The Celtic Tradition
Celtic Shamanism is traditional to our homeland, however our ancestors, the Celts were not very good at recording information about their way of life, their rituals and beliefs etc, as they would pass their knowledge on by storytelling. However, the Romans and the Greeks did record information about Celtic traditions, but some of the information has been changed, so it is not reliable. There are some parts of the United Kingdom that do still carry the energy of the Celtic magic, such as Cornwall and parts of Scotland, etc. There are also many monuments to the Celtic heritage such as the wonderful stone circles, for example Stonehenge and Avebury. These areas are full of magic and powerful energies, and confirm that our ancestors worshipped the sun and moon, and performed ceremonies linked to the summer and winter solstices.
The Celtic Shaman have also long been associated with many power animals, one of which is the crow which is seen as a magical creature and a teller of truth. The crows medicine is boldness and intuitive medicine. The owl is also held in high esteem by the Celtic Shaman, and is seen as a magical bird that brings visions and inner knowing.
The drum is the heartbeat. It is made of animal skin, tightly stretched over a frame. Often the animal skin is deerskin, elk, goat, buffalo or horse, different skins resonating at different pitches. It would be used for journeying, healing and raising the vibrations.
Smudging is done to clear negative energies from people or spaces, and to give protection. The most commonly used smudge is sage, but this is not the only thing you can use, other herbs or incense are also effective.
The sage or herb is burned and a smudging fan or feather would be used to waft the smoke around. Whilst doing this we would also ask The Great Spirit for help in cleansing and protection.
Core Shamanism is the most widely taught shamanic practice in the west today. It realises that the fundamental beliefs and ways of the Shaman throughout the world are consistent with each other. The basic themes such as drumming, rattling, dancing, singing, shifting consciousness, and working with your power animals are the same whatever culture you are. The traditional Shaman journeying to help or heal within their tribes or communities is just the same as the western Shaman journeying to help their friends or family or the community that they live in. Both Shaman are connecting to the universal energy and linking with the spirits.
As you start to walk the path of the Shaman you start to connect to the spirits of your ancestors who have walked this path before you, be it Celtic, Native American, Tibetan or any culture. These spirits join with us to help guide us and keep us on our pathway, passing on their knowledge as and when we need it.
Shamanism can connect us with powerful energies, and working for personal empowerment rather than having power over others enables life to be lived with integrity and balance. It is important not to try to manipulate the actions of others or situations, but to concentrate more on your own actions. Working with integrity brings us into balance with our own power and our relationships with others. Using Shamanism can bring about our own transformation and healing, which in turn brings about a greater connection with all things, leading to empowerment and hope for all life.
Native American Ways
Sometimes the Native American Shaman has been chosen because he has healed himself or someone else of a serious illness. It is believed that he has the power to influence the spirits to help with the healing.
Another tradition of the Native American Shaman is that he/she believes that by wearing the skin of an animal he absorbs the power of the spirit of the animal, thus making him stronger to influence the spirits.
The rattle can also be made from animal skin, gourds, or wood, and filled with stones, crystals or dried seeds. They are used in ceremonies and for healing etc.