I get asked this question a lot. Specially now a days with cancel culture and everyone worried about offending someone. I use “Shaman” plainly put because it has now become a universal word for this type of healing, and I was told to use by the Peru Shamans who initiated me.
Just about every culture around the world has some sort of medicine man, shaman, or healer in their tribe. There are many cultures that still do. Each has their own methods and styles but ultimately, they do the same type of work. They seek to bring balance between the tribe and nature, to heal and to help.
Some shamans have been known to ask the animal spirits for sacrifices so the tribe can eat. They would be told where the animals would be and the shaman would send the hunters. The hunters would come back with the kill and the animal would be celebrated for its sacrifice. Some shamans have been known to help control the weather or talk to the plants and know which one can heal what.
Almost all believe there are multiple worlds or realms in which we can travel to and get healing or advice. Through these realms they can communicate with the ancestors, the plant people, the stone people and the animals. By doing this they can bring balance.
The Peruvian shamans I was trained by are locally known as P’akkos but even they answer to the title Shaman.
So again, I call myself a Shaman because if I was to say I am a P’akko or a “Curanderos”, or a “Brujos” no one here would understand what that means. What they do understand is “Shaman” because that is in the media and well known. Though in reality its the same word.
Now can anyone call themselves a “shaman”? I don’t think so, I believe you need to be initiated and given the rites and knowledge passed down from another shaman. Just doing energy work or astral traveling does not make you a “shaman”.