The Importance of Shapeshifting in Native American Culture

The Importance of Shapeshifting in Native American Culture

When people hear the word, “shapeshifter,” they may think of supernatural figures like witches and werewolves. But the spiritual practice of shapeshifting travels well beyond a mythical and supernatural scope.

What is Shapeshifting?

A non-Native study of shapeshifting posits that the practice was used by medicine people and shamans to transform into part animal to cause harm and destruction rather than good by shooting pieces of bone into their victims, much like a witch would.

Tribes such as the Navajo, however, talk about a more positive role shapeshifting plays in the formation of Native American culture. Often referring to the practice as “skinwalking ,” shapeshifters transform into the bodies of bears, wolves, and eagles for the purpose of healing and protecting their communities.

When does Shapeshifting Occur?

Shapeshifting trains our egos to let go and become shapeless so that we can take on the qualities of our chosen animal. This process occurs during Native American song, dance, war ceremonies, and hunting rituals and takes great nimbleness.

The most common form of shapeshifting happens through dance. The dancers dress themselves in feathers and animal pelts to activate the divine animal spirit in their movements. Instead of moving as the eagle would, the dancer is the eagle, propelling himself in short bursts of momentum and hurling their arms in controlled, swinging movements. This ritualistic dance engages their core, mind, and heart in an out-of-body experience where physical human limits presented by the everyday world do not exist.

In hunting, the shapeshifter is associated with cunning, courage, loyalty and strength. They are central figures in both Zunis and Shoshone mythology and are a clan animal for tribes like the Cherokee and Chippewa. The wolf and Native Americans were closely linked during the time of the early settlers, so much so that they would often kill the Native American in the same way they would the wolf. Native Americans learned the ways of the wolf to improve upon survival techniques and to outwit their enemies.

People who can correctly shapeshift come in touch with their instincts. They can appreciate the spirit of our ancestors and the spirit in all livings things. Understand the world through a Native American perspective at Kachina House, where our showpieces tell a story of their own!

2 Responses to The Importance of Shapeshifting in Native American Culture

  1. Last night me and my man were having a talk as I had lied about something of grate importance to him and to me he was very quite and I locked my eyes without blinking for several minutes and I saw his face change many times in to completely different men all old souls and the end face I saw was him but his skin was young his eyes young no marks on his face . I said to him about what I saw and he said not many ppl can see this . He is part native and a very deep person . I just wanted to know more about this , he said it will all make sence and our energise will balance out one day

    • Hi Nicola….you are lucky that the man you are with chose to stay with you after such a transgression on your part. I would be truthful as I went forward and walk the path of life with him by your side. You were fortunate enough to see the many souls this man has with him in this lifetime, these souls will teach and guide both of you. There are many resources you can reference to learn more about past lives and the lives between lives….much is on the internet and there is much in print. It need not be just Native American based lore. The spirits come through all of us. est of luck in your journey.

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