The Seven Principles of Shamanism: Part 1
Updated: Feb 26
“To all things, there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to slay, and a time to heal: a time to break down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh: a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones: a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embracing.
A time to seek, and a time to lose: a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rent, and a time to sow: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate: a time of war, and a time of peace.”
Some of you may know the source of the above verse. Others may not. It comes from the Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1 – 8. So, what’s so significant about these words? They're not particularly profound. They don’t really bring hope or revelation to the reader. What they say is fairly straightforward, at least I think so anyway.
So why have I put them here? Are we about to have Bible class?
No wait, wait! come back…please. No Bible class…promise.
These words are significant because it's one of the few places in the Bible where a true shamanic way of thinking is displayed.
There are no frills here. No great teaching or judgment passed down, only a simple concept: for every good thing, there is a bad thing. If something happens, its opposite must exist; and everything has its time. No judgment, no “you must do this and not that,” or “believe in this and not that.”
Simple words, almost weightless, not burdened with fear and shame, or that dreaded devil of devils: guilt. Who likes guilt?... Who likes being made to feel guilty?... Put your hand up… thought so.
"So," you may ask, "why have I highlighted one of the few examples of shamanic thinking in the Bible?"
I have done this to show you how scarce and endangered the shamanic way of thinking has become.
So, What is Shamanism?
Earlier I spoke about a true shamanic way of thinking. Firstly, what is shamanism? Let’s answer that question and the rest should follow.
You’ll find many definitions of shamanism and each one will be true or close to the truth. The good thing about shamanism is that it requires you to find your own truth, not to blindly believe the truths that are presented to you.
To me, shamanism is a way of life. It is a way of thinking, a way of acting, a way of responding to the world. It is a deep understanding of the way the world works on a soul level. It happens on an individual level and on a group level. Shamanism is about your place as an individual, in the community, your place in the world.
Is there a Shaman Church?
Shamanism is not a religion. You can have a Christian shaman, a Jewish shaman, a Muslim shaman, or even an Agnostic shaman. Shamanism doesn’t tell you what to believe in, who is in power, nor does it categorize people according to where they’re going after their funeral.
Interestingly I must mention that Hinduism and Buddhism are two major world religions that still have their roots firmly planted in the principles of shamanism. This leads me to clarify something important. The way I’m throwing around the word shamanism makes it seem like an amazing new product that threatens to take the world by storm. Obviously, this is not so.
Shamanism is where we come from. Yes! all of us, not just those people over there. In the social evolution of our species, every race has lived a shamanic way of life, not because it was cool or hip, but because it was natural.
The Original Human Culture
Shamanism is about how we responded to the environment in which we found ourselves since the earliest of times. It is our relationship with the world around us. Mother Nature provided us with all that we needed; most of the time, anyway.
If she failed us, we did not throw a fit and complain, we simply adapted. These were hunter-gatherer communities, who had an intimate bond with their environment.
The hunter-gatherer way of life has all but been obliterated by the advance of, firstly agricultural-based civilizations and later, industrial-based civilizations. This is called progress…
Have a look at this short video to get an idea of how a shamanic community lives. This way of life is gone for 99.9% of the world's population. Is that good or bad?
Throughout the development of human civilizations and their technology, the shamanic way of life has stayed with societies to varying degrees. However, it has been the construction and refinement of the capitalist-based Western culture that has really put the nail in the coffin of shamanic beliefs. The culture simply has no use for it. None whatsoever. Its followers are happy without it… are they really?
(Just so you know, I'm not encouraging you to take off most of your clothes and go and dance in the sand. That's not for everybody. But allow yourself to go with your feelings rather than your thoughts here).
Basic Shamanic Concepts
The concepts and beliefs of shamanism are very foreign to many people, especially those brought up in Western culture. Those societies who are in the process of adopting Western culture still practice certain shamanic ways, but many of the people do not realize the significance of these practices; they see them as a hindrance.
And quite frankly, if you want to subscribe fully to the Western ways, traditional shamanic practice is a nuisance you can do without. Until you realize that money, fast cars, glitzy accessories, and people with plastic faces don’t really make you happy.
Duality and Balance
In order to start gaining an understanding of shamanism, one needs to understand that the known universe exists in a state of duality (on a physical plain at least). Good and evil, rich and poor, happy and sad, full and empty, war and peace etc.
They are referred to as opposites, but I don’t like to refer to them with such a restricted term. Time and space are not really opposites, they complement one another. The same goes for male and female, day and night. The crux here is that one cannot exist without the other.
World peace? Come again… At the risk of sounding like a hardened cynic, I have to say that the concept of world peace does not sit well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hateful, war-mongering maniac, but if we had no war, we would not be able to recognize peace.
If we had no evil, we would not be able to recognize good. And just to make sure that we do really get this concept, our beloved Creator has done us a favor by installing a healthy balance of both of these into our blueprint.
Yes! you have the potential to perform the most stunningly, beautifully good, and kind deed, and at the same time, to execute the most heinous, cruel, and evil crime.
Disturbing…maybe. Empowering…definitely. It is your choice. No omnipotent god preaching to you the reasons why you WILL support his cause, no skulking devil prodding you on to engage in mischievous and rascally deeds. Only you. And the choice.
This duality permeates every ounce of matter in the known universe and is expressed through the consciousness of every object and life form as it responds to its environment.
Everything is alive
By everything, I mean everything. Yes, you heard me! Forget rocks and sand of course they’re alive. Think chairs, shoes, faulty clutch kits, an empty chocolate box (sad but alive). They are alive. Just because you can’t see it breathe doesn’t mean it's not alive.
Everything has a consciousness and everything behaves in its own way. It has integrity. A faulty clutch kit is so full of integrity that its character is larger than life. You know how it will behave. No matter how you want it to change it will continuously give you the finger without shame or remorse. Now if that’s not a character worthy of admiration then I don’t know what is.
It doesn’t mean you have to continue to take the abuse from the clutch kit, you do have the choice to rectify it.
It is important to remember that everything is alive. It is conscious and will respond to the energy around it. Make sure your energy brings out good responses from the objects and people around you.
Love and Fear
Love and fear are all there is. There is nothing else. Everything is a result of being in a state of love or being in a state of fear. I challenge anyone to come up with something that does not have its origins in either love or fear. Enlightenment is just extremely concentrated love and evil is just extremely concentrated fear.
As higher life forms who have been given the freedom/curse of choice, we respond to our surroundings from one of these to places. It's important that we make the right choice.
Time is an Illusion
This one is a bit tricky so don't break your heads on it. What’s important to understand is that there is only NOW. The past is gone and the future hasn’t happened. ‘Now’ is all you have. Use it wisely.
And also, everything is a cycle, the concept of linear time does not exist. Everything has its opportunity to take place, it will come and go, and believe me, if you didn't learn the lesson the first time, don’t stress, you are spiraling back to the same experience. It's in your DNA.
And don’t worry about where the journey takes you, worry about how you respond to what happens on the journey.
Oops, I’ve just realized that this article is titled “The Seven Principles of Shamanism,” and I haven’t even begun to discuss them.
I’ll get to them in Part 2 of this article, please stay tuned.
Check out this book by James Enredy so long for more information: Shamanism for Beginners: Walking with the World’s Healers of Earth and Sky
NB! Thanks and gratitude to Serge Kahili King for sharing the principles of shamanism far and wide so we may all learn from his wisdom and love as a shaman.