Shaman’s Apprentice Program
What is the Shaman’s Apprentice Program and what is the philosophy behind it? What do you think about the role of the shaman in these communities? What role do they have in the health of the community?
Plotkin describes the Shaman’s Apprentice Program as a program for young indigenous tribe members, or “apprentices,” to study and teach other young tribe members the ethnobotanical processes within that tribe’s culture. Plotkins accomplished this program, with the assistance of the local Indians, by translating his notes into the indigenous language of the local tribes so that by this process, be carried on for future generations. Plotkin describes his notes as, “the invaluable information supplies by the tribes.” The philosophy behind the program acts as a “bridge between the preliterate tradition and a literate future for the tribe.” In essence, the tribe’s culture, in terms of ethnobotany, will be passed on from generation-to-generation without prejudice.
I think the role of shamans is the tribal community is imperative. WIth a society that is cut-off from modern medicine and any other form of modern healthcare, these “medicine men” or “spiritual healers” are the link between survival and extinction. I believe the shamans and their apprentices are a key component in the indigenous tribe’s ability to maintain a self-sufficient and self-preserving lifestyle. Since shamans often take on multiple roles of healing and spiritual connection, it makes it a lot easier for local tribes to get the help they want and need. If compensating shamans for their service existed, their multiple roles would alleviate any unnecessary spending. In many cultures, customs and traditions are very important aspects that influence the overall way of life. Unfortunately, as generations pass, cultural traditions tend to take a back seat to a more modern way of life. WIth the help of shamans, especially with the Shaman’s Apprentice Program, the customs and traditions of the local tribes will be able to be passed on to future generations without bias opinion. Overall, shamans intertwine health, traditions, and spirituality while helping their communities and future generations.
According to Plotkin, shamans have many roles that contribute to the health within their communities. Aside from being a “medical doctor,” shamans take on many other roles within their local communities. A typical Amazonian shaman serves as a “priest, pharmacist, psychiatrist, and even psychopomp–one who conducts souls to the afterworld.” As you can see, shamans not only contribute to health on a physical level, but also on a mental and spiritual level. The role of the shaman may vary by tribes but the general emphasis remains constant throughout the indigenous world. It is also very important to note that shamans are often seen as the “preservers of knowledge and traditions” (a main goal in the Shaman’s Apprentice Program) and “gatekeepers” to the afterlife. Shamans are often regarded as “master healers” and a powerful medicine man that can heal almost any sickness with the help of plants, trees, or with consult from the “spirit world.” Shamans are also experts in ethnobotany. In short, shamans are the “all-in-one” healers of mind, body, and spirit within their communities.