How not to be a shaman: A beginner’s guide

The word ‘shaman’ isn’t quite so commonplace anymore.

‘Life coaches’ or ‘guru’ are terms instead often used to signify someone whose purpose is to mentor others and guide them on their own personal journeys.

A shaman makes me think of long robes and swirling smoke, dancing in circles round a cauldron and chanting to the spirits.

This image doesn’t fit so well into the modern world, where we sit circles around desks and are surrounded by vape-infused air.

So how do shamans fit into the modern world?

What distinguishes them from gurus and life coaches?

And why might you (like I) be incorrect in stereotyping a shaman as a dark and mysterious figure who will force-feed you herbal potions and contact your deceased grandma?

Sitting down with Rudá Iandé, a world-renowned shaman known for helping thousands of people to better understand what lies within them, I left with a far better idea of the role shamans play.

As it turns out, tapping into your ancient wisdom might in fact get you further than many toxic spiritual tropes parroted by other ‘gurus’.

And whilst there is no clear right and wrong path to self-development, you can definitely find yourself being held up a great deal when following the guidance (or even worse, commands) of someone in it for the wrong reasons.

Hence why deciphering what shamanism is and isn’t is key to weeding out what will help you and what will hurt you.

Shamans aren’t perfect.

Perfection sells.

And a perfect sales pitch of a life coach, guru, or shaman will often include a turbulent story in which the protagonist overcomes perilous obstacles to then become heroic and enlightened.

Having seen the light, they can now guide you towards it.

They know the path; they’ve walked it themselves, and they’ve learned everything there is to learn.

For a small price, they too can show you the way.

But the truth is, as Rudá reminds me, “We must have some patience in the process of understanding and realizing that we are not perfect.

We are not supposed to be perfect.”.

He doesn’t claim to be perfect himself, not by any means.

In fact, he reminds me that he and I are alike in our imperfected human natures:

“I do not encourage anybody to fully believe the things I say, because before being a shaman, I am a human being.

“I am learning. I dedicate my life to learning, to improving my knowledge, but I can barely figure out my path”.

Shamanism isn’t restrictive.

Another element you might encounter in the world of mentors and coaches is one telling the other they have no right to work in the role they do for whatever reason.

They haven’t completed a course.

They’re selling the wrong ideas.

They only want you for your money… I don’t. But my course is half-price! Click here.

But Rudá pushes against this notion of having to follow a certain set path or needing to tick off certain boxes to qualify.

“I believe there are no rules or formulas regarding who can choose the path of becoming a shaman.”

“Some people will learn their faith from going to different retreats and workshops, some like me from traveling and spending years amongst the different indigenous tribes.

“I have seen many people who just bring the knowledge alive from within themselves, naturally.

“This knowledge can be built within the course of your life, or it can just be alive within you”.

You don’t have to encounter trauma for you to become a shaman.

There’s also a certain formula not unlike the hero’s journey which you’ll encounter with a lot of mentors, coaches or shamans.

To be able to lead others, you yourself must have some heart-wrenching story that could easily be made into a blockbuster.

You faced great trials and overcame various obstacles, and you’re now world-wizened, god-like, and very able to help others avoid the struggles you personally overcame.

But Rudá smiles kindly and tells me that this concept of needing your own trauma to instigate a desire to help others isn’t a necessity for those who choose the path of shamanism.

This inner purpose to help others can lie within anyone.

“Catalysts can be very important, and some people who face very hard moments in their lives can have a spark of consciousness, a kind of lightning in their brain cells, that can completely open up a new path.

“It’s unfortunate that we tend to make radical changes in our lives and really put our effort in only in the moments we really need to.

“But I believe we can choose our path, just because it makes sense for us.

“Just out of love.”

But there are also people out there doing it for the wrong reasons.

“Nowadays so many people manipulate other people’s wounds and tell you that there is something that will heal you and set you free from your past, when it is these wounds that make you human”.

Rudá isn’t necessarily a fan of the online world but has acceded that entwining shamanism with modernity means extending his online presence.

Yet, he also acknowledges the downsides that the widespread presence of ‘fake gurus’ online bring, particularly owing to their accessibility.

There are many who choose personal development as their purpose out of a sincere and genuine desire to help others.

However, there are also a huge number of people who try to profit off of the insecurities of others and are driven by the wrong reasons; usually money or power.

Because selling a person’s dream to them is profitable.

It requires getting into the head of the subject and assessing what they want – maybe that they walk away a millionaire, or meet their soulmate, or forget all about their past-trauma.

And to sell such an unattainable dream is manipulation.

“We could spend hours talking about the fake shamans on social media, but the most important thing is not to do this to yourself.

“Don’t be a guru.

“Don’t do what these shamans and gurus do to other people to yourself, because we can only fall into these manipulative games if we have resonance with them from within, if we are too focused on trying to change who we are, or trying to escape who we are.

“The basic question we must ask is, ‘is the path I’m taking bringing me closer to myself, is it helping me to understand, accept, and develop self-respect and self-love?’”

Shamans will not try to change who you currently are, nor cure your existential angst.

Many personal development aids will promise you peace and prosperity if you choose them and their packages which sell the idea of rebirth and freedom.

The big differentiation here is that Rudá does not try to push change upon people nor does he believe that this is the correct way to approach helping people to better understand what lies at their own core.

Unlike other sales pitches which might include guarantees of absolute happiness and success, Ruda discourages striving for the comfort zone and trying to find some promised peace.

“Don’t try to find this place of certainty.

“Develop a good relationship with the uncertain, with anguish and with anxiety within.

“We fall into too many traps because we try to run away from our existential anguish, when it’s such a part of who we are.”

Not every shaman can help every person.

Whilst those mentioned above who are more in it for the wrong reasons will accept any client, Rudá makes it clear to me that it’s not a one-size-fits-all.

He emphasizes the fact that he can provide guidance and techniques to help a person better align themselves with what lies within, but that this may not be suited for everyone and is certainly not some form of divine gospel that will heal all wounds.

“My cosmovision serves me.

“Yours only belongs to you.

“I may be able to give you techniques to give you knowledge and elements that will feed your mind and help you to open up your perception, but it’s not intended to be the ultimate truth”.

Final words

Now you’re better keyed into the world of shaman is and what a shaman is not, time to buy my course…

Just kidding.

You might not be seeking the guidance of someone else at this point in time in your own life.

You might well be very content with where and who you are right now.

But hopefully you can leave with a little more knowledge as to what to look out for when it comes to the world of fake shamans and gurus who have a pre-made dream they’re trying to sell you.

Because whether you choose to incorporate the assistance of spiritual guides and those who work genuinely to help others, or are working to do so by yourself, the answer remains the same.

Your inner peace and power lies deep within you.

Tapping into it may bring more harmony, but it will never bring perfection; the lack of which makes up the beauty and individuality of the human experience.

Feeling Adrift? Pinpointing Your Values Guides You Home

Do you sometimes question what really matters most in life? Feel unclear on the principles that should steer your decisions and path ahead?

It’s so easy to lose sight of our core values. Those essential truths that align our outer world with profound inner purpose.

That’s why life coach Jeanette Brown designed this simple yet illuminating values exercise. To help you define the 5 values most central to who you are.

In just a few minutes, this free download leads you to:

  • Discover what matters to you more than money or status
  • Clarify the ideals your choices should reflect
  • Create a guiding light to inform major life decisions

With your values crystallized, you’ll move through the world with intention, confidence, and meaning.

Stop drifting and download the Free PDF to anchor yourself to purpose. Let your values direct you home.


Scroll to Top