Aside from the many cultural differences between ancient and modern shamanic communities worldwide, there are a few basic commonalities in terms of the underlying worldview shared by almost all of the people in a shamanic community. These include:
- An individual is both unique and indistinguishable from his environment. The entire world shares one body, one flesh.
- Identity is formed through intimate relationship with the natural world, especially the "home" territory and the sacred places.
- Service to the human community as well as to the community of nature is inseparable from the goals of the individual. Daily activities emphasize giving as much as possible while asking for no more than what is necessary.
- All life has intrinsic value that is not dependent on human economic valuation.
- The community is completely dependent on the local environment for material sustenance, and therefore the local environment is treated with the utmost respect and reciprocity.
This is the basis of the shaman's world. There are certainly other ascetic and meditative practices for altering consciousness, but without this basic platform of unity, there is no way he or she could hope to make the jump in consciousness to enter other dimensions of reality.
Excerpted from Shamanism for Beginners, by James Endredy