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As a spiritual and psycho-therapeutic technique, shamanism goes back to the very origin of the human race which itself is lost in the dim mists of time. The presence of the shaman is already well-attested in European cave paintings belonging to the Paleaolithic era. Archaic traditions found among primitive tribes throughout the world claim for shamanism a celestial or extra-terrestial origin, and thus another principal function of the shaman over the course of countless millennia, besides healing and guiding the dead, was to maintain this direct communication between humanity here below on the surface of the earth with the heaven worlds above. In terms of human evolution in primeval times, the shaman was the first culture hero, bringing humanity out of the nighttime darkness of a purely animal existence into the daylight of true human consciousness. The shaman was the first of all humans to speak with and walk with the Gods. In the pursuit of this knowledge, the shaman ascended into the heavens and descended into the underworld where one encountered certain archetypal figures, both gods and ancestors, who initiate the individual into a death-and-rebirth transformation of one's total being, and confer upon one the wisdom and the power to aid and protect and guide humanity, relieving its ills and suffering.
But the shaman belongs not only to the heavens, but equally to the earth. The shaman's religion is a pagan religion of nature where the human being is seen as a part of nature and not as something existing in opposition to it. The purpose that is taught here is to live in harmony with the natural environment on a very personal and intimate level, as did early humanity generally in the days before our now omnipresent urban-industrial civilization spread across the face of the earth like a corrosive cancer. Thus, besides healing, yet another primordial function of the shaman was insuring the ecological balance by way of inter-species communication. Through ritual magic and clairvoyant knowledge, the shaman could ensure success in the hunt for the tribe, that they might survive to live another season, but no species would be hunted in excess or to the point of extinction. And with regard to the hunt, he negotiated a covenant between his own people and the spirits of the hunted species.
Generally, in the context of shamanic culture, illness or disease was seen as arising from a disharmony or break in the natural order and in the moral order of the world, as well as from an imbalance in and weakening of the personal energy field of the human individual. The energies within the individual and those outside oneself in the natural environment must be brought into balance and into harmonious interaction. This balance and harmony existed primordially, from the time of the beginning, but has been interrupted and shattered by the thoughtless and sinful actions of mankind. To rediscover and re-establish this lost primordial harmony, all obsessive and negative thinking which serves to block the free flow of the energy within the individual must be dissolved. In this way, the individual can come into the realization of his full innate potentiality, manifesting his energy in the world about him without disrupting the natural order of things.
But it is especially due to the destruction of the natural environment by human groups and by individual human beings that diseases have come into manifestation in our world. Humanity is not alone in this world. This planet earth, itself a living organism in its totality, is surrounded by and suffused throughout with an aura of energy that is like an atmosphere or ocean. Nature spirits live in this dimension of the energy of our planet, like fish living in the waters of the sea. Disturbed and offended by the thoughtless destructive actions of mankind, such as the ploughing up the earth, the cutting down of the forests, the damming of streams and rivers, the polluting of lakes, and so on, they inflict illness upon an erring mankind as a terrible retribution. Since these nature spirits are energy beings, they can directly effect the energy of the individual and that individual's immune system which is correlated with one's personal energy field. In such a case, it was then necessary to call in an expert healer or shaman in order to re-establish the primordial harmony existing between humanity and nature, thereby effecting a cure and a healing.