ShamanTalk Episode 91

A Guide to Understanding Shamanic Terms

There are a LOT of terms within Shamanism, some of them you may know, and others you may not. This week’s episode will teach you the lingo of the Shamanic world so that you can better understand & communicate the key concepts within this ancient practice.

Glossary of Shamanic Terms:

Ordinary Reality

This world we live in and experience very day

Non-Ordinary Reality / NOR

The realms behind this Ordinary Reality. The spirit realms. Core Shamanism uses the three-world model. Celtic shamanism uses Im-raa which means to sail away to the Celtic Otherworld. Aboriginal cultures call this space the Dreamtime.


Stands for ‘Shamanic State of Consciousness’ – the trance state shamanic practitioners/shamanic people enter (as opposed to OSC – ‘Ordinary State of Consciousness). Characterised by high theta brainwaves – the brainwaves associated with creativity and spirituality. Can be a very light trance, or very deep. Usually entered through the use of the drum (or rattle) at around 4 beats a second. Or through the use of hallucinogens.


The belief that everything is, in some sense, alive and has a spirit (or is part of Spirit). Shamanism is animistic at its core.

Axis Mundi / The World Tree

The centre of the three worlds model of Non-Ordinary Reality. A place where all the worlds connect, and so a place that can be used to travel between the worlds.

Astral travel

Astral travel is an out-of-body experience that can take you to the places you want to go, regardless of where and when these places exist. As with any altered state of consciousness it is wise to seek appropriate training.

Ancestral healing

A process of time travel back to a certain point where trauma originates and having Guides carry out healing that then ripples through the ancestral line back to you.

Lower World

The home of nature. Characterised by animals, plants, geology, and people living close to nature.

Middle World

The energetic & spiritual form of this world.

Upper World

The place of ancient knowledge e.g. the akashic records, spiritual teachers, angels, ascended masters etc.

Helping Spirits

A Collective term for your Spiritual Team & your Guides

Shamanic Guides

Your Spiritual Team. Helping spirits and Shamanic guides are any Being who comes forward to support you and has only your best and highest good at the forefront.

Power Animals

Shamanic Guides and part of your Spiritual Team. Power Animals come in many forms and their meaning is as individual to you.


Something that becomes attached to someone’s energy body. May be an ‘inanimate’ thing (i.e. ‘a knife in one’s back’, ‘a thorn in one’s side’), or a ‘living thing’. This can sometimes lead to possession. When a living entity takes over somebody (‘I don’t know what came over me’). Some shamanic traditions will deliberately invite possession by a helpful spirit, for instance in healing or for divination.


The removal of a living attachment/entity. I work with Compassionate Depossession also – that takes into account the needs of any suffering Beings who may be attached to a person.


A shamanic practice to help lost or stuck souls of the dead move on and pass through the veil to the light.


The removal of a non-living entity. Spiritual hoovering. Removal of Intrusions.


A healing practice where your spiritual body is destroyed in some way by the Spirits. It’s usually quite gory and difficult to experience. Your spiritual body is then rebuilt, grown or reformed having received deep release and healing.

The Elementals

This includes nature spirits (tree spirits, elves etc.), archetypal beings (angels, dragons etc.), etc..

  • the earth beings, think of brownies, gnomes, kobolds, trolls, elementals, devas, unicorn or centaurs;
  • the air beings, like sylphs;
  • the fire beings, this includes dragons or salamanders;
  • the water beings, mermaids/mermen, undines, limnades, oceanides are to be included in this category;

Soul loss

The idea that we lose a soul, or part of our soul, usually through things such as trauma, abuse, bereavement, co-dependency etc. Symptoms include depression; fatigue; feeling stuck; lack of enthusiasm; addictions; a sense of something missing.

Soul retrieval

The act of bringing back a lost soul or soul part.

Power Loss

In shamanic terminology, the idea of “power” could be likened to life force, vitality, or chi – power loss is where you lose this vital energy. 

Power retrieval

This is where you reclaim any power that you have lost due to a situation, life event or spiritual event. 


The healing and letting go of the emotional traumas from the past using breath and visualisation. An extremely powerful practice. To be used with caution in cases of PTSD & other severe trauma diagnoses.

Power Objects

Objects used in shamanic journeying or healing for their properties; feathers, shields, stones, rattles, drums etc. May be used in this reality or in non-ordinary reality.

Medicine Wheel

This can be a large sacred space to do shamanic work within or as a process to work with – for example, the wheel of the year. Usually aligned to the four directions (north, south, east, and west) and made with an understanding of their significance, affinities and power.

Transmutation / Tranfiguration

A process of cleansing, reforming and clearing a person or object using light


The ability to shift one’s form and appearance.


The process of dropping your form and merging with a helping spirit, elemental, or other being such as Water. This process is a deeply healing experience and can support many difficult processes.

The individual, death enduring spirit of a being. Members of all species, including humans, have souls.

Shamanic Journey
Intentional voyage in which the shaman, in an altered state of consciousness, enters non-ordinary reality to gain information and power. Ends with a return to ordinary reality.

Shamanic tools

The most common ´tools´ of the shamans are drums and rattles. In addition, work is also done with stones, feathers, wooden or metal objects or any other object the user regards as sacred.


The Celtic equivalent of a Shaman

Plant Medicine

Can be used to describe the experience when ingesting hallucinogenic plants. Plant medicine can also be experienced by merging with the Spirit of the Plant you would like to work with or by visiting with the Plant Spirit in NOR.


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