Enlightened self-interest is wisdom. Everything has a cost and you will have to pay in one way or another. If you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, I feel it’s better to do what you will and accept the consequences.
The Shaman comes to know the spirit personally, and they learn more than just how the spirits affect humanity. They learn how the spirits relate to each other, and just as when a fight breaks out in a tribe, a little bit of reason can lead to peace being restored. They saw troubling events in the world as coming about because of a disharmony in the spirit world.
This is where the Shamans spirit mentor came in. There have been many forms of spirit mentor across the world, and they were always discovered on a very personal basis. But your spirit mentor served as an ally and advocate when disharmony broke out in the spirit world. It would speak for you to the elder spirits, and perhaps also relate messages from the spirit community to you as well.
So example. There were Shamans of the hunt. They may not have shown skill with the physical tasks of hunting. Maybe didn’t use a bow well, but they were sensitive to the ways of the hunt and the behaviour of the things the tribe hunted for. They might even have an ally spirit among either the hunted animals, or among those other animals that hunted as the tribe hunted. If they were having a hard time finding what they needed to hunt, this hunt Shaman would seek the guidance of their totem. It would either give them the skill and wisdom to find it on their own, heightening their senses among other things or even give them a vision of where the animals had gone giving them an idea of where to look for them, but also would possibly give a warning, as well, about something the tribe was doing that would make the hunted animals want to stay away. Truth is, bison don’t really avoid a tribe just because they are occasionally hunted by them. There has to be something more dramatic going on. The Shaman would discover this.
They called on the rain maker. What was his specialty? Weather or more generally the environment? More generally the environment. A rain maker Shaman usually had a serious wander lust. He had a calling to make long walks away from the tribal camp and would feel changes in the spirits of the land. The view that allowed for rain calling was that the sky spirits would linger or avoid the tribe based on how the tribes ways made them feel. If there was much disharmony or greed, the rain might avoid them. While if there was peace and respectful remembrance, the rain would visit regularly on its path across the world.
Now it wasn’t so cut and dried as making one spirit happy or unhappy, or being peaceful people or not. Sometimes the chain of events would get more complicated, and it would be harder to bring the rain. Remember I said that the spirits relate not only to humanity but to each other? If the people had done something to hurt, say, many of the tree spirits, or had violated the sacred ground of a mountain spirit, its displeasure might sway the rain against the people and discourage it from coming. So the vast web of life energy exchange is simple, but not shallow.
That would get complicated to figure out the whole social network thing. Indeed, it did. That is why some Shamans actually served as a sort of spirit world scout, exorcist and guide of the departed. It was up to these individuals to know the spirit world far and wide, and they often would be sought out by the tribal Shamans for insight about what might be happening elsewhere in the spirit world. Long story short, even Shamans needed Shamans. This is why they would come to form medicine societies.
A Shamanic society was perhaps like the circle of Druids. They may come from different tribes and serve different groups, but they would come together in places of power. Places where the spirits gather, also, and work with each other to develop their skill, wisdom, and insight. Sometimes rivalries would develop. Even limited spirit wars as two Shamans might find their personal and tribal goals coming to clash. But usually the wise ones would reconsider using their personally power in what very often turns out to be a wasteful way. It was even thought that your personal spirit could come to suffer crippling power loss or disability. Losing whatever power as a Shaman that you previously had. This is maybe why people these days often perceive their spiritual gifts to come and go. Too much strain put into using them, or too little balance kept in using them for the benefit of themselves or others.
Now ultimately, everyone is or can be a Shaman. The reason the braves and other members of the tribe didn’t accomplish much as Shamans is that they had to practice and keep focused on their other skills. Grandmother Dancing Elk pretty much just had to spend her days making clothes, or eating and relaxing. Standing Bare really had to keep his archery skills sharp. He would even engage in target practice for fun, because it meant the people would have venison more reliably. And if he wasn’t doing that, he needed to relax and hear stories, or blow off steam dancing with his people during celebrations. He might have a habit of singing for the fun of it while not out hunting.
For the Shaman, their way wasn’t just a role, it was a passion as well. Often an all consuming interest. Shamans were often seen as a little strange, because their attention was caught up in the spirit world even when they were just relaxing, or having supper, or something.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.