Classical and modern shamanism.

Learning About Shamanism

By Wyldkat | May 5, 2001 | Leave a comment

As you start to practice shamanism in your life you will start to see obstacles being removed from your path and things starting to work for you. You will notice that you will become more comfortable with yourself and with the world around you. You will feel more connected and will find potentials within yourself that you never before realized were there. This will only happen if you let it and if you politely work with the spirit world and give it a chance to work for you.

What is on these pages is by no means everything there is to know, or even a good percentage of it. As you study you might decide that you want to go further than simply using some basic shamanic practices in your life. If so then you will want to find a teacher. This teacher will not necessarily be a human being in the physical plane. You might find that you are more comfortable with and will learn more of what you want to from a plant, animal or other spirit in the spirit world. Or you might be more comfortable with a human teacher. Neither choice is better or worse. It is all a matter of personal preference. Remember that formal training will take time and dedication.

When choosing a teacher remember to be selective. You will find some great advice on the subject of at another link here: Finding A Teacher. However when choosing someone to help you learn shamanism, there are some other things to keep in mind. Look for someone who has a good sense of humor and is able to laugh at themselves and help you laugh at yourself, rather than someone who is serious all the time. A good teacher should have respect for the world around them, for themselves and you. They should be more willing to include people than to exclude them. They should not claim to be perfect and should not expect you to be. They should be able to make mistakes and learn form them and to show emotions. They should have a strong shamanic presence and should practice what they teach.

The Academic Question of Shamanic Studies

By Dean Edwards | May 5, 2001 | Leave a comment

To: soc.religion.shamanism
From: deane[at]netcom[dot]com (Dean Edwards)
Subject: Re: The Academic Question of Shamanic Studies
Date: 16 Nov 1994 06:49:52 GMT

…Each person has their own experience. This is a combination of our outer and inner lives. Without an inner life, a shaman cannot develop the personal tools necessary to function for anyone. The inner journey and the outer journey become complementary aspects. Each have their own value and usefulness. The act of connecting the inner with the outer existence is a personal thing. Sometimes it may also be done within a group, sometimes not. Such things are usually held sacred and close.

Among many Siberian people’s there is a keen appreciation for the symbolic significance of the pole star which they see in the night sky. All other objects in the heavens move around this central star, Polaris. It is often called ‘the nail (peg) in the sky.’ It connects the heavens to the earth via a great cosmic pillar. (This pillar shows up prominently in many traditions, including the Celtic.) The pillar (or column) is a musical expression of light. It is sometimes called the axis-mundi here in the west.

Actual initiation, in the sense in which I am speaking here, is well represented by the cosmic/world pillar connecting earth and the heavens. It is an inner spiritual event. It also, in my experience, has an outer component. An initiation (or for that matter, any inner experience), IMHO, is made whole by grounding it in all aspects of being, including the physical. What an outer initiator can do is to assist in the process of grounding the experience in the physical and perhaps also in the other aspects of emotion, heart, mind and spirit.

…A shaman engages in the exploration and development of their own initiation and experience. There are also a whole lot of cultural variables. Most of the real training that a shaman experiences seems to occur inwardly and not outwardly. Applying what has been learned is another broad topic in itself. A shaman engages in the practice of being a shaman. This goes beyond desire, feeling or ritual.

…There is, it would seem, a distance that must be crossed between the Call and the actual practice. In the Shamanism-General Overview I use a lot of qualifying words such as usually and often. There are no hard and fast delineations here. This is why we cannot specify exactly when the line between recognizing a possibility and being able to put life into it and practice it is crossed. This is an individual experience. It can have significant ramifications for those who work with, interact with or come to a shaman, but the one who is doing the work is the shaman. Much of this is personal and involves self development. Even in these quiet ways, a shaman can affect the community in which they live. The recognition of this seems to often lead to more obvious methods of interacting with those around her/him.

There is an old street expression, “You can talk the talk, can you walk the walk?” A shaman may or may not talk much, but walks, swims, flies and moves beyond the ken of the mundane. Personal experience varies considerably, but a shaman does indeed put into practice a process of inner and outer life we more generally refer to as shamanism.


Real Shamanism

By Lynsa | November 3, 1993 | Leave a comment

Date: Sun, 07 Nov 93 05:53:46 EST
From: lynsa[at]aol[dot]com
To: [This is a mailing list about shamanism.]
Subject: Real Shamans

I’m not an academic. I’m not a traditional medicine person or secret society member or village healer. I’m just a 32-year-old white girl with a Macintosh named Gypsy and Internet access. I don’t consider myself a real shaman. I don’t have the community/cultural support or the training. I have some shamanic-type abilities and a teacher I consider a real shaman who’s helping me expand them. Since I’ve recently joined Church of All Worlds and am interested in their clergy track, maybe I will have the community support to someday be some kind of shaman. But it won’t look like any other kind of shamanism on the planet. In fact, I’d doubt that very many of us on this list practice what could be called a traditional shamanism. What do we call ourselves, then? What are we? I get the sense in this ongoing discussion that behind the phrase “Real Shaman” lurks the phrase “Wannabe.” I don’t know about the lurkers, but I’ve rarely seen postings here that make me think most of the people here are wannabes. I don’t wannabe anything other than what I am, a late 20th-century mixed-European American. That’s confusing enough without grafting someone else’s culture on, on top of it.

As for my interest in shamanism, I was called to this at age three. I had a vision. I didn’t understand the vision until about two years ago, but in the interim enough weird stuff has happened to me to convince me that I’ve got some extra amount of ability that “normal” people have in smaller measure. What am I supposed to do with that? Become a Christian minister, just because that’s my “culture?” I don’t think so; they wouldn’t know what to do with me (believe me, I tried back when I was a Christian; if you’ve made it work, go for it). I can’t just appropriate someone else’s culture, so I’m trying, and I think a lot of people here are trying, to come up with something new, something that’s supportive of people like us.

For some of us, that involves researching other cultures that support shamanism, not so much to appropriate wholesale, but to see what works for another bunch of human beings. I subscribe to Whatever Works. If elements of Hawaiian tradition fit, I see nothing wrong with using them. I do see something wrong with then claiming you’re a Huna type of shaman (unless you’ve decided to completely join that culture and leave all others behind and that culture has *accepted* you) and writing books etc. When we take our bits of Whatever Works from here and there, we cobble them together into something new and should *name* it something new. When I leave out my thread and yarn trimmings bag for the birds in the spring, they make nests out of it. The thread and yarn bits do not look like anything human-made when they get through with them, and yet they’ve “appropriated” these materials I’ve set out for them. They didn’t knit a sweater; they created a nest. See what I’m saying? Anything taken must be transformed. I know that there will be people who object to anything being taken, transformed or not, but I disagree. There is a body of knowledge that modern cultures has lost. The traditionals have it, and some have indicated a willingness to share it. And in the cases where old-style anthropologists have gone in and taken it, well, in the words of Bruce Cockburn, it’s a stolen land and we can’t go back.

So what are we going to do? Ignore what’s out there and risk the planet? Because I truly believe that’s what’s at stake here. We have some ability and means to change the way this culture thinks. We have an opportunity possibly unique in the history of the species to create something new, a something new for each of us and for each of our communities, a something new that can heal the planet and the species. We are not the salvation of the world, but we can play a vital part in the salvation of the world, because if we save the planet but not the spirits of its peoples, we have nothing but an empty husk of rock and dirt, and the mechanistic world view rolls on.

I know I’m an intense writer; it’s the way I am. I’m not angry, I’m impassioned. I don’t intend this as a flame against anyone. I just feel strongly on the subject. Thanks for being part of this discussion list. I grow every time I read it.


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