Is Your Shaman Sketchy? Sham Shamans

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Dark Power vs. Clear Intent – The Shady Side of Shamanism

Shamanism is, by its very nature, a little on the dark side. Its practices, reaching back to Siberian antiquity, harken to a darker nature underneath the surface of everything we see. A portend of wars, famine, sickness and suffering, the role of the shaman was to watch out for pestilence and to remove it whenever possible.

The shaman’s role was one of prognosticator, healer, wise person and herbalist. One who could deliver demons from the body as a midwife delivers a child.

The definition of shaman is literally the one who stands as a bridge between two worlds – the seen and the unseen, the inner and the outer realms, the light and the dark. To be able to stand atop this shifting landscape of the visible and invisible realm requires dexterity, grace, shiftiness and cunning. To talk to demons without losing your way, to whisper to flowers and trees, animals and birds alike was a craft that was handed down via blood and lineage for centuries. Few were called to be shaman, and certainly fewer still volunteered, for the sacrifice was great.

Traditionally, to become the spiritual center for a tribe required sacrifice of the personal.The acquisition of the personal power needed to perform this role often meant having no children or partner of their own. The cost of losing even one ounce of coveted energetic power via the act of lovemaking, pregnancy and child-rearing meant the loss of vitality available for healing and vision work.

Gifts of food or shelter were payment to this central figure who counseled, as well as healed. They could not work with most hunting or food gathering, as they hunted in a different realm, keeping an ear to Great Spirit and an eye on the ground, noticing the leaves’ shifting colors, or the scent of change upon the wind.

Today, there are many who have adopted the self-described shaman as their title. It’s become a sign of ethno-chic, or of an urban sorcerer. Conversely, there are those who dress as if in a costume play that requires them to wear a grungy type of energy that reeks of sacrifice, sweat and palo santo. However, dressing the part gives no credibility from the spirit world. It is intent that is the key.

Clear intent is harbored within an unshakeable character that reinforces will, balance and focus. This focus and clear-minded awareness does not become easily angered or ensnared in the silly machinations of daily drama. The discipline required by us to be on purpose with our words, actions, desires and emotions is a sincere one which requires daily maintenance. Otherwise, we cannot hold that thin, wavy line between reality and non-reality intact, and will fall into the abyss of madness or delusions—an unfortunate, but common side effect in humans.

This realm of the occult is delicious in its secrecy and history, and reeks of the cloak of spiritual mastery. In actuality, the local, modern-day shaman likely is no more spiritual than you. They are still aligned with the same superstitions and psychological triggers as you, and many often carry even more as a result of the ego-based illusions that they carry. Harnessing the earthly-level energies of plant and animal magic, souls of people not yet moved on, or those that were never human which lurk about in the densest layers of consciousness, can result in manifestations – of a sort. It is the layer played with in Ouija, and in the summoning of low-level energetic helpers through some doorways of plant medicine, fire ceremony or ritual. This is the layer of consuming, and it will require payment of some kind in return for its darker service.

The desire of today’s apprentice to claim the role of shaman for themselves has increased as the ego of our time has inflated. As the surrendered support for the “good of all,” makes way for the “desires of one,” some have pushed past the boundaries of safety. Students who study under such tutelage have suffered to the point that people die, and many others are victimized by the very teachers they sought for healing. I know of some sham shamans who would lie down to “breathe” with their disciples, causing deep emotional feelings to come tumbling out. Entanglement then occurs, creating lines of attachment between teacher and student, causing the student to feel as if they were in love with their teacher, feeding ego with this affection. Other teachers I have knowledge of “clear the energy centers” of their more acquiescent acolytes, and touch or stroke their bodies in ways that school children are taught not to accept.

These self-proclaimed shamans are not the medicine carriers of old, but are slippery, pseudo-spiritual opportunists seeking entry into your soul by lowering the barriers of belief, and entering into your realm while you sleep. They use their power to fondle their trusting students neatly groggy with psychotropics meant to enlighten, and coerce them to give over greater and greater soil of self to the desires of the leader. You offer them your trust and reveal to them the best veins with which to extract your life force from you.

These sham shamans may well be psychic, or create circumstances that appear to be miraculous. One who has learned to manifest from this level of energetic entrainment does hold a measure of what appears to be wondrous power, but it is rooted in a darker exchange, and this teacher’s ability to heal or elevate is hampered by the very level from which their power originates.

True shamans teach that you are the one with the reins in your hand. You are trained to harness the inherent power already alive within you. This experience guides the energy of your life with intention, compassion and a warrior’s strength to stay the course throughout the shifts that occur as you evolve from anxiety into wholeness, from suffering into grace.

The ultimate goal of the Spiritual Warrior is to become comfortable with death that always rides at our shoulder, so that we can cultivate deep, personal freedom to be alive. Imbued with a desire to serve others, the great shaman knows that the highest, greatest good of all is expertly achieved by the enlightenment of the one.


Founder of Sacred Circle Teachings, spiritual teacher & author Kristen Eykel CHt. elevates almost thirty years of experience as shaman, hypnotherapist, Holy Fire lll Reiki Master Teacher & Kundalini yogi into a spiritual discipline of empowerment.


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