A shaman is an individual who, through an altered state of consciousness, has the ability to interact with the spirit world where they can channel or direct the spirits or their energies into the physical realm—usually for healing purposes but sometimes also for not so well-intentioned reasons. These men and women would be consulted when someone is ailing and would use magic mushrooms to communicate with plant and animal spirits, as well as that of ancient ancestors, to find the cause of the sickness or problem and how to cure it.
To reach the spiritual world a shaman needs to be in a state of trance—magic mushrooms and other hallucinogenic plants provide means while dancing, breathing techniques, chanting and repetitive rhythms provide the backdrop and make for a very intense and insightful experience. Magic mushrooms have been used in rituals for thousands of years all around the world such as by the Mayans and the Aztecs of Central America as well as by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians and though their ceremonies may have differed from culture to culture the use of them for healing and creative inspiration remains the same.
It was believed these magic mushroom rituals were lost to western civilization until 1955 when an American author was invited to partake in a traditional ceremony featuring these rituals by a Mazatec shaman whose family had preserved these ancient practices. Since the re-introduction of the psilocybin mushroom into mainstream culture western society has been seeking out its own version of the modern shaman guide, and through collective knowledge, inspiration borrowed from various indigenous cultures and through practices tried, tested and proven by modern-day practitioners, neoshamanism has emerged to fill the void. Indigenous cultures from where the traditional shaman originated often regard these neoshaman as frauds and as people who are seeking to appropriate a sense of legacy for their baseless ceremonies. Though neoshamanic beliefs or systems may only vaguely resemble the traditional forms of shamanism as were practiced by ancient cultures, they do share a common belief in healing and the seeking of visions through communication with the spirit world.
The modern trip sitter has taken the place of the ancient shaman for users of magic mushrooms today. Though they do not necessarily enter into the spirit world with those seeking assistance, they act as a support to ensure the setting is maintained and that there is guide to lead you through your magic mushroom journey. The preparations a trip sitter may adhere to and the practices they maintain during a trip replace the rites and rituals of the ancient shaman but nevertheless have the same intention. Like the shaman of old, the trip sitter works with people who are on a magic mushroom trip to help them find their way through the spirit world in hopes their journey will provide them with the answers or healing they are seeking.