Student practices healing through the art of shamanism

SHAMANISM AT WORK: Tyler Parkerson sits in Freshmen Court while demonstrating the art of shamanism, a healing practice that has been. Photo by: Benjy Elkind

Since our ancient ancestors walked the Earth many, many years ago, people have needed a way of physically and mentally healing themselves. The oldest recorded way of doing this is known as shamanism. Shamanic practices have been dated all the way back to the Paleolithic period and have been observed by hundreds, if not thousands of different civi- lizations spanning the entire planet.

But what exactly is a shaman, and how did these ancient shamans, or medicine men, conduct their ways of mystical healing? Tyler Parkerson, a junior who studies shamanism, is here to share his knowledge of the sacred art.

“A shaman is like the healer, philosopher, and predictor of the tribe or clan,” Parkerson said. “He’s the guy they went to when a tribesman was sick, or when the tribe needed to make a big decision. He also performs most of the tribes’ sacred rituals and initiations, the most common of which being the healer, by receiving answers from earthen spirits and entities.”

In other words, a shaman is a doctor, therapist, master of ceremonies, and all around consultant rolled into one. However, they do not practice these jobs as an average person would.

There is an amount of science involved in the remedies shamans provide to ailing patients, but most of their jobs require them to enter an alternate world, known most commonly as “The Spirit World.” This is not a literal world, but more of a mental state of mind, and there are various ways of gaining entry to it.

“The most common ways of entering ‘The Spirit World’ are through meditation,” Tyler said. “When meditating, a shaman will most likely use drums, which affect the brain waves rhythm, throat sing, or do a various assortment of natural drugs. Large rituals and dances are also utilized, but tend not to produce the needed results every time.” One of the more mysterious concepts regarding the practices of shamans is the way in which they produce their answers from these spirits.

“When in the spirit world, the shaman does not necessarily talk to a spirit or entity, but will make its presence very apparent to the shaman through sense and feeling. And through these senses or feelings the shaman extracts information and answers,” said Tyler.

A tribesman becomes a shaman through being initiated into the position by his or her tribe. The important factor in deciding whether somebody has achieved “shaman status” is through a large, significant event that had an impact on the initiates’ life. When Tyler was 5 years old he had a stroke, a traumatic experience that inspired him to being practicing shamanism.

A very typical reason patients have sought out shamans over time is because shamans are thought to be able to rid someone of bad feelings, or bad karma. Shamans believe this has something to do with these spots of energy in our bodies called “chakras.”

Chakras are points in a persons body through which all of their energy flows, and they are the reason that someone act,s behaves, and functions like themselves. But sometimes these chakras are believed to become out of line due to the infiltration of a bad spirit, and it is the shamans job to fix it.

“Often, a shaman spits water over a patient’s body to remove the bad spirits, and then will often call on a spirit guide that will let the shaman sense its presence, and guide his hands over the patients’ body, restoring spiritual balance and realigning their chakras,” said Parkerson.

Shamans have been healing for thousands of years, and have managed to keep the art of shamanism alive throughout the discoveries of modern medicine that have become com- monplace today. Parkerson is dedicated to the practice, and hopes to continue his role within the efforts to keep this tradition alive for many years to come.

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