Shamanism is the oldest spiritual healing tradition still in general use today. This pre-religious belief system dates back at least 60.000 years and takes a holistic approach to healing. The shamanic practice is more a set of local activities, perspectives and worldviews then it is a formal institution and ideology. The term ‘shaman’ itself comes from the Evenki language of Siberia and means ‘the one who knows’.

A key element of ‘shamanism’ is the belief that everything has a spirit or life essence, from the plants and the trees to the wind, the rivers and the mountains. In the shamanistic worldview there is a continuous interaction between different dimensions, forces and entities of the cosmos. This complex reality is organized in a world tree or mountain with many levels. The shaman masters the technique to travel through these levels and act as a mediator in order to bring good fortune and healing to his people.

This technique is established through a controlled form of trance or ecstasy, induced by fasting, continuous dancing, singing and drumming or the ingestion of certain psycho-active medicinal plants. A shaman will often have an ancestor spirit or animal spirit to guide her through the astral realms and assist in her work.