Tag: Shamanism

Animal Powers

By Xi O'Teaz | Leave a comment

Subject: Re: animal powers
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 14:52:34 -0800 (PST)
From: “Xi O’Teaz” < xi_o_teaz[AT]yahoo.com >
To: The zee-list

As someone who works with Animals frequently, I thought I’d share some Experiences (finally):

<< my dreams have featured a variety of animals lately, and i’m looking for ways to explore this.. >>

Oh, Elephants Yeah!!! (sorry)

<< how do people work with animal powers? >>

I would agree with all that the other Zees have already written.

In addition, here are some techniques that I also utilize:

Adopt the belief that all Wild Animals are Avatars of their respective Atavism. Watch a National Geographic Special (or Animal Planet, or Discovery, or…) on the Animal Power you wish to Learn about. The animals in the zoo have little, if any, of their Power left, so you need to see them Wild, and NG is as close as your TV, video store, or internet. Unless, of course, you can travel to the Animals’ natural habitat and observe them yourself, but this isn’t a valid option for many of us, for many Animals.

Ask people what they think of when they think of a certain animal. This is a great technique for gathering folkLore on anything, Animals included. What is this Animal known for? How is this Animal represented in Myth and Art, and more importantly, *why*??? This could include anything from cartoons to Native oral myths. E.g., Bear = hibernation, digging into beehives for honey, protection of young, walking on 2 legs, etc. Now ask yourself, “What do these things represent on an Esoteric level?”, or “How can this Teach me more about _______?”

Look at the Animals of an area/ecosystem as a Pantheon. What would they each be “in charge of”? Obviously, looked at in this way, you could Work with them in any way you would any other godform, including invocation and evocation (although I always felt silly doing a full “ceremonial magick” type rite for them).

You could also do cross-Associations, i.e., assigning all the Animals to symbol-sets you already have Programmed. This could include Tarot, Runes, I Ching, Elements, Sephiroth, etc…

Another thing to Observe is what quality sets this Animal apart from most others. Is it that ability to fly, or its ability to borrow? You get the idea. Another important question is “What specifically, if anything, does this Animal have that is (relatively) Unique to the Animal Kingdom? Whether it be the echolocation of Bat, the singing of Whale, or the survivAbility of Coyote, many Animals have a fairly unique quality–this seems to be tied into their Power.

Read all the Native myths you can find. I can’t stress this enough.

And finally, don’t think yourself “better” than our fellow members of the Animal Kingdom–there is much subConscious Programming that must be unDone here, if you live in the West.

<< evocation/invocation techniques? >>

If you’d like–see above.

<< have newagey ‘shamanic’ techniques been useful? >>

Yes, especially Shamanic Drumming and Journeying to the UnderWorld.

<< i really dislike the tone of that kind of writing, but perhaps i should dig through it for techniques.. >>

I dislike the tone in the *vast majority* of Occult books, but you gotta pry open a lot of Oysters if you ever want to find any Pearls.

Hell, I’m going through Tyson’s New Millenium Magic again for some info on Number and Geometry Theory, but I’ve gotta wade thru all the bullshit about how if you step outside a magic circle, you’ll likely die, blah blah blah.

Damn, that shit stinks!

Speaking more regarding Shamanism and Animal Powers, I like Harner, and various other (mostly native) authors. But you can still Learn from people like Kenneth Meadows, even though he shows his ceremonial magic roots by overcomplicating things way further than I care to go. Good ideas, but not my style. And I think he focuses too much on “the Loving Light”, but I could be thinking of someone else.

Use what works,
Discard the rest.

Journey Well…

“Know Thy Selves”

~~~3 Coyotes Dancing~~~

.?!


Trance

By Xi O'Teaz | Leave a comment

Subject: newbie Trance stuff
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 03:43:04 -0800 (PST)
From: “Xi O’Teaz” < xi_o_teaz[at]yahoo.com >
To: The zee-list

(Sorry ’bout that. Still a little Tranced out…)

< ahem >

I was Dancing this evening, and I had some things occur to me that I wanted to tell to newbies before I forgot… so here goes:

Oftentimes people new to Magick will incorrectly think that they “can’t Let Go”, meaning they feel they cannot achieve a Trance state (to do Magick). To paraphrase my earlier comment,

All States
are
Trance States.

Now admittedly, the self-narrative is more prevalent in some States than in others (especially Utah ;-), which leads me to my first Observation/Exercise:

First, take an activity that you lose your Selves in, more than anything else. This could be listening to Music, reading fiction, Drumming, counting the Breath, Dancing, etc. The best way to tell if you lose your Selves is to notice when you are finished with your activity, if Time has distorted, you seem disoriented in your immediate environment, or you were “somewhere else”. For me, Music is an easy Trigger to Magickal Trance States–especially if I’m Dancing.

Now that you’ve thought of an activity that you enjoy enough to lose your Selves in, before you begin the activity next time, ask a Self to *unobtrusively* Notice/record the shift in Consciousness. The problem with *you* trying to Notice is that as soon as you Notice, you snap back. So either re member the shift immediately after you perform it next time, or (as I have done) ask some part of you to let you become more Aware of the Shift in ASCs. I have what I call an Observer Self that performs the above function. Sometimes I like to think it’s my “raw Awareness”, but that’s just an amusing thought I have sometimes. Anyway…

The point is that once you perform it enough with Awareness (it’s really quite similar to going to sleep), you can Train your Selves to more readily “let go”, and they will be better Trained to do so. I.e., the advantages will carry over to all areas of Trance work, be it Meditation, Sex Magick, or whatever.

Another Exercise/Observation is to take this activity and incorporate your Magick *into it*. Do a Divination while performing your activity (or at least immediately after, if you forget). Or do Magick, or do whatever. For me, that means that I Focus on a Sigil or Entity that I wish to Unite with (e.g., send energy, Invoke, Evoke, etc.) whilst “completely gone” on the Dance floor.

In addition, you can take this (pre)Programmed activity and Intensify it, thereby pushing your Selves to better control the Trance, so that you may extend the duration, “sink deeper”, etc. To give a simple mechanical example with my Dancing, I wear a thermal shirt under my other one, to help raise my body temperature–I somewhat seriously call this my “portable sweat lodge” ;-) Obviously, I also have learned to Control the Dancing Trance in other ways as well, that can’t really be explained, but can be reCognized by those who Practice, Experiment, and Notice.

Notice what Trance states you go to and come from, throughout your day.

Awareness is the first step to both Change and Control–States of Consciousness and otherwise.

Well, there’s 3 Exercises (many, many more if you look beneath the surface), and hopefully this will stimulate you all to better

“Know Thy Selves”

~~~3 Coyotes Dancing~~~

.?!


Smudging: How to Do It, How Not to Do It

By Michelle Chihacou White Puma Klein-Hass | Leave a comment

I came across a very interesting article from “Shaman’s Drum” which was reprinted for Vision Quest Bookstore. I will attempt to convey the gist of it, along with my views, as a student of the Ways of the Teneh, about it. Smudging is a way of using the smoke from burning herbs as a way to cleanse the body, an object, or a given area of negative influences. I myself use smudging to “cleanse” crystals before using them in jewelry projects I may do, and for protecting my home from some recent “bad vibe”-producing events. (landlord troubles!) I imagine that the skillful use of the proper herbs could help in warding and banishing ceremonies as well, if used properly and with reverence. The three most used plant material for smudging are sage of all types, cedar, and sweetgrass.

Sage

There are two major genii and several varieties of each genus of Sage that are used for smudging. Salvia, or the herb sage used for cooking, comes in two major varieties: S. Officinalis, commonly known as Garden Sage, and S. Apiana, commonly known as White Sage. Salvia varieties have long been acknowledged as healing herbs, reflected in the fact that its genus name comes from the Latin root word *salvare*, which is the verb “to heal” or “to save.” Artemisia is the genus commonly considered “Sagebrush”, and is more common in the wilds out here in California. There are two major varieties to the Artemisia genus: A. Californica, or Common Sagebrush, and A. Vulgaris, or Mugwort. There are many other varieties of both Salvia and Artemisia, and all are effective in smudging. Sage is burned in smudging ceremonies to drive out evil spirits, negative thoughts and feelings, and to keep Gan’n (negative entities) away from areas where ceremonials take place. In the Plains Sweatlodge, the floor of the structure is strewn with sage leaves for the participants to rub on their bodies during the sweat. Sage is also used in keeping sacred objects like pipes or Peyote wands safe from negative influence. In the Sioux nation, the Sacred Pipe is kept in a bundle with sage boughs. I would think special crystals could be so protected this way as well.

Cedar

True cedar is of the Thuja and Libocedrus genii. Some Junipers (Juniperus genus) are also called “cedar”, thus complicating things some. Some Juniper varieties ARE cleansing herbs, especially J. Monosperma, or Desert White Cedar. But for smudging, the best is Western Red Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and California Incense Cedar (Libocedrus descurrens). Cedar is burnt while praying to the Great Spirit (Usen’, the Source–also known to Plains nations as Wakan Tanka) in meditation, and also to bless a house before moving in as is the tradition in the Northwest and Western Canada. It works both as a purifier and as a way to attract GOOD energy in your direction. It is usually available in herb stores in chipped form, which must be sprinkled over a charcoal in a brazier. I like a piece of charcoaled mesquite for this purpose, rather than the commercial charcoal cake.

Sweetgrass

Very important to the Sioux and Cherokee nations, its botanical name is Hierochloe Oderata. In these tribes, the sweetgrass is braided like hair braids. It could be burnt by lighting the end of it, or (more economically) by shaving little bits of it onto charcoal in a brazier. Again, use charcoaled Mesquite (I believe it comes packaged for barbecue use under the brand name “Red Arrow”) to burn it, not pressed charcoal tablets. Sweetgrass is burnt after smudging with sage, to welcome in good influences after the bad had been driven out. Sweetgrass is very rare today, and traditional Plains people have been attempting to protect the last of it. Myself, I believe that Cedar, which is not endangered, can safely be used this way. Also Pinon pine needles (used more frequently by the Southwest Teneh, like the Navajo and Apache as well as the Pueblo people and the Zuni) and Copal (used by the Yaqui and in ancient times by the Azteca and the Maya) have similar effect. The three mentioned here are readily available either through gathering yourself or, in the case of copal resin, from any good herb shop.

Using Smudging

Burn clippings of the herb in a brazier…not a shell as some “new age” shamanic circles do…it is an insult to White Painted Woman (The Goddess) to do this, especially with the abalone shell which is especially sacred to Her. If the herb is bundled in a “wand”, you can also light the end of the wand that isn’t woody and use that. I like the latter way. Direct the smoke with your hands or with a Peyote (feather) wand over the person or thing you wish to smudge. If you can see auras, look for discolored places in the aura and direct the healing smoke towards those places on the patient’s body. For cleansing a house, first offer cedar smoke to the four directions outside the house. Then, take a sage bough and go throughout the inside of the house, making sure the smoke penetrates every nook and cranny of the house. It might help also, if you have a power animal, to visualize your animal doing these things, to also dance your animal, and if you have a power song, to sing that too. Then finally, run through the house with a white candle that is well protected, to “light up” the house. Careful not to burn it down when you do it!!!

Final Thoughts

Smudging should be done with care, with reverence, and in an attitude of LOVE. Show your respect and honor to the plants that Usen’ has given us for our healing, and they will return the favor by keeping us well and free from disease and negative energy. Aloe Vera plants, though not to be burnt, are good for the cleansing angle as well. Keep one or more potted Aloe Veras in the house (modern varieties are too tender to plant in anything but full shade outside) in organic (wood or ceramic, never plastic or metal) pots. To honor the plant when you transplant it, sprinkle the roots with corn meal and smudge it with cedar once it is transplanted. The spirit of Aloe Vera is a good protective spirit, and if you burn yourself, can also be used to heal your skin. BE SURE TO ASK THE PLANT’S PERMISSION before cutting part of the leaf off for the healing juice. If you don’t, the protective power of the plant will cease, and you will be left with but an inert houseplant…and perhaps some bad karma to boot. Hi-dicho, it is finished….ENJU!


Shamanism-General Overview-Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

By Dean Edwards | Leave a comment

Newsgroups: soc.religion.shamanism,sci.anthropology,
Newsgroups: alt.out-of-body,alt.dreams.lucid,soc.answers
Newsgroups: sci.answers,alt.answers,news.answers
From: deane@netcom.com (Dean Edwards)
Subject: Shamanism-General Overview-Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Summary: This FAQ contains a general overview on shamanism. It should be read by anyone interested in understanding the what is meant by shamanism and what differentiates shamanism form other forms of ecstatic experience.
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 1994 02:17:23 GMT

Archive-name: shamanism/overview Last-modified: 19 April 1994 Version: 1.1.2

NOTE: The following general overview of shamanism is not intended to be the last word or the definitive work on this subject. Rather it is, as its title implies, intended to provide the participant or reader with a set of guidelines that will familiarize them with the general use of the terms shamanism, shaman and shamanic in the trends, study and practice of historic, traditional and contemporary shamanic experience. The word ‘shaman comes to English from the Tungus language via Russian. Among the Tungus of Siberia it is both a noun and a verb. While the Tungus have no word for shamanism, it has come into usage by anthropologists, historians of religion and others in contemporary society to designate the experience and the practices of the shaman. Its usage has grown to include similar experiences and practices in cultures outside of the original Siberian cultures from which the term shaman originated. Thus shamanism is not the name of a religion or group of religions. Particular attention should be paid to the use of qualifying words such as “may” or “usually”. They indicate examples or tendencies and are not, in any way, intended to represent rigid standards Please send comments to deane[at]netcom[dot]com (Dean Edwards).

Shamanism-General Overview-Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (c November, 1993 by Dean Edwards) This FAQ shall be posted monthly and is maintained by Dean Edwards (deane@netcom.com). It is intended for the private non-commercial use of Usenet users. It may not be sold or resold without the permission of the author.

Table of Contents:

1. Terms used in this FAQ
2. What is shamanism?
3. What is Shamanic Ecstasy?
4. Becoming a shaman
5. The role of trauma in the development of a shaman
6. The relationship between shamanic traditions and culture
7. The role of Shamanic Ecstasy
8. The origin of the term “shamanism”
9. Roles of the shaman
10. Reasons for this FAQ

1. Why were the terms used in this FAQ selected and do they have special meanings.

There is an extensive literature about shamanism that has been compiled since the late Eighteenth Century. Like any field of study and religious practice, shamanism has developed a specialized vocabulary. Please note that some of the words used in the material that follows are drawn from scholars who have a solid background in shamanic studies and may have meanings that are specific and less general than is often the case in popular usage. Consulting a good dictionary should clear up any points of confusion.

2. What is Shamanism?

Shamanism is classified by anthropologists as an archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy. Shamanism itself, was defined by the late Mircea Eliade as a technique of ecstasy. A shaman may exhibit a particular magical speciality (such as control over fire, wind or magical flight). When a specialization is present the most common is as a healer. The distinguishing characteristic of shamanism is its focus on an ecstatic trance state in which the soul of the shaman is believed to leave the body and ascend to the sky (heavens) or descend into the earth (underworld). The shaman makes use of spirit helpers, with whom he or she communicates, all the while retaining control over his or her own consciousness. (Examples of possession occur, but are the exception, rather than the rule.) It is also important to note that while most shamans in traditional societies are men, either women or men may and have become shamans.

3. What is Shamanic Ecstasy and how does it compare with other forms of ecstasy?

From the Greek ‘ekstasis’, ecstasy literally means to be placed outside, or to be placed.This is a state of exaltation in which a person stands outside of or transcends his or herself. Ecstasy may range from the seizure of the body by a spirit or the seizure of a person by the divine, from the magical transformation or flight of consciousness to psychiatric remedies of distress.

Three types of Ecstasy are specified in the literature on the subject:
a. Shamanic Ecstasy
b. Prophetic Ecstasy
c. Mystical Ecstasy

Shamanic ecstasy is provoked by the ascension of the soul of the shaman into the heavens or its descent into the underworld. These states of ecstatic exaltation are usually achieved after great and strenuous training and initiation, often under distressing circumstances. The resulting contact by the shaman with the higher or lower regions and their inhabitants, and also with nature spirits enables him or her to accomplish such tasks as accompanying the soul of a deceased into its proper place in the next world, affect the well-being of the sick and to convey the story of their inner travels upon their return to the mundane awareness.

The utterances of the shaman are in contrast with those of prophetic and mystical ecstasy. The prophet literally speaks for God, while the mystic reports an overwhelming divine presence. In mysticism, the direct knowledge or experience of the divine ultimate reality, is perceptible in two ways, emotional and intuitive. While these three varieties of ecstatic experience are useful for the purposes of analysis and discussion, it is not unusual for more than one form of ecstasy to be present in an individual’s experience.

However, it can be argued that, generally speaking, there are three perceptive levels of ecstasy.

a) The physiological response, in which the mind becomes absorbed in and focused on a dominant idea, the attention is withdrawn and the nervous system itself is in part cut off from physical sensory input. The body exhibits reflex inertia, involuntary nervous responses, frenzy.

b) Emotional perception of ecstasy refers to overwhelming feelings of awe, anxiety, joy, sadness, fear, astonishment, passion, etc.

c) Intuitive perception communicates a direct experience and understanding of the transpersonal experience of expanded states of awareness or consciousness.

While the physiological response is always present, the emotional response may or may not be significant when intuition is the principal means of ecstatic perception. Some have argued that beyond the intuitive state there is a fourth condition in which the holistic perception exceeds mental and emotional limitations and understanding.

The ecstatic experience of the shaman goes beyond a feeling or perception of the sacred, the demonic or of natural spirits. It involves the shaman directly and actively in transcendent realities or lower realms of being. These experiencesa may occur in either the dream state, the awakened state, or both. Dreams, and in particular, lucid dreams, often play a significan role in the life of a shaman or shamanic candidate.

4. How does one become a shaman?

Some have wondered if the experience of shamanic ecstasy or flight makes a person a shaman. Generally speaking, most would say no. A shaman is more than someone with an experience. First, he or she is a trained initiate. Usually years of enculturalization and training under a mentor precede becoming a functioning shaman. Second, a shaman is not just an initiate who has received inner and outer training, but is a master of shamanic journeying and techniques (shamanic ecstasy). This is not a casual acquaintance with such abilities, there is some degree of mastery of them. Finally, a shaman is a link or bridge between this world and the next. This is a sacred trust and a service to the community. Sometimes a community that a shaman serves in is rather small. In other instances it may be an entire nation. A lot of that depends on social and cultural factors.

One becomes a shaman by one of three methods:
a) Hereditary transmission;
b) Spontaneous selection or “call” or “election”;
c) personal choice and quest. (This latter method is less frequent and traditionally such a shaman is considered less powerful than one selected by one of the two preceding methods.)

The shaman is not recognized as legitimate without having undergone two types of training:
a) Ecstatic (dreams, trances, etc.)
b) Traditional (“shamanic techniques, names and functions of spirits,mythology and genealogy of the clan, secret language, etc.)

The two-fold course of instruction, given by the spirits and the old master shamans is equivalent to an initiation.” (Mircea Eliade, The Encyclopedia of Religion, v. 13 , p. 202; Mcmillian, N.Y., 1987.) It is also possible for the entire process to take place in the dream state or in ecstatic experience. Thus, there is more to becoming a shaman than a single experience. It requires training, perseverance and service.

5. What is the role of personal crisis or trauma or crisis in the selection or development of a shaman?

A common experience of the call to shamanism is a psychic or spiritual crisis, which often accompanies a physical or even a medical crisis, and is cured by the shaman him or herself. This is a common occurrence for all three types of shamanic candidates described above. The shaman is often marked by eccentric behavior such as periods of melancholy, solitude, visions, singing in his or her sleep, etc. The inability of the traditional remedies to cure the condition of the shamanic candidate and the eventual self cure by the new shaman is a significant episode in development of the shaman. The underlying significant aspect of this experience, when it is present,is the ability of the shaman to manage and resolve periods of distress.

6. Does the presence of an active shamanic tradition necessarily mean that the society itself should be deemed “shamanic”?

No, not at all. The presence of shamanism in a nation or a community does not mean that shamanism is central to the spiritual or religious life of the community or region. Shamanism often exists alongside and even in cooperation with the religious or healing practices of the community.

7. What is meant by shamanic ecstasy and what role does it actually play in shamanism?

The ecstatic technique of shamanism does not involve itself in the broad range of ecstasy reported in the history of religion. It is specifically focused on the transpersonal movement of the consciousness of the shaman into higher or lower realms of consciousness and existence. Another aspect of shamanism is that compared to other spiritual traditions, it is a path that the individual walks alone. While much of the focus of shamanic studies has been on the shamanic complexes of north and central Asia, shamanism is a universal phenomenon, not confined to any particular region or culture.

8. What is the origin of the word “shaman”?

Shaman comes from the language of the Tungus of North-Central Asia. It came into use in English via Russian.

9. What are the usual roles of a shaman?

In contemporary, historical or traditional shamanic practice the shaman may at times fill the role of priest, magician, metaphysician or healer. Personal experience is the prime determinant of the status of a shaman. Knowledge of other realms of being and consciousness and the cosmology of those regions is the basis of the shamanic perspective and power. With this knowledge, the shaman is able to serve as a bridge between the mundane and the higher and lower states The shaman lives at the edge of reality as most people would recognize it and most commonly at the edge of society itself. Few indeed have the stamina to adventure into these realms and endure the outer hardships and personal crises that have been reported by or observed of many shamans.

10. Why was this FAQ written?

This FAQ was originally written to support a new Usenet newsgroup, ‘soc.religion.shamanism’. The purpose of this newsgroup is to provide a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas, views and information about historic,traditional, tribal and contemporary shamanism. This FAQ is intended to provide a useful general overview of what ‘shamanism’ actually means and what it is in practice. In doing so, it has focused on shamanic ecstasy as being at the heart of shamanic experience and practice. Many other aspects of shamanic experience are encountered in the journey toward that center. Likewise, much is also experienced in the journey out from that core experience.

End of FAQ


A Study in Shamanism

By The Silver Circle | Leave a comment

Shaman (pronounced SHAH-maan) is a word from the language of the Tungus people of Siberia. A Shaman is a man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness at will. The Shaman does this to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality to acquire knowledge, power and to help others. The Shaman usually has at least one or more spirits in his or her personal service.

The trance or “ecstatic” state of consciousness the Shaman enters can be termed as the Shamanistic State of Consciousness (SSC).The Shaman does not enter this state for play, but only for serious purposes. The Shaman must also know the basic methods of accomplishing the work in the SSC before entering such a state. For example, if the Shaman wishes to recover a patient’s guardian animal, he must know the techniques for reaching the Lowerworld, entering it, finding the spirit animal and bringing it back safely. Subsequently, he must know what instructions to give the patient in the Ordinary State of Consciousness (OSC).

The Shaman is an accomplished see-er who works in the dark, or at least with the eyes covered, in order to see clearly. For this reason, the Shaman usually engages in such practises at night. Some kind of Shamanistic seeing can be done with the eyes open, but that kind of perception is usually less profound. In darkness, the distractions of ordinary reality are less, making it possible for the Shaman to concentrate on aspects of non-ordinary reality essential for the Shaman’s work. The SSC must also be entered with the assistance of drumming, singing, dancing and the use of rattles.

Shamanistic Enlightenment is the literal ability to lighten the darkness and see what others cannot perceive.

The First Journey

This is a simple exploration down through the tunnel into the Lowerworld. The only mission is to travel the tunnel and perhaps see what lies beyond. Make sure you thoroughly understand the instructions before beginning the journey.

To carry out the exercise, you will need a second person to act as a drummer, or a cassette recording of Shamanistic drumming.

Wait until you are calm and relaxed before undertaking any Shamanistic journey. Avoid alcohol or any psychedelic substances for at least four hours before the exercise. Eat only lightly, or not at all during the preceding four hours.

Choose a dark and quite room. Loosen or remove your clothing and lie comfortably on the floor without a pillow. Take a few deep breaths and relax your arms and legs. Lie there and contemplate your forth coming mission. Then close your eyes, placing a hand or forearm over them to keep out any light.

Now visualize an opening into the earth that you remember from sometime in your life. It can be one you remember from childhood, or one you saw yesterday. Any kind of entry into the ground will do. It may be a hole made by a burrowed animal, a hollow tree stump, a spring or even a swamp. It can even be man-made. The right opening is one that feels comfortable to you, and one which you can visualize. Spend a couple of minutes seeing the hole, without going into it. Note it’s details clearly.

Now either start the cassette recording, or instruct your companion to begin drumming. The drumming should be a strong, monotonous, unvarying, rapid beat. There should be no contrast in the intensity of the drum beats, or the intervals between them. A drumming tempo of about 205 to 220 beats per minute is usually effective for this kind of journey. Allow yourself ten minutes for the journey. At the end of that time, the drummer should indicate that your time is up by striking four sharp beats to signal that it is time for your return. The drummer should then beat the drum very rapidly for about half a minute to accompany you on the return journey, concluding with four more sharp beats to signal the end of the journey.

When the drumming begins, enter your opening into the earth. Go down through the opening and enter the tunnel. At first the tunnel might be dark and dim. It might go underground at a slight angle, or it might descend steeply. Sometimes the tunnel appears ribbed, and often it bends. Occasionally one passes through the tunnel so fast that it is not even seen. In following the tunnel, you may run right up against a natural wall of stone, or some other obstacle. If this happens, just go around it, or through a crack in it. If this fails, simply come back and try again.

At the end of the tunnel, you will emerge out of doors. Examine the landscape in detail. Travel through it and remember it’s features. Explore until you are signaled to come back, and then return through the tunnel the same way you went down.

DO NOT BRING ANYTHING BACK WITH YOU.

Power Animals

Shaman’s have long believed that their powers were of animals, plants, the Sun etc… the basic energies of the universe. Long before Charles Darwin, people in Shamanistic cultures were convinced that human and animal were related. In myth, animals were depicted in human physical form, but were distinguished by certain characteristics that are familiar to the species. In North and South American Indian Mythology, animal characters are not referred to as ‘a coyote’, ‘a raven’ or ‘a bear’. Instead these animals are referred to as Coyote, Raven or Bear. In other words, these individual characters represent the entire species.

Every Shaman has at least one Guardian Spirit or Power animal. It is through this animal, that the Shaman connects with the power of the entire species of that animal. The power animal can also appear to the Shaman in human form. Appearing in human form, is often indicative of the animal’s power. Another indication of this, is when, the animal is seen moving through an element that is not their own, such as snakes flying through the air, or birds swimming. When a Power Animal is in a Shaman’s possession, it acts as an alter ego for the Shaman, giving the Shaman the power of transformation. Specially the power to transform from human to animal, and back again.

It is important to remember that there are no mythical animals in the SSC. For example, a Dragon is just as real as any other animal.

It is possible for a person to have a power animal, and not be aware of it. Thus many people, specially children have at some point had the protection of a guardian spirit, and have lost it. The following areexercises which will help you get in touch with one or more of your unknown power animals.

Calling the Beasts

There are different names for this exercise in different cultures. It is a way for a person to get in touch with their animal aspects through dance. Keep in mind that a Guardian spirit can appear in animal or human form.

Undertake this exercise in a quite, half darkened room, which is free from furniture that can hamper your movements. It is helpful if you have the use of one or two rattles, but these are not necessary.

There are two parts to this exercise. (1)The starting dance, and (2)Dancing your animal. In both dances, you loudly shake a rattle in each hand, and dance in time to the rattle. In all dancing, you keep your eyes half closed. This allows you to cut down on the light, and at the same time enables you to know where you are in the room.

The Starting Dance:

Standing still and erect, face east and shake one rattle very rapidly four times. This is the signal that you are starting, ending or making an important transition in serious shamanistic work. Think of the rising Sun and the power it brings to all living things.

Still standing in place, start shaking on rattle at a steady pace of about 150 beast per second. Do this for about half a minute in each cardinal direction, while thinking of the element or power animals of that direction. For example, you can think of an Eagle in the East, a Lion in the South, a Serpent or Dolphin in the West, and a Bull in the North. Move clockwise.

Return to the East, and shake the rattle above your head at the same rate for about half a minute. Think of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and the entire universe above. Now, shake the rattle towards the ground, and think of the Earth, our home and the gifts she gives to us.

Still facing East, begin shaking both rattles at the same rate, and dancing along with the beat, as if you were jogging in place. In this starting dance, you are giving proof of your sincerity to the power animals, wherever they may be, by making a sacrifice to them, of your own energy in the form of dance. Dancing is a form of praying and evoking the sympathy of the guardian spirit.

Stop dancing, and stand still. Shake one rattle four times to signal that you are about to make an important transition.

Dancing Your Animal:

Start shaking your rattles loudly, but in a slow tempo of about 60 beats per minute. Start dancing around the room in time to the rattle. Move slowly and in a free form. Try to pick up the feeling of some kind of mammal, bird, fish, reptile or a combination of these. Once you feel the sense of something, concentrate on it and slowly move your body in accordance with the creature. Be open to the experience and emotions of the creature. Don’t hesitate to make noises or cries of it. By keeping your eyes half closed, you might be able to see the non-ordinary environment in which the animal is living. You may even be able to see the animal. Do this for about 5 minutes.

Without pausing, shift to a higher state of rattle-shaking and movement. Do this for about 4 minutes.

Another shift to a still faster pace of rattle and body movement. Do this for about 4 minutes.

Stop dancing, and mentally welcome the animal into your body. To do this, shake the rattle four times, and draw it and the animal towards your solar plexus.

Face the East, and shake the rattle four times, while standing still. This is the signal that your work has ended.

Once you have successfully gained your power animal, you make it content enough to stay with you. This is done through exercising your animal through dancing, and singing songs of the animal. Guardian animals usually only stay with a person for a few years, and then depart. So, in the course of a life-long shamanistic practise, a person will have a number of animals.

Hunting a Power Song

Every Shaman has at least one power song, which is used to “wake-up” the guardian and other helpers to assist in healing and other shamanistic work.

To get a power song, plan to spend a day alone in a wild, natural area. Choose a location which is free of people, and unaltered by people.

You must fast for the entire day before your excursion through Mother Nature. Stroll quietly, and sometimes sit. Just wander wherever your feet take you. As you walk around, discover what animal you feel like. It may or may not be an animal you have danced before. Take on it’s feelings, and enjoy it’s identity during the day. On your first excursion, you may only encounter a melody. Subsequent trips will unveil the words for your melody.

Power songs can also be found anywhere quite by accident. It is possible to encounter one on a Shamanistic journey through the Lowerworld, and even in dreaming. Power songs do not have to have elaborate verses, although they can. Many power songs are quite simple, made up few words, which are repeated over and over, and simple ideas. Use your power songs to trigger a mild state of trance in any Shamanistic work you undertake.

Making the Journey to Recover a Power Animal

In order to restore a Power Animal to a person, it is not necessary that the person be lacking one at the time. A person can have up to two Guardian Spirits at a time. A third Power Animal, however, cannot enter the body with two already present. It will simply drift away to be made available at a later time.

Power Animals usually come and go unexpectedly from a person, especially after a few years. If a person shows power loss, through depression or illness, such work should be immediately undertaken, in addition to whatever medical treatment is being applied. In any case, the regular practise of this exercise is an important way to assure a person of possessing power. It is better to have your own drummer for this exercise.

The Journey:

Keep aside an evening that you intend to do the work in. Eat a light lunch that day, but do not have any dinner. Abstain from drugs and alcohol all day.

Use a quite, dark room, and remove all furniture, or at least, clear a wide area for movement. Light a candle on the floor, where it will not throw too much light.

Go through the steps of the Starting Dance, and Dancing Your Animal. If you have a drummer, have him beat the drum in time to your rattle. If you are using a cassette, shake your rattle in time to the drum. Do this only when you are actually dancing.

Shake your rattle four times in each of the six directions – East, South, West, North, Heaven and Earth). This is done to draw the attention of the spirits of the particular realms.

Next, walk very slowly around your ‘patient’ four times. Shake the rattle in a slow, but strong and steady tempo. Return to stand besides the patient.

Begin to whistle or hum your power song, and shake your rattle in accompany with it. Do this until you are aware of a slight alteration of consciousness.

Now begin to sing the words to your song, still shaking the rattle along with the beat. Do this until your consciousness alters more. Keep on doing this until you have a strong urge to collapse and lie down on the floor.

Once you are on the floor, push your body against the patient, shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip, and foot-to-foot.

Without delay, cover your eyes with your hand, and begin to shake your rattle just above your chest. The drummer begins beating in time to it.

Shake your rattle at a very fast rate, until you see the entrance to the Lowerworld.

When you go into the entrance, stop shaking your rattle, but your drummer must keep on accompanying you on your journey.

Once you are in the Lowerworld, avoid any non-mammals you might encounter. Specially spiders or swarming insects, or any serpents or fish whose teeth are visible. If you cannot pass by these things, you must return immediately, and try again another time.

Search the landscape of the Lowerworld with your eyes closed, for the power animal you seek. The secret of discovering a power animal, is that it will show itself at least four times in different aspects, or different angles. Do not strain yourself you find the animal. If it is going to show itself to you it will.

After seeing the animal four times, clasp it to your chest immediately with one hand. The animal will come willingly. Holding the animal, pick up your rattle and shake it sharply four times. This signals the drummer to stop drumming for a moment.

Now shake your rattle very rapidly, while the drummer keeps up the tempo set by you.

When you return, set the rattle aside, while still holding the animal to your chest. Rise to your knees, and face the patient. The drummer should stop drumming, as soon as you rise to your knees.

Place your cupped hands on the patients solar plexus, and blow through you hands with all your might to send the spirit into your patient.

Then, with your left hand, raise your patient to a sitting position, and, place your cupped hands on the top rear of the patient’s head. Once again, forcefully blow, to send any residue of the power into the head.

Pick up the rattle, and shake it rapidly and sharply in a circle four times around the whole length of the patient’s body. This is done to make a unity of the power with the body.

Quietly tell your partner of the identity of the animal you brought back. If the animal is one you do not know, describe it’s appearance. Describe all the details of the journey.

Assist the patient to dance the animal that you have just retrieved. As you shake the rattle, gradually increase the tempo in accordance with the patient’s movements. The drummer should follow the Shaman’s lead. After a while, shake the rattle four times to end the drumming and the dance.

Gently assist your patient to a sitting position on the floor, with a reminder to dance the animal regularly to encourage it to stay.

Power Practices

Consulting a Power Animal:

The Power Animal can be consulted in order to obtain advise on problems. This is commonly called “divination”. To do this, simply journey to the Lowerworld to see your animal. Your Power Animal is usually quite close by, and you won’t have to journey far, before you see it. Quite often, it is at the end of the tunnel.

When you see your power animal, silently greet it, and pose your question. Most often, the power animal will provide the answer by moving it’s body in an unusual way. However, sometimes, it may lead you on a journey. The experiences on the journey will be relevant to your answer.

The first few times you do this, it is best to keep your answers simple, so that they may be answered in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ form. When you become more experienced in understanding the animal’s language, the questions can be more complicated.

You should keep some form of dairy in which to record your shamanistic experiences. These you should record as soon as you finish a journey, so that the memory is still clear.

You need not wait until you have a problem before you undertake a journey to see your animal guardian. It is beneficial to visit without posting questions. You will find positive things happening in your life around such visits.

Keeping Power:

When a Power Animal is restored, one usually begins to feel better immediately, and then begins to feel a power flowing through the body, gradually over the next few days. When this happens to you, it is important no to become complacent. Your Guardian Spirit has entered your body, not only to help you, but also to help itself, by experiencing the material form. Therefore, you should dance your animal at least once a week, even just for a few minutes, using the aid of rattles. This helps keep the power with you.

Even if you dance or exercise your animal regularly, you can still expect it to grow restless, and to start travelling long distances. This usually happens while you are asleep. Even if your guardian Spirit is not with you, the power remains. However, if you start waking up in the middle of the night feeling dispirited and depressed, it is a sign that your Guardian Spirit has left you. If this should happen, you should immediately seek a companion to make the journey to restore power.

Since one’s Guardian Spirit can be off wandering while you are asleep, it is common practise not to wake up a sleeping Shaman, suddenly. In many cultures, this is considered dangerous.

Big Dreams:

Dreams from a Shamanistic point of view are of two types. ‘Ordinary’ and ‘non-ordinary’ or ‘Big Dreams’. Big dreams are ones that occur several times, or nes that are so vivid, that they almost seem real. Big Dreams are considered to be communications from your Guardian. These are not symbolic, but are literal.

Should you have a Big Dream that has negative connotations- e.g. an automobile accident. You should immediately enact the dream once you are awake. The dream is not symbolic, but your enacting of it is. Just go through the motions of the incident in a simple way, and get it over with.

The Bone Game

This games is known by Western North American Indians, as the ‘Stick Game’, the ‘hand game’ or the Bone Game. Shamanistic power and seeing are utilized in this game. It may be played by only two individuals, but most commonly, there are two opposing teams of at least sic members each. In the game, the teams take turns attempting to ‘see’ the location of a bone or bones hidden by the opposing team.

A person designated as the ‘see-er’ or ‘pointer’ tries to locate the marked bone within the hands of the opposing team, while the opposing team tries to prevent the person from seeing the hidden bone.

Before beginning the game, the teams should select a first ‘see-er’ and back-up ‘see-ers’ should the first not be successful. Next ‘hiders’ and back-up ‘hiders’ should be selected. It is a good idea also to appoint a referee to ensure all of the rules are adhered to and to keep tract of the scoring process.

Before the game begins, team members may decide to sing their power songs to help awaken their guardians, however, once the actual game begins, no talking or singing is not allowed between team members. Non-verbal communication must be used to indicate when someone is volunteering to be a new see-er or hider.

See-ers often work with their eyes closed. Sometimes a see-er may even turn his back on the opposing team, in order to see more clearly. Experience is the best teacher to find out which way you see best.

Team members must also decide on how they can help the seeing process. For example, all the members might touch bodies, leading to the see-er, to create a cone of power. The team that is hiding, must disrupt the seeing process, by singing, shouting, dancing or whatever else they wish to do to disrupt the see-er.

When both teams are ready to play, they line up facing each other, about four feet apart. A line should be indicated between the teams. If indoors, this can be a cord, or lighted candles. It is against the rules for any part of a team member’s body, to cross the line. If this occurs, a counter is awarded to the opposing team.

Any object can be used as counters – from feathers to sticks. Each team has three or four counters, and this is placed inside the line in front of the team. The object of the game is to win all the counters. A team has to win not only the opposing teams counters, but also it’s own.

Two bones or sticks are used. These must be as much alike each other as possible. Chicken wish-bones are good for this. Wrap a black thread or string around one bone. This is the bone that the see-er must pick out.

When the game begins, the hider must turn his back on the opposing team and shuffle the bones around in his hands. When he is done, he should turn back to face the opposing team, and stick out both of his hands in front of him. His team then starts a disruptive process to prevent the other team from seeing clearly. When the hider is ready, the referee should begin beating a drum.

The seeing team remains quite, and concentrates on providing a shield of tranquility around the see-er, and sends him power to help his seeing. The see-er must pick out the marked bone in the hiders hand. This is done by the see-er pointing to one of the hiders hands.

If the see-er is correct, the team wins one of the opposing teams counters. If the see-er is wrong, his team looses a turn, but does not surrender a counter to the opposing team. In other words, counters can only be won by successful seeing, not unsuccessful seeing.

* Compiled by the Silver Circle
Blessed Be


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