Can a non native person become a Shaman?

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There federal laws about who can be an Indian or Native American, I know this. And most all Shaman I Native Americans, at least those who reside in the US. However, I’m curious can a white guy become a Shaman and if so, can he legally call himself a “Shaman” ??

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emilia d

You are born with the abilities to be a Shaman regardless of what part of the universe you’re born or came to life.


You are a shaman if you can go deep within yourself and see the other side of reality. The laws are stupid and have no bearing on shamanism. I have been called shaman and never tried to get that label. I have insights that make people ask me things about themselves and come up with the right answers most of the time. It is a gift that is a blessing and sometimes a curse.


I wouldn’t advise that you try such a thing as it would automaticly be offensive. Most cultures/races are strict about things that they hold sacred, especially when it comes to someone of another culture/race attempting to emulate their way of life.
I myself am 1/8 native and wouldn’t even dare to dream of such a thing as I don’t have enough native DNA to be worthy of the position.
If you want to practice something similar to it, that’s up to you but, don’t risk getting your rear handed to you for going where you aren’t welcome.
EDIT: Okay, Coolrogue. That’s all good and fine but, let’s try not to blow a gasket, okay?


I’m pretty sure “Shaman” isn’t even originally their word or thing, I think it’s Asian in origin. They had and have medicine people, but that is within the tribes.
If you want to go off and decide you are some “Shaman,” that’s on you, just don’t be associating it with Indian ways or people. Many folks don’t think real kindly on that.


People to be avoided concerning Native American Spirituality:
Anyone claiming to be American Indian shamans , talking about tarot cards and Wiccan/pagan things, or talking about crystals and New Age things. I’ve got nothing against shamanism, paganism, or the New Age, but a cow is not a horse: none of these things are traditionally Native American. Shamanism is a Russian mystic tradition, Wicca is a religion based in pre-Christian European traditions, Tarot readings are an Indo-European divination method, and the New Age is a syncretic belief system invented, as its name suggests, in the modern era. None of them have anything to do with authentic Indian traditions, and anyone who thinks they do is likely to be wrong about anything else he claims about Native American religions as well. Wiccans and New Agers don’t have any more knowledge about actual American Indian beliefs than you do.


No, if you are not of Native American decent more than likely no shaman (to use the term, and there is a shamanistic tradition in Native American culture) will train you.
You could read up on or take a workshop in core shamanism. Which is a really a generalization on the common practices of traditional shamanism in it’s various forms from around the world. With core shamanism you would learn to journey, heal ect however it is not a native shamanism nor is it really based on such since it dose not attempt to recreate any particular shamanism tradition because that would be offensive if you started to mimic say a Native American tribes culture and traditions and called yourself a shaman.
Is core shamanism; shamanism? Well if you ask an actually shaman they might say no because there is much more to shamanism than what core covers but you would have to be a native of that culture to understand and be trained in that tradition.
Best place to look is the man that coined the term Shamanism and reintroduced it to the west Michael Harner and his book “The Way of the Shaman” –


As a white person practicing a (neo)shamanic path, here’s my take on it.
First off, shamanism (as defined by anthopology) isn’t only found in Native American cultures; it exists in indigenous cultures around the world. Even certain Asian countries that have become more industrialized, such as Korea, still have a shamanic tradition. Shamanism is primarily found, though, in hunter-gatherer cultures. (Also, for the record, the word shaman is Siberian in origin, and originally only referred to the magic workers of a particular group of tribes.)
Now, as for modern practice, what you have to remember is that unless you get involved with an actual indigenous *tribal culture*, you’re going to end up with *neoshamanism*. “Shamans” of indigenous cultures work within the context of their own cultures and are an active part of their cultures. They don’t do weekend seminars or pay-to-go sweat lodges.
Neoshamanism is not in and of itself a bad thing, as long as you admit that what you’re doing isn’t traditional, and has been placed in a different cultural context. You can shake your rattle, bang your drum, and call it medicine, but it won’t make you a genuine shaman–it just makes you a person who is using these things in a different cultural context.
I don’t particularly care for Michael Harner’s core shamanism, mainly because it only focuses on certain convenient aspects of what the shaman traditionally does. Shamans do heal, but they also aid in the hunt, and they can be harmful. Additionally, Harner only really teaches shamanic *techniques*–he doesn’t really address the life-changes and the deep (and sometimes dangerous) altered states of consciousness associated with shamanism. He basically presents what he thinks white people want to know about shamanism, and keeps it in the living room.
If you’re serious about practicing a modern (neo)shamanic path, here’s what I’d recommend starting with:
The Shaman by Piers Vitebsky (read this first!)
Ecoshamanism by James Endredy
The Spirit of Shamanism by Roger Walsh
Shamanism by Mircea Eliade
Exploring Shamanism by Hillary S. Webb
You can read Harner, but realize he’s not giving you anything resembling the entire picture. Also, avoid Sun Bear, Mary Summer Rain, Brooke Medicine Eagle, and Carlos Castaneda–they’re all plastic shamans (Google the term plastic shaman or look it up on Wikipedia to see why this is a problem). I have more book suggestions at my review blog at
Also, if you’re curious about how I’ve created my own neoshamanic path, go to
Good luck 🙂

Wm Mcgill

I am the same, there are no cultural borders. Respectfully


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