Shamanism is the magic of ecstasy, of leaving the body and soaring to great heights of mystical illumination. Mircea Eliade, the famous scholar of comparative religion, described the shaman as "the technician of the sacred." Shamans are able to move by an act of will from one plane of existence to another.
Usually Shamans are magicians or healers who claim to be able to contact deities and spirits sacred to their people. The Shamanistic world is alive with awe-inspiring and often terrifying supernatural beings, and it is up to the Shaman to encounter these entities and learn their mysterious secrets.
These will, in turn, confer upon the Shaman a profound respect for "Sacred Things." In the case of healing it would be a divinely revealed remedy for sickness or disease.
Shamans frequently, but not always, use natural hallucinogenic substances like peyote (plants) or fly agaric mushrooms (fungus) to gain special access to magical territory. When under the influence of such substances, shamans feel that their universe has become sacred and throngs with awesome beings and presences.
Superficially, the world of the Native Shaman may seem to be of little relevance to the modern Western Magician, but this is not the case.
It is an interesting coincidence that Norse Shamans refer to a World Tree, Yggdrasil, where the gods live. Shamans of Siberia refer to the "Cosmic Tree" in which all deities live. The Qabalah, which is the main point of reference of all modern magicians, also has a tree - the Tree of Life.
But there is also a shamanistic type of magic, which, like the native variety, involved leaving the body in a trance and encountering spirits and deities of the Tree of Life.
In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, most of the practical magical work was of a ritual nature, in which the members dressed and performed like gods, mostly those of ancient Egypt. But there was also a shamanistic type of magic, which, like the native variety, involved leaving the body in a trance and encountering the spirits and deities of the Tree of Life.
One of the most impressive accounts of modern "Astral Journeys" is that of Aleister Crowley's vision of Jupiter, which was first published in his occult magazine, "The Equinox."
Brightest of Blessings,