It's not possible to become a Shaman, you either are, or you aren't.
It isn't something that can be either taught or learned, You cannot teach a duck to become a frog, they may both swim, but that is where the similarity ceases. A Shaman is born with the primordial gift to act as a conduit between various guides, spirit and the divine energies of the universe.
Whilst it is true that nobody can actually become a Shaman, there are a small number of aspects related to shamanistic practices, and the ceremonies that are conducted, which can be taught, and hence practiced. However superficial that might be, because playing at cowboys and Indians is a far cry from physically and spiritually being either.
Having said all of that, and as I myself have done, you might consider that studying and undergoing certification courses will help you to gain a better understanding and knowledge of Shamanism. For me, in this world that we now live in, where clients seek the reassurance of certification to any claimed abilities, it was viewed by me as a necessity. Whereas I view the many certificates that I hold as mere scraps of paper, others consider them to be valuable proof of authentic skills
Remaining authentic is very important to me. I am humble for the gifts that I possess, and I will not claim it to be anything other than a gift I received, to allow spirit to reveal itself and its messages through me.
An example of this connection being, that the healing ceremony that I practice, was given to me in a vision. It has proven to be effective both as a healing rite, and for revealing current and past life experiences that require healing.
I am very proud to say here, that I have been deeply honoured to be appointed as the keeper of the East Gate for a wonderful Native American Elder, This is by far my best accreditation and validation.
Shamanic Sweatlodge; The concept
For many years, my connection to Native Americans has been incredibly and unusually strong.
It started way back when I was a small, impressionable child who especially felt a huge spiritual connection with native Americans via films, TV and books, but it was a very distinct and real emotional connection.
Life took me on a grand roller-coaster ride, directly after I
left school, into a more structured world that distracts us from our spiritual inclination, and I was no different. I became "lost".
Always aware of my connection, but not understanding it for what it actually was, was perhaps the way of things for me, and I guess that the universe decreed that I wasn’t yet ready to walk my path.
There were, however, many many things that reminded me of my connection at every stage of my life, not least the strangely strong desire to hold my new-born daughter aloft in a prayer to great spirit in thanks. And so it was to be...
In more recent years, after embarking on what I consider to be my true path, and reaching where I feel that I needed to be, my shamanic past has strongly come to the fore once more, to be fully recognised for what it is. There was never a question in my mind that I was a shaman, even though I never recognised the tag, I knew what I was.
This was revolutionary to understand in greater depth and yet it was of no surprise to me, it was more like a penny dropping and the full realisation of what is. I have received premonitions all my life, and talking to others about them, I was soon to learn that this wasn’t something that happened to everyone, as I had first thought. I was shown a shamanic ceremony in a vision, not within a sweat lodge, I will add, but around a small fire.
This was emphatically real and deeply meaningful. It was a healing ceremony and I was shown that very clearly. I was shown more as time passed and I learned about what I needed to do from further visions. I was required to be brave, and carry out a ceremony as I was shown by spirit. That first ceremony was profound, and meaningful I could not have asked for any further or more succinct validation. However, the second ceremony that I led was simply so very remarkable that I will need to cover it elsewhere due to space.
Anyway, here I am today, sat before you in all humbleness and respectfully willing to listen to your wisdom.
Please join me so that we might all learn and further understand the spiritual nature and practices of all Native Americans, and for me, especially with my connection to the Dakota Oglala Lakota Sioux, through my guide Chief Black Elk, who was a Chief and spiritual leader.
Respectfully, Steve Howard
Mitákuye Oyás'iŋ (All Are Related)