WHAT CEREMONY IS Ceremony brings the sacred into ordinary life. For tens of thousands of years, ceremonies have been universally used to help communities navigate change and welcome in new cycles. Performing ceremonies creates a bridge between the material world we live in and the world of the unseen, the divine, the power of the universe. In modern terms, ceremony opens a phone line between you and the power of the universe, God, the goddess, the Creator.
Through this line of connection, you can have direct communication between yourself and spiritual forces, creating a partnership to manifest your desired outcome. In shamanic cultures, a variety of creation stories teach how life and the Earth was formed. Stories range from a variety of gods and goddesses, as well as the creative forces of the universe, manifesting life-forms and the planet Earth out of unconditional love. Some creation myths share how Grandmother Spider weaved the world into being, and some speak to the metaphor of the Creator sculpting life and the Earth into form as one would mold clay.
There are a wealth of stories about how the vibration of the energy of words created the world of form. Creation stories were reenacted and honored through ceremony. Many ancient cultures share the insight that this world is a dream and an illusion. We are given a role to play in life, and part of that role is to learn how to mold spirit into form just like the Creator or creative forces of the universe did billions of years ago.
In the shamanic understanding, the world of form we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste starts as vibrations in the invisible and transcendent realms. Through words and thought forms, these vibrations transition from the transcendent realm and manifest on the Earth and in the world of physical form. For shamans, the world is seen as a dream, and we are active participants in creating the dream through our words and thoughts.
This dream ends up creating the reality we live in for ourselves and for all life on Earth. Think of the vibration of our thoughts and words spinning together just like a spinner spins fiber, and then the fibers weave together to create the fabric of reality we now live in. The vibrations of our thoughts and words create strong, resonant waves throughout the universe that change the course of our lives and that of the planet. Your view of yourself, others, and the world is made of thoughts that weave together to create the fabric of your life. Everything in the universe is seen as energy that can manifest into form over time through our intention. And using ceremony is a powerful tool to create and transform the world of form. In shamanic cultures, the shaman and the community members actively engage in the role of creating a good life for all in the community. Much of the work they do to ensure harmonious connections with life, nature, and others is through the power of ceremony.
Working together with the compassionate spirits and the divine, the shaman and the community state their intention, which spins threads through the invisible collective energy fields to call in blessings and healing for the community. By opening to the power of love, stating a strong intention, and staying focused and fully engaged during the ceremony, they generate a powerful collective field of energy where the threads of creation can manifest into form. THE PRACTICE OF SHAMANISM AND CEREMONIAL WORK The practice of shamanism is a universal practice that is tens of thousands of years old.
The compassionate helping spirits gave our ancestors the practice of shamanism to help them survive. The helping spirits gifted the human race with this practice for divining information, healing emotional and physical illness, and connecting with our environment. This work has always been honored, and experienced shamanic teachers around the planet are helping to carry this precious gift into the world, so all people can receive the blessing of the work. In the ethnographic literature, a shaman is defined as a man or woman who journeys into the invisible realms, also called nonordinary reality, the unseen realms, the Dreamtime, and the Other World as well as other terms to describe another dimension of reality.
In the unseen transcendent realms, there is a wealth of helping and compassionate spirits who volunteer themselves to shamans and the rest of humanity to share guidance about practical details, such as how to live a healthy and empowered life and when and how to perform healing, blessing, and initiation ceremonies. We all have access to these helping and compassionate spirits to guide us. Shamans have been and are still seen as “ones who know.” They bridge the physical realm and realms of spirit to bring balance to the community and heal the sick. Shamans are healers, mystics, prophets, and seers.
They have always traveled into the invisible realms to bring back the gift of healing. We live in a time when many people are waking up to the shamanic understanding that everything that exists is alive. There is more to the reality we live in then just how our senses engage with the tangible world—what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell in this ordinary realm. Once we wake up and recognize that other spectacular dimensions of reality exist, we experience a new sense of awareness about how to connect with nature, the flow of life, and the web of life. We come to realize that we have the power to connect to life in a whole new way that creates positive changes in our own life and for all of life. We then take on the gift of the shaman as one who can see into dimensions beyond the ordinary world we live in.
Shamans help the community stay connected to the web of life by speaking to “the spirit that lives in all things.” Shamans have always spoken to the wind, the rain, the sun, the earth, the mountains, the sea, the clouds, the planets, the stars, the moon, and all the energies that affect us daily. By doing this, shamans watch for the signs of change.
They can know when to perform ceremonies to honor rites of passage and initiation, when to plant crops, when to hunt, and when to honor the elements so that the community can live in harmony with the change of seasons, the lunar cycles, and nature’s flow. Shamans might receive a sign that it is time to perform a ceremony by watching how the constellations appear in the night sky, tracking the phase of the moon, observing the movement of the clouds, or by opening their invisible ears to listen to messages brought by the wind. Shamans may sit gazing around the fire at night for hours to receive visions.
A shaman can notice a change coming by observing shifting behavior of the wind, animals, and birds. Or a shaman might speak to a tree or plant to receive a message that appears as a symbol, a sensed feeling, or a telepathic message informing the shaman when and how to perform a ceremony. Shamans and people living in traditional cultures are taught from birth how to open their invisible senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste so that communicating with all of nature is as natural an act as turning to a friend and having a conversation.
When people in shamanic cultures walk through nature, they walk listening and seeing with their entire body. They do not depend on their ordinary eyes and ears. Their entire body provides guidance. We all have the ability to speak to the spirit of all the nature beings as well as to the elements (earth, air, water, and fire) that give us life. We just need to wake up and acknowledge our invisible senses and connections. When we deaden our senses, we miss so much ever-present beauty and guidance that nature provides.
The shaman or someone else in the community might have a prophetic dream about a challenge coming that could be avoided by performing the appropriate ceremony. Good omens can appear in dreams to signal when it’s time to welcome a new stage of life or take action to bring the goodness of life to a community. Community members in many traditional cultures often meet first thing in the morning to share their dreams so that the information they’ve gathered on challenges and good times can be worked with through ceremony.
The shaman, with other members of the community, might ingest a psychoactive plant that grows on their land and receive visions about blessing or healing ceremonies needed to serve the community. Each cycle and season of life we go through can be honored to help create a smooth transition from one phase to another. Blessing ceremonies allow us to greet the sun each day; to greet and give thanks to the elements earth, air, water, and fire; to welcome in all changes and transitions we go through in life; and to grieve the variety of losses we experience as humans.
We can welcome children into the world through blessing ceremonies. And when we need help to reestablish harmony, we can perform a healing ceremony to remove negative energy, to restate an intention, and finally to ask for blessings for the dreams and desires of the community. Healing ceremonies are performed to retrieve lost power and a lost soul, extract an illness, or remove a possessing spirit. Shamans perform ceremonies to heal ancestral issues. A good, harmonious relationship with our ancestors is important in maintaining physical and emotional health.
Ceremonies can help us break old karmic patterns that we might be reenacting from another lifetime. Ceremonies are also used to honor and give thanks to the helping and compassionate spirits who provide a wealth of assistance and healing. When we perform a ceremony, we create a strong link with the helping spirits and the power of the universe that work in partnership with us to assist in manifesting desired outcomes.
Once you develop a strong relationship with the helping spirits, the Creator, and your own divine Self, you can be the sculptor of your life. By performing ceremonies, change happens. As we call in our desires and release our blocks, we are free to step into a new dimension of life where we can feel the unlimited potential of what we can create during our lifetime.