Friday, April 9, 2010

Shamanic Initiation

QUESTION: Today I had a session from an American Indian shaman (Mandan tribe). I told him about my Huna work. He asked me if I'd had an initiation ceremony, and I told him I hadn't. He explained to me that having no initiation means having no "license" from the spiritual world to act as a shaman. He said I should try to get one, otherwise I would never use my full potential. What is your opinion on that and how about Huna tradition? Is there any initiation ceremony available? My Huna teacher never mentioned it.

ANSWER: Shamans in different cultures have different rules about becoming a shaman. Among the Buryats of Mongolia, for instance, the most common way is to apprentice to a practicing shaman. They have no formal initiation, but you are considered ready to practice as full-fledged shaman when you have a particular type of spiritual experience. Other shamans in Siberia are inspired by spirit, or simply choose the path on their own. In Hawaiian tradition, it is common to be an apprentice until you can demonstrate the required skills, after which there may be a sort of "graduation" ceremony, but no formal initiation. Other Hawaiian shamans are inspired directly by spirit without a human teacher. If you follow a particular tradition, then you need to follow that tradition's rules. If you intend to become a Mandan shaman, it sounds like you need an initiation ceremony. If you intend to be a "neo-shaman" without a particular tradition, then you make up your own rules. In the end, though, what really matters is whether you can think like a shaman thinks and do what a shaman does.

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