Are You a Shaman?

By Ongodtengertei on Friday October 23rd, 2015

There are many people who claim to be but what does it actually take?

Are you a shaman? Let’s be honest: Probably not. Feel free to get angry and defensive, but let me talk through this.

A lot of people claim to be shamans in the Mongolian style. Most of them have read books by Michael Harner or Sarangerel. They say that they were “initiated by their spirits” and “felt their calling” and so forth.

It doesn’t work like that.

Here’s how it works in regards to Mongolian shamanism

Let’s start at the very beginning: What does a shaman do? A shaman is a person who becomes fully posessed by their ancestral or heavenly spirits. During this time, their soul exits their body (usually flying up to the heavens) and another spirit takes over their body. This spirit uses the body to communicate. They will speak, eat, drink, sing, smoke, conduct massage, even accupuncture, all through the body of their ulaach or medium.  When the spirit is finished they will leave. The shaman’s soul will return to his or her body. He or she will have no memory whatsoever of what has occurred in this time.

Mongolian shaman singing
This spirit uses the body to communicate

So if you think you are “channeling” a spirit and it’s “speaking through you” but you remain even vaguely conscious, you are not practicing our tradition and you are not a Mongolian shaman. 

So what does it take to actually be a Mongolian shaman?

You don’t get any choice in the matter. I don’t care how badly you want it.

First, you must have shamanic ancestry. This is blood lineage ancestry. It may be many generations back, but it has to be there.  That means that pretty much across the board you must be  Mongolian or Siberian. Remember this point, because it will be returned to many times later. So if you don’t have shamanic ancestry, then you are not a shaman in the Mongolian tradition. The end.

Mongolian shaman ancestry
Blood lineage ancestry is essential to Mongolian shamanism

Second, you don’t feel your own calling.  You are interested in shamanism? Cool. You feel spirits? Excellent. You’ve seen ghosts? Congratulations. None of this makes you a shaman. It just doesn’t.

Your calling happens when the spirits choose you. Now STOP! This doesn’t mean you can say “Oh, the spirits chose me! I feel them around me!” Because that is not how it works! The spirits choice is indicated through an absolutely horrible experience called “shamanic illness” which you can read about in this link. A shamanic illness is an extremely severe, horribly painful experience that will continue for a very long time, often years. It is so severe that people have died from it. In addition to the previous example, one of my ongodtengertei (with spirits, which is to say: future shaman) friends is often crippled and unable to walk when she has an episode. Another friend who is now a shaman described her as like being constantly stabbed with knives. Almost every shaman and ongodtengertei person I know has contemplated suicide as a way to solve the pain of this illness. That includes me.

Doctors cannot diagnose it, priests cannot cure it

You go to a shaman who’s spirits will recognize that you are with spirits and then they will decide whether or not you are meant to be a shaman.  Let me re-emphasize: it doesn’t matter what you want, the decision is up to the spirits. If the other shaman’s spirits recognize that you have spirits and that you are supposed to become a shaman, then you have to find a teacher which may or may not be that shaman.

If you are one of those very rare people who is not of Mongolian/Siberian ancestry but is recognized within our tradition as being “with spirits”, 99% of the time the recognizing spirit will say “You have spirits, but I cannot teach you. Our traditions and ceremonies would be innapropriate for your spirits as they are not Mongolian and it is not their spirits.” In short: go back home and find your own ancestral traditions. They are your birthright. You can follow them as much as you please.

Mongolian shamanic illness
This is Pujee, a Mongolian “white” shaman – photo from Caiseal Mor

Finally, you must be initiated under the guidance and proper full initiation of a qualified Mongolian shaman who has become your teacher.  And there are plenty of fakes out there who would love to “recognize” your spirits and become your teacher for fame or money. So I mean it has to be legitimate.  You cannot practice without initiation, which is to say a complete chanar or actual initiation by a shaman teacher with other shamans present and helping you through it.

If you have not done all of these things you can be spiritual, you can be sensitive to spirits, you can be a channeler or spirit worker or whatever you want to call yourself but you are not a shaman in the Mongolian tradition and you cannot be one.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

If you would like to contact an actual Mongolian Shaman, you can do so here: BlueSky Shaman

Editor’s Note: The term ‘Shaman’ comes from the Tungusic language of Siberia and describes those working in the Siberian/Mongolian tradition. The term was imported to the West via Russia in the 16th Century. Although it has been widely used to describe a complex phenomenon across many traditions, it has often been used very loosely and is rarely used by other indigenous practitioners to describe their practices. This article, though you may not agree with the author’s point of view, represents an argument that the Mongolian shamans we contacted agreed with. In order to avoid confusion, many people practicing similar, but different, traditions are choosing to call themselves ‘Shamanic practitioners’, rather than ‘Shamans’.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.



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117 Responses to Are You a Shaman?

  1. I have to say I like this article a lot,I truly respect all peoples’ rights to their own ancestral folkways even through I’m a “racist” by most modern definitions of that word, I get so embarrassed by White liberals that try to take on other peoples’ traditions or worse try to say our’s has nothing to do with ancestry, ti’s nice to see people of non-European descent taking up this issue and getting loud about it because my kinsmen sure as Hel won’t listen to me.

  2. I honor your perspective. There is great joy and fluidity in the existence that we create. In my humble opinion, if you choose the path of the shaman, which I do believe is a choice (whether made consciously or subconsciously), the soul will naturally move in that direction. We are the creators of our own design. There are no rules to the realization of self and there is no such thing as a natural progression, unless you believe there is. All that is, is already within us. We are the universe and we are the spirits that guide us. The “spirit” that takes over a shamans body is not a separate entity. That spirit, is the being that we call shaman.

    You and I, are the shaman. The moon, stars, and the animals that roam this beautiful planet is the shaman. The planet is the shaman. All of us are the shaman. We can all call ourselves shamans if we wish to do so. As creators, we have that right. The shaman feels everything because the shaman is everything. The shaman is the oneness of all existence.

    With this being said, there is no one that is more guided or more spiritually gifted than the other. We all have access to the same information. However, everyone’s experience and interpretation of their own design is different according to their own individual makeup as a soul. That is the gift of our humanity.

    The shaman speaks through everything. Today it may be through the trees and the whales in the oceans, tomorrow the shaman may decide to speak through you. We are all linked to the same ancestral tree. It is called the cosmic tree of all that is.

  3. Beautifully said. It’s geeat to see someone clarify the term. It’s funny how much ego emerges when one responds to this article. The truth is sometimes brutal but it wouldn’t be the truth if it wasn’t

  4. I understand and appreciate the message here, but this article seems a bit harsh and there’s an exasperated and slightly demeaning tone to it. I think the point could have been made in a more compassionate manner. People clearly need more awareness and education, but patience is key.

  5. I like it. It has to do with authenticity. Too many people calling themselves Shamons without legitimacy. My healing journey was initiated by an acupunturist who studied with the monks in Tibet, in particularly, his teacher was the teacher for the Deli Lama. I had a series of dreams that one in particular called me a Shamon. I have a Grandmother who studied with a Shamon in Italy, known as a healer in her tribe. My mothet and brother also were healers. I do not use the word Shamon to describe myself, but healer. The Chinese Medicine Doctor I studied with said I was on my way to be a Shamon in the Tebetan tradition. There are many similarities in the Shamonic tradition, but I am not fully vested. I have had a very dark night of the soul lasting 4 years now. Thank you for this article and opportunity to share.

  6. A lot of egos will be shattered by the article, but it’s real and a blessing. A twisted perception of shamanism is good for no one. People should love the journey towards authenticity, rather than spurn it. Too often, alleged lovers of truth and the spiritual life are in a hurry to show off. A real seeker marvels, appreciates and enjoys the journey inch by blessed inch. The inches when attained are well earned. Offerings are only beneficial when you have something of value and authenticity to give…

  7. The first shaman didn’t had a shanar, she didn’t have any help, no guidance but the eagle, the horse, the wolf, the geese. The first son of the first shaman and their descendants have other stories, in come the sons and the daughter of the swan, in comes the jealousy from those without spirits and without power that misunderstood and tortured… (as they still do) in comes the first battle with the “gods”, the first little girl brought back to life, so she would spread the ways to new, distant lands, in comes the first broken drum, the thunders in heaven,and the half drum that the misundertanding brought as tradition, in comes the humbleness of the true power, the power that is just to serve others, cause power doesn’t have other purpose than to serve. Traditions are created by well intentioned followers, tellers of the story as they heard it from those who heard it from those who witnessed it or from those who lived it. Tradition holds value, however, cause the old ways bring those in the shadows to the light, they hold the web together. The first shaman laughs about all this battles about words and traditions, the first shaman is amused and grateful that the big joke is still being told, that the ways are still helping, that the power is still serving, that more shamans, both real and imaginary will keep the tale alive. Play with spirits if you like, play with deities if you like, have your entheogens or your meditation or your drumming, starve yourselves or hurt yourselves until the pain or the sickness brings you to cross the umbral, then walk thru the portal, come back and serve. We are all one, we are all crazy, we are all laughing. Love and laughter. #Takatakataka #EEEEE

  8. You don’t need to have mongolian blood to be a shaman. A shaman actually is the priest of the tribe , the guy who speaks with Divinity and heal the people using different healing potions. From history we know that each tribe had a shaman, the spiritual guider of the tribe. To be a shaman you need strong beliefs in Creator of the Universe and of course to feel the call. You are living in a Universe where everything is possible if you believe and everything happens for a reason. So , if you aren’t meant to be a shaman don’t worry because you are meant to be something else, and this something else will fit you great.

  9. It’s a bit silly that to some degree the article, and to a greater degree the comments on it, people are all too eager to label spirituality as a possession (that is their’s and only their’s, something that can be owned or stolen) and create further degrees of separatness. The body and the flesh are as much an illusion as the rest of the “physical” world.

    As if the great spirit cares for ethnicity or bloodlines or the petty tides of human history. All those things are merely part of the illusion. When we retire from this school and shed our cloths we will find that we are more alike in our nakedness and that such divisions we experienced were never really important.

  10. Come on you guys! Why so much noise for copyrights and things? We live in a time that all hue-mans gradually need to learn their inner wizard, shaman, however you want to call it, if this planet is to survive, godliness is the way, an equal expansion of power and love, balanced and discriminated. And it is fine to get payed and not to get payed accordingly. If someone is building his/her ilness for lifetimes, he/she should take some responsibility for it and money is a let’s say a fair deal for the time and energy you would apply for a healing. Healers should not be judgemental on this way. They should protect somehow themselves from receiving karma from healees, too much fire would burn them up without a few ‘ice cubes’. Personally, I ‘ve spend a few hundreds thousands euros for my trainings, I am not practicing when I am loaded with personal stuff, and have great respect for all directions and traditions my experience derives. ‘Shaman’ is something other people might called me, but it is a label, and I’ve been labeled with thousands of them. At the time that the healing is taking place you are nobody, energy is doing its work and that’s all. Some times spirits appear, sometimes not. Now if some people are in a rush to go and sell healings, then haha… if you do not have got the knack to be permanently into it, then … black snake that ate you they say in my country… but copyrights are necessary some times for the contemporary market, what to do…

  11. So now I’m curious. Are YOU of Mongolian Shaman descent? Of Mongolian Shamanic Ancestry? Because there are no pictures of you here and somehow I get the feeling that you’re as white as donald trump.

  12. For anyone who wanted “to actually be a Mongolian shaman” I imagine being Mongolian would be a good place to start.

  13. Good article.

    In fact this is the only true regarding how u become, as described here, as ulaagch (sometimes ulaach). A shaman is actually the Ancestor spirit that has thr might and soul to do and perform for thier heir and peoplr. Becoming a ulaach is one thing and becoming a real shaman requires tremendous commitment and soul to be trusted by the people. indeed this is a journey of a life time thereforeteacher is essential to carry out in right direction, although some ulaagch rise by themselves by connecting with thier ancestors via their mind and soul.

    The article also indicated a very pressing point on the false shamans who claims to be a teacher just for the money. Many have suffer due to thier belief in those bad people and suffered by mind and sould.

    keep the good work!!!

  14. A great article thank you, which I will share around. There are a lot of folk here in the UK call themselves shamans, I do not support this and I teach the line that you have described here.

    I describe myself as a shamanic practitioner and am very clear about that to people I talk to.

  15. Most of those who claim to be a shaman are basically buying into some self help idea. It’s an all encompassing word coming from nowhere really but the root may be based from Mongolia.

    I’ve been incredibly disappointed by those who claim to be Shaman. It’s become a popular thing to claim in the past decade but I find those who claim it either a) have really no clue what they are doing and are working without guidance and 2) using this path to meet selfish needs. Now I am not speaking of everyone of course. But seeing the comments here I see examples of why I’m disappointed in many who claim such status. This is very much an individual journey but that journey should also be used to help others and I feel disappointed that many do not do that. JMHO.

  16. With respect, the word “shaman” can be traced back to Pali, and was brought north by Buddhist missionaries. It was brought west by Russian and Persian academics. who gradually used it to describe functionaries of what they considered “minor” tribal religions. Today, it has been used so widely as to become practically meaningless. It’s a snarl-word in Native America because of this linkage to academic colonialism. I have seen the practices described here in South America, but they preferred to use terminology from their own tribal cultures (misayoq, pongo, etc), knowing “shaman” only as what tourists and academics call them. While my own tri-racial ancestry reaches back into Siberia and the Turkic horse tribes along the north of China, my ancestors are noted as “Tengrists”.
    I respectfully suggest those NOT raised in those cultures and traditions reconsider describing themselves as “shamans”.

    • I respectfully suggest that you be less ridiculous, less pandering, and less petty. I’ll say whatever I like. Those under the age of 2 million know the word “shaman” to be a global and modern/umbrella term for indigenous/natural spirituality, which basically just refers to real spiritual power. Witches and wizards are shamans, mutants are shamans. Rabbis and priests and monks and nuns are all practicing variations of shamanism. You can get all bent out of shape about a word if you want, but I’m definitely going to call you out for being petty and stupid.

  17. Of course you can´t be a Mongolian shaman if you aren´t born mongolian. I´m not an expert, but in many other siberian shamanic traditions you don´t have to have shamanic ancestors – you can be unique in some physical way for example or psychical, or you can be more or less ordinary, but it is only another shaman or keeper of the tradition who can recognize your shamanic potential. “Shamanism” is probably similarly vague concept as “hinduism” is or as “christianism” would be. Every shamanic society has its own name for their “shaman”, but as a scholar for example you need to grasp these traditions somehow if you want to research them. And still the question is “How?”. But you have to take into account that every tradition has its own “name” or “names” an that every “shaman” is unique, too. There exist some accepted theories (for example Ake Hultkrantz) that shamanism has spread to America (and to Europe with ugro-finnish people, too) with people who came there from Siberia. But clearly – “shamanism” in Siberia and that one in America can´t be the same “shamanism”. It is still question if “shamanism” in Africa for example should be called shamanism or somehow differently. Moreover, what you may have missed is that Harner with his Core-shamanism and his followers are usually today called neo-shamans (neoshamans) – to distinguish them (for example Thomas DuBois does it) from today´s traditional shamans. I understand that you try to warn people from “stealing” or “adopting”other traditions and rather follow their own traditions, and to beware of “fake” shamans. But nothing is just black and white. Also thanks to greater public awareness about shamanic and similar traditions these can still continue today (here I would reccomend Mihály Hoppál for example). Have you forgotten Soviet and other persecutions of shamans not only in Soviet Union, but also in Mongolia and many other countries? Many persecutions continue even today, more or less secretly. Due to this, today´s traditional shamanism is far from what it was for example in 1930, likewise neo-shamanism is far from traditional shamanism. And you could continue… As I said – nothing is only black and white. Thanks for challenging article! 🙂

  18. I am not sure why the author has decided that shamanism is only Mongolian?
    Most Vedic cultures above the Northern Circle also use this word in their forms. And, also have different definition of the meaning of the word. The Canadian northern people have knowledge of shamans in their culture also and do state this in their historical stories!
    I Would strongly suggest, people activate their cellular ancient spiritual knowlege through their own Historical Lineage. All cultures have their forms of Shamans, though this may not be the word used in your ancient culture.
    I do agree that most people are not shamans though… the rate of responsibility to the purpose and soul intent. As well as the deep knowledge of the Ancient Planetary Laws are required. And very, very, very few can get them selves to the real Law of their country, never mind the planet!! 😉

  19. I live in Mongolia. And the word shaman is only used by English speakers or when Mongolians are taking to English speakers. The word shaman does not come from Mongolia and I would venture to say not from Russia either.
    Mongolians don’t call them selves shamans.
    The title of this article should be. Are you a MONGOLIAN shaman.
    There are shamans in most tribal cultures. Some may begin like this. But it is not a requirement of being a shaman.
    Mongolia is a land of extremes.

    • Hello again, I just read a book about shamanism and there is a term “khadak”. May I ask you what is it? Is is something like a blue scafr? I only found a film called Khadak and there was some reffer like that. Could you please send me some picture of it, eventually? Thank you very much! 🙂

    • Thank you for your truthfulness. This article was misleading and had misleading information which seems to have started a fiery discussion haha. But yes shamanism is in all of our history. But thank you to the aurthor also for sharing your piece.

  20. The word Shaman comes from the Sami people not Mongolia . LOL . Humans have been practicing shamanism for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.

    • Tammy, you have yet to move through Ego. By proclaiming you are Shaman, you are speaking through Ego and Pride. Shamans surrender Ego during shamanic illness. Their emotional, spiritual and physical pain obliterates their acquired sense of self-identity and pride, reducing them to what has been described as a hollow reed or bone through which healing spirits or energies can flow. To call yourself a shaman is to self-identify. You are betrayed by your own Ego when you exchange a transfer of healing energy for monetary gain.

      • In not regard to Tammy, but what you said is true. I went through horrendous pain and suffering in my body and tormented in my mind and nightmare, almost die several times. And on top of this, lost complete control of my body, saw everything happening to me as another conscious controlled my every move including use of my mouth-voice to communicate with my wife and children. It walked that of an old man with a limp and talk with a deep throat voice which was how my ancient ancestor talk. Through all this, my ego was completely destroyed and my way of life took a 180 degree turn afterward. Today, I am a humble man, I use the term Shaman loosely to identity the me now; the world is more about understanding others and not about myself. But unlike the Mongolian when i enter the spirit world, which require good understanding to navigate, I stay conscious, but like the Mongolian, my body and voice/chant is controlled by the other conscious. When I’m done I remember everything that happened. I am of Southeast Asian origin, I am not anymore shaman than anyone that may claim to be one.

        • I like the word “mutant” because shamanic ability is genetic and this is a more modern way to understand what is actually a genetic ability. Spirits only choose you because your blood allows it. They can’t change your genetic makeup.

      • LOOOOOL. hey rookie, newsflash. Ego death is not a singular process that you will go through once and then be magically transformed into a holy person. You will continue to go through this more often and more quickly as you age. It will never end. Your ego will die and rebirth constantly for the rest of your existence, even beyond this life. You just need to get over that now and find a way to cope with it when it happens. I smoke weed. It slows down the energy so it flows at a rate my body can handle. If it gets really bad, eating heavy foods and immersing myself in cool water helps a ton. Your ego is like a sphincter. It’s not exactly that it’s dying, but rather your ego(conscious mind, not evil, necessary, though prone to death which is also necessary) relaxes completely, thus “opening” like a butthole, and therefore allowing the spiritual energy to pass through it like a pipe. It helps to “surrender” or “let go.” If you can find a way to deliberately do that. I focus on a point behind the center of my brain and pull my focus towards that, and it relaxes my brain and opens up the channels.

    • I’m Sami, and I’ve heard a couple of words for describing such a person in sami, one of which is noadi. But I’ve never heard the term shaman having originated in sami culture. As far as I know modern samis might refer to such people as shamans, but that’s because the term has become so widespread. I will not claim to know one way or the other though, that’s just my impression.

  21. Hi I am a SHAMAN. Just because i am a white girl does not give you the right to tell me what I am. I am a SHAMAN, I get paid to be a SHAMAN. so take your judgemental bull poop and have a great life.

    • No one has any right to tell you what to do. You steal from others and I have every right to call you out on it even if I can’t do much more than that.

        • Messing with powers that don’t belong to you for personal gain will bring the most dire of consequences, especially coupled with your dishonesty and instability. Good luck with that.

          • A shaman does not need to defend him or herself or make claims. There is a wisdom and knowing that does not need to be seen or acknowledged. I was initiated by the Shipbo Shaman women in Peru. I do not call myself a shaman. I have humble respect and honor for those women and all they have shared with me.

          • I respect that. You were given information willingly and you respect the information given to you by these women. I have a problem with those who appropriate information and then use it to enrich themselves by making claims and such as Tammy did. Whether they have names or not. Some powers in this world are not meant for personal gain. It seems you were instructed and taught very wisely!

  22. All kinds of people are claiming to be Shamans these days, and no, it does not mean they are claiming to be mongolian shamans. Michael Harner really westernized the siberian word shaman. He studied the healing ways of several indigenous cultures’ medicine men/women, and then chose what he saw as “core” practices of all of them, and then called the core practices “shamanism”. (I believe this was a disservice, by Michael Harner, to true mongolian/siberian shamanism) Now you can take 2-week classes and become a so-called shaman. This same thing happened to yoga. What we end up with are highly watered-down and adulterated forms of very powerful indigenous practices. We end up with people claiming to be Shamans and adept Yogis who are not. The worst part is that they are spreading their fake shit far and wide. And, the real deal is becoming less and less known, and less and less understood or respected. I think it has all gotten really confusing. It’s hard to know who is for real. I think people should be very careful with how they present themselves. That is, they can claim they learned some healing practices or yogic practices, or whatever, that they want to share. But, they should not claim they are a shaman or a high priest, or whatever. Let the proof be in the pudding so to speak, and let go of all the titles and cultural appropriation.

    • Let them. Those with real power can recognize each other and we are not concerned about this. It is fairly obvious to us who is gifted and who is not.

      • Well, more power to you, as they say. But, my concern is for those of us who can NOT tell a real from a fake. And, even more, for those who can’t tell a good one from a bad one, and get bamboozled. The title of shaman is being abused, period. And, people are being led astray by the fakes, and bad ones, which can cause all kinds of problems. The real ones need to expose the fakes, as a service to the rest of us. Thank you.

        • Well here’s a neat clue. The real ones are diagnosed with schizophrenia in their late teens/early 20s and fed massive doses of psychiatric drugs to dull their senses. The fake ones charge thousands of dollars and live luxurious lives funded completely by their shamanic business. The real ones tend to have other career goals. I make electronic music infused with my spiritual knowledge. Thats my career goal. My abilities are kept secret because people either dont believe me or they fear me. I pretend to be normal in public, to lack spiritual awareness. I hide. We all hide.

          • Your comments suggest you are one of the people Elke feels we should be warned about. It is not obvious and those who brag about their supposed “powers” in the way you have usually have none.

          • As I suspected.

            This has nothing to do with you being a powerful individual or a Spiritwalker but being an individual who cannot differentiate fantasy from reality as no one who truly walks with the spirits truly seeks any power or has any. All we have is a talent some do not have. It can be frightening but it is very easy to control. I hope you seek counseling to ease your suffering. Only then will the light find you and give you clarity. Have a good day and I hope your suffering is soon at an end.

          • You’re a fucking joke. The MINIMUM amount of research would validate my experiences. Just shut the fuck up and let the big kids talk, dumbass. You think this is a talent? You’re the delusional one. This is MY LIFE. There is no way out of it and I cannot return the power. Want me to demonstrate? Ill destoy your whole fucking world. Would that make you believe?

          • Give no further? Youve given NOTHING. You think your bullshit is doing anybody a favor. Fuck you, you arrogant condescending ignorant piece of shit. Fuck you.

          • ha, this is fun, with all due respect, i love a good emotional process projected into words.its so perfect to our human conscious evoulution .. bless your hearts with love and joy. i know you know these are just words, with intention and meaning.just like tradition is knowledge passed down through heritage and customs, when applied to your life , it becomes wisdom. also, just a bunch of words we don’t need in order to become a natural powerful person, which is your birthright. we all need to practice using these words on ourselves(like love, hate, live, die, respect, honor, patients, kindness), that is why you spell words. we cast spells with your words. but i tell you to be careFULL of 3-folds back to you. there is no limit to your spiritual advancement, so lets keep working… together is harder than alone.. its easy to stay in the dark and become consumed.. the real challenge is to be the change

          • Today I demonstrated my ability in a huge way. I manifested my power in such a beautiful way that it brought me to tears all day long. But I’m not going to tell you what that is. You have no respect for authority or for power. You don’t deserve to hear what I’ve done, to witness something so beautiful in any way, however small. You don’t deserve to see real magic. The end.

          • Why do you think I care? I won’t engage or feed your delusions. Why do you need to convince everyone you’re so important? Come back to reality.

          • You’re the one sitting here arguing that you’re superior to me. What does that say about you? Obviously you’re wrong, but I doubt you’d perceive that with that fat fucking ego blinding you. Any decent teacher? The only VALID teachers for real shamanism are the spirits themselves. They only ask that I survive their tests. My anger is part of what gives me the strength to do that. You know what? Just shut the fuck up. You have no idea what in the fuck you’re talking about and you’re not a shaman. End of story. Come back to me when you’ve lived in the underworld for half of your life and everyone is so fucking scared of you all the time because they can feel the death energy emanating from you. This is my real fucking life and my suffering has been enormous and endless. You don’t deserve a goddamn thing from me, let alone the courtesy of me explaining to your stupid ass why you’re wrong. YOU’RE WELCOME, FUCKFACE.

          • I have never argued such a thing. There is no such thing as superiority amongst spiritwalkers. It is a sense that can be easily developed or controlled. I pity your anguish as you have lost all sense of reality and live in your fantasy world. Please seek medical attention before you harm yourself or others.

          • Do yourself a favor and read this person’s comments. One comment he’s a gay bottom Hispanic man, the next he’s an ultra conservative white Christian screaming white power. Khai Fox is an attention seeking troll. There’s nothing truly spiritual about this person. Just someone trying to disrupt this environment on a 6 month old article.

        • By the way, Elke, jackasses like Red Feather are the reason you cant tell who actually has power. You will not find me in new age circles and you will not find me offering my services. You wont find me broadcasting my ability in public nor will you find me in any spiritual office. You’ll find me studying in solitude in my home, and sometimes doing ritual alone in wild places in nature. We all keep to ourselves because being around morons like Red Feather is too fucking irritating to tolerate and we dont owe them the experience of denigrating us. We dont owe anybody a goddamn thing.

          • It may surprise you to know I work for a living. I do not profit from my abilities or talents, it would go against everything I stand for. I use them to guide and be of service to my fellow human beings when they truly need it without any expectation of reward in return.

          • Your cussing is a typical reaction of a whiny entitled brat that gets upset with the truth. You are projecting. What you call others, is really what you are.

  23. Thank you.

    Everywhere I go, people are claiming to be Shamans. Usually Native Anerican Shamans, but still.

    It gets tiring to see people state. Oh, I’m a shaman. How so? Well, because its my calling. What?

    It’s become a mockery and it’s so offensive.

    Again, I thank you for oosting this. Hopefully, other’s will follow suit and put an end to this garbage.

      • Never said everyone was a liar. I said I see a lot claiming to be something that just is not truly possible. Especially if you are not part of that tradition and family. Unless they took you in.

        • Whoa.. that’s not right. Not picking on you, but from what I can see we all need to learn our history as a human race, do not let people who say we are seperate because of culture or color lead you away from the the truth. The truth is we are the human race and we started together so we are one. I believe I read one other person say that shamanism is a very ancient practice, not derived from one particular place on the earth. It started in animism which predates history. It started when we were one and was carried with us all through out the earth. Shamanism is in all of our history. Time is much much bigger than even 5,000 years, that transition period was nothing but a flicker in the face of time. Please do not continue to separate your fellow brother and sister humans not matter how far you are in the illusion of culture, borders, race or whatever differences you may find. No we can not ignore but we must let go. We are one, one human race.

    • I agree. I was born with innate talents and have found many who have the ability, yet stand in front of themselves and eschew the very release. I’ve healed many since age 4, and will continue to, with God, as I chose to call him, as my light. Neshama, we’ve all felt the literal wounds of those who haven’t quite got it, those who do act differently entirely.

      • I understand. I’ve had natural/innate talents all my life. I’m ok at healing, but I’m better with energy manipulation.

        True. Those that have it, never need to broadcast themselves. They simply know.

  24. The word shaman entered the English language, it seems, just over 300 years ago, via German and Russian sources. The original source however does seem to be Siberian/Mongolian, although I’ve seen it opined that it in fact derives from the Sanskrit sramana, meaning an ascetic Buddhist monk []. The current usage of shaman to mean a practitioner of indigenous spirituality, no matter where on the globe they originate culturally, is due largely to Mircea Eliade, who wrote definitively on the generalized practise in the mid-20th century []. It is worth noting that many of the rules given in this article pertaining to Mongolian shamanism, like the need for familial transmission, etc, are very similar or identical to rules in other cultures, even Hinduism.

  25. I’m glad someone wrote this article. Shamanism is a broad term for “exotic” spiritual practices stolen and appropriated by Americans and Europeans without shame. These practices DO NOT belong to you!!!

      • If by shaman you mean creator of shams then sure. You steal from people’s ancient cultures and practices and money from the gullible who believe what you say. You’re despicable.

    • So you don’t think European shamanism exists? Where do you think my blood comes from? I’m descended from a long line of germanic royalty that has the innate genetic gift of witchcraft. black forest shamanism. black magic. Shamanism, as we know the modern term, is simply any legitimate indigenous spiritual practice that draws from the reality of the connection with nature. Anyone born with natural gifts, who hears the rocks and wind and trees speak to them, who feels the power in blood, who can see through water and air and who can run fire through their bodies and put their roots in the soil, they are shamans. It’s genetic. You either can or can’t do these things. If you can’t, you never will.

      • Did I say that? No. I’m a member of a Native American tribe. My view comes from years of watching Europeans STEAL my traditions.

        • If thats really how you feel about it, then youve been infected by the same racism that destroyed your people. How very sad and how very not my fucking problem.

          • Sorry but my religion and culture is not a commodity and fuck you for thinking you can take whatever you want whenever you want even if it doesn’t belong to you.

          • Let me be more frank. Youre a moron. A serious serious moron and a serious racist. Spiritual power is in my blood. It doesnt belong to you or your culture. It doesnt belong to any culture. It is present in the genetics of people all over the whole world. You are a serious moron. Do us all a favor and shut your dumb mouth.

          • Wow, why are you so offended over my opinion? Feeling guilty? Some traditions are not for sharing. People mess with powers they know nothing about and get burned. No great loss if you do, obviously. Good riddance. I have better things to do than argue with scum such as yourself.

          • Guilty about what? What is my crime? Nothing, because you’re racist and full of shit. You’ve demonstrated your inferiority quite well.

          • Why do you need to prove that you are superior to me? Seems like your the one with the problem, not me. I made my opinion known. If you see it as racist so be it. Some traditions aren’t for sharing. Some people (regardless of race or religion) mess with powers they know nothing about or use them for greed. The person I originally responded to after careful research was one such person who claimed she had powers but was also a known scam artist. So I responded as I did for that reason.

          • Wow…reading this thread breaks my heart. Truly.

            I see two people with deep-seated fears, pain and feelings of inadequacy. I see anger. I see someone trying to “prove” themselves. But you know what I *don’t* see any of in this exchange? Wisdom.

            Khai Fox, what *are* you trying to prove? That you’re a “badass shaman” or that you’re not just some poser goth Wicca chick, like so many others? How exactly do you heal people when such psychic bile courses through your own spirit? How can you help other people let go of their own pain, when you can’t even let go of a perceived offense from a stranger?

            TooWeird, do you think you’re projecting much? Granted, just the way Khai Fox speaks, she immediately comes across as platitude-seeking at best or fraudulent at worst. I get that. But is your issue really with her?

            My girlfriend is an officially recognized (i.e. card-carrying) Native American, who was raised in Indian Education and all the cultural stuff. I’ve seen this intelligent, beautiful, emotionally-calm woman suddenly turn angry and get sassy whenever she sees some hipster wearing a headdress on Halloween. I am also aware of some of the things several tribes have done to go so far as to exclude half-breeds from their inner circle–including a story her mother told me about how their tribe held a sacred ceremony to honor warriors returning from battle (WWII), where the GI’s being honored weren’t allowed to even attend the very ceremony honoring their service! So I get where you would be offended at people who try to appropriate your culture.

            I also get that Khai Fox sounds like a child, and likely has the emotional maturity of a freshly-formed soul. But are you helping anything by engaging her? Are you making the world a better place by giving her a platform to spew her venom at you? Somehow, I doubt you are absorbing her energy and using that to heal her.

            We’re talking about something spiritual here. I don’t claim to be a shaman, because I’m not; I do claim to be a shamanist, because I see (worldly, not other-) things that others cannot and I believe. But one thing I can say with 100% certainty about this spiritual practice: every single one of us, ultimately, walks our own path. Projecting your own anger isn’t going to change her.

            Don’t get me wrong–I love fighting and arguing like that when discussing politics with my friends and such. But this isn’t politics. I completely get where you’re coming from…but again, why engage her? You’re not going to change her.

          • I wrote what I wrote because I have a right to speak my mind and let this person know they are offensive. Do I expect them to change their ways no. But I have every right to call them out on their nonsense just as they have to spew it. No one is forcing you to read it, no one is forcing you to like it.

          • Yes, yes. You have every right to do anything you want.

            Upon first impression, I just thought you were better than that. I was clearly wrong. My apologies.

          • Let me be more frank. Youre a moron. A serious serious moron and a serious racist. Spiritual power is in my blood. It doesnt belong to you or your culture. It doesnt belong to any culture. It is present in the genetics of people all over the whole world. You are a serious moron. Do us all a favor and shut your dumb mouth.

          • Oh and I have no idea who youre talking about. No one HERE has claimed that your culture is a commodity, nor have we treated it as such. So youre taking your pain and shoving it on innocent people. That makes you the villain in this story. I have only a very small amount of native american blood but my dominant genes are from germanic witchcraft. My culture derived from germanic and mediterranean shamanism, because those are my genetics, those are my ancestors, and those are the spirits who come to me. And anyone who is a real genetic shaman has their own ancestral spirits teaching them. Mine are from the bavarian illuminati. So why dont you take your beef with white people and shove it way back up your ass where it came from. If you want innocent people who have done you no wrong to sympathize with you, dont treat them like the enemy. Until then, you can just go fuck yourself.

          • Oh and since your feeble mind compulsively talks without speaking, and since you clearly know nothing, it is necessary to adopt a few local spiritual practices in order to harmonize with the physical land that you actually live on. There are native american bones in this soil and I have to be able harmonize with the soil to acheive balance. Thats what I need for my own health and sanity. Your stupidity does not factor into my decisions.

          • *Yawn* I don’t even need to read your crazy nonsense to know you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you did you wouldn’t need to justify yourself to me. Have fun commoditizing your ancestors.

          • Oh I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m trying to communicate to you and break through your wall of stupidity. Of course it’s made of brick because you have a hard heart and no mind whatsoever. I know exactly what I’m talking about. And how exactly am i making a commodity out of my ancestors? I don’t practice publicly or charge for my work. The few times I have charged have been VERY little and only to meet immediate needs and I did my absolute best to help the person and declined payment if I couldn’t. The reason I say these things isn’t to justify shit. It’s to demonstrate to other people how full of shit you are because everything you say about me is so clearly false, racist, and steeped in irrational hatred.

          • Not hating anyone. Like I said, some traditions aren’t for sharing with others who don’t understand the powers that they mess with. You wouldn’t want me messing with your ancestors, don’t mess with mine. That simple.

          • If you wish to learn from someone willing to teach certain methods and traditions that’s 100% okay. My problem is when people make a profit selling these traditions. My issue is with the Michael Harners, etc of this world who profit from stealing traditions of others and commoditizing it. If you wish to harmonize with the land and respectfully ask for teaching from a spiritual leader willing to teach you their ways that’s 100% okay. Looking at your past disqus posts you seem to be a very disrespectful and unbalanced person in general. So forgive me if I don’t believe a word of what you say.

          • I dont give a shit what you think. Youre a racist asshole on the internet. You could die today and I would laugh. You dont get power by respecting idiots. You’re born with it. I dont have to prove shit to you or lift a goddamn finger to get my power. Its in my blood. It IS my blood. If you dont get that, thats your stupid ass problem.

          • Apparently your blood is full of stupid, violent and angry people who make false accusations. Good to know. My point’s been more than proven.

          • How do you expect anyone else to learn what we have learned if we shut ourselves away? We must be willing to teach others. Many of our brothers and sisters have hidden away our spiritual knowledge of the land. If we wish to reconcile we must be willing to share, even if we get burned along the way.

          • I understand that but I have a serious problem with people coming in and profiting off my beliefs the way Michael Garner and others have.

          • Response to all and the author:
            We are in a dream, an illusion…you dont own anything…stealing is not possible. All I see here is childs play tug a war, “ Im a shaman, no im a shaman” (I know you are but what I am bullshit!), a defensive article and responses that are merely an expression of unhealed wounds, insecurities, fear and false ownership. You are merley carrying you and your ancestors pain and suffering by having to defend yourself…you are trapped by your ego, your mind, your beliefs. You’re not expressing freedom but a false sense of self (that doesnt mean you cant partake in your work as a shaman, Im saying it doesnt define who you are and this conversation is trying to wake you up to see how “whole and complete” you are already. Ask yourself, Do you need a title to “know thyself” and to do this work? Arent you beyond titles/labels as an expression of consicousness? Our only limitation is our mind and we can choose what we see and focus on. We here to serve one another for the greater good and to assist others in healing, self realization and recognizing their truth? YOUR perspective is making this petty shit matter; YOU are participating in the hierarchy system of illusion and perpetuating the illusion of separation and duality. We are both the form and formless…everyone is special, everyone has gifts (and everyone can say, do, call themselves whatever feels good to them…its up to others to use discernment). We r in a shared reality to mirror one another for purposes of evolution. We are all helping eachother in these interactions to realize the ultimate truth of this reality and ourselves…we are all going to the SAME place!!! You can call yourself a Shaman but I would never have someone “heal” me who hasnt worked thru their own shadows and illusion. Why you attached to this mask? What purpose is it serving you? Why limit yourself and others? It feels suffocating if you ask me. Gifts are divine so lets move beyond the veil and see eachother behind the mask. We are all great and lots of us are highly evolved beings who have done this journey many times. You are more then your culture in this 1 lifetime and people carry codes and lineages thruought many incarnations beyond this planet. You can honor your culture but you dont need to invalidate someone elses experience, its a very limited perspective and you are putting people in a box (I guarentee most souls cant be put in a box!!). We are infinite and all carry great gifts and wisdom beyond this world we live today. You are “the shaman” and should “see” this. I think a real shaman sees beyond spirits and our totality. Perhaps thats a galactic shaman but arent we all essentially (only if we could rememeber all these memories). I have some vast dreams of other worlds at night. I am not threatened by anyone, I understand (the best i can in this moment as my perspective shifts) the nature and fabric of this reality to move beyond the traps. Everything is so fluid is my point and can easily be changed. Anyway, I love you all, you are all special, important and have beauitful gifts to share. Be well.

      • You are not a Shaman. You are from a line of black magic and witchcraft. You don’t have to steal from this culture. Shamanism and Wicca are not the same. Anyone that isn’t from these cultures that write about Shamans I can guarantee you know nothing and want to try to claim Shamanism is on par with witchcraft because of their own religious system is aimed at frowning on anyone that does not accept their scripts. I can tell by the way you write that you are not a Shaman.

        Your grandious thinking and acting like a spoiled child saying GIMME as if you are entitled to everything is found in your European culture. It’s in your genes. The world doesn’t revolve around you and if you were really a Shaman, you would know that but you don’t.

        Just because you stamp shamanism into your own european culture doesn’t make it the same. As someone that has experienced this ever since I was a little kid filled with pain and heartbreak, almost drowning to death, almost bleeding to death and horrible pain in my shoulder and back that will not go away with no cure but I still manage to keep going, your prissy narcissistic self would cry like a little baby and demand for it to leave you alone.

        The world does not belong to you. You aren’t entitled to everything. I am a healer. That’s it. No curses or harm sent to anyone. I didn’t ask for this, it came to me. I don’t read about it, wisdom comes to me. I’ve learned I can’t trust people but my inner guide(s) are trustworthy. I had a guide warning me about someone I was madly in-love with and I didn’t want to believe it. Turned out, it was true. I could not trust that person even.

        You are sent to places from within where you will find objects like rocks and feathers. You are told from within what you will find. You will see people’s true animal and their true colors before anyone else even takes a glimpse. If you dare open your mouth, prepare to once again be outcasted.

        You won’t have many friends. Instead, you will have people make fun of you, lie about you behind your back but then will come to you for healing.

        You are instructed by your guide to not make any profit off of this gift.

        It’s a lonely path. Once you go through enough, you realize or you don’t not to sweat over people coming and going. It becomes apart of it all and you learn to accept it.

        Stop defelecting, reflecting, projecting and practice introspection. Europeans wouldn’t feel the need to imitate, scrub history, erase those “others” from anything if Europeans learned how to deal with their “superiority” trips and narcissism better.

        Maybe instead of insisting you are a shaman, you could use a healer yourself. Perhaps your higher conscious that is being blocked is asking for help but first it would be best if you admit there is a problem. If you can’t, ask yourself what good does being overly prideful do for you really? Is it working out in your favor or is it hindering you?

    • The term ‘Shaman’ comes from the Tungusic language of Siberia and describes those working in the Siberian/Mongolian tradition. The term was imported to the West via Russia in the 16th Century. Although it has been widely used to describe a complex phenomenon across many traditions, it has often been used very loosely and is rarely used by other indigenous practitioners to describe their practices. This article, though you may not agree with the author’s point of view, represents an argument that the Mongolian shamans we contacted agreed with

    • The author, as the author, is using the author’s definition of shamanism. That’s fair enough. Shamanism originates in Central Asia. That’s common knowledge, sir. Consider rereading the article, but this time with a mind to understanding it from the author’s point of view, not merely for what you can think up to say about it. Otherwise, all you will have in your head is your same old thoughts and will have gained nothing for your efforts.

      • “We know jack shit of what is going on,” to quote Terence McKenna, about this world. Not because we have written history and laid down the rules for it means that Shamanism only originated in SIberia. NO, the word Shaman-from Saman- originated there for anthropologists. Other than that, it remains misleading, as you want to make a case for Mongolian shamanism…ever lived in Peru or met shamans in the Amazon, where they found proof of settlements 40.000 years old???

  26. Not everyone who says they are shaman are trying to be mongolian shaman. Shamans are known to every culture on earth, both modern cultures and ancient.

    You can be your sooth sayer and say they are whatever they are but shaman. But still they are a shaman. Shaman originally meant peace keeper, because they would dream, meditate, use drugs or alter states to see the outcome of a thing, therefore keeping the peace with their people and others.

    I’ve never even heard of mongolian shamanism? Perhaps other cultures also have the sickness, and also walk with spirits too before they walk their own path before they continue onward to inspire others.

    Shaman or not, be your own peace keeper, and quit saying what could be, rather than face denial of what is. You can change nothing if shamans want to be shamans, you know that. You can say no and be disquiet, shows us all what you really “are”. Human.

    • In my tradition they are called Völva, pronounced full-fah. In my opinion claiming to own terminology is pretty stupid. To a shaman many words mean the same things.

  27. The word ‘shaman’ comes from the tungusk region in siberia, and I agree there is some contention about people from around the world adopting the term and this could be considered cultural appropriation.

    In one sense, anyone who doesn’t come from that language group should not technically be called a shaman. This is quite different to the argument that the people who legitimately carry that title and come from that region are the only ones who perform that function.

    Every ancient culture in one form or another has carried traditions that are termed in the modern day as shamanism.

    The fact is that these types of practices are common throughout humanity, and a common word to describe them is useful. Much of the world has taken the the word ‘shaman’ and adopted it to describe these common practices around the world.

    Those who are from the culture the word came from may be right in feeling that a part of their culture has been appropriated and if it’s their wish for the rest of the word to stop using the term then we might need to find a replacement.

    The article is therefore speaking about a very specific practice of what the rest of the world generally calls shamanism, and is very firmly stating, perhaps by accident that not only the word, but their tradition of practice is the true shamanism, and all other practices are not.

    The problem is that the semantic argument about the name is getting mixed up with the true practice argument.

    If we put aside the word ‘shaman’ for a moment, we’ll find that there are many other practices that fulfil this function that believe things that don’t match what this article is saying. Some tribes in the amazon consider every adult male in the tribe as someone who is engaging in these practices.

    If looked at strictly from the perspective of who is executing the role described in tungusk as shaman, there are many people who could be classed in that category who didn’t go through the initiatory experience described in the article, nor are they aware of any blood connection – yet they still perform the function for their community.

    What I can agree in is that, whatever the name, be it shaman, medicine man or whatever, it’s not a title that is usually self applied, if at all.

    • It is one the spirits give you in my experience. Ultimately it’s a title that is earned not given and very few who have it would wish it upon another. It’s really unfortunate that people are too busy arguing over semantics they don’t see the very real suffering of the shamans being called who lack any kind of human mentor because we’re too busy arguing about semantics.

  28. Thanks for the cultural clarification. Most of us are shamanic practitioners, practicing shamanism in a variety of ways and do not claim the title of shaman.

    • I’m glad to hear your clarification. I had some horrific experiences and Mayan preists in Guatemala recognized me as chuchkahau possible. I was initiated there, but did not keep up their practices. I returned to USA, California found new age practitioners calling themselves shamans, it didn’t feel right what they were doing. Like you discribed.

      So I didn’t do Mayan divination or totals in my country, people very ignorant of real Mayan divination, etc.
      I read tarot and palmistry.
      I’m here in Mongolia and want to meet authentic shamans. But not to be initiated or to receive teachings. I don’t know how to explain my desire to meet but it’s sincere.

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