If you asked 10 people to define shamanism, you’d likely get 10 different answers. For some, it’s about achieving an altered state of consciousness. For others it’s about plant wisdom. For me, it is neither of these things.
Simply put, I define shamanism as a form of energy medicine…specifically, an engagement with the wisdom of the earth and the cosmos, both seen and unseen. Every culture since time began has had their own methods and processes which bring the wisdom of the earth into the community through the vehicle of the shaman or healer.
The word “shaman” was first used by the Evenk and Buryat people of Siberia, meaning “he who knows.” What the shaman knows is how the unseen world affects the physical world of the here and now.
In scholarly literature, if not in practice, if the local term for such a healer is known, that is what they are called. And in the case of long ago cultures, especially those with no written language, “shaman” has become the catch-all designation for most people.
Very strictly speaking, in the Andean p’aqokuna healing traditions of the Q’ero people of Peru, I am known as a Pampamesayok, or Earth Priest(ess).