Water Yoga Exercises
A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF ANIMISM AND SHAMANISM
Animism is the world’s most ancient set of spiritual beliefs regarding the nature of reality and is now seeing an upswing of interest in every continent. Its premise is that everything in the universe is alive and highly conscious and has a uniquely intelligent soul.
Animism is based on the belief that the world consists of overlapping energy fields and that underlying the visible world is the spirit world, the origin of all power, energy, and vitality. Consequently, animists believe that invisible forces or spirits can affect physical elements such as water, fire, air, earth, plants, animals, and people. Animistic cultures believe in showing the utmost respect to the spirits in everything whether they be clouds rocks, winds, springs, or birds of preyas all are participants in the greater community of life.
While animism refers to the beliefs of the members of a tribe or community at large, shamanism is a specialty developed within that society by certain individuals. It requires acquired skills, knowledge, and natural talents. However, it’s not a religion because it has no structured hierarchy or set of dogmas; rather, it’s a set of special techniques for manipulating energy and power.
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Shamans specialize in diagnosing and healing illness and suffering, divining and prophesying, journeying to other worlds through trance states to seek knowledge to gain control over spirits, and gathering and storing power through techniques and practices associated with nature. They’re known to make special use of trance to manipulate and control the weather, speak with the spirits of plants and animals, and conduct strenuous ceremonies for fertility, healing, and sorcery. Without the ancient practice of shamanism, it’s unlikely that humans would have survived prehistoric times, as it includes many practical techniques designed to solve everyday problems and to aid survival in the world’s harshest environments.
The word shaman comes from the language of the Tungus people in Siberia and was initially used by anthropologists to describe the unique practices and experiences of shamans in that culture. Today the term has grown in popular usage to include similar customs in cultures all over the world.
The practice of shamanism is remarkably similar from continent to continent, even though in many cases there has been little or no contact between the shamans of the Amazon, the Andes, the steppes of Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, Polynesia, and all of North America. Shamans from all over the planet say that this similarity is a result of their cross-cultural use of deep trance to access the axis mundi, the universal tree of life, an invisible highway leading to all locations in the world.
Common to all shamanic cultures and peoples is the central importance of the spirit of water, for without it there would be no plants and animals, and it’s from these that shamans learn some of their most cherished secrets. It’s through their alliance with these totems that they gather much of their power to create, manipulate, and thus control reality.