Many different forms of medicine are currently practiced in the world. In fact, as our text states, “in all cultures, some people have become recognized as having special abilities to treat and diagnose health problems.” (Miller 107) Without argument, phytomedicinal and supernatural healers are two forms of medical treatment that have been around for longer than any other, regardless of culture. It has been estimated that shamanism has been practiced for over ten thousand years (Tyson 3). Native American and Celtic healers are often known as shamans.
Shamanism has always been an interest of mine, mainly in the Native American and Celtic Irish forms of medicine. Native Americans as well as Celtics have always held a certain mystique that is worthy of great exploration. From animal spirit guides that aide in healing to the shamans that are often the “go-to” men of the Native American and Celtic communities, the shamanistic tradition of medicine is one that has been admired and practiced by many that do not share the same ethnicity as theses traditional healers. Although the use of animal spirit guides is often ridiculed, as are the sacred spiritual journeys and conversations that these magnificent healers take, there are many unexplainable events that lend credence to the practices and abilities of the Shamans of the Native American culture.
The Irish Celtic culture also utilizes shamans, as well as many phytomedicinal methods for healing their sick. Although information on the shamans of the Irish Celtic culture is harder to find, shamans are just as prevalent in medicine of the Irish Celtic culture as they are in the Native American culture.
Regardless of the specific culture, cross-cultural evidence indicates some common criteria of becoming a healer (Miller 107) as well as common criteria of the roles that shamans take in the healing process. For the purpose of this paper, we will examine the similarities and differences between Irish Celtic and Native American shamans and their position in their respective cultures.
For the Native American shaman the world of animals, the world of plants, the world of minerals, and the world of humans are all intertwined (Wolfe 3). Shamans in the Native American culture are viewed as a revered member of society, are often male, and are the sole healers of their people. While anyone can become a shaman in the Native American culture, the attainment of the status is an arduous process, and is considered a feat of great courage. The introduction of self to the spiritual world in such an intimate way has been considered dangerous because of the risk of insanity, as well as the risk of possession by angry spirits (Wolfe 237). From ancient times to modern times, shamans have been considered to be the link between the physical world and the spiritual world. (Wolfe 3). The Native American shamans utilize many sacred objects in their workings, which are considered sacred solely because they come from nature....