May 01, 2018
Many people with varying trainings, lineages, or "calls from Spirit,” refer to themselves as shamans. It is hard to know who is legitimate and who is not, and what a shaman really is. In Cuzco, Peru, for example, you can find “shamans” all over town selling mystical experiences. Many have access to medicinal plants, but few have training in how to hold space for a client, or even how to speak to the medicinal plants in ceremony. There are others that say no one can call themselves a shaman or be trained as one; it is an honor only bestowed upon one by others.
The actual word “shaman” comes from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia. According to anthropological documentation it is the word the Tungus, in particular, used to refer to their medicine person. Spirits inhabited their shamans, affecting others positively, and negatively, and shifting circumstances on the material plane. Some believe that this manifestation of shamanism is the only legitimate form that can claim to use the word “shaman.” Technically, they are correct, as it is a word specific to this one tribe in Siberia. Every other tribe has a different language, and therefore a different word, and each tribe’s practices also vary. While some use use spirits to do their bidding, and others do not, most tribes do have mentors helping young initiates refine their skills.