Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Rev. Bryan Rice


            Shamans are common archetypes that have shown up throughout history all over the globe. Originally, shamans, as they are called today, most everywhere, had historical roots in Siberia. Over time, the role that shamans have played, first in tribes and clans, and now, more commonly, in other settings, has solidified and become distinguished from medicine men/women, though they are still called that in some cultures, witch doctors (not so common), priests, (with a distinction between the two titles being more clear in the modern day), and intermediaries. 
            Shamans and priests shared similar duties of healing and performing rituals. As a certified Shamanic Therapy Practitioner, I see the roles as being separate despite performing ceremonies and rituals.  As mentioned in the lesson entitled Shamanism vs. Christianity, there were definite distinctions made between priests and shamans. Though priests are intermediaries in various religions, between creation and God, shamans play a more direct intermediary role, being guided by not only God, but entities such as Archangels, Angels, Spirit guides, and Power Animals. Shamans, one might argue, have one foot in ordinary reality and one foot in non-ordinary reality, a place where shamans journey in a dream-like state, when theta waves have helped to induce an ecstatic trance.  
             Shamans journey for a variety of reasons, whether to heal themselves, others in their communities, or creation. Though priests are healers too, shamans are more reliant on travel through non-ordinary reality of Shamanic Consciousness, in the sense that they retrieve a person's lost power there, find someone's soul fragments there, or gain knowledge of foreign energy intrusions when performing extractions.  They, like priests do perform exorcisms, which are similar to extractions.  Priests may call upon the Holy Spirit if a Christian and invoke angels when they use sacramental healing, but they are more rooted in ordinary reality. 
            Priests and shamans both have magik-like spiritual powers, at least priests of today do, one's who claim to be able to turn bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Shamans "magik"-like abilities are found in their ability that I previously mentioned -  maneuvering through non-ordinary reality, which I must say, consists of an upper world, a middle world, and a lower world. Christendom and shamanic religions differ on their view of the underworld. In shamanism, there is no "hell" or place of torment, nor "a lake of fire".
            Some of Jesus the Christ's healing ministry was very shamanic-like. I must agree with the author of this course, that shamanism, though traditionally thought to be pantheistic, meaning worshiping all of creation, believing that everything is divine, it does and can have a place for a Christian, despite the Old Testament's speaking out against divination, which is part of a shaman's work. Though primarily healers, shaman's if they can in fact fit into the Christian paradigm of the world, would exist on the fringe as prophets, on the edge of society. Keep in mind that most prophets were a threat to institutionalized religion because  they spoke out against the misuse of power in religions. 
     So why shouldn't shamans be allowed to be Christians?  They don't worship the devil, they honor creation, and they too work with spirit-beings and seek the ultimate good for people in their communities. That is what the Christ did. Christian missionary work with indigenous in different countries was similar to witch hunts in dealing with pagans of any kind. But really, if a Christian is honest, paganism in various ways became integrated into early Church practice.


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