In the Light of ONE


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I am going to address a couple of the things I hear most often on Facebook pages and other forums dedicated to shamanic traditions.  

I am going to address a couple of the things I hear most often on Social Network pages and in other forums dedicated to Shamanic traditions.  

  • “No real Shaman ever refers to him or herself as a Shaman.”
  • “No real Shaman charges for their services.”


Let’s consider tribal culture for a moment. First off, the primary unit of this culture is communal – the tribe itself (or commune community). This is something that is simply impossible for most “modern Americans” to grasp. Your very concept of “self” is radically different from someone growing up in a tribal community. Further, the community of the tribe is quite closely knitted – much more so than small towns in the American culture. Even more so that American extended families. This is a tribal culture in which everyone knows what is going on with everyone else, to a degree that would be quite uncomfortable for folks from the standard American culture.

If you are chosen by the tribe’s shaman as an apprentice, everyone knows. They know how that person is doing with the process of learning, initiation, and they know when that person receives the blessing of becoming Shaman to begin working as such. For the “initiate” to go around proclaiming him or herself a shaman would be redundant, it’s known by all in tribal environment from their first day as an apprentice. 

In our tribal culture, in Shamanic practices we have clientele who we have never met us before they come with their concerns. Off the Reservation there is no “community network” of people who already know what we have been through and that we have received our teacher’s blessing. What we have is word of mouth with in Tribal community – and business cards in American Community. 

  • You see, not calling yourself a Shaman has everything to do with the tribal context and nothing to do with Shamanism. 


The issue of charging for your services is another case of the same principal. The tribal communities still function on barter and exchange system. They don’t use “money” in the same way that the Modern American, and post-tribal cultures do. So naturally the Shaman doesn’t get paid in money on the reservation. However, the Shaman does get paid in food and labor and whatever else he or she needs living in the commune community of the reservation. 

  • Once again.  Charging money for anything is a matter of cultural context, not Shamanism. It is important to be able to view shamanism as it is, separate from the tribal context, if we are to be able to practice it in a meaningful way in our post-tribal context. 

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Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all Relations)

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