Are you a shaman?

If you were to ask me the question, "are you a shaman?" my answer would be, "I am a shamanic practitioner." Despite the fact that the domain name of my web site is Maine Shaman, I do not refer to myself as a shaman.

First, the word shaman comes from the word šaman, from the Tungus people in Siberia. It means "one who sees in the dark." Since I do not come from that culture, I don't appropriate the word.

The word shamanism, however, has been adopted in the West to encompass a set of spiritual practices common to the history of all cultures. What I do practice is called core shamanism. It is a modern, Western interpretation of cross-cultural spiritual practices.

Within the practice of core shamanism, there is a belief that the word "shaman" is a title which is conferred not adopted. It is given by the tribe or passed down generationally. It's considered by some to be arrogant or inappropriate for a westerner like myself to use the title "shaman."

Personally, I do not judge people who have adopted the title. It's not up to me to decide what is appropriate for anyone else. I have decided to honor my teachers, who do not call themselves shamans.

So shamanic practitoner seems appropriate, and I'll stick with it for now.