When looking at listings for animal communicators it seems like shamanism and animal communication are interchangeable (judging from the websites I’ve visited). But shamanism and animal communication are different disciplines. And here’s where they differ.
A true shaman has been trained and initiated into working in spirit realms. Their tasks include soul retrieval (retrieving lost fragments of a soul), communicating with animal spirit guides, and even exorcism on a person, creature, or space such as a home. Shamans can double (they are in two places at once), they can shape shift into animals and they manipulate energy. They often go into a trance while they work on a client and they journey to other realms to retrieve information for their clients. For all intents and purposes, they are supernatural humans. There is something otherworldly about the classic shaman.
While some animal communicators might also have a shamanic background, I’m thinking that most of them don’t. Although there are animal communication teachers with a shamanic background (one of my teachers was trained as a shaman). But she provided us with shamanic tools to use in our animal communication classes such as melding with nature. But this did not make her students shamans.
An animal communicator as we know this profession within the realm of pet services, deals with mundane topics (everyday interactions between the pet guardian and the pet). While they are also not animal trainers or behaviorists (generally speaking), they could research animal behavior and have at least one animal training course (such as a dog training course) as a backup skill (however, this isn’t necessary for most animal communicators).
An animal communicator works either in-person, through a phone/Zoom call, or by working with a photograph of the animal. Some animal communicators say that they work only with the energy of the animal and don’t rely on a photographic image. This actually falls more into the shamanic realm than with classical animal communication. However, unless this communicator has training as a shaman, they are not a shaman, but an animal communicator using shamanic tools. It’s not the same.
Another difference between a shaman and an animal communicator is that most shamans are not relatable. They live between realms and often spend their time alone or with a partner who is also shamanic. They are loners and not the best at interpersonal communication and in fact, might seems frightening to the average Joe or Jane. They are powerful, and unique in their abilities which aren’t respected by dominant culture. Even in societies that value shamans, the shamans lived on the edge of the village or away from the tribe. In today’s world, they aren’t media-friendly unless they dumb down their power to fit into dominant culture. Shamans prefer not to become contaminated by popular cultures.
Whereas, animal communicators can have quirky yet delightful personalities. They tend to be empathic (similar to the shaman in that they sense and pick up energies), but they aren’t necessarily psychic (that also requires special training), but they have a gift of picking up on thoughts and feelings from non-humans. Since clients often invite animal communicators into their homes, the animal communicator needs to build trust and that won’t happen if they come across as otherworldly or walking in between realms.
But because people in our society use words without knowing the true meaning behind them, they might confuse a shaman with an animal communicator or even a pet psychic or spiritual medium. These practices share commonalities but they aren’t interchangeable. A shaman communicates with animals but they aren’t animal communicators in the general sense.
Animal communicators do communicate with the higher mind of the animal by relaying images, words, and thoughts, through telepathy. And while this might sound woo-woo to some people, humans and animals are wired to communicate telepathically and we do this all the time, although not mindfully. In fact, everyone is essentially an animal communicator even if they haven’t honed the skills.
An animal communicator by profession, picks up bodily sensations, words, moving and still images from the animals. They allow the animal to respond to questions and to elaborate on their situation from their point of view. What’s actually happening is the human brain picks up frequencies from the animal brain and translates those frequencies into a human language which is then relayed to the client (guardian of the pet).
They do often go into a light trance to do this work but seem present in the physical environment. Shamans go into a deep trance called a journey. They are not in the physical environment as we know it to be.
For most trained animal communicators this takes place in a matter of seconds as can be seen in the documentary with Animal Communicator Anna Breytenbach who communicates with a panther at a wild cat conservation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvwHHMEDdT0&ab_channel=ArjanPostma
Please note that Breytenbach also has an animal tracker background which shares commonality with shamanism so she blurs the lines between shamanism and animal communication. However, most animal communicators you’ll see on websites and videos or on TV shows work mostly with pets and are dealing with everyday problems. They don’t often delve into the spiritual realms or perform soul retrievals or work with spirit animals.
And this is actually of benefit to the profession of animal communication because the average everyday person would feel more comfortable hiring someone who they can relate to on a practical problem-solving level than someone who spends time in the spirit realms. This isn’t to say that shamanism doesn’t have it’s place, but it’s just not a practice that most people feel comfortable with. And an animal communicator who mentions shamanism in their promotional materials would be alienating potential clients, unless they only work with clients with a spiritual background.
If you are hiring an animal communicator who says they have a shamanic background ask about their training and the ways they use shamanic tools in their practice. If they are unable to give you specifics then they are using the shamanic label out of ignorance (not know about what shamanism is) or they have confused the practice of animal communication with shamans who work with animals by communicating with them.
Animal communication skills can be taught quickly through online and in-person workshops and classes. Shamanism is more of a discipline in which the student could study with the same shamanic teacher for several years if not decades. To learn about true shamanism, pick up any number of books on modern shamanism and animistic cultures (where shamanism derived). I believe that it’s disrespectful to shamans for people with no shamanic background to call themselves shamans. As part of their training, shamans go through a Dark Night of the Soul journey that often borders on life and death training. It’s training that most humans would not survive with their minds still intact gleaned from the books I’ve read on shamanism and from shamans I met.
The common animal communication that we see portrayed in the media or in popular books on animal communication offers a non-threatening and non-invasive approach to solving problems that come between an animal and his/her guardian. Animal communication when done effectively can help the human and animal bond more deeply with each other. Animal communication sessions add value and quality to an animal’s life.
Animal communication dovetails with animal medical care, other healing energy-healing modalities (we see this a lot), animal training, and animal mental health counseling. It also helps animals become their best selves as in the case of agility, K9 rescue and police work, as therapy and comfort animals, and the list goes on.
Finally, animal communication is focused on the physical animal more than it is focused on the spiritual realm. It’s just that using telepathy confuses the client because now the client is thinking they are dealing with the supernatural realm, which isn’t the case. Animal communication is actually cut and dry. Telepathy is practiced by everyone but they don’t know they are engaging in the practice.
It’s practical and matter of fact. It’s similar to hiring a mediator to work with humans who are in conflict with a partner, family member, or friend. The animal communicator provides a bridge between the guardian and the pet; and while it’s best not to hold any expectations of the results of an animal communication session, one way or another, the problems get resolved so that everyone lives their best life.
As always, research this topic further on your own. Ask a reference librarian or experts on shamanism to recommend appropriate reading material.
If you enjoyed this article, support this blog. Also sign up for a session with me. I would love to work with you and your pet. My correct title with Animal Communicator but I use tools from spiritual mediumship, Reiki, shamanism (I’m not a shaman), and years of training as a human communicator.