obtained.

Eagle’s Wing – Leo Rutherford & Howard Charing

See also related link:
Dare 2b Aware

Shaman Disease Sickness Doctor Of The Soul

The Shaman is the ‘Doctor of the Soul’ for the individual as well as for the community.

As a result of disharmony in the body the spirit has the ability to manifest an illness, a dis-ease, in the form of physical, mental and emotional sickness, or it can even manifest pure joy. All things have spirit, a blueprint, a creative force, which brings them and their own consciousness to life and which can also be communicated with. Without a doubt, everything is made of energy, which can be transformed and moved. It should be respected that all things are interconnected, that they affect each other. Dis-ease has spiritual sources. By identifying the underlying issue, healing will take place by putting right the flow of energy.

Shamans say that the reasons for physical, mental and emotional suffering is caused by parts of our power (over oneself) being lost. That the cause of illness is ‘separation‘. Separation from nature, from the source, the core, from oneness. The Soul ‘leaves’ to escape the trauma. Spiritual intrusion to our being can be the consequence in many aspects of trauma. For example accidents, abuse, disappointment, loss, bereavement, giving birth, even being born. For this part of the Soul it is a kind of protection, which may cause a void and therefore leaves the spirit open to disturbances.

Thought forms are sent out all of the time. Everything is connected, all things influence all things. Separated, unaware people will cause harm to themselves as well as others when they enter their lives with bad vibes, hostility and their dark thoughts. The Shaman works with the powers of the universe to end separation from nature, the source, the core, from oneness.

Shamanic Journey Drumming

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

The Shamanic Journey is a technique, which facilitates a visionary experience into expanded awareness. This activates our imagination and creativity, and allows us to bypass linear, familar and rational thinking. In this state of expanded awareness we can find new insights, perspectives, and ways to resolve problems.

What is Shamanism?

Shamanism is the oldest way in which humanity has sought connection with Creation. The origins of shamanism go back at least 40,000 – 50,000 years to Stone age times. All of us have evolved from shamanic cultures; it is our roots wherever we live.

A shaman knows that all things are alive and ‘walks with one foot in the everyday world and one foot in the spirit world’. Contemporary shamanism is the application of these ancient timeless ways to life here and now.

Shamanism is not a belief system. It is a path to knowledge, which is gained through experience of life, through rituals, ceremonies, prayers and meditation, trials and tests. Knowledge is something that works, that stands up to the test of time that is known from the inside.

Cosmology of the shaman

Shamans divide non-ordinary reality into three other regions, the upper, lower and the middle worlds. Each has its own characteristics and whilst each individual traveller experiences initially their own version, once one becomes a proficient journeyer, it is amazing just how connected we all are at these levels.

The Lower world is the place of instinctual knowing where our animal-like powers reside and where we can find practical earthly help and guidance.

The Upper world is the word of spirit teachers, cosmic beings, great wise elders, ancestors who appear usually in human form. Their help and guidance is often perceived to be more general and philosophical.

The Middle world is both the everyday physical world that we live in, the world of ordinary reality, the tonal, and also a parallel non-ordinary version of our world.

It is a CD specifically made for shamanic journeying, and to do this, the drums have to be as monotonous as possible and maintain a consistent beat between 205 to 210 beats per minute. At this specific beat, the brain is stimulated to synthesise natural beta-endorphins, which facilitate a person to move into what is known as the ‘second attention’, an altered state of awareness, or shamanic state of consciousness. This state of awareness facilitates the shamanic journey.

A Shamanic Journey to the Lower world.

To begin, find a place that you feel comfortable and will not be disturbed for about 30 minutes. When you are ready, lie down comfortably, and darken the room, or at least cover your eyes. It is easier to journey in non-ordinary reality in the dark. Remove tight clothing, take off your shoes and allow your breathing to move to a gentle rhythm. Relax for a few minutes, focusing on being centred, and grounded.

When you are ready visualise or imagine, a place, which reminds you of the Earth, a place which you know of. This place should be a real place; perhaps somewhere you have visited, or seen in a film or photograph, and it can be anywhere, a hill, mountain, grasslands, forest, by the ocean. At this place allow yourself to perceive an entrance or opening into the Lower world. This entrance can be a hollow tree, an animal burrow, a cave entrance, a man-made opening e.g.; a trapdoor, it can any entrance into the ground or water. You will find that the right entrance will feel comfortable to you, take a minute or so to study it in detail.

Now when you are ready, enter into the opening. The beginning of the tunnel may appear dark, it may angle down in a slight incline, or it may incline steeply. The tunnel may appear to be ribbed, and often it bends, sometimes it may become spiral-like, but it will always lead downwards.

Continue down the tunnel until you come out of doors into a landscape. If you come into a cavern, you will need to move outside and into the landscape, there will be an exit for example a door or an opening, which will enable you to do this; it should be easy to get sight of it.

Now in the landscape, just look around. It may be daytime, night-time, forest, woodland, or near water. Extend your senses, listen, can you hear anything, the sound of birdsong, the sound that the wind makes as it blows through the tree tops, perhaps the sound of running, flowing water. Feel the ground underneath your feet, feel the ground pushing up against the soles of your feet. Sense the wind, the breeze, sense the movement of air around you. What does it feel like? Have an awareness of being there.

If you want to explore the landscape, remember where the entrance is, keep track of where you go. Just as in any ordinary-reality journey, it helps if you keep a note of landmarks so you can retrace your steps to return.

• Track 1. Solo Drumming (with call back) 20 minutes with Leo
• Track 2. Solo Drumming (with call back) 20 minutes with Howard
• Track 3. Double Drumming (with Call back) 40 minutes with Leo & Howard

Cover notes

The CD comes with detailed notes describing the cosmology of the shaman, and instructions for a journey.

Technical information

The drumming was recorded live directly onto digital tape at Sync City recording studio in London. The drumming was played in the ‘live-sound’ studio and no sound modification process was used.

Both drums were single headed frame drums. For the double drumming track, both drums were held facing each other in a position to optimise the natural reverberation.

The recording engineer was Wan Hewitt, himself a professional drummer. He has been dubbed the ‘drummers darling’ due to the great live sound he gets.

More info on the CD:
Drumming for the Shamanic Journey – With Leo Rutherford & Howard G. Charing

Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

Core Shamanism

By Viola Woolcott

Core Shamanism is a group of beliefs as well as practises from all over the world, across continent, race and language, by all people seeking guidance and protection of Creator, Spirit, All that Is.

Core Shamanism was developed during the research done by Dr. Michael Harner. He recognised that the general approaches may vary, but that the overall key elements had something in common and by synthesising these elements anyone could use them without using any culture’s sacred rituals.

Core Shamanism does not hold a fixed belief system, but focuses on the practise of shamanic journeying as well as indigenous shamanism on an individual basis.

One similarity is the specific traditional practice of rapid drumming (approx 220 beats per minute), to reach the shamanic state of consciousness to communicate with power animals as well as the spirit world. When the shaman goes into this state of consciousness the drums are played steadily in the background so that the shaman can concentrate and focus into ascending deeper into that world. The drumming is also part of the ceremonial ritual dances.

The people who practice Core Shamanism call themselves shamanic practitioner rather than shamans as they are showing respect for the indigenous people. They are very careful to stay away from cultural imperialism.

The dominant mode of practice of shamanism in most of the West is Core Shamanism.

Soul Loss Fragmented Self

By Viola Woolcott

The Soul (vital essence) can leave the body when someone suffers physical or psychological trauma. It finds a safe place in other realms of non-ordinary realities and goes into hiding. This is a healthy mechanism for protection, helping someone to ‘survive’ without having to experience the full impact of the trauma. In some cases the fragmented parts will return on their own, but sometimes mending the fragmented self needs assistance by shamanic practises for the life force it contains to find their way back.

There are various reasons as well as traumas that may cause soul loss. Some examples are abuse, severe accidents, death of a loved one, witness of destruction, surgery as well as break up of a significant relationship.

Soul loss can also manifest itself in a number of ways. Some examples may be addiction, physical as well as chronic illness, bad health repeats itself, inability to focus and concentrate, grief that doesn’t heal, depression, a feeling of being ‘spaced out’ and not really here, frustration, a feeling of fear, disassociation or lack of connection to the emotional body.

Another way of experiencing soul loss is shock, where the individuals soul has not returned or has not fully re-entered the body.

You can also loose your soul by giving it to someone or by someone stealing it from you. It is very common and happens when a person holds part of another persons soul captive and that person cannot escape, which may happen intentionally or may happen unintentionally. Both souls are wrapped up within each other and both parties suffer the impact on each other. But only the main soul is influenced by the foreign presence and his mental, physical and emotional health suffers. The Shaman works in a respectful manner for both souls to ‘disentangle’ them.

A classical example for the body protecting itself, is when the body goes into a coma. This is the most extreme situation of soul loss, where the soul is pending between realities. More of the soul has left the body, and as it is in a great deal of pain or the soul emphasising necessity to re-consider its situation, a coma provides that needed time.

Conventional medicines very rarely address that loss of soul is a very common phenomenon. Using ancient shamanic soul retrieval, soul loss can be healed with dramatic success.

Many of us, if not everyone of us have gone through the experience of soul loss and the life force it contains. I certainly have!