Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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A Case of Shaman Case

I began my shamanic walk just around 1998. A review of my class notes and articles from the first five years of my teaching/study showed that I almost exclusively used the lower case spelling of the word 'shaman'. The exception was one entry in a class outline that said:
Talk about "S"haman and "s"haman. A Shaman requires community recognition. One community may not recognize a shaman from another community. An example is needed to have journeyed to world X to be an official shaman.
What did I call myself? Early on I picked up the reluctance to embrace the title of Shaman. Instead, one of my first articles spoke of a "modern shaman". In another early article I used the words "urban shaman". Neither of these really stuck with me. I chose to avoid these descriptors and instead used the convoluted phrase "I am on the shamanic path".

During the past two years (or so) I've picked up the description of "shamanist" to describe myself. This works well. It does not grasp an undeserved title of spiritual ascendancy. I feel comfortable in the "skin" of being a shamanist. Another development during the recent years has been a gravitation to the uppercase version of 'Shaman' to describe those that truly have rank and tribal recognition. This seemed the right thing to do, or at least it was until recently.

I think I've returned to my roots regarding the use of the word 'shaman'. It has become clear to me that the uppercase and lowercase versions both refer to a person with tribal ranking/recognition. I feel uncomfortable using either case of the word while addressing a person who has not earned the right to be called a shaman. Have I become a snobbish purist? I don't think so. The word 'shaman' comes with so much baggage and assumptions. It simultaneously means everything and nothing. I would rather honor the 'everything' of the word. In this way I honor those who truly deserve to walk with the shaman's shoes. The rest of us can embrace 'shamanist' or another word truer to the path we walk.

This is how I feel today. Do you attempt to differentiate between "shaman" and "Shaman"? Am I making too much of this?
Tags: shaman, words

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