Science and Shamanism
Just like Science, Shamanism started a very long time ago.As Shamanism is considered as archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy, Science is also known as an ancient part of life in which its masters are called Natural Philosophers and later are known as Scientists.There are many commonalities and similarities between Science and Shamanism.
Shamanism without their knowing also incorporates scientific methods while performing and making potions from herbs. Same with Shamans, Scientist also perform tasks and experiments by using special tools.
Both Shamanism and Science respond to society’s needs. A very good example is by healing. Scientist conduct experiments and tests to discover medicines that can cure illness just like shamans. Thus, we can say that Science and Shamanism somewhat are related to each other, but however there are still factors that keep them apart. First, Shamanism in terms of healing is not really accepted by western Science, why? Because both of them can heal certain patients their sources of healing are undoubtedly very different. Shamanism is a range of beliefs, rituals and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world.
They heal people by mending souls. Shaman gains knowledge or power to heal an individual by entering the spiritual world or its dimension. The shaman may acquire many spirit guides in the spirit world, these guides direct the shaman in his/her travels. The spirits are always present in the Shaman though others only encounter one when there is a Shaman around. The Shaman heals by returning ‘lost’ parts of the human soul from wherever they have gone to. The Shaman also cleanses excess negative energies which confuse or pollute the soul.
Science on the other hand is a systematic enterprise of knowledge about nature and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories. These laws and theories are used by scientist to invent things and cure diseases by making medicines and vaccines. Scientists perform research toward a more comprehensive understanding of nature, including physical, mathematical and social realms. Since Science is a complex branch of understanding and has many fields of expertise, thus Scientist don’t call or rely on spirits but rather use scientific knowledge.
Scientists study different fields of science to gain knowledge and use that knowledge to help people. This knowledge is used in biomedical research. Biomedical research is a research concerning medicines that cure people scientifically unlike shamans that use spirits in healing. This is another factor that sets shamanism apart from science. Another factor that sets Science and Shamanism apart is the basic implicit principle in Shamanism that there are two realities and that the perception of each depends upon one’s state of consciousness.
In this principle 2 realities are stated. The first is “OR” or “ordinary reality” in which those in the “ordinary state of consciousness” (OSC) are the ones that are involved in this. Scientists and ordinary people are considered to belong in this “OR”. On the other hand Shamans believe that they do have another kind of reality. They call this the “NOR” or non-ordinary reality in which those in the “shamanic state of consciousness” (SSC) are the only ones who can experience this. And lastly, people who believe that Science is more accurate never relied on Shamanism.
Not only in medical purposes but also in anything that Science can prove and study. Thus, a boundary between people who believe in Science and the ones who have faith in Shamanism is made. Since Scientists study things very carefully before ordinary people deal with it, most of the western people believe that Shamanism is just a fiction. On the other hand the ones who believe in Shamanism also think the same way western people think. Because of this line people who have their own beliefs never tried or tested both. A very great example is during ancient times.
Since then Science never believed and accepted that spirits are real. Historical origins prove the attacks of the Church on such pioneering scientists as Galileo and Copernicus during the Renaissance and Reformation. Up to the present Scientist never believed spirits. One of the great scientists that never believed spirits is Einstein. He believed “spirits” or “souls” are otherwise anathema and not acceptable as part of the paradigm. This results to the limitation of the parameters of science by decreeing that certain prior phenomena cannot have existence.
It also resulted to limitation of science whose Achilles heel is founded upon an unproven belief: the belief that spirits, including souls, cannot exists. Science has never disproven the theory of the existence of spirits. Thus, disproof of theory, or falsification, is a cornerstone of scientific method(cf. Popper). As long as the theory of spirits cannot be falsified by science the line between Shamanism and Science will never be gone. However this factors that separate Science and Shamanism apart can still be bridged.
As we all know healing both in Science and in Shamanism do have processes. These processes can be studied by science which I think has the greater knowledge to prove things. Once Science has discovered the way shamans heal they can infer scientific methods on the way and methods Shamans perform their healing. Not only that, from what I’ve read like Science, Shamanism can also be studied. Studying Shamanism can be one of the bridges that can unite the two. Another way to bridge the two is by scientist not only studying the Shamans’ methods but also by performing and being one of them.
Thus, Scientists can train ecstatically and traditionally for them to have a greater knowledge of how Shamans communicate with spirits. In this ways scientist can perform trances that can make them one of the Shamans and be on the “shamanic state of consciousness”. These trances will also help them feel and experience how Shamans talk with what they call spirits and how Shamans experience the non-ordinary reality. Lastly, as Scientists engage and be part of shamanic society there they can prove or falsify if Shamanism is either true or just a fiction.
In order to bridge these two Scientists who have more knowledge and grasp of experimenting must use themselves as experiment samples for them to achieve what they want. If they have proven that Shamanism can be true then maybe somehow they can make a way to connect the way Shamans perform their methods because they themselves are also Shamans. In this way scientific method will therefore be broader and can be used in Shamanism. Thus, Shamanism can be considered a branch of science.