By Roman Delgado.
Where does magick come from? What is the beginning of our magical and pagan roots? Most modern Wiccans would point to Gerald Gardner or the Pagan Elder that was the originator of their tradition or lineage. Yet there is a deeper energy. A religious predecessor to all spirituality, including Wicca and Witchcraft that is often ignored by the modern pagan world: Shamanism. In more recent times this has been ignored due to the fear of younger generations that Shamanism is exclusive to indigenous tribes from around the world. In words many of us have heard about one practice or another: It is a closed practice.
However this is a very common fallacy. Yes European people have historically been colonizers, however they are not the only people that historically have been warriors. Even more so Shamanism is a cross-cultural practice. Every continent and every ancestral culture had at one point or another had a version of Shamanism. Including people all across Europe. So if you are of European descent and are afraid to study cross-cultural shamanic practices don’t be. Your ancestors had Shamans too at one point in history or another.
So who is the Shaman? And who is the Shaman in relation to the Witch? The Shaman in traditional cultures all over the world is the bridge between the worlds. Neither living in the world of the Spirits nor in the World of the living, forever destined to be visitor in both. Their role is to mediate the needs of both worlds. Bringing back knowledge, wisdom and healing from the world of the spirits to the world of man. How is this possible? Through the use of trance inducing practices, such as drumming, dancing, rattling or on more rare cases the ingestion of vision inducing plants. Sounds familiar? It should many of this practices have been inherited by modern day Witches, Wiccans and Pagans.
In this particular way Shamanism is the original spiritual practice the birthed all forms of Religions and Spirituality. Before religion, before spirituality, before magick: There was the Shaman, filling a central and indispensable role to their community. The Shaman is where we come from, and in some key aspects of Wiccan and Pagan ritual the reason we do things the way we do.
To go deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole ( a shamanic metaphor if there ever was one) Witches are often referred to as the “ Walkers between worlds” Because in Wicca and modern day Paganism there are a lot of magical and religious traditions that do our magick and worship in sacred space, that is in one form or another liminal. Neither in the world of the Gods nor in the world of mankind, this is something we inherited from the Shamans. In Wicca in particular we work within a magick circle. How many times has a well traveled or well read pagan been in a circle and heard during ritual ( or read in a book about ritual): “The circle is now cast, we are between the worlds”?
The Magick circle is that place that is not a place, the time outside of time. It is through that magical liminal space that we follow in the footsteps of the Shamans and become the bridges between worlds. It is through the magick circle that we bring back healing, knowledge and wisdom from the Gods to our communities. The circle itself an ancient symbol known to the Shamans as a multi layered teaching tool. It symbolizes wholeness and unity, as well as cycles and transformation.
Deeper down this metaphorical rabbit hole we find the cardinal directions from which Witches, Wiccans and Pagans call the Elements. While this is not a 100% cross cultural practice. Many Shamanic cultures included the 4 directions in their map of the spiritual cosmos. In those concepts of a Shamanic Map we find the Upper World where we find celestial beings. The middle world where live and its own spiritual side completely separate from ordinary reality ( to include the cardinal directions as gateways to other worlds) and the lower world where you find many spirits such as Ancestral spirits and animal spirits. All of this are connected by the “Axis Mundi” The Central pillar of the world. Often times seen as a tree ( Such as in the case of Nordic Paganism ) or even a mountain ( such as Mount Olympus for Greek practitioners )
Why is this important? This central point of the universe where you can access all dimensions of being for healing, divination and magick as a Shaman. Is the original predecessor to the Magick Circle! Witches go into circle to access the divine both within and without. The Shaman travels up and down the Axis Mundi to do the same thing. In the end we could spend countless hours discussing how similar and different the path of the Shaman and the Witch are. Yet one we cannot deny that its true power lays in the ecstasy of being in that space between the world of man and Gods, where both the Shaman and Witch find their home.
Knowledge gained while training in Core Shamanism with The Foundation for Shamanic Studies.
Knowledge gained while studying Wicca at WSTS
Roman Delgado is a Psychic Reader and Shamanic Healer at Teotl Tonalli Intuitive Arts. He is a Dedicant of the Keepers of the Flame Coven, ATC (The Ever Green Hearth) Please check our Community Connections page to find ways to connect with Roman or other members and Affiliates of The Ever Green Hearth.