So, you’re telling me the spirits you are in contact with called you a “shaman”?
And you’re not Tungus nor in one of their communities?
Um… I have words. Advice even.
Honestly, it’s extremely likely your spirit buddies didn’t use the term. It’s equally likely they don’t speak English. You interpret it as English. Clarity can still manifest but here’s where some things fall short. For example… wwhen, in a culture, their word for X activity is missing and/or wrong.
No, I’m not making an assumption. I’m talking about something more basic. The mutability of human cultures over time.
“Sha bruh, that got me in the f-ing feels” is surfer lingo in Los Angeles, circa the 1980s. “Bitchin” “Coked” “Bum” vs “Bummed”. All slang of that time and place. Dialects come into play, too. You’ve never been truly insulted until a southern Auntie looks you in the eye and says “well, bless my heart. Aren’t you special?”
Even when people speaks the same dialect, the same slang, and live in the same class, misunderstanding abound.
Do you honestly think your ancestors–who no longer have a physical form–are speaking to you in modern English?
The hand-wavium that goes along with this is that “spirits access eternal knowledge/akashic record/omnipotent creation/a universal translator” That’s pretty much a Christian assumption, based on the incorrect and heretical idea that angels are a direct creation of God and can speak to his creations without an issue.
If you’ve ever had deep interactions with animals, you know that you can have meaningful relationships with them and understanding. Same applies to humans when you don’t even speak the language. Framed a different way, you are not currently experiencing my voice. You, instead, interpret a very simplistic art form made of lines and semi-circles to gift it with specific meanings that allow you the illusion of clear communication.
What does that have to do with spirits?
Spirits are a force that moves through us. Therefore, they can light up the portions of us that can impart a certain meaning, to try and give intent. Our minds interpret their touch in ways that feel meaningful to us.
tl;dr They do not speak in words; they speak in aggregates.
This is the true meaning behind ritual: ritual describes a set of instructions that cultures repeat so long and so often that an agreement arises between the parties involved.
“Uranun caripe baglen ol gemeganze de noan chiis gosaa…” Oh. That thelemic fella wants the ‘you can’t see me’ spell
More importantly, it matches folklore and the so-called fickleness of some spirits. The times when people couldn’t understand why some spirits did what they did (because –older culture– not in tune with current one). It matches what people have reported since the beginning of time.
And in -no way- does it diminish your relationship with your spirits because even if they speak in aggregates and you speak in words, the -relationship- is what matters as, over time, both you and they hone your communications down to what works for solely you and them.
But… if this is correct, doesn’t that means that spirits are “stuck” in their current form? No, I don’t think anyone is “stuck”. I do, however, reject the “they learned exactly what you need without you knowing what you need” hypothesis because it renders the diversity of spirits meaningless and living practice of indigenous tribes does not reflect this.
Well… what if the Evenki or Tungus people don’t care if I call myself a “shaman”? Oh… kind soul… it’s not the Evenki/Tungus’ responsibility to put forth an objection. Stolen is stolen. And every human alive recognizes that a tool used to pound nails into a house and another used to shape a crowbar is still a hammer. The context of the practice matters otherwise people wouldn’t be arguing so hard to access the term shaman. They’d use their own terms.
It’s why I use the term druid to describe myself. It’s a part of my home culture and it means “wise”, indicating an educated and storied person. I’ve been called that repeatedly by people in my community. Even when I think I’m just a fool. So it’s a relevant term for me.
But hey… we all spring from the same source, right? So, same root language? Oh dear sweet gods… we absolutely do not descend from a time before culture where these practices originate from. Culture is -literally- what defines humanity. It is as diverse as the world we live in.