SHAMANISMMirjam is a shaman within the tradition of Spirit of Wolf, which is based on traditional shamanism. In 2021 and 2022 I was allowed to attend several shamanic rituals performed by her and other shamanic practitioners and participants. A shaman is a person with a special position in society. It is the person that can communicate with the spirits and convey the message from the spirits to the people. Often this is done during a Kamlanie (fire) ritual, which is held on special dates, like full moon, new moon or the transition of seasons. Shamanism is full of symbolism, each colour, offering or accessory has a specific meaning.
The fire and smoke are the transportation mode of the spirits. They are attracted by the smell of the offerings and use the smoke to come 'down' to the sacred space (circle) of the ritual. That is where the shaman connects with them and receives their messages. Traditionally lay-people (non shamans) didn't want to be involved in the ritual. Spirits were considered mysterious and even scary, so they let it to the shaman to connect with them. These days however, and in the west, shaman practitioners and attendants are interested in connecting directly with (their) spirits. The fire and smoke are also a 'vehicle' for the offerings to go up to the spirits. Since the fire is such an important element of the ritual it is built up with great respect and following a specific routine and 'rules'.
Another important object during these shamanic rituals are the drums. The (sound of the) drums can be seen as offerings to the spirit, but also a way for the spirit to express himself through the person. During a ritual the rythm of the drums can vary, depending on the spirit that the participant is connecting with. It is highly recommended for a practitioner to make their own drum, so their soul can be put into it, which will make the drum more effective.
What fascinated me during the rituals and what fascinates me in general about traditions that involve going into trance is to see the transformation within people and the total surrender. Before the ritual starts everyone is walking around, sitting, drinking, maybe eating a little and talking with eachother. But as soon as the ritual starts, the atmosphere becomes mystical, sacred and the shaman and practitoners turn into themselves. Often literally, because they put up a hat that covers their face (to not be disctracted). They put on their coats (full of symbolic decorations that are connected to their personal spirit(s)) and take their drums. As everyone is drumming in their own rythm (or that of their spirit), they are together, but all very focussed. They all seem to really get into some kind of trance almost becoming one with the drum, or making sounds (one could sometimes call it 'singing').
As the fire extinghuishes, the participants take off their hats and coats and really seem to 'come back'.
Do you want to know more about traditional shamanism? Contact Mirjam and visit her website for more information.
Would you like me to photograph your (daily) ritual(s)?
Send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This series was featured by Docu Magazine.