A shaman is usually regarded as a healer as well as a mediator between the usual – ordinary – reality (OR), and the spiritual world, the so called non-ordinary reality (NOR). He/she is an expert for communicating with helping spirits by changing his/her everyday consciousness to an altered state and “journeying” to NOR to retrieve power and information for his/ clients and tasks.
Traditional Shamanism is a complex of beliefs and behaviours embedded within a variety of cultures. Shamans are distinguished from other healers, mediums and various religious practitioners.
These criteria are helpful:
– Usually shamans have direct contact with spiritual entities.
– Strict control of one or more spirits. Spirits do not usurp or “control” the shaman’s consciousness without his or her permission.
– Control of an altered state of consciousness (the shaman determines when to enter and when to leave the altered state).
– They focus rather on the “normal”, material world than looking for personal enlightenment.
– The ability for the “magical flight of the soul”, i. e. the shaman’s journey.
Comparison of data from tribal cultures show a cosmological pattern. In general shamans experience three worlds: The Upper, the Lower and the Middle World. Upper and Lower World are the realms of the compassionate helpful spirits of the shaman.