I was never comfortable with following, joining or accepting a religion, but I did join and accept some for myself for a time because of the work I do, the magick I practice and such. When I first started exploring my current path, I did so alone. Rather than reading or asking others about spirituality, my approach was simple: I found a way to meditate that was meaningful and productive for me, and - bit by bit - the spiritual awareness and perceptions I'd struggled with all my life began to clarify and make sense. Sometimes I'd go into meditation with a question; more often my only intent was to 'learn whatever it is I need to know'.
Eventually I got to longing for some kind of religion, to meet others who shared my religious perspectives, and my first encounters were in a Kabbalah class. I soon learned that there was a sort of language, belief system and rituals for a lot of the things, so I accepted that along with all the others, delighted to finally be able to talk about this stuff.
Over time, though, I became fairly frustrated with the assumptions and expectations associated with many of those beliefs, doctrines and rituals. But my disappointment really escalated when I learned that when you identified yourself as a Kabbalist you have to conform to the dogmas, rules and rites that the Kabbalah discipline has. They're as arrogant as telling someone how to worship God, how to do this, what is this, what is that, and if we don't accept it, no matter how open-hearted, or honest my dissent, we're going to hell. Sound very Christian, eh?
Well don't get me wrong, I don't think it's wrong to belong to one religion provided you don't become fanatical or dogmatic about it. It's great if you really want an anchor or foundation. But whatever religion you choose to follow, you should also teach yourself to be open to other belief systems that may, at first glance, be different from or contrary to your own.
What 'shamanism' boils down to is folks whose spiritual awareness informs their way of life, who value their Earthly and spiritual identities equally, and who connect with - and deeply honor - the Earth, her elements and energies, and her inhabitants on a spiritual/energetic level. Shamans are often healers and/or mentors, but not always. That's about the core of it, but there's strong sentiment among those who, I think, view shamanism more as a religion (a structure of beliefs and practices that must be learned through human teachers), who view the designation "shaman" as a title one has no right to without the approval of other shamans.
If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.