Author of the Month

Omar W. Rosales, J.D., Author of the Month for July 2009

Welcome to the Revolution: The Resurgence of Elemental Shamanism in the 21st Century
By Omar W. Rosales, J.D.

Omar W. Rosales, J.D., is an American Writer, Anthropologist, Expedition Leader, and Filmmaker best known for his book, "Elemental Shaman". Rosales travels the World to profile Spiritual Masters and transmit their messages for humanity. Famous interviewees include the Manchen Lopon of Bhutan, His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, and His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.

A student of noted Mayanists William R. Fowler, Arthur Demarest, and Edward Fischer, Rosales graduated with an Honors degree in Anthropology and Economics from Vanderbilt University in the late 1990s. After college, he served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. His assignments included two overseas tours in Japan. Rosales subsequently graduated from The University of Texas School of Law in 2005.

An experienced hiker and expedition leader, Rosales currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. For more info about Elemental Shaman, please visit

Across the planet, from the steppes of the Himalaya to the deepest jungles of Guatemala, a renewed emphasis on ecology, cultural preservation, and spirituality has led to an increased awareness of shamanism as a method to address environmental, humanistic, and intrapersonal challenges. With a shift to indigenous healing traditions and a return to old ways of thought, shamans are rapidly becoming the cultural heroes that bridge the gap between the mystical regions of the Upper, Middle, and Lower worlds, as well as the enigmatic and ethereal realms of the collective unconscious, conscious, and superconscious mind of humanity.

The Rise and Fall of the Plastic Shamans

In the latter half of the 20th century, a renewed interest in spirituality, politics, and the occult led many on explorative intrapersonal journeys. Fueled by the counterculture influence of the 1960s, icons such as Timothy Leary, Carlos Castaneda, Jim Morrison, and Hunter S. Thompson glamorized the quest for immortal truth, defined by native indigenous healers or shamans. Yet, the truth would come at a great cost, as facts were oft-times distorted or entire accounts of ethnographies fabricated. In fact, some of the most important fieldwork in anthropology had been done 40 years prior by Bronisław Malinowski, Richard Schultes, and other scholars that few would know outside university circles. [1]

Through research, it was determined that entire accounts of indigenous spiritual and healing traditions, popularized during the 1960s, had been fabricated. Although many continue to quote Don Juan's shamanic insight, the Yaqi shaman Don Juan never existed, except for in the mind of Carlos Castaneda. [2] Popular literature in the 1990s continued the Western imagining of how shamans think, pray, and work. There was no walkabout in Australia that yielded a Mutant Message from Down Under, nor is there a Sisterhood of the Shields that provides shamanic knowledge. [3] The Western fables continue to this day, with interpretations of 2012 in the Maya Calendar written by self-professed International Maya Elders that are Caucasian and born in Michigan. [4]

With regard to December 21, 2012 in the Maya Calendar, the most important question to ask is, "What are the indigenous Maya population doing to prepare for 2012?" Do we see villages in the Peten Jungle being razed and moved to safer and higher elevations by Maya elders? Are entire ethnic subgroups of Maya, such as the Tz'utujil of Lake Atitlan, selling their worldly possessions and moving to isolated islands in Micronesia? Of course not. The most important aspect of the Long Count that sensationalist books fail to mention, is that the Maya calendar never ends. Which brings us back to the wolfsbane of the Plastic shamans, that there is no substitute for anthropological research and fieldwork.

Lake Atitlan
Guatemalan Children of Lake Atitlan

So, where do we find out about shamans? What is a shaman? What abilities do shamanic practitioners master? Moreover, do any real shamans still exist? The answer is once again, in the field.

Return to Scholarship

Through the meticulous fieldwork and studies of Franz Boas, Michael Harner, Martin Prechtel, and Wade Davis, the shared characteristics between shamans of various cultures have been identified.

Shamans are not like you or I. A shaman is a native healer, who uses plants and herbs to effectuate change in patients. Moreover, a shaman has the ability to enter Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs) at will, interact with beings in the Non-Ordinary Realms (NORs), and create physical changes in waking reality. [5] A shaman can change her or his energy field to interact with the energy fields of other living objects. Perhaps the most important part of a shaman is that the shaman is typically indigenous. That is, they are transmitting centuries-old cultural knowledge, through bloodlines and kinship. Without this bloodline, without this legitimacy of sang real (the holy blood, the effervescent teacher) and the enhanced genetic traits from this bloodline, a practitioner is not a true shaman.

One of the most significant roles of the shaman is that of psychopomp. [6] A psychopomp is an intermediary between the world of the living and the land of the dead. The psychopomp will transmit messages, share insight, communicate thoughts, and offer warnings from the land of spirit. Communication occurs through dreams, ASCs, and rituals, which allow the shaman to enter a receptive state. The shaman will receive the message either as a symbol or an auditory message to be passed on to the intended receiver. [7]

Another shamanic ability is divination. Through the use of tools such as bones, cards, entrails, sticks, or runes, a shaman will augury the future. The ability to communicate through dreams is another shamanic skill, used by shamans to rely messages over great distances. Some of the more esoteric shamanic abilities, demonstrated by shamanic masters of the last 2000 years include loco tempestas (the ability to control the weather), bilocation, levitation, and flight. [8]

Yet, how do we find true shamans in the modern age? How do we discern the theatrical from the real, the plastic from the authentic? And what is the truth to shamanism and the limits of human potential?

It was a search for these truths, that led me on a worldwide quest to find the real amongst the landscape of illusion. It was this search that brought me to the elemental shamans.

Page 1Page 2Page 3Next


  1. J. Narby, The Cosmic Serpent (Canada: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1999). [back to text]
  2. R. de Mille, Castañeda's Journey: The Power and the Allegory (United States:, 2001). [back to text]
  3. L. Aldred, "Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sun Dances: New Age Commercialization of Native American Spirituality" American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 3 (2000): 331-333. [back to text]
  4. B. Hand Clow, The Mayan Code (United States: Bear and Company, 2007). [back to text]
  5. M. Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004). [back to text]
  6. Ibid. [back to text]
  7. E. Frecska, "The Shaman's Journey, Supernatural or Natural? A Neuro- Ontological Interpretation of Spiritual Experiences," in Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds Through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies (Canada: Park Street Press, 2008). [back to text]
  8. O. W. Rosales, Elemental Shaman: One Man's Journey into the Heart of Humanity, Spirituality, & Ecology (United States: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2009). [back to text]

Site design by Amazing Internet Ltd, maintenance by Synchronicity. G+. Site privacy policy. Contact us.

Dedicated Servers and Cloud Servers by Gigenet. Invert Colour Scheme / Default