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How to Use Shamanism
By:Nina Makofsky

The shamanic journey is accessible to anyone with patience and openness. Carlos Castaneda, the author of many books on shamanism, advises, "Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: 'Does this path have a heart?' If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use." This article outlines the rightful path to using shamanic power.

Choose a song, instrument, chant or mantra that allows you to clear your mind and enter a trance-like state. It helps to clear your environment and your psyche of distractions. Once in a trance, you have reached shamanic consciousness, known as the portal between the worlds. Through continued repetitious sound and rhythm, you can explore this new place and locate what are known as spirit helpers. These helpers can aid you in conducting healing rituals and solving problems.

Visit your spirit helpers regularly to develop a relationship with them and to deepen your understanding of their world. This practice is necessary for a shaman or a shamanic practitioner to obtain power and knowledge. With repeated visits and explorations, you can use these spirit helpers as mentors and teachers. Be open to the form these helpers may take, such as rock spirits, plant spirits, guardian ancestor spirits and power animals.

Focus on what you seek to resolve in embarking on a shamanic journey. Write down or state a question or concern that you would like addressed or resolved. You must affirm that you are prepared to receive the knowledge given to you by your spirit guides. Consider how this information can guide you in daily life. If the focus is healing, the shaman or shamanic practitioner must identify elements that consume power and how to eliminate them. She must locate plant helpers and energy forces that are constructive.

Maintain a ritual so that you achieve a deeper, more fruitful shamanic journey. Community dance rituals are a customary way of showing gratitude, asking questions, reuniting with ancestorsand celebrating and overcoming challenges. Some practitioners favor a ritual that involves spending the night in the outdoors.

Trust in the worlds you experience on your journey. Surrender to the powers that wish to guide you. In this surrender, the shaman or shamanic practitioner finds her true power. In the words of Marianne Williamson, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." To accept the fear is to move beyond it and on to freedom.