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Shamanism, Totem Art & Resources

The Path of direct revelation

Shamanism is an ancient spiritual practice that has been found on every continent dating back 40,000 years. This spiritual practice is based on the concept of animism, which holds that all things on this planet have a spiritual essence. Our ancestors believed that their health and survival depended on maintaining a relationship between the natural and spiritual worlds. They relied on the shaman to act as their intermediary between the visible and the invisible worlds. Through rituals designed to work with the helping spirits, the shaman facilitated the wellbeing of the community and addressed the spiritual disharmony believed to be at the root of an individual’s illness.

As mankind modernized, organized religion succeeded in marginalizing shamanic practice. But over the past thirty years, interest in shamanism has surged in the western world. Dozens of books on the topic continue to be published every year. In addition, many western therapists and health practitioners have incorporated shamanic techniques into their own practice. For these professionals, this practice is by no means to take the place of traditional or alternative healing methods but seeks an integrative approach to healing that adds a deeply personal and profound spiritual dimension.

The Shamanic Journey

This kind of journey refers to shifting of consciousness and going into a trance state. While in a trance the shamanic practitioner travels to a “non-ordinary” reality with a specific intention to meet with their spiritual guides to get information (for themselves or others) and then intentionally returns to ordinary reality to share the information.

Journey Entrance

There are many ways that we can see or perceive information while doing a shamanic journey. Many of us have a mixture of the “Clairs” while journeying. The most common of these is Clairvoyance, which is the ability to receive information about a person, object, land, or physical event through means other than the known human senses. Clairaudience – Sound, Clairsentience – Feeling or touch, Clairconscious – Knowning, and Clairsalience – Smell, can also be the way that the information is given in a shamanic journey.

Artwork from the Shamanic Journey

For thousands of years, shamanic artwork has played an essential part in shamanic ritual.  These paintings show that the shaman played an important role of portraying the rituals that insured survival of their people. They made paintings of their rituals on cave walls deep inside a mountains, carved small sculptures, made musical instruments for rituals. These and many more creative aspects of this spiritual practice underscores the importance of the shamanic spiritual life and ultimately of their survival.

Today, we are faced with numerous challenges including the climate crisis and collapse of food production all over the world. Now more than ever we need guide posts to bring hope and to initiate our movement towards healing. Healing thoughts, actions both in the self and in our communities. Artwork can be a reminder of a special message that comes through to help guide us along our path. I am one of the many who are part of this tradition of making visuals as reminders of the messages from our guides.

History on the Totem Pole
Ancestors and Spirit Helpers

The poles were many things, the house pole told of the lineage of the chief who presided within. The memorial pole commemorated  some great event. The grave pole contained the body and displayed the crest of a leading noble. And in the great houses, massive figures – illuminated by firelight – supported the roof beams. Each held the essential spirit of the individual or family it commemorated, as well as the spirit of the artist who made it, and by an extension, the living essence of the whole people.
The term Totem Pole refers to the tall cedar poles with multiple figures carved by Native people of the northern Northwest Coast. Several different types of monumental poles include: house frontal poles placed against the house front, often serving as doorways of houses; carved interior house posts that support roof beams, and free standing memorial poles placed in front of houses to honor deceased chiefs.

Mortuary poles made in the nineteenth century housed the coffins of important people in a niche at the top. Carved of red cedar logs, the figures on totem poles are inherited crests, which identify the pole owners and tell their family histories. Although totem poles have become a symbol of all Northwest Coast Native people and their use has spread to neighboring tribes through the years, tall multiple-figure poles were first made only by the northern Northwest Coast Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian peoples in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Large free-standing human welcome figures and interior house posts were made by the Kwakwak’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth people further south, and the Coast Salish people in Southern British Columbia and western Washington also carved large human figures representing ancestors and spirit helpers on interior house posts and as grave monuments.

For more info: Burke Museum, Washington State

Animal Totems

A Totem is any natural object, being, or animal whose energy and archetypal powers we feel a strong connection to. Each totem symbolizes its unique abilities and qualities. The expression of each chakra is shown through the general spirit nature of that particular species of animal, plant or rock and offer us another way to understanding our world. They can also be symbols that help us understand the imbalances in our lives from a new perspective. Chakra Totems offer us a spiritual connectedness that can help guide us into a deeper understanding of ourselves.


The word “chakra” is a Sanskrit term meaning circle or wheel. By understanding these specific areas on the body we can help maintain health and balance the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of these energy centers. This is the system in the body that many energy healers use to bring about balance and to stimulate the natural healing of our immune system.
The artwork of these animals is our reminder of their message.

Shamanic Resources

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies was founded by internationally renowned anthropologist Michael Harner, in a three-fold mission to study, to teach, and to preserve shamanism. The Foundation has built a reputation of consistency and dependability by providing reliable training in Core Shamanism to interested learners worldwide.

Sandra Ingerman, MA   Sandra teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods.  She has trained and founded an international alliance of Medicine for the Earth Teachers and shamanic teachers.  Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture addressing the needs of our times.

Stephen Gallegos, PhD. Steve Gallegos was born the state of New Mexico in the southwestern United States in 1934. Of Native American, English and Irish descent. For over 30 years, he has taught people how to access their wholeness through developing a relationship with their deep imagination. Steve discovered and developed the Personal Totem Pole Process© as a way of meeting the inner animals and beings of the deep imagination.

Shamanic Teachers (Sandra Ingerman)
This is a list of instructors available throughout the country to teach basic shamanic journeying.

Nan Moss – Down to Earth — The Shamans Circle is the shamanic teaching collaborative founded by Nan Moss, David Corbin, and the late Linda Crane. They offer workshops in shamanism, led by Nan Moss, David Corbin, and esteemed guest teachers, at their center in Maine and in other locations around the country. Workshops include the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Basic and Advanced courses.

Tom Cowan is a shamanic practitioner specializing in Celtic visionary and healing techniques. He combines universal core shamanism with traditional European spirit lore to create spiritual practices that can heal and enrich one’s own life and the lives of others.

Betsy Bergstrom  is a full-time Spiritual Teacher and Shamanic Practitioner. My role and goal in teaching is to remember and to bring wisdom tradition teachings from their origins in the past, into the present to bring needed enrichment and grace in these times and strengthen these traditions as they go forward into the future.

Shamanic Practitioners   The mission of the Society for Shamanic Practice (SSP) is to gather and share extensive knowledge and resources about the practice of shamanism in all its forms, its evolution in the modern world, and how shamanism can be applied in the 21st century. We are dedicated to supporting practitioners at all levels of experience and to helping create an educated and empowered community who walk this spiritual path with integrity, respect and practicality.

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)
Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is an internationally respected author, artist, visionary and master storyteller of the Ute and Picuris Pueblo Indian traditions. He holds a Masters Degree in Political Science and has devoted his life to the understanding of vibration and its role in the creation of conscious reality.

Cindy O’Connor – Open Heart Healing  A shamanic practitioner in central New Jersey, I offer private sessions, training, and community circles.

Shamanic Journeying Circle in Paoli, PA with Amy Guskin & Paul Nordquist  

Paoli, PA • (610) 647-7768

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