Shamans could also fly when their spirit traveled, either by changing shape into a bird or by riding the back of an animal, usually a deer, horse or other large animals. Other reiterations from the Middle Ages describe witches riding on the backs of goats or rams through the sky at night. Occasionally, the shaman visited the world of spirits by escalating the World Tree itself or by flying along a rainbow. This is another connection between shamans and Northern European folklore, where the rainbow was actually a bridge connecting Midgard – Middle Earth with Asgard – realm of Gods.
One way for the shamans to achieve trance and spirit travel was the psychedelic mushroom – Amanita muscaria, commonly known as fly agaric. This fungi is well known for its magical properties and it is the source of inspiration for many myths and fairy tales involving goblins, faeries, elves and many other magical creatures. It is also considered that fly agaric can open the gate between worlds and was considered a sacred mushroom because of its intriguing qualities.
In Siberia, shamans sometimes drank the urine of reindeer previously fed with Amanita muscaria. They said the drink linked them to the spirit of the plant and that it appeared as small mushrooms with arms , legs and eyes attached.
In present days, fly agaric and other psychedelic mushrooms are classified as dangerous drugs, therefore these sacred mushrooms are hard to come by and experiment. Could this be seen as a form of limitation from the government that doesn’t allow us to partake in such intense spiritual transformations? After all, these mushrooms are a gift from nature. It’s very probable the government considers them a powerful tool, best kept out of reach of the general population.
It was generally agreed upon in shamanism, that the spirit realm was not completely divided by the material realm. There are special areas in the natural environment where the two worlds join and interconnect, forming an invisible portal. These places can be a mountain peak or a hill, a rock, a river, a forest, a lake or any other natural sight from our planet. While shamans might be able to access such gateways with ease, it may be almost impossible for lesser mortals to spot such a place. Some sensitive people may feel a different energy when passing through such spots, but still be unaware of their existence. It is considered that creepy places, whether natural sites or man-made buildings, associated with paranormal phenomena and hauntings are for the most part spirit gateways connecting the two realms of the living and the dead.
In shamanistic acceptance, all soulless objects were inhabited by spirit energy or force. Some shamans believed that living beings could have more than one spirit occupying the body. Many accepted that humans had a double spirit. This second spirit allowed the shaman to astral travel over the Earth and also enter the Otherworld. They also believed the soul of a human being existed in a spherical energy field that surrounds the body, described today as an aura. It was this aura that was targeted by demons or black shamans, causing illness or even death. It was the role of the white shaman to obtain balance by healing the affected aura and if possible, restoring the victim to its formal condition.
Many such practices and rituals have been forgotten or lost for eternity because of the Buddhist, Mongolian, Christian, Muslim or Western missionaries who persecuted practitioners on account of different religious or political reasons. Despite these afflictions, a form of shamanism survived and it continues in remote rural areas across the globe. The general term of shamanism is also preserved but, over the years became entangled with other western elements and cannot be found in its true form.
Shamanism nowadays is a mixture of practices from different religions, keeping some basic aspects but it can’t be compared to what it used to be.