Filipino Shamans

Babaylans and Manggamots

We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.

S. Kelley harrell

Within the vibrant tapestry of Filipino culture and spirituality, a captivating thread weaves through—the presence of shamans. Filipino shamans, known as “babaylans” or “manggagamots,” play a vital role in their communities by bridging the spiritual and physical worlds, offering healing, and providing guidance to those in need.

This article explores the enchanting world of Filipino shamans, delving into their history, practices, and enduring significance in the contemporary world. We’ll also explore the similarities and differences between Reiki and Shamanism, shedding light on the unique aspects of each practice.

1. The Origins and Traditions of Filipino Shamans:

The roots of shamanic practices in the Philippines extend deep into pre-colonial times when indigenous tribes held in high regard individuals with extraordinary spiritual gifts. These gifted individuals, the babaylans, fulfilled crucial roles as esteemed healers, seers, and intermediaries between the physical and spiritual realms. Despite the influence of colonization and the introduction of Christianity, shamanic traditions have persevered, continuing to shape the spiritual landscape of the Philippines to this day.

2. Shamanic Beliefs and Practices:

Filipino shamans firmly believe in the interconnectedness of all living beings and the existence of a spirit world. Through rituals, ceremonies, and divination, they establish communication with ancestral spirits, nature spirits, and deities. These practices often involve the use of indigenous herbs, chants, and sacred objects. Shamans are revered for their ability to diagnose illnesses, perform soul retrievals, conduct spiritual cleansing, and provide guidance in various life aspects, such as relationships, career choices, and personal development.

Indigenous Herbs, Reiki Energy Healing and Spiritual Cleansing

3. The Role of Filipino Shamans in Community Healing:

In Filipino society, shamans occupy a revered position as healers who address physical, emotional, and spiritual afflictions. Their unique healing methods blend indigenous wisdom, faith, and intuitive talents. Many individuals turn to shamans when conventional medicine falls short or when they encounter spiritual challenges requiring an alternative approach. The babaylans act as intermediaries, channeling energy and invoking the spirits to restore balance and harmony within individuals and communities.

4. Challenges and Preservation of Shamanic Traditions:

The advent of modernization, urbanization, and globalization has presented challenges to the preservation of shamanic traditions in the Philippines. Western influences and skepticism towards spiritual practices have led to a decline in the number of practicing shamans. Nevertheless, a burgeoning movement seeks to revitalize and safeguard these ancient traditions. Initiatives are underway to document and transmit the knowledge, rituals, and wisdom of Filipino shamans to future generations, ensuring the perpetuation of this invaluable cultural heritage.

5. Filipino Shamans in the Modern World:

Despite the hurdles, Filipino shamans remain influential in contemporary society. Many individuals continue to seek their guidance and healing expertise, recognizing the unique insights and spiritual connections they offer. Furthermore, Filipino shamans have garnered recognition beyond the Philippines, with people from diverse corners of the world seeking their wisdom and spiritual services. Their enduring presence serves as a testament to the cultural richness and spiritual diversity embedded in the Filipino identity.

Reiki and Shamanism: Exploring Similarities and Differences

Reiki and Shamanism at Reiki with Pasion, Newport Beach, California

While both Reiki and Shamanism are alternative healing practices, they differ in their approaches and philosophies:


  • Energy Healing: Reiki and Shamanism both work with energy. Reiki practitioners channel universal life energy to promote healing, while shamans connect with spiritual energies to address ailments.
  • Holistic Approach: Both practices acknowledge the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, emphasizing the need for balance and harmony.
  • Guided by Intuition: Both Reiki practitioners and shamans rely on their intuitive abilities to understand and address the needs of their clients.


  • Methodology: Reiki follows a specific system of hand placements and symbols for energy channeling. In contrast, shamanic practices involve a wide range of rituals and tools, varying among different cultures and traditions.
  • Spiritual Framework: While Reiki incorporates a spiritual component, it doesn’t necessarily involve contact with spirits or deities. In contrast, shamanism is deeply rooted in spirit communication and often involves journeying to other realms.
  • Training: Reiki practitioners undergo a structured training program, often leading to certification. In contrast, shamans typically inherit their role or are chosen by the spirits and undergo an apprenticeship within their cultural context.
  • Global Reach: Reiki is a globally recognized practice with standardized techniques, making it more accessible in diverse regions. Shamanism, on the other hand, varies greatly by culture and region, making it less standardized and often limited to specific communities.
Filipino shamans, or babaylans, represent a mesmerizing facet of Filipino spirituality and culture.

In Conclusion:

Filipino shamans, or babaylans, represent a mesmerizing facet of Filipino spirituality and culture. These mystical healers, with their deep-rooted traditions and spiritual connections, offer a glimpse into a world that transcends the physical. As guardians of ancient wisdom, they continue to inspire and guide individuals on their journey towards healing, balance, and a deeper understanding of the spiritual realm. The preservation of shamanic traditions ensures that the profound legacy of Filipino shamans remains an integral part of the cultural tapestry for generations to come, reminding us of the spiritual diversity embedded within Filipino culture.

Take the first step towards holistic well-being and reserve your Reiki session today or receive a Reiki Attunement from a Certified Reiki Master Teacher. Long-Distance Reiki, In-Home or Studio Reiki, or Reiki Outdoors are available!

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Published by Sharmaine Nicole Pasion

Sharmaine Nicole Pasion, the founder of Reiki with Pasion in Newport Beach, CA, is a holistic healer who specializes Reiki energy healing. Sharmaine’s holistic approach to healing focuses on energy balance and promoting well-being in mind, body, and spirit. She is a certified Reiki Master Teacher in Usui and Tibetan Reiki and a 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher. Connect at

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