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Beliefs and Practices


Most of us are taught to think of time as a linear thing. Minutes, seconds, hours.... These are just words humans have given to a concept that we choose to call time. For shamans this is a very restricted view of time. We all know the sayings, "Time flies" and "the minutes just crawled by." Time flows forward and backward, swiftly and slowly. It is a relative concept. You can ask your guide to teach you how to slow time or speed up time. Slowing time is especially useful before journeying. You can experience hours in the spirit world in what seems like minutes in the physical world. Your guide can also teach you how to travel to the future or retrieve things or change events from the past. This is a good way to get closure with events that have haunted you, even if the change is in the spiritual world instead of the physical.


Like Wiccans, shamans recognize the powers of the four directions, North, East, South and West. Depending on the type of shamanism they often also recognize two more, Sky and Earth. They are called by different names depending on your practice, for example, Mother Earth and Father Sky or Earth Mother and Sky Father. A seventh is also used by certain people. The seventh direction is inside of yourself.

Songs and Chants

Each type of shamanism has many traditional songs and chants. There are also personal ones that you are born with or are given by your spirit guides to help raise power or gain protection. Songs and chants allow you to clear you mind and get a different mind set. They are often used for important events or when you feel you need aid (like right before that big test that you are still nervous about even though you studied).

You can meditate to learn your songs or ask your guide to teach you if it is time for you to learn or you can drum till one comes to you. Once you learn a song practice it until you will not forget it. The songs can be long or short, but are most often set to a strong beat. One of mine is actually set to the cadence of my walk. DonŐt worry if you feel that you are just making it up, your guides will lead you to the right words. Shamanism can often feel like make believe, but it is not.


Shamans often dance to help them get closer to the spirit world, to help raise energy and to open and clear the way for them to access their power. Dancing helps make a visualization become reality. Dancing can help tell the story of a journey. Practice dancing and moving rhythmically to a strong beat for at least five minutes at a time to build up your stamina. Half jogging in place is a good way to start. Try dancing one of your journeys. Show what you do with your motions. Don't worry about what you look like, just let yourself move, even if it is as simple as walking and gesturing.


Talismans, like amulets or pouches containing symbolic items, crystals and/or herbs, can help protect you on your journeys and in real life. For example I have a small leather pouch filled with certain sayings, crystals, and symbols. I feel that it helps keep my connection with my spirit guides strong and I rarely go far from home without it. It is the trust in the energy that gives the protection not the talisman itself. The talisman is only a physical symbol of the energy. You can have talismans that exist only in the spirit world and the power and protection will be the same as long as your belief is the same. Gifts that you receive on your journeys are powerful talismans, even if you cannot see them with open eyes. Talismans serve as one of many reminders that the spirit world is out there and available for help if we remember to ask.


Shamans have a very close connection to the earth and therefore to rocks and crystals. Shamans use crystals to amplify energy and to help heal. Since crystals are used as tools they are often prepared and then kept until needed, not worn or displayed publicly. The clearer and more even the crystal the better it can exchange energy. Remember to cleanse crystals, especially bought crystals, before you work with them. There are many ways to cleanse crystals, rinsing in ocean water, burying in salt, placing in running water, running through incense or sage smoke, or freezing. For example, I run crystals through running water to energize them, let them air dry, in the sun if possible, and then run them through incense smoke while tuning them to myself. Cleanse crystals whenever you feel they need it.

Although I feel that just handling a cleansed crystal tunes it to you, you may wish to tune them to you by greeting the crystal, and then projecting your name into it three times. You should also ask it if it has any special properties. If you wish to use it for anything specific now is the time to set that idea into the crystal and ask its permission.

To draw energy to a certain place, like your work area, studio, or ritual space, you can set up six (or four if you prefer) clear quartz crystals four in a circle around the area, one in each of the four directions, and two in the center, one pointing up for the sky and one pointing down for the earth. Try to stay out of this area if you are feeling negative or sick since the crystals will magnify you feelings.