I am a descendant of the Sami people. The Sami used to have strong shamans, until the Christians hunted and executed them. Because of my heritage, and other reasons, I have found shamanism worth exploring with an open-minded, yet scientific mindset, to try to find the truth of all this. To be clear, these are not contradictory mindsets, and I do not reject science in any way. On the contrary, the scientific method is all about being open to all possibilities, and I am just exploring this in my free time, using my physics education to try to better understand what might be going on.
Besides, it seems to me that something that every single human culture in history has treated as very real (except post-industrial Western culture, and arguably, communistic cultures by fiat) may be worth looking into as possibly more than arbitrary folklore. After all, even in modern Western culture, ordinary people apparently see ghosts and experience other miracles every day, and our culture’s typical response to that seem just as pseudoscientific as anything else. And after I recently discovered that there may be something real behind those old beliefs, I decided that I’m going to try to find out for myself.
I think that the laws of physics, as known by science, are probably correct under the assumption of a closed system, such as in laboratory conditions, or in an isolated, autonomous universe. But the universe being a closed, isolated system is an assumption which may not be true. For example, many scientists today think it’s possible that our universe is a simulation, which implies that there may be people “outside” with a vested interest in what goes on in here, and who therefore may choose to interfere when necessary. Such a simulation may even be stewarded by intelligent agents (automated or not) that can do changes to the simulation as needed (or on request, such as when healers call upon their spirits or gods to heal someone), which to us would look like these agents have god-like powers (and sometimes grant such powers to individuals they like). And that’s just one of many possibilities for how this might work. (Personally, I find it slightly less disturbing to believe that our universe is what many indigenous people say it is — a shared dream. But in practice, that amounts to more or less the same thing.)
But whatever these god-like agents are or why they exist, their primary interest would be the health of the world as a whole, not the fate of any particular individual, so they may not always answer individual requests for healing (or whatever) if it would conflict with their other interests, or their rules. The healer (or whatever) may not even be aware of these rules or limitations. This could be one of the reasons the existence of these powers is hard to prove with scientific precision, even though plenty of credible, “anecdotal” evidence exist. (And a reason why James Randi’s prize has never been collected.)
Furthermore, as we’ve become more technologically advanced and more capable of taking care of ourselves, these agents have also become less important to us. As we no longer need them to survive, and many of us never need ask them for anything, we forget about them, we stop believing they even exist. In our ‘modern’ society they become myths and superstition. There are even some good reasons for this (such as mankind’s history of power abuse). Still, nothing says these agents aren’t still active, just working on the bigger picture, following their prime directives.
Whatever the case, I’m now learning the ancient art of shamanism. (After all, shamans were the “scientists” of spirituality – those that saw, experimented, and figured things out. And I’d like to figure this out.)