Past…Present…Future of Shamanism
Almost no shamans are left in Costa Rica, most have all died. Twenty ayahuasqueros in Northern Peru were murdered in October 2011. Traditional healers of Ghana say they drink alcohol “because we are hopeless.” With the threatened disappearance of traditional shamans worldwide, who are our shamans today?
Modern shamans emerge whenever certain needs remain unanswered. When shamanic traditions seem to have died out, individuals emerge who prove to be able to fulfill these needs, whether in a village or urban setting.
Who are the shamans of today? In addition to being modern shamanic healers and visionaries, they may also be found in the circles of poets, performers, makers of artwork, and modern artists of all kinds.
Visionary and Ecstatic Art
“Shamans are intermediaries between ordinary and ecstatic states of reality. Shamans have visions and record them in poetry, song, and the visual arts for the spiritual and therapeutic benefit of the community. In addition to being seers, shamans are also artists—painters, carvers, musicians, and storytellers.”
…Mark Levy, PhD, author of Technicians of Ecstasy…Shamanism and the Modern Artist
Healing Arts…Medicinal Plants
“For thousands of years, healers have used plants to cure illness. Aspirin, the world’s most widely used drug, is based on compounds originally extracted from the bark of a willow tree, and more than a quarter of medicines found on pharmacy shelves contain plant compounds. Nowhere is the search more promising than in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, home to a quarter of all botanical species on this planet – as well as hundreds of Indian tribes whose medicinal plants have never been studied by Western scientists. Every time one of the old shamans dies, it’s as if a library has burned to the ground.”
Mark Plotkin, PhD, author of Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice
“A shaman’s mysterious healing practices are a blend of medicine and spirit,” states Connie Grauds. “The rainforest shamans are experts on the healing properties of the jungle’s rich plant medicines. These shamans have an intimate relationship with the healing spirits of nature and of the plants, which they summon on behalf of the patient during the healing. Shamans are masters at the transference of these healing energies, and have devoted their lives for the sake of others.”
Shamans enter ecstatic states where they encounter the “Divine” in order to facilitate its manifestation in the Here and Now. Shamans are mediators between the sacred and the secular.