top of page

The Shamanic Perspective on Death and the Afterlife: A Journey to the Spirit Realm

Let's embark on an exploration, an intriguing journey into the sacred and the mystical. Like the whispering wind rustling through the leaves, the shamanic perspective on death and the afterlife carries a certain silent, yet profound resonance that echoes in the chambers of our collective consciousness. It is a narrative that takes us beyond the mundane and familiar, to the uncharted territories of the spirit realm.

Shamanism, an ancient practice rooted in indigenous cultures worldwide, has thrived for millennia, offering a spiritual framework that transcends time and space. The shaman, often referred to as the 'walker between the worlds,' creates a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms, navigating these dimensions to heal, guide, and gain wisdom. Their views on death and the afterlife are no less fascinating, casting a new light on the age-old mystery that has intrigued humanity since the dawn of time.

So, what happens when we die? Is there an afterlife? If so, what does it look like? These are some questions that we'll try to unravel, as we dive into the shamanic perspective on death and the afterlife. Let's set our sails to the spirit realm, guided by the wisdom of shamans and the ancient knowledge they carry.

The Cycle of Life and Death: A Shamanic View

Death as a Transition

In the shamanic worldview, death is not an end but a transition - a doorway leading from one existence to another. It's akin to a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, shedding its old skin to emerge in a new form. The physical body, seen as just a vessel, is left behind, while the spirit continues its journey into the spiritual realm or 'Otherworld'.

Shamans view life and death as two sides of the same coin, inseparable and continuously flowing into each other. They see death as a natural part of the life cycle, not something to be feared or avoided. Instead, it is embraced as a return to the spiritual source from which we all originate.

This belief illuminates the shamanic perspective on mortality, encouraging acceptance and understanding. It challenges the conventional fear-based narrative around death, replacing it with a narrative of transformation and continuity.

The Journey of the Soul

At the point of death, according to shamanic tradition, the soul embarks on a journey to the spirit world. This isn't a solitary voyage, but one aided by spirit guides, ancestors, and power animals - entities that provide guidance and protection to the transitioning soul. The landscape of the spirit world varies across different cultures and traditions, but it's often depicted as a realm of great beauty and serenity, a place where souls can rest, heal, and learn. It's a realm where time and space lose their conventional meanings, replaced by an existence that transcends physical limitations.

Once the soul has completed its journey and achieved the necessary healing and wisdom, it may choose to reincarnate, entering a new physical vessel to continue its journey in the physical world. This cycle of death and rebirth forms the core of the shamanic understanding of existence, reflecting the cycles seen in nature.

The Shaman's Role in Death and the Afterlife

Guiding the Departed

Shamans play a crucial role in the transition of a soul from the physical world to the spirit world. They are the spiritual guides, accompanying the soul on its journey, ensuring it safely reaches the spirit world. This practice, known as 'psychopomp' work, is a key aspect of shamanic work around death and dying.

Aiding a soul's transition isn't just about guiding it to the spirit world. It's also about helping the soul let go of any attachments or unresolved issues it may have from its physical life. The shaman works to facilitate this release, creating a space for the soul to heal and prepare for its next journey.

Through this work, shamans provide comfort and support to both the departing soul and the grieving loved ones left behind. They help in making the process of death less frightening and more meaningful, casting it as a journey of transformation and growth.

Communicating with the Spirit World

Shamans are also known for their ability to communicate with the spirit world. By entering a trance-like state, they can journey to the spirit realm, interacting with spirit guides, ancestors, and other spiritual entities. This ability allows them to gain wisdom and guidance from the spirit world, which they bring back to the physical world to assist in healing and decision-making.

Communication with the spirit world also allows shamans to seek help from the spirits in times of need. They can ask for assistance in healing, protection, or other matters, forming a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. Through their work, shamans demonstrate the interconnectedness of life and death, the physical and the spiritual. They show us that death is not an end, but a continuation of our journey, a step into another realm of existence.

A New Perspective on Death

The shamanic perspective on death and the afterlife offers a fresh lens through which to view the mystery of death. It encourages us to see death not as a dreaded end, but as an integral part of life's cycle, a transition filled with potential for growth and transformation. Whether one subscribes to these beliefs or not, they undoubtedly invite us to contemplate the nature of our existence and our relationship with death. They challenge us to question our fears and preconceptions, opening the door to a deeper understanding of life and death.

Death is a universal experience, a rite of passage that every living being must face. The shamanic perspective invites us to approach this passage with curiosity and openness, embracing it as a journey to a new realm of existence. And perhaps, in doing so, we can find a sense of peace and acceptance, transforming our relationship with death from one of fear to one of understanding and reverence.

Take care,



bottom of page