What is a shaman?

Shamans have been present in various cultures for thousands of years. But what and who are they exactly? And why are they important in an ayahuasca ceremony?

What is a shaman?

The word Shaman, literally translates to ‘the one who knows’. Originating in Siberia and northern Asia, the term ‘Shaman’ has spread across the world as a way of describing those who meditate between different dimensions and often engage in ancient, traditional healing rituals.

A shaman’s faith, transcending the paradigms of organised religion, is very much aligned with animism – the belief that everything that exists is living and has a spirit that can be communicated with. They are considered to be the holders of universal spiritual wisdom, often sharing a deep, sacred connection to nature, healing of self, community and traditional spiritual practices.

The ayahuasca brew and its ingredients are native to the Amazonian forests in South America, and the indigenous, native-Indian shamans of the Amazon jungle that engage with ayahuasca are the figures that usually lead an ayahuasca ceremony.

‘The word shaman comes from the Siberian Tungusic word for the person in a tribe of indigenous people who uses a type of magic to heal, foresee future events, and communicate with spirits, plants, animals, and other worlds.’

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

What is a shaman’s role in an ayahuasca ceremony?

Ayahuasca ceremonies are best led by experienced shamans who have had years of training and experience. Put simply, a shaman’s role in a ceremony is to guide and ensure everyone that is taking part in the ceremony is safe at all times. They stay present between different dimensions, communicating with the spirit world and navigate the ceremony with music, chanting, and rituals.

Shamans will use various ways of facilitating the ceremony, including music and chanting

Why is it important for a shaman to be present in an ayahuasca ceremony?

It is understood and accepted by many that ayahuasca ceremonies guided by shamans are as important as the ayahuasca brew itself. A shaman is so important in an ayahuasca ceremony because, among many reasons, they can help to bring reassurance and guidance to everyone involved – particularly for someone that may be passing through a difficult moment in their journey whilst drinking ayahuasca.

They are not there to interfere with an individual’s journey, but rather to facilitate the process gracefully and ensure the ceremony environment provides the perfect space for someone to go through deep healing and/or exploration whilst drinking ayahuasca.

Why can’t you just do ayahuasca without a shaman?

Drinking ayahuasca without the guiding presence of an experienced shaman is not recommended. Ayahuasca can have incredibly powerful effects that, if not prepared for in the right and safe setting, can be potentially very disorientating and dangerous.

Having the guidance and knowledge of a shaman around you, whilst embarking on your ayahuasca journey, is invaluable. It is no secret that things can get tough and challenging during your journey. Knowing you have support, guidance and love around you at all times will bring you a sense of calmness and safety that can often make the difference in your trip.

There is a reason shamans are also called, sorcerers, healers or transformers. They are there to support. And with ayahuasca, support and loving guidance are crucial.

If you are looking for a safe, holistic and transformative ayahuasca retreat in Europe, Spain or Barcelona where you can experience the full potential of this ancient plant medicine in a sacred, ceremonial setting, we welcome you to explore our retreats and book your spot to join us.

All our ceremonies are guided by experienced (10+ years) shamans trained in Colombia (Muisca tradition) or Peru (Shipibo tradition), with trained psychologists, coaches and therapists close by during and after the entire retreat to help you at any point in your ayahuasca journey.

Step into your new life, and start your own transformation with Avalon.

The Avalon Team
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