What does it mean to imprint on someone in shaman and native american culture?

generated, teepee, american indian
Photo by Roses_Street on Pixabay

In the mystical realm of shamanism and Native American traditions, the concept of imprinting carries a profound significance. It is an ethereal thread that weaves through the fabric of their spiritual practices, revealing a deep understanding of human connections and the interconnectedness of all beings. In this article, we embark on an enlightening journey to explore the captivating meaning behind imprinting, delving into both its spiritual and scientific dimensions.

Unveiling the Essence of Imprinting: Imprinting, within the realms of shamanism and Native American culture, transcends the mere physicality of meeting someone. It is an intricate process that involves an exchange of energies and an indelible mark left upon one’s soul. The profound essence of imprinting can be understood through the following aspects:

  1. A Mystical Bond: Imprinting in shaman and Native American culture represents the formation of a mystical bond between individuals. It goes beyond superficial connections, intertwining the spiritual energies and creating a deep sense of unity.
  2. Shared Experiences: Imprinting occurs through shared experiences and encounters, whether it be in the physical realm or during meditative and ceremonial practices. These moments of connection allow the energies to merge, creating an everlasting impression within the spiritual fabric of both individuals.
  3. Universal Interconnectedness: The concept of imprinting reinforces the belief in the universal interconnectedness of all beings. It signifies that every encounter holds the potential for a transformative exchange, wherein the imprinted energies ripple through the collective consciousness, impacting the web of existence.
  4. A Catalyst for Growth: Imprinting acts as a catalyst for personal and spiritual growth. The imprinted energies, often accompanied by profound insights and teachings, offer guidance and open doors to new dimensions of understanding and self-discovery.

Scientific Perspectives: While imprinting in shaman and Native American culture is deeply rooted in spiritual wisdom, it also finds resonance with scientific principles. Emerging scientific research and psychological theories provide intriguing parallels to this ancient wisdom. Consider the following scientific perspectives:

  1. Neuroplasticity and Emotional Memory: Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to rewire itself, offers insights into how imprinting occurs. Emotional memories created during intense encounters or shared experiences leave lasting imprints within the neural pathways, shaping future perceptions and connections.
  2. Mirror Neurons and Empathy: Mirror neurons, discovered by neuroscientists, suggest that humans are wired to empathize and mirror the experiences of others. This neurological mechanism aligns with the idea of imprinting, as shared experiences facilitate the transference of energy and emotions.

Spiritual Insights: To gain a deeper understanding of imprinting, let us draw from spiritual insights found in occult, esoteric, and meditation practices. These teachings shed light on the profound nature of imprinting and offer wisdom for personal growth and transformation. Some references and sources worth exploring include:

  1. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle
  2. “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” by Carlos Castaneda
  3. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
  4. “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche

Imprinting, within the realms of shaman and Native American culture, carries a deep spiritual significance that resonates with scientific principles. It symbolizes the interconnectedness of all beings, emphasizing the transformative power of shared experiences and the indelible imprints they leave on our souls. As we explore the profound nature of imprinting, we unveil a tapestry of wisdom that blends spirituality, science, and the essence of human connection, inviting us to embrace the transformative potential that lies within every encounter.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Don’t listen to anyone on here, they obviously haven’t experienced this spiritual phenomenon of imprinting. I stumbled upon your question and started reading this in search of answers for myself. I recently had an experience I can only describe as imprinting, and I saw the animal spirit of the other person. I am also searching for more understanding and wish you luck with your journey as well.


By the way, I know of at least 2 elders, one of them Lakota, who do teach to “outsiders”. In fact, he travels to schools to teach. Why wouldn’t he? Spirit has not an ego. The wind carries messages to all ears; some hear and some do not.


🙁 It’s very sad to me that so many calling themselves ‘spiritual’, ‘religious’, ‘shaman’, ‘ministers’, ‘medicine men’, or members of either or any culture are arguing over God. Argue about politics and injustices. Don’t argue about the One that belongs to no one. The earth cries because we are fighting each other and losing sight of what is important. I have Cherokee blood but I am not recognized as Cherokee. I have Irish blood but have no home in Ireland. I just have here. Since I have no grandmother to teach me the old ways, I have to trust my heart. I’m drawn to the language and the traditions but the concept of the wheel did not come from one place or another or from a certain man. I hope that somewhere the traditions are kept alive and I hope that the reservations are much more than what I have seen because all that I have seen is corrupt. Since my great-grandmother rests with her people, and I cannot even prove that she was born; I will have to do as I am certain my ancestors from both sides did and listen with my heart. There are teachings available to those with ears to hear and most of it so common sense. The white man destroyed the heart of this land at one time. This is another time.

Ruth Aravah JPA

answer: I’m afraid you’ve probably run into a wannabe. There are very few “shamans” around and most of them aren’t Native American because that’s not a Native American term. Most people think it is but it actually originates in Northern Europe (Cher is correct, Tom is wrong).
Definitely check Cher’s referenced author, he’s credible (one of the few that is in the Western world).


Imprinting isn’t even a term used by the new-aged version of “shamanic” work. Even within that framework, it doesn’t make any sense at all that a human will imprint an animal spirit on another human. I’m guessing this person was sure of themselves, but not very versed in any real information.
You are incorrect. Shaman is a Siberian term for their spiritual leaders & medical practicioners in certain communities. It is NOT a translation into English at all. It is a borrowed term by anthrologist Michael Harner for a technique he borrowed & modified from a variety of native cultures throughout the world. Also, that technique is just a TINY fraction of what they do & is substantially MODIFIED by him. Also, it is NOT done by all native cultures at all. While the term is now generally recognized – or misrecognized – it is not an English word for Native American culture spiritual & medical practicioners. Which indicates you aren’t very familar with Native Cultures to be so insistent.
I don’t have time to read the rest of your write up. However, if you repaste your entries after they are cut off, ya allows them to post the 2nd time. So, no need to ever delete or cut short your comments.
Dr. Harner has written a number of books in at least one of which he describes his acquisition & reason for borrowing the term.
You are incorrect on shaman. Saman vs. Shaman is merely a transliteration difference. The term was NOT entered into common English use as a recognizable term until Harner used it. He does refer to it’s prior use in his explanations.
You are also arrogant. You insult people left & right while claiming to value all people. It’s tiresome.
For example, your story about some experience with a couple people in Germany or America has zero bearing on this asker’s question nor on Native culture’s rights not to expose themselves to every wanabee who comes along. Your story just shows you are seeing people as belonging to groups while claiming you don’t. Very confusing that you do that.
I personally have posted very long things using the this technique of reposting the whole thing a 2nd time, as have others. Keep playing with it. There is never a need to delete previous commentary because of YA. (Just a need to pull one’s hair out.)

Harner admonishes that anyone who calls themselves a Shaman or medicine man is NOT one, & to be leary. It is those who use the person’s services who can point out who they recommend, but the person themself would not.
(con’t) Harner is decent, but kooky & not Native American. It is easy to read is work & come away with misunderstandings & not enough respect (if one doesn’t know how to be respectful to begin with), which some who learn from him do.


It is true that the term ‘shaman’ is not and was never a part of any of the Native American languages and they do not refer to themselves as such.
There is one consideration. Among the many languages, outsiders do not understand them and the term shaman is a translation to English. That being said, it is a common term used for understanding. How many people would understand the differance between a mystic, healer, conjuror, spiritual leader or ‘medicine man’ that crosses into the spiritual realm and one who does not when attempting to explain the differance making use of only the language of the particular culture.
The term shaman only serves to translate into English those who function within a particular methodology. No offense intended, I just accept simplifying things. I have enough problems at times with mixing languages among people who only speak one and another person who speaks another. At times I speak so little English that I have trouble recalling terms and it is my native language.
For the most part the practices involving shamanism are not taught to outsiders. If an outsider is chosen to be taught, it is because the one doing the teaching has their own personal reasons and not for financial profit. There are some who are not of a Native American forfathers who have been taught and practice that which they were taught. This includes NOT TEACHING outsiders. Again, this is an extremely rare exception! As a shaman, I have exchanged information and practices with one ‘shaman’ of the Arikara people. I do combine the practices and teachings with my personal celtic path with full respect for that which I have had the honor of being taught.
I have contact with ‘shaman’ from a couple of cultures and among them, I have not heard any refer to ‘imprinting.’
As a minister for the pagan group that meets on a US Military Air Base in Germany, I do have contact with many people of various paths and try to be informed of the various beliefs including new age ideas. While attending an ‘Esoteric Convention’ a few years ago, ‘imprinting’ was a common buzzword which had become popular in the US and was becomming popular in Europe among the New Age movement. What the theory is, is that you will receive and carry to another some sort of energy to another person, in this case the spiritual qualities of a bear (Which qualities of which type of bear?) will be an identifying quality of the person. By this and your other question, the person who is claiming to be a Native American Shaman is probably nothing more thansomeone who has read some books and possibly attended a seminar or two led by a New Age Guru and is now selling a fantasy interpertation of what he has perversly been told. Shamanic practices, no matter the culture and name given in the native language are predominaltly done outside of the normal physical realm. Without part of the spirit crossing into the spiritual realm for contact with those in the spiritualworld, it is not in any way (or language) shamanism. You would be just as well to do a fantasy journey in a guided meditation.
First Edit removed due to space and Yahoo.
Edit: Open in reply to Mama & Kanien,
As for ministering, never in this direction. When I have been asked, I remain neutral as I accept that each relationship is personal with that which they believe and accept to be God.
Counseling is more talking with understanding. TO THE ASKER, sorry I had to remove the first edit for
space but that is Yahoo, Hope you read it to see what I actually wrote and not just get the other comments to it.
Wish you the best,
Edit: @ Kanien, from your profile: “The native concept of power is how much you can empower people around you. You bring them up to your level, you make them feel good, you make them feel strong, you make them feel confident, whereas the non-native concept of power is how many people you can control. ~Waneek” I just checked to see if you had me blocked and read that you have that posted on your profile and am courious how you can criticize my attitude when it is what you apparently claim for your viewpoint. Are you offended that I do not fit this preconcieved prejudiced attitude? You are the one who attempts to control by keeping others out of ‘your’ cultural views so I can believe you are only ‘native’ by heritage but ‘non-native’ in practice. In the first line of your answer you state “our native healers” then to me you state “our people do not call themselves shamans eo even healers.” Translating to english is ok for you but not others? You also discredit Mama’s “they don’t have shaman” an english translation.
Edit: Again I had to remove part of the prior edit due to space.Not to remove evidence as Mama put it!
I see that Kanien has been removed, too bad it was enjoyable to bring out a bigoted/prejudice attitude. Curb my toung but Iktomi had the talent to have a person show their true personality, maybe I did learn well.
Mama, you give a definition that is nearly the same as the original from around 1698. I know if I looked I could find it in a modern dictionary somewhere but here is a few links that give a more modern view. Believe it or not languagesa do evolve expecially since we now know the world is not flat and the Americas have been discovered.
This one has a section on shamanism outside northern Asia!
This one is quite interesting.
And for good measure, this one is from a Native American newsletter. Notice it is for the Non-Native and warning them about fraudulent shamanic teachings. Look they use the word ‘shaman’ and do not forbid the teaching to Non-Natives! It actually supporta my position of how I was taught and what I do. Notice the end of the article; “True ceremonial people are out there. They are likely in your midst, but they seldom wear a banner or make an announcement. They truely believe the Creator will put the right people together at the right time.” Basically what I stated just under the circumstances of the military hospital, they need to know of the availability due to military protocal.
To the ASKER, this will probably be informative for you also with respect to the “Native American Shaman” in your question.
Edit: First to Cher, I tried the cut and repaste as you suggested, thanks but it did not work so I again had to delete a section of the prior edit. I wish it had worked and maybe I just need to learn how to do it but for now I do not have the time. It was worth the try and I do thank you for the suggestion/information.
The original language term is saman, shaman is English. Originated 1690-1700 with basically the defenition Mama gave. It was expanded to practices among various cultural practices across the world in the 1900’s well before Michael Harner was born, he was not the originater of it into English, although he has his defenition and clerification as to how/why he uses it.
When one can literally step from the backyard onto a reservation, 2 family small businesses have native and non-native employees and customers and growing up goes to a school that had some native and non-native students, would it be surprising that he does not make a differance between people? I lived this and when I was first sent to Germany I was asked by a superior what I called ‘those people’ back home, my immediate response was ‘friends.’
Being as I chose to live in Germany I have been called a traitor by a couple “Americans” and told my citizenship should be removed. My children have duel citizenship and so what culture do they belong to? Must it always be ‘us’ and ‘them’? Sorry if I see people as people and not by their culture, nationality, skin color, religion or whatever. For me they are people. If it is wrong extend my hand to another that is in need and by what I learned and live by am able to be of any comfort or assistance, then I am wrong. One part of 100’s of native cultures along with learning and living by some others in combination allows me to have some understanding of a variety of people. If being that I do not restrict myself to accepting and following just one path is a problem for some, that is their problem. If helping another find their own way is wrong then so be it. I do not tell anyone how and what to do or believe, simply help them to find a way that works for them as an individual.
Thank you all for the multiple comments that I am wrong about the word shaman not being a native american culture term. Now read the first line of my original answer and you will find that is exactly what I wrote.
Mama thanks for calling out your contacts in the last day of answering to state I am wrong but the above comment clerifies they either did not read or care that I stated what they also comment. There are still a couple of hours, can you do something more to be amusing? I still respect your answers under the Jewish Q&A, just differ with your opinion here. Life is short accept it with humor. Best wishes.
Just courious, do you find this wrong with mixing cultures and teaching?
Edit: Cher, Castanada had already used “Shaman” in one of his books when Harner was beginning as an anthropologist, in 1968. Harner just popularised his use of the term in 1980.
Castinada brought the term from more technical to common useage but it was already defined as world cultural practices.
There is a differance between understanding people claim groups than oneself claiming them

Lakota Dream

This sounds like a new-ager to me, they’ve watched Brother Bear one too many times. I am 100% Native, there are no such things as Shaman in my nation, nor do we have things such as spirit animals or imprinting. I agree with those above me, I really hope you didn’t pay for this.


as has been said…you were scammed. our native healers do not teach non natives anything. what you got was a fraud . there are more pretend natives and “shamans” than there are real natives and they use the ignorance most people have about us to trick them into thinking they are the real thing. ask yourself this..why do these shaman spend so much time dealing with non natives? because it would take us real natives all of 30 seconds of hearing them talk to know what they were!
sorry for you but, you should find him and kick his a**
@tom…with all due respect to your own experiences..as a native woman who is traditional and raised in my culture and community, this is not an issue of language. our people do not call themselves shamans or even healers. they are in fact very non vocal about who they are. there is no need since WE who live with them know who and what they are.
all of these people who are not from our communities and yet claim to be taught by our healers, etc are mistaken or lying. if there is knowledge to be passed on for future generations, it is passed on to our own people. there is no weekend course in native healing. it is a lifetime of learning and being mentored. and since even our most spiritual healers only have one lifetime, why would they spend time teaching someone who is not of our community and nation when there is barely enough time to teach one of our own?
i’ll say one more thing. the power comes from the land. this is another reason it is laughable to hear about “shamans” who claim to be native doing ceremonies in europe and for non natives…and in english no less. our ceremonies are ONLY in our languages. if they aren’t…they are being performed by a fraud.
our ways are for us only as they have been from the beginning. can a non native benefit from them? perhaps. but they are not taught how to be a healer among the people since they are not among us. i hope this makes sense.
ETA thanks for that mamap. i was being nice out of respect for YOU since i thought he was a friend of yours. i could smell the fraud all over him. tom.. you are as bad as any new age fraud. you aren’t special, just another culture vulture who takes whatever they want no matter who it hurts. a fraud and a liar
ETA: do you think i have not seen this before? get called out for being a fraud and a liar and you write a book about how “humble and unassuming” you are and how much good you do (throw in the disabled vet for added sympathy) and then say how us natives are the bad guys for wanting to stop you from helping even other natives.
i’m not fooled by the act because i know the next part. and i am sure you will stoop to it eventually. i know what you are because there are so many like you. when it comes to the many indigenous soldiers in the military you aren’t helping them..you are lying to them. i for one don’t appreciate you taking advantage of them when they are in need. and yes i know for a fact you will continue to do what you have been doing because that is what your kind does..whatever they want no matter what anyone says. you also take whatever you feel entitled to and create a great story to justify it. nothing original there. there are books by other cultural thieves who have similar stories about being “chosen” against their will to be something they not only aren’t but have no right to be.
practice whatever you want but leave us natives and our beliefs alone. you have taken enough from us.
btw Tom..you can report me now if you haven’t already. but the truth will still exist even if this post doesn’t.
ETA: ok Tom it took you a while but act 2 under way apparently. now you are on the offensive as i knew you would. what does my use of english have to do with any of this? would you prefer i speak to you in my native language? sa’nikonhraien:tas ken? nii kanien:kaha’ka. tanon’ onhka ni:se’? pretty pointless to speak to someone in a language they don’t understand isn’t it. none of what you have said changes anything. you are non native. you claim to be taught something that is not taught to non natives. and now you claim to have the authority to minister to others with this. all lies. my race or heritage is not in question so there is no use trying to spin that. and yes. i would do everything in my power to prevent people like you, the self righteous and self entitled, from corrupting one of the last things we have, our spirituality and i am not alone. and here you are on the internet bragging to everyone about being some iktomi shaman. if you had any knowledge about any such thing, you would not be doing exactly what you are doing. you self aggrandize with it that is apparen’t. you can continue to try and defend yourself. you might convince a few people but you will never fool any onkwehonwe, true native people, into thinking you are anything but what you are; a cultural appropriator…a culture vulture.


Saw your other question. . .. i HOPE you didn’t PAY for this
Your SHAMAN is a LIAR.
he should be arrested. it’s just too bad we can’t arrest for impersonating medicine people.
I’m willing to be the guy is not even indian.
there is now 1 way, we do not have shaman here, animals are all different to all tribes.
some don’t eat bear because it’s ‘sacred’ he’s our brother. Some Will eat bear because to waste meat is an even bigger crime.
Be Weary of ANYONE who calls themself a ‘shaman, or medicine man’