From the Tungus of Siberia,
shaman translates as “one who knows.” Nepalese
shamanism is widely practiced amongst the many ethnic groups living on
Nepal's plains and mountains. Shamanic traditions comprise the oldest
forms of healing and mysticism. In many villages in Nepal, local shamans
hold great power and authority and are revered as elders.
Shamans are leaders and healers who work with spiritual forces. They serve as a
bridge between village communities and the sprit worlds. Shamans consult
spirits about curing the sick, leading the community and guiding the souls of the
dead. Shamans often perform rituals prescribed by spirits.
Most shamans are chosen by ancestors to perform these duties,
often during a serious illness or near-death experience. Novice shamans
study for years, mastering rituals, mantras, traditions and trance. Shamans
must know the names of spirits, sacred chants, tribal mythology and
Coaching Coaching Holidays
|Nepalese shamans are called Dhami
or Jhankri. Watch them, and perhaps join them, using drums and fire to access altered
states. Music, dancing, sex and drugs are forms of Tantra, a
primordial religion. Tantra transcends sectarianism and is found in
Hinduism, Buddhism and Shamanism, the three principal religions of Nepal. Would you prefer to observe or participate in these old
We invite you to participate. Join us in Tibetan Buddhist meditations,
Hindu puja (devotion) with sadhus (mystics) and shamanic journeys. Your participation is
always voluntary; we make opportunities available and we share observations and experiences. Some group members may have experience with other old traditions and share
their comparisons and experiences. We can discuss the relevance of what
we learn and how we can integrate these older orientations and healing
modalities into our modern lives.
Sixty or so cultures share Nepal's unique
environment. The majority of Nepalese people are Hindu, with many
Buddhists, Muslims and a few Christians, yet Nepal shamans rarely show prejudice
between religion or sect, rich or poor, caste or color, language or
Three important elements of Nepalese life are:
- Indigenous shamanism in villages and communities
- Hinduism from the south, over 2000 years ago with
Sanskrit/Vedic culture and Khas, an Indo-Aryan language (which is
now Nepali, the national language of Nepal).
- Mahayana Buddhism from the north 1000 years ago,
with the Tibeto-Burman language.
Nepalese shamanism is not limited to an ethnic group or sect -
a similar core underlies many
rituals and ceremonies. Shamans see visions, heal and gain knowledge
by journeying in ecstatic, trance-like states. Then a shaman is said
to travel to the heavens or the underworlds. While in trance, a shaman can be
possessed by spirits to gain knowledge and healing powers.
Each shaman uses sacred objects, drums,
chants and dances to initiate and sustain inspiration by deities or power
animals. They dance to spirit rhythms as they journey through three
levels of existence - perhaps to find or retrieve lost souls (reminiscent of
identity loss in Systemic
||Shamans are found in all Nepalese ethnic groups and their
services are sought after. Before modern medicine,
people depended on the shamans in the event of diseases, droughts, floods,
infertility, family and community conflict. Shamans could appease deities, calm
angry or malignant spirits, conduct household and community ceremonies, advise
villagers, and sometimes help the souls of dead people to attain other realms.
Although many of
their roles have been taken over by Western
medicine, Brahmin priests and Tibetan Buddhist monks; shamans are still
consulted, either first or if other modalities are found to be ineffective.
These Himalayan shaman was not known to the
outside world until the 1950's, when ethnologists, anthropologists and medical
practitioners researched and documented the
importance of Jhankri shamans in Nepali society.
Professor A W Macdonald described Jhankris
as healers who, after possession by spirits, manage to control
them. A complete description of Jhankri became
available in 1973 with the publication of Spirit Possession
in the Nepal Himalayas. There have since been many publications on this topic.
Tentative Daily Program in
Day 1 : Arrive in Kathmandu and go to the
Benchen Buddhist Monastery located on the
west of Kathmandu, not far from the famous stupa complex at Swayambhunath
(sometimes called the monkey temple). Attend a
welcome dinner on the first evening in the monastery dining room or on the patio.
(We ask you to support the
Benchen Monastery Free
Clinic and Free
Day 2 : We walk to Swayambhunath and climb 365
stone steps, with other pilgrims, to
reach the hilltop home of a great stupa, with many chortens, shrines and
monasteries. This is also home for hundreds of monkeys who act as if they
own this hill - and perhaps they do. (Be cautious with the monkeys; who, though
cute, may snatch things from your hands. They may bite you if they feel threatened.
We later visit the Bon Monastery to view their spiritual
practices and herbal medicine preparations. We return to Benchen monastery
for an evening lecture.
Day 3 : In the morning we tour the Nepal museum and
after lunch, walk to some of the old, historic and religious monuments
of Kathmandu. We visit the Royal Kumari House, where the Kumari, a living
goddess, resides. We walk to Thamel through Asan Bazar, the oldest
bazaar of the Kathmandu valley.
Day 4: In the morning we visit the temples and
cremation sites of Pashupatinath (Lord of Animals), on the Bagmati
River, sacred to Lord Shiva, the destroyer of evil and sorrow.
(Shiva is revered as the master of shamans.) We also
visit Guheshwari, a powerful female deity temple and a shaman who manifests the Goddess Durga
to do healings and divinations.
Day 5 : A morning drive takes us to the shrine
of Vajra Jogini in Sankhu, one of the most powerful places in
the Kathmandu Valley. Vajra Jogini protects the valley from thunder,
landslides and bestows fertility and abundance on all. On our return we
visit Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world
and a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site. We lunch under the benevolent
eyes of the Buddha and visit the monasteries around the stupa. If
possible, we may participate in the late afternoon prayers of
the monks in one of the monasteries. Later we prepare for
our trip to Pokhara.
Day 6 : In the morning we leave for Pokhara by
bus where we check into our hotel and have lunch at a lakeside
restaurant. We visit the temple of Tal Barahi (Ganesha Temple) on
an island in Fewa Lake. We can boat across the lake to see the lush green
forest and the panorama of Himalayan mountains. (Weather permitting, the
best bus views are from the roof - if you dress warmly.)
Day 7 : In the morning we drive to a
Tibetan Refugee Camp to visit shamans who can give divinations
and healings. They are known for Tibetan extraction
healing. We return to the lakeside for dinner. In the afternoon we can visit
some splendid caves.
Day 8 : In the morning we take an excursion
to Sarangkot. From here we can see the Himalayan ranges of Annapurna
and Machhapuchre. After a lakeside lunch we may return to complete
any healing sessions with the shamans or visit the Peace Pagoda on the far side of the lake.
Day 9 : An early morning departure takes
us to Bhaktapur (city of devotees), where we
check in to our guest house. In the afternoon we will explore this
medieval town and visit Bhaktapur's Durbar Square and Taumadi Chowk. We can see wood carvers, potters, spinners and weavers at work.
Day 10 : Today you can request a blessing from the Bhaktapur Kumari,
goddess, and then drive to Duwakot to visit an “egg shaman”. Here you can
receive healings, divinations, and shamanic advice. In the afternoon we
visit the Peacock Window, the symbol of Bhaktapur, the pottery square
and other places of historic and religious interest.
Day 11 :In the early morning we visit Budhanilakantha,
where a fabulous 7th century statue of Vishnu reclines in a pond, symbolic of the cosmic
ocean, supported by snakes. We observe and participate in the prayers and
offerings of Brahmins and receive blessings before leaving. After this we drive to Shivapuri National Park for a
small taste of Himalayan trekking.
Day 12 : In the early morning we drive to Chobar Gorge where the
valley water empties into the plains. We visit the temple of Jala
Binayaka, which is believed to grant wishes about love and happy
marriage. (We give no guarantees.) We then depart for Pharping
(27 kilometers) a small settlement that has the temple to
Saraswati, the goddess of learning and wisdom. Nearby, we visit the
cave of Guru Rimpoche and walk up the hill to offer our prayer
flags for the well being of all sentient beings - and for ourselves. We
return to Kathmandu for a late afternoon workshop.
Day 13 : We visit Patan, the ‘city of beauty', and tour
Durbar Square, the wonderful Patan museum, the Golden temple, and the temple of
Kumbeshwar (wisdom teacher of shamans). You can stay in Patan or return to Kathmandu for
a free afternoon.
Day 14 : After breakfast we visit a Newari shaman
near Bhaktapur. He works differently to the other
shamans whom we visit. You can receive a healing and observe him working before returning to Kathmandu.
There should be time for
last minute shopping and packing (remember your 20 kg baggage weight limit).
We conclude this tour
with a meal at a Tibetan restaurant.
Your departure for Katmandu airport will
depend upon your
flight schedule and whether you stay for a few more days. We suggest that you arrive at the airport three hours
ahead of your flight's departure as the security inspections can be formidable. (Checkout time is
This itinerary will change - this page
provides the central theme of this trip.
These costs are subject to changes in the price of
petroleum products and in currency exchange rates and do not include
your international airfare to Katmandu,
medical insurance or your tourist visas.
Number of participants: 12 - 20
The cost includes:
- Accommodation at hotel in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur, with
- All entrance fees to temples and museums
- Round trip between Katmandu and Pokhara
- Tours in private buses
- Fees to shamans, interpreters and facilitators
- Gratuities to drivers, helpers and hotel staff
The cost does not include:
- Airfare to and from Katmandu
- Health and travel insurance
- Nepal entrance visa (US$30) and departure fee ($20)
- Fees for private consultations and healings by shamans
- Most meals, drinks and personal expenses
- Extra expenses caused by natural or political events
- In the event of a weather or political contingency,
we may charter a plane or helicopter to
Katmandu. This emergency cost is not included in this package.
- We strongly advise you to have comprehensive health and
- On this special journey, we focus on spiritual and energetic
work. We request that you stay grounded and healthy at all times. Avoid
alcohol and illegal drugs!
- Please respect group members who have different beliefs
and spiritual paths than yours.
- Mists and weather may prevent us from seeing all the
- The accommodations may be more basic than you are used to.
There may not be hot water or electrical power available at all
times, nor air conditioning nor heat.
- Although the political situation is improving, we may encounter
roadblocks. Plan to be flexible.
- Please dress with respect when visiting sacred places,
shamans' homes, etc. (We suggest long pants or long
skirts and shirts with long sleeves.
- If certain shamans are not available, we will find others.
- You can purchase lightweight and rugged clothing in the
- Remember to bring your medicines, vitamins etc. (Prescriptions
are not required to purchase antibiotics etc in Nepal.)
- Bring 4 passport size photos for immigration
visas and other passes and a photocopy of your passport, just in case.
- If you have a problem, talk to an organizer
immediately. We try to solve problems quickly.
- Although the bazaars in Katmandu are wonderful - your
baggage allowance is probably 20kg!
Payments are in US dollars or Euros - in cash, travelers' checks
or with major credit cards.
We cannot accept personal checks. (As credit cards can become
demagnetized, please check yours before leaving.) A 500 Euro deposit is required
and the balance is paid on your arrival in Katmandu.
You can receive funds from ATM machines in Katmandu and Pokhara
using major credit cards.
trek near Annapurna
Email us to reserve your place or for more information