I wrote the following is response to yet another student who wants to learn but doesn’t have the funds to do so. It is based on my experience but I believe it is nearly universal.
Nobody has the money for shaman school. All spiritual callings are like a burning itch which progressively gets more severe. If you don’t have the money to see a doctor; you can try to ignore it, apply baking soda, other home remedies, or cortisone crèam, or anything else you can think of. Eventually you just go see the doctor because you have to.
The timing is not important. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but if it is your path, one day you will have to take care of that itch. It isn’t as simple as going down the street to the shaman school but gradually a plan will form and a way appears.
The good news is that before the itch gets too bad (as your personal calling become clearer) there are books, drumming circles, and workshops available to give you a taste of what is possible.
Books require no commitment. It is like being a fly on the wall. You don’t have to tell anybody what you are reading or why. Don’t worry, the steps that bring a spiritual seeker to the shamanic path aren’t typically as dramatic as books often suggest. But, books are the gathered wisdom of others who have faced similar desires to learn. Find a bookstore or library with a decent selection of spiritual books and trust your intuition to find the right book. If something doesn’t resonate with you today, don’t be surprised if it does resonate next month or next year. I regularly re-read books I have retained from the many I have encountered along the way and find greater depths of information.
Drumming circles can be found in most cities with a simple internet search. Many are open to beginners and are generally run by kind, often knowledgeable, people who proselytize the shamanic way. You can claim “just looking” status. Many sweat lodge ceremonies are similarly available.
A workshop is a learning opportunity with a clear expiration date. They are a change to try on this unique way of life with like-minded individuals for a day or two without commitment. You won’t instantly become an expert but you will learn and you specific interests will become clearer. Much can be learned which will help you understand and develop your personal abilities. Sometimes you learn what is possible, what questions you can ask, and/or where you can find answers.
What path should I take?
I often say “one water, many wells”. It doesn’t matter to me which path you choose. Going deep in one tradition is typically more helpful than doing a survey of many traditions. However, as a beginner learning about various possible paths is beneficial. You will learn to discern what resonates for you. Shamanism is experiential. You judge based on what is personally helpful for you.
Am I called to heal others? Don’t worry about that. Every healer must first heal himself or herself. Eventually you may find trusted friends to practice on. Be clear that you are practicing to learn.