WHAT IS SHAMANISM - by Iris Michael
So what is shamanism? To me shamanism is a practical spirituality that can be incorporated into anyone's life regardless of religion, age, gender or race. It reconnects us consciously to the Earth, the sun, moon and stars, to each other, our communities, to the rocks on the beach, the plants and trees and the animals that are our companions and those who provide us with food. It reminds us that all is sacred and alive and that everything is part of a greater whole.
In the shamanic view, everything has "spirit" and comes from the same source. The plants and animals that we eat give their lives for us so that we may be nourished. Our homes, our clothing, and all that we have has in one way or another been gifted to us by the Earth, the plants, animals and other humans because their energies have gone into providing these items for us. In shamanism, it is important to remember to take nothing that is given for granted so that the the delicate balance of the universe, our world is maintained. This is done by giving thanks and through reciprocity.
A simple ceremony for remembering our interconnectedness is to say thank you (pray) before eating a meal for all who helped bring food to your table. Before I eat a meal, I usually say a prayer like this:
"Great Spirit, thank you for providing me with this meal. Thank you for all who have made it possible for me to be nourished today. Thank you for all the animals, plants, and human beings who have brought this meal to my table. Thank you for the Earth, sun, moon and stars, and for all that is."
All these energies collectively nourish us when we eat. When we consciously remember, acknowledge and thank the source of our food, we remember our interconnectedness. This is the shamanic way of seeing: all truly is one. Our lives really do depend on each other. This way of seeing changes us from takers to caretakers of our world, which is how we reciprocate for being nourished and nurtured.
Reciprocity is active thanksgiving. Ultimately, reciprocity is the energy of love actively expressed and given to the Earth, the animals and plants and to our fellow human beings in return for all that we receive. How do we reciprocate? I believe each of us has within us loving gifts, that when expressed in our own unique and special way become simple acts of service and reciprocity: a kind word, a caring touch, heartfelt laughter, respect for the Earth. It's really very simple.