The 7 stages of shamanic initiation


Do you feel a spiritual calling but don’t know how to pursue it? Would you like to know more about how to become a shaman? Sit back, breathe, and relax… Everything will come to you at the right time. In the meantime, you can start by reading this small guide about the 7 stages of shamanic initiation we have carefully prepared for you in order to help you with your journey.

From us to you, with love.

What is shamanism?

Shamanism is a spiritual or religious practice that involves a practitioner, called a shaman, who interacts with the spirit world. The shaman is someone who developed the ability to heal physical, emotional, and spiritual illnesses, as well as helping to guide individuals and communities to achieve their better selves. The practice of shamanism is ancient and has been practised by indigenous cultures all over the world, including in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

The specific beliefs and practices associated with shamanism vary greatly between different cultures and regions. Still, the role of the shaman as a mediator between the human and spirit worlds is a common thread that runs throughout most shamanic traditions.

How to become a shaman?

Traditionally, becoming a shaman was a calling that came from the spirits themselves. The spirits would choose an individual and send signs to indicate that they were being called to the shamanic path. In some cultures, shamanic abilities were passed down through family lineages, and certain individuals were born into shamanic families and trained from a young age.

However, in modern times, the path to becoming a shaman has become more open, and anyone who feels called to the shamanic path can pursue it. This means that anyone who has an interest in shamanism and a desire to connect with the spirit world can potentially become a shaman.

That being said, becoming a shaman requires a deep commitment to the spiritual path and a willingness to undergo intense training and personal transformation. It also requires a deep respect for the spirits and a willingness to work in service to others.

Becoming a shaman is a process that requires two main things: 1) the courage to follow the calling and 2) the patience to respect the process.

About the seven stages of shamanic initiation

The seven stages of shamanic initiation, also known as the seven gates of initiation, is a framework that has been used to describe the process of becoming a shaman. It is important to note that these stages are not universally agreed upon and can vary between different shamanic traditions. However, the following is a general outline of the 7 stages that can help you in your journey of becoming a shaman:

1. The Call

It all starts with a calling, and this calling often comes after experiencing a powerful event that shakes the structures of the individual’s life, such as a near-death experience or a vision.  An existential confrontation with the individual’s previous sacred beliefs is the very first step towards the shamanic path.

This calling often generates a difficult dilemma since you must refuse what is known in order to start the shamanic initiation. Those who deny the call and choose to stay in their comfort zone will forever continue living with turbulence. This refusal is no small thing, it is, in fact, alienation.

2. Separation

The second stage involves the individual physically, emotionally, and spiritually separating from their current life and starting their journey as a shamanic initiate. This stage of the shamanic initiation is an important and often challenging aspect of becoming a shaman.

During the separation stage, the initiate may experience a range of emotions and physical sensations, including fear, anxiety, confusion, and disorientation. However, these experiences are seen as necessary for the transformation to take place, as they help to break down the old identity and be open to new experiences and perspectives.

3. Descent

The third stage is when the initiate descends into the underworld to face their fears, undergo spiritual purification, and receive guidance from the spirits. This journey may be intense and challenging, as the initiate must face their mortality in order to achieve a higher state of consciousness.

This phase entails a symbolic death and rebirth experience, often through the use of plant medicines such as Ayahuasca.

In some shamanic traditions, the initiate may also encounter spirit helpers or guides, who offer support and guidance during this experience. These spirit helpers may take the form of animals, ancestors, or other spiritual beings.

This transformation may involve the development of new skills or abilities, such as the ability to communicate with spirits or heal others, as well as a new sense of purpose and connection to the spiritual world.

4. Transformation

In the fourth stage, the initiate undergoes a period of profound growth and transformation.

The transformation stage may involve a period of learning and apprenticeship with a more experienced shaman. This apprenticeship period may last several years, depending on the culture and tradition of the shamanic practice.

In addition to developing their shamanic skills, the initiate may also undergo a personal transformation during this stage. They may develop a greater sense of empathy and compassion for others, as well as a deeper understanding of their own purpose and place in the world.

5. Return

The fifth stage is when the initiate returns to the world above and begins to integrate their new knowledge into their life.

In this stage, the initiate is now recognised as a shaman by their community and may be called upon to perform various shamanic practices, such as healings, divinations, or spirit journeys.

Overall, the return stage of the shamanic initiation marks the beginning of a new phase in the initiate’s life, as they take on the role of a shaman and begin to help others.

6. Integration

During this stage, the shaman is expected to integrate their experiences and newfound knowledge into their daily life and practice.

On a personal level, the shaman may need to process and reflect on their experiences during the initiation ritual. On a community level, the shaman is expected to use their newfound knowledge and abilities to help their community. They may begin to perform healing rituals, provide guidance, or even teach others about shamanism.

7. Mastery

The final stage is when the initiate becomes a master shaman, having fully integrated the lessons into their life and having developed a deep understanding of the shamanic path.

Ultimately, the mastery stage of shamanic initiation represents the pinnacle of the shamanic journey, where the practitioner has achieved a deep understanding of the spiritual world and has the ability to use this knowledge and connection to bring about positive change in the lives of others. This is the case for many of our family members at Avalon. You will be able to meet our shamans at many of our Ayahuasca retreats in Europe, held in Barcelona and Ibiza

It’s worth noting that these stages are not necessarily linear and may not occur in the same order for every individual. The process of becoming a shaman is often seen as a lifetime journey of spiritual growth and development, and some individuals may revisit certain stages at different points in their lives.

 Don’t ever be anything less than what you are capable of being.

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