“Become a shaman in 15 days?”

I just read a description of two “shamanic apprenticeships” offered by different people who claim to train a person as a “full mesa carrier” in about 15 days. Both specifically mentioned that the training required a commitment of 15 days. The leaders state that these “apprentices” are then qualified as shamans. I was stunned by the temerity of such a claim.

In the Q’ero culture (the Q’ero consider themselves to be descendants of the Incans), an individual establishes a mesa through years of training under a recognized elder, often living with the teacher, working side by side. The mesa carrier has undergone various initiations and learned to work as a healer and ceremonial leader. Often, the apprentice interacts with powerful aspects of nature. I doubt the Q’ero would accept a 15-day apprenticeship for their healers or their spiritual leaders.

What arrogance to think that a healing system that developed as part of an entire theological cosmology, one based on thousands of years of culture and history, can be understood in a few weekends.

Even when there is no language barrier, a person from one culture cannot easily grasp the subtle beliefs and intangible concepts of an indigenous culture, especially when that society is based on cosmology, beliefs and traditions that have been unbroken for thousands of years. How can any individual compare a few scattered weekends to a lifetime of living and studying within that shamanic spiritual system?

Worse, the teachers advertised that an individual would establish right relationship with the world in a weekend. You read that correctly. A weekend? Buddha spent 24 hours a day meditating for 15 years to understand right relationship. Gandhi taught that right relationship was based on spiritual transformation and awareness and that such a change occurred through living a good life, that is, a lifetime of work and striving, not by attending a few weekend intensives.

A shaman functions through a network of intimate relationships. As with any association, developing a bond takes lots of time, honest communication and energetic contacts. Saying that someone carries a “full mesa” implies scores of complex established and healthy relationships. Shamanism is learned through experience, through observation of the world and through interaction — interaction with elders, with spirits, with the cosmos, and with the Divine and Ancient Ones. Believe me, a shaman is not trained in 15 days, and sometimes not even in 15 years.

As the concepts of shamanism have become more accepted in mainstream Western culture, it is natural that people want to connect to the world in a shamanic manner. But teachers should not fool their students into thinking that 15 days or a few years of workshops will turn that person into a shaman.



About Lillith ThreeFeathers

Lillith ThreeFeathers is a shamanic healer, author, medium, and priestess.
This entry was posted in Shamanic Posts, Society and Civilization, Spirituality & Religion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Become a shaman in 15 days?”

  1. Joy Wedmedyk says:

    Perhaps it would be better if trainings like this were given a different name. Perhaps something like “on the way to becoming a Shaman” or “training in the groundwork to become a Shaman” would be more suitable. Doing Shamanic work myself and going through initiations in other cultures has taught me also that the training a person receives and the ability to grasp the depth of the information really takes a lot of hard work, soul searching, and probably a good dose of humor when one realizes they just quite didn’t grasp it.
    I find it sad that often people that have done these apprenticeships will argue with other elders in the same tradition about what is the “correct” way to so something. They tend to think they are experts in something that they are only beginning to understand.


  2. Mary says:

    The unfortunate thing is that this practice is accepted by the unknowing or the unwilling to do hardwork. In my own case the real work came after the initiation (think initiate or to begin). It was then that the changes physically, mentally, spiritually and in true understanding became real. Those changes never stop happening and if they do, well, that is when true enlightenment occurs. Working with the youth in our “instant gratification” world has taught me that most want the quick route… Initially. Once they begin to learn a few basics they start to understand that there is no easy or quick road to what they seek.


    • I agree, Mary, that the initiation should boost change and learning. The real work begins after the initiations. That’s certainly been my experience. I pray that you are correct that young people can shift from focusing on the quick goal to a realization that awareness is a life-long journey. In the meantime, we have to let people know that the fast way is not necessarily the right way. But how do we do that?


  3. Kelley says:

    I think one could do significant work, even initiation in 15 days. But being a full-fledged shaman ready to work with others? No. I’ve studied shamanic traditions and cultivate my own for years and I only realize how much more there is to know. My general observation of modern shamanism is that people are led to it from a place of self-help, which is great. The steps to dedicate that path in service to a community is another thing, entirely, and it is that bit which makes you a shaman. The vast majority of neo-classes I’ve taken, books I’ve read, modern shamans I’ve talked with do NOT make that distinction. It’s become a somewhat cultural misunderstanding/oversight, not just gimmicky advertising.

    Thank you, and I hope all is well!


  4. Eileen says:

    Fast food world has now become fast food religion. No one wants to put in the work it takes to really develop a meaningful understanding of spiritual beliefs. I know only one or two people who I think are truly capable of attaining a shamanistic relationship. Neither of the people who come to mind would think that after 15 days – even if it was an intensive 15 days – they would be an expert at shamanism – or anything for that matter.

    It is a scam and sadly many people will fall for it. It won’t be curtailed until something awful happens like with the deaths in the sweat lodges…


  5. Kurt Hohmann says:

    “Whenever you meet someone who says, ‘I’m a shaman,’ run away.” That’s always been my standard opening remark whenever I teach journey work. I wonder sometimes if even any of traditional Siberians ever refer to themselves with that label. In Western society, on the other hand, we seem to like labels: they provide us with the ability to tell others who we are without any need to actually scratch down to the scary stuff beneath the surface So hey, if I can earn that label with a couple weeks of time (and no doubt some substantial amount of cash), why go through the drudgery – years of training, daily meditation, and (gasp) actual hard work?.

    While we’re at it, let’s all do a weekend vision quest in a hotel room; no annoying insects, hot/cold weather or anything to make us the least bit uncomfortable. After all, spirit can always text me if there’s something I *really* need to know about, right?


    • LOL~ yes, spiritual enlightenment on demand without the work (and only 199.99), and it comes with a special shaman knife that slices through anything from French toast to those blockages holding you back. 😀


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