The very word “shaman” conjures up images of animalistic figures banging a drum while entering altered states of consciousness to bring back knowledge to heal with. The term itself is from syberia and while large portions of Native Americans practiced it in some form or another, I don’t necessarily believe they all had shamans. I can’t help but utilize my cultural background as the framework to study a subject like this and it at the same time I’ve came to some personal truths through studies and observations made along the way. Being a member of the Chickasaw tribe didn’t really help me on this path . The Chickasaw traded their great spirit (shilomb’ishto) for a Jehova (chihowa) a long time ago. It gave them access to guns and blacksmiths but altered or erased most knowledge of their previous religion almost over night. What can I say we like guns! I find it comical that some people like to claim ancestry to a Cherokee princess like it grants them some secret wisdom or something. I like to call these “plastic shaman”! More into that later maybe. Back to shamans, there are two words that could be interpreted into shamans in the Muskogee language . Alik’Chi which literally means medicine person and Hatak Holhkunna which is often translated as witch doctor/wizard. The former survive to this day with the term also meaning modern doctors, the latter is part of that culture traded so long ago. Not all medicine people were wizards, not all wizards were medicine people. Basically every village had their own medicine people who specialized in the natural ailments. The good old down to earth healers! The Hatak Holhkunna was a specialist if you will, and for the sake of this topic I would say they are more closely aligned to what we modernly refer to as shamans. Using the four D’s of shamanism Drums,Dancing,Dreaming and Drugs they entered into a altered state of consciousness to retrieve things the layman couldn’t readily access. I like Dr. Stanley Krippner’s interpretation on this. “Shamans can be defined as socially sanctioned practitioners who purport to voluntarily regulate their attention and awareness so as to access information not ordinarily available, using it to facilitate appropriate behavior and healthy development — as well as to alleviate stress and sickness — among members of their community and/or for the community as a whole.” This type of healer breaks through the layers of consciousness to find the oneness with all things. While it is said there is three layers of this world. The upper or celestial world, the middle or physical world , and the lower or world of souls . They’re really all the same thing! Being studiers of the conscious perhaps granted them access to that collective consciousness which rendered answers to Aid in the healing of a patient. I believe part of the practice was used for show, to help the patient believe what the shaman was doing would help them. But I think the most often misunderstood aspect of the practice is this. A shaman, doctor, medicine person,psychologist, scientist, or preacher cannot heal you! The body has that ability on its own, the above mentioned practitioners are just providing the avenue for that to take place. Anyone else intersted in this old practice or have any insights or questions?