Since prehistoric times dating back to the Neolithic period, doctors and ecclesiastic figures were called shamans, individuals of great authority, almost as high ranking as a ruler. Most of the times, the shaman offered his advices to a king or any kind of tribe leader because of his incredibly developed ability to commune with the natural elements and the spirit world.
Shamanism was a strong social construct in many ancient cultures, including the lore-rich Greek paganism, many remarks being found in literature like the stories of Tantalus, Calypso, Medea, Prometheus and plenty more legends.
Etymologically speaking, the shaman is simply translated as the one who knows, and in our days, he who controls the information, controls the world (considers the Vatican).
Any tribe that has ever existed, of any culture, of any level of civilization, had at least one such spiritual leader – man or woman – that was bestowed with healing abilities, energy manipulation techniques, deep insight and a strong communion with the elements; fire was always regarded by the shaman as a tool of transformation.
At the root of their traditional beliefs was the shaman’s bond with the spirits that mitigate the shifting between the planes of existence by astral projection. The shamanist ideology is based on the premise that the surrounding visible universe is driven by invisible, omnipresent and pansophical forces that are deeply interconnected with the living entities of the universe and our visible world.
Keeping a state of unity with the spirits and the elements of nature, they can receive the blessing to control the weather, interpret dreams and even communicate with deities through a state of self-induced trance. This aspect outlines a shaman’s proficiency with herbalism and basic alchemy, which are mastered only after thorough training and perpetual learning, making the shaman very much alike a modern day Ph.D.
Because of their instinctive ability to diagnose and cure many diseases that to most were a mystery, the term shaman was replaced with “witch-doctor”, which comprises the main skillsets of a shaman: magical knowledge and excellent healing abilities.
In the present, the term medicine-man is preffered in the detriment of witch-doctor because of its pejorative connotation and anthropological inaccuracy. Genuine shamans can be found only in a few places on Earth, especially in tribes that refuse to embrace the modern ways, in order to keep alive a dying tradition.
The shamanic cultures were practically wiped out with the expansion of Christianity. In 400 CE, the Christian church was mostly responsible for the fall of Greek and Roman religions, by systematically destroying their temples and forbidding their ritual ceremonies.
The coup de grace against the remnants of ancient shamanism was delivered by the incredibly violent and irrational campaign aiming to exterminate the witches. Nowadays, the shaman culture survives hidden deep within tundras, jungles, deserts and rarely in remote rural areas across the globe.
Even in our allegedly civilized modern days we can see a strong resemblance to the irrational campaign against shamanism: high ranked government individuals fight every day to keep people out of reach from the psychedelic drugs related to shaman ancient practices, that coud positively impact an individual’s perception and way of thinking. This pretended war on drugs is nothing more but an offshoot of government’s violent campaigns against shamanism.
The shamanist culture is more than a mean of personal enlightenment and today, personal enlightenment is in most parts illegal, as a handful of power-lusting group fights an invisible enemy of theirs, an ally we are not yet worthy of.
Article originally posted on EWAO