The shaman (used as a universally applied term) I have studied would be shocked at the email I received today. It was an invitation that came out of nowhere to study free of charge the arts of the shaman. I could complete the education from the comfort of my own home. If I wanted to, I could do all the work in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. (Not that I own fuzzy slippers, but if I had them I could wear them!)
And here is why they would have been shocked by the email. Their years of apprenticeship was heralded by a life-changing and often near life-ending event or illness. They did not have the luxury of learning the healing plants, trance states and symbols in the comfort of their own homes. Certainly not in the comfort of their pajamas and potentially fuzzy slippers.
Rather theirs was an apprenticeship through struggle, with doubt and fear at some points. Each of them have spoken about points during their apprenticeships where they wanted to leave, but knew they had been chosen and even if they did leave, they’d have no real life within their community.
None of them were educated online. Instead they were immersed in the darkness of unknowing, slowly finding their way and the light through knowledge They talked about times where to fail was to do and other times where even their teachers could provide them with answers. Sometimes, according to them, there is simply silence and the trick is to know that the silence means something is not meant to be.
Granted there is a resurgence in the shamanic movement amount mainstream society. We see things we cannot explain through western eyes if you will. There are things science is just being to understand that these healer who practice a different way have known for thousands of years, passing the knowledge down to the next healer. They are, in some ways, far more connected to the rhythm of life.
Would an online course provide me with the same skills and knowledge? Probably not. But it also means not dealing with bug bites, uncomfortable locations, lacking in sleep and food as I fumble around trying to make sense of the unknown. And in the end, if I really want to, I can call myself a shaman. But having worked with the traditional shamans, I know that it wouldn’t be accurate nor honoring their skills an wisdom.