Track: New Horizons in Science and Cosmology
Shamanism and Science
Shamanism and science appear to be diametral disciplines and incompatible only at first glance. If you look at them from a different perspective, however, they are like two sides of the same coin.
Both involve natural phenomena. Both want to perceive, describe, explore and understand them exactly in order to use the resulting knowledge to cope with our life contexts. Both are ways of knowledge.
Concrete experience is at the core of both shamanism and science. In academic science, the pathway to knowledge leads through observation, inquiry and experiment, in shamanism through contact with spirits. In methodological terms, the latter is just as systematic, transparent and comprehensible, only the repeatability is non-existent or possible just to a limited extent. Academic sciences generate factual knowledge that attempts to explain the constitution of material reality and the connections and relationships of its elements among each other. Shamanism offers a complementary perspective – on one hand, involving tradition, myths and stories, which guarantees a cultural and ethical embedding of knowledge. On the other hand, information that can only be determined with the help of spirits - the central instances in shamanism – expands and stimulates the traditional scientific view significantly.
The knowledge and application potential of both is substantial.
Academic sciences focus on physical, manifest realities of nature, on the sensually perceptible; they constitute the "Sciences of Ordinary Reality". Shamanism concerns the spiritual, immaterial aspects of our existence, constitutes the "Science of Non-Ordinary Reality". Both systems have been tested over time and in terms of their effectiveness, academic sciences for several centuries, shamanism for several thousands of years. For contemporary shamanic practitioners, a synthesis of academic science and shamanism is not only desirable but the most reasonable option.
Roland Urban is health, clinical and emergency psychologist, and Director of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Europe.
Studies of Psychology, Social and Health Sciences in Vienna and Dublin have built the basis for a scientific approach to the physical universe. Shamanic training and work as well as encounters with shamanic traditions initiated a truly holistic understanding of life and nature. It is both realms of existence, the profane and the spiritual, that Roland Urban feels the necessity to be active in. Consequently, as a psychologist, he works with young people and families on the very margin of society; and, as a shamanic practitioner, he is internationally involved in shamanic practice and training in manyfold ways. He believes in the power of building bridges - between shamanism and science as well as between spirits and humans.
Roland Urban has published various articles in journals and books. Recently he has co-edited the book ´Shamanism and Science´.