How To Be Certain You’ve Been Called To Be A Shaman – Alan Fuller

How To Be Certain You’ve Been Called To Be A Shaman

First of all: no, they don't make Shamans like they used to.

And even though I'm being a little facetious, it's really the truth. At least in the western world.

We're growing in number, no doubt about it. People are waking up to who they are again, and remembering that they aren't meant to be a useless bag of flesh propped up by a frame of bones.

People are meant for more. A lot more. And we're starting to embrace that again.

Which means that we need to explore the ways we can figure out if we're really awakening to the Spirit World.


In indigenous tribal cultures, the ways to tell if someone is called by the Spirits varies.

Each sign or criteria can have a different degree of acceptance. But, each group seems to have similar - if not the same - ways to tell if the Spirits have called an individual.

Shamanic Illness & NDE

One of the most common ways across almost all cultures is that the future Shaman takes ill. It's not usually a terminal illness, but it can be.

In some cases, the illness is a consequence of the Shaman's refusal to take the role. An invading Spirit will cause the illness (which is the cause of most illnesses in Shamanic cultures), but another Shaman cannot perform a successful Spirit Extraction.

The individual will be ill - or potentially go all the way to suffering an NDE (Near-Death Experience) - until they surrender to the will of the Spirits.

Once the individual surrenders to the will of the Spirits to make them a Shaman, the illness miraculously disappears in its entirety.

Other forms of NDE are possible in some cultures, also, but without the preceding illness.

For example: a potential Shaman may be out hunting, and fall out of a tree while pursuing a particular bird. They may be knocked unconscious when they hit the ground, and then experience being in the Otherworld where the Spirits do certain things to the person.

One of the most common things that the Spirits do to people during an NDE is to replace body parts with crystals, gemstones, herbs, pieces of trees, animal parts, or other magical implements.

Sometimes, this kind of replacement is preceded by the Spirits eating the raw flesh of the individual, or at least taking the flesh away to make room for the new Power Objects. (And yes, this can be particularly traumatic for the Shaman.)

Past Trauma

Speaking of trauma, it happens to be one of the most common signs that someone is a Shaman.

Children who have experienced physical and psychological abuse tend to become Shamans. Parental psychosis, parental alcoholism and drug addiction, and so on, often contribute to the heightened sensitivity of the child to energies and Spirits around them.

Children who have experienced physical and psychological abuse tend to become Shamans. 

Reports of some anthropologists conclude that children who have experienced such trauma are more likely to develop the psychic gifts often required of Shamans.

The theory is that the kid is forced to develop a sense of what's going on around them energetically in order to find safe space and hide until potential danger passes.

This childhood trauma theory especially applies to the only child, because there's no sibling to help protect them. The child is forced to learn to cope for themselves, and sometimes self-learns or "accidentally stumbles into" journeying to escape until its safe to come back to physical space and time.

Signs Of Nature

Since we're talking about physical space: it's also quite common for natural signs - or signs within nature - to be present that indicate a future in Shamanism.

In some cultures, birthmarks are the hallmark of the soon-to-be Shaman. Being born with a portion of the amniotic sac covering one's face - either in whole or in part - is said to be a sign, also.

In Appalachian culture, we call this a "caul." (You thought that was just a mountain superstition? Nope. It comes from Indigenous Tribal American groups with whom mountain-dwellers intermarried over the centuries.)

And also in the mountains, if a child is born with a caul, it is the parents duty to cultivate - not suppress - the child's abilities. Today, things are a little different (mostly due to over-industrialization of the culture). But in the past, if you didn't help the child develop these abilities, you were thought to be inhibiting the gifts of God that the child was blessed with.

Speaking of dreams, being dismembered in dreams, or having recurring dreams of specific animals, is a mark that you could be a Shaman.

In other cultures, surviving being struck by lightning is a sure sign. Or, seeing a tree struck by lightning and then watching it (or a large piece of it) fall to the ground before your eyes is often a good sign.

Also: a recurring dream of lightning can be a sign.

Speaking of dreams, being dismembered in dreams, or having recurring dreams of specific animals, is a mark that you could be a Shaman. Being visited in your dreams by deceased relatives, and being visited by another Shaman in your dreams are also pretty concrete signs  you're a Shaman.


Whether you're visited by deceased relatives, or you've had a relative who was a Shaman, these are both signs that you're potentially a Shaman yourself.

It's not uncommon to have a current Shaman select you to succeed them because you came from their loins.

In some tribal groups, if the child of a Shaman refuses to become a Shaman themselves, it's a very bad omen for the tribe as a whole. But in others, nothing happens, other than the current Shaman looks for natural signs so that they can recruit someone else.

The Spirits Are Here For You

Individual calling aside, I want people to know (as this has always been my message, and even more so now, as we navigate an historical place of uncertainty for 80% of us): you don't have to be "called" or "initiated" by an individual who is a Shamanic Practitioner.

It doesn't matter whether they're willing to do it for free, or charge you a mid-size fortune.

The fact is: people don't call, and people don't initiate. Not for Shamans, anyhow.

Only the Spirits do that.

Even when a Shaman recruits a successor from among the People, they look for the signs that point to the individual's future as a Shaman. It's not a random decision.

So don't let anyone gatekeep access to Spirit for you - don't let them tell you that you have to be "initiated" in some way before you can practice.

You don't.

In my opinion, the more telltale signs you see in your own life, the more likely you are to be a Contemporary Shaman.

In our modern western world, we don't really have these same kinds of criteria or phenomena. We've psychologized and rationalized away our deep, mystical connection to Self, Nature, and Spirit.

Some Tribal Shamans even believe that westerners - when we undergo what we call a "midlife crisis" (which to the Shaman is a "little death") - we're really being subjected to significant life changes to serve as our wake-up call.

It's not meant to frighten us, or kill us - it's meant to bring us to our awakened state so we can become a Healer Of Worlds, instead of causing further harm.

Be we should have this kind of phenomena. And if we return to the wild soul, if we embrace animism and Shamanism as a way of life again, we can get that deep, mystical connection back. And we can heal the world.

March 18, 2019
  • Edward says:

    Absolutely loved this article. It demonstrates a great point about who are and are not Shamans.

  • Kim says:

    Great article! I think sometimes these signs can be overlooked or mistaken for something else but if you feel the calling deep in your soul and you just have that internal knowing then you need to pursue it. Always trust spirit and trust yourself.

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