The Differences and Similarities between Celtic Shamanism and Indian Shamanism
Celtic shamanism is based in the traditions and culture of the Irish people. Long before there was a Republic of Ireland and long before the British colonized and largely took over the island of Ireland there were the Celts. The Celts were pagans, which simply means that their religious and spiritual beliefs centered around the Earth, nature, Mother Earth, land, sky and water. Christianity soon came to Ireland and changed this practice quite a bit. Ireland became mostly Catholic and many of their pagan traditions and rituals were soon lost and forgotten by most. Celtic paganism and Celtic shamanism has been making a revival in recent years as those born of this ancestry attempt to rediscover the wonder and beauty of this deeply spiritual tradition and the natural methods of healing. Healing using Celtic shamanism is an ancient practice and many of the modern day shamans and shamanka (female Celtic shaman) seek to learn from the past and history to better understand the nuances of this art. Celtic shamanism is very similar to Indian shamanism in that these priests, priestesses, or spiritual advisors act as healers and herbalists to a community of individuals. They are also charged with opening and keeping open communication with higher realms and spirits of other worlds. Some differences between Celtic shamanism and Indian shamanism are the uses of the Tree of Life, chants of poems and particular signs and symbols particular to the Celts. The Tree of Life plays an important role in Celtic shamanism and indeed, in general Irish traditions. The Tree of Life is used as an access point to gain entry to other, spiritual words. The three primary worlds of spirit recognized by Celtic shamanism are The Upper World, the Middle World and the Lower World. The Upper World, as you might suspect, is the realm of the sky, stars and heavens. The Middle world is the one we all live in but it may contain different dimensions that shaman often visit and commune with. Lastly, there is the Underworld, it is not darkness and evil as some might believe, rather the Underworld is a place where ancestors reside and offer help to the living. The Underworld brings life and healing to shaman who visit this realm. Celtic circles are often used to enclose the shaman or shamanka while they are in contact with one of the three spiritual realms. The circle acts as a sacred area and place of protection for those inside it. Celtic circles are in themselves highly spiritual and play an important role to the Celts and the Irish. Sometimes they are very elaborate, consisting of intricate knotwork, and other times they are simple and unadorned. The Western areas of Ireland are considered places steeped in shamanistic traditions. Counties such as Limerick, Clare, Galway and Mayo are known for having rich histories of Celtic shamanism.
Indian shamanism, as was said, has some similarities to Celtic shamanism such as the deep and abiding respect for nature and the Earth as well as traditions such has healing and creating herbal medications and potions for the group or community that they serve. Some differences between Indian shamanism and Celtic shamanism include things such as the use of power animals, totem animals, spirit guides, totem poles and spirit quests. These things are steeped in the native American Indian tradition of shamanism and are used often to help further the spiritual journey of those in the tribe. There are also Buddhist Indian Shaman and many believe that these were the first shaman to ever exist. While American Indian shamanism and Celtic Shamanism focuses on aspects such as defending the tribe or community from harm and offering spiritual advisement, Buddhist Indian shaman were primarily charged with healing and using herbs and items in nature to fortify the community. Tibetan shamanism is very similar to Indian Shamanism in that their spiritual evolution is quite intense. The history of the Tibetan shaman pre-dates Buddhism and included ritual magic, rites of passage and contact with spirits from other worlds.
Shaman often use items such as crystals, Mustika pearls, rocks, stones and wands to help aid them with their healing work. Mustika pearls are very interesting items that may come from a variety of places in nature.