This treatise goes some way into explaining what a Shaman is in the postmodern world. Shamans of today, pronounced ‘SHAME-ons’
or sometimes ‘CHAR-maines’ stand in a long line of healers. The word originates in Siberia, but the practice of shamanism is present in all traditional societies. Ancient Shamans travelled between worlds, living in the liminal space of the betwixt and between. This was a spooky place to get stuck in! So it is a good thing that in contemporary times, Shamans are much more mobile and able to slip and slide across time and cultural identities. Largely based on the efforts of colonial, postcolonial and neocolonial anthropology, the West has cleverly creamed the top layers of Shamanism from many traditional cultures and brought them across to our postmodern world. Isn’t that wonderful? In a traditional society, you would either be born into a line of shamans, or be selected to be a shaman, but there was never any choice in the matter. Shamanic apprenticeship took many years and collective knowledge accumulated slowly over hundreds, if not thousands of years. This was a great burden for traditional Shamans, and for the communities they served. Imagine having an apprentice Shaman treating you for a life-threatening illness!
Modern technology and freedom of choice have aided us in the West to cut corners and cut to the chase. We are able to pick and choose, pushing around our proverbial cultural shopping carts and gathering what attracts us and discarding what doesn’t. Hurray for living in the postmodernn postproverbial world!