Modern Shamanism in a secular society
Historically, the shaman was a healer of mind and body and a diviner of things yet to come. While they may occasionally take the role of a priest or priestess, the shaman’s central role was to engage in the cultural aspects of the society in which he lived and use those cultural experiences to aid in healing and divination. While they may have set themselves apart from the community in the way they dressed, shamans were very much involved in the community itself; a feature as commonplace as a doctor or nurse. Shamanism is experiencing a revival of interest, but is there room, in a modern society, for a belief-system that relies on ancient knowledge?
Modern shamanism uses the same beliefs and ideals as those from long ago, but in the context of our 21st Century culture and environment. While may like to practice rituals away from the eyes of ridicule, perhaps in forests or on moors, the essence of Shamanism is rooted in the community; a shaman belongs where there are people. However, because genuine communities are becoming few and far between, the challenge for the shaman is to integrate himself into a group of people where he can actually be of some use.
The Same Old Problems
A further barrier is the fact that there are now so many belief-systems in operation. In days of old, the shaman would have been the focus for one set of beliefs, through which he could channel the forces of nature and the innate abilities of those around him to engender healing or offer advice of future events. Today, most people have allied themselves to a particular faith and have no room in their lives for other trains of thought. However, this does not mean that Shamanism is redundant; the same issues, fears and natural events still play as much a part in our modern lives as they did in those of our ancestors.
There are now networks of shamans who can be found online, that are putting aside the differences between their respective traditions and uniting to offer healing for their communities and for the world in general. Shamanism may yet find its place in the modern world.