One of the reasons for the current resurgence of shamanism is that many of us are searching for a spiritual connection. Religion doesn't do it for us any more; the paternalistic dynamic of blind belief and control through fear is no longer appropriate for our level of consciousness. Shamanism offers a direct connection to spirit (God/Goddess) and an experiential relationship with the divine, rather than an indirect relationship, where we have to go through the intermediary of the priest or equivalent.
Reconnecting with Earth
Shamanism also helps us to reconnect with the Earth and all her rhythms and cycles. We have become very disconnected from the whole, of which we are part – we live in homes that insulate us from the elements so that we no longer feel the nip of autumn, the bite of winter. Consequently, we often don't have much of a sense of the seasons unless we happen to be keen gardeners. We don't always have the time or opportunity to spend time in nature as we go about our increasingly busy lives. Shamanic practises can help us to reconnect with and communicate with nature (of which we are a part, though most of us forget that). Reconnecting with the Earth can help us to be more healthy, as we relearn the energetic cycles of the seasons and the Moon, which have an effect on our energy and our health. It allows us to see our Mother, the Earth as a conscious being who deserves our respect, and helps us to make changes in our lives, and perhaps also in the wider community to reduce or stop the the detrimental impact of our use of the Earth's resources.
We are as insulated from our community – other humans – as we are from nature. How many of your neighbours do you know? At one time, we would have known all the people on our street, in our village or estate, and childcare would have been shared in the community, we would have had a close-knit network of people on whom we could call for help, advice, comfort in times of need. Now, however, it is not unusual to not know who your next door neighbours are, much less be part of a supportive community. We are tribal creatures, and we suffer when we are isolated. The practice of shamanism can also help us to reconnect with our community, so that we can once again, get the benefit of being part of a “tribe”.
Connecting with the divine
hamanism puts us directly in touch with the divine, and the result of that is that we are in touch with a vast consciousness with an infinite capacity for knowledge, wisdom, healing, creative and artistic inspiration. In practical terms, this means that you have, on tap, help for anything you could conceive of. The following is a list of potential uses of the shamanic journey. It is in no particular order and is by no means exhaustive, as the reasons for journeying are as many and varied as there are humans!
Healing for any physical, mental, spiritual or emotional ailment (see the article on Health and Disease from the Shamanic Perspective)
Learning about a subject of interest (absolutely anything – astrophysics, maths, ancient architecture, computer programming, herbalism, animal care – whatever you're interested in)
Connecting with the Earth (or Moon, or any other celestial body)
Connecting with the spirit of a creative project for inspiration/direction (e.g. a painting, book, poetry, song, music, wood carving, tapestry, sacred object, sacred garment – the list is endless)
Working with land spirits, elementals and so on
Healing for the souls of the dead
Healing for places
Shamanism, therefore, is a practical, down-to-earth philosophy and collection of spiritual practices that is able to help us on many different levels. Furthermore, unlike some spiritual practices, shamanism is itself very much grounded in two worlds; the spiritual and the physical. I believe that this is an enduring strength of shamanism, and one of the reasons why it is of such interest, and usefulness to modern people.