To: soc.religion.shamanism
From: tyagi[at]houseofkaos.abyss[dot]com (nagasiva, tyagi)
Subject: shamanism
Kali Yuga 49941018

Traditions are powerful indicators of ability, but they are not the only tools of detection. After all, traditions came from individuals.

…My dictionary says that ‘priest’ derives from ‘presbyter’ and that this was originally a name for ‘old one’. I suspect that in the formal stages of the language, wisdom and age were equated and the name got used as an identifier of important cultural information. So at least at one point in time someone who studied Christianity could well be a priest. In other words they may have been *called* ‘priest’due to their study of the discipline and their appearance (aged).

I want to make it clear than when I use the term ‘shaman’ I will be applying only my own mythical meaning which I have fabricated within my experience and I do not necessarily associate this with any sort of Tungus people or Indian people or African people. I mean by it a kind of ‘technician’ which I shall attempt to describe in my feeble way.

‘Being able to do some things which other shamans can do’ may qualify, within a community, as deserving of the title (whatever the language and role, which I’m presuming will vary somewhat), but it is somewhat imprecise to say what you do above since ‘to shaman’ could include any degree of skill. Is an apprentice carpenter truly a carpenter? Surely she can do some of the job, but not all of it. And yet when she learns from the master crafter she is ‘carpenting’.

So in one sense (limited) you are right. Yet in perhaps a more meaningful sense you have understated the case, since you have not yet truly defined, here, anything positive.

Much of it would depend on the tradition one follows.

I think you focus overmuch on socialized shamanism. I’m convinced that there is another kind who quite possibly works for hir community yet does so alone and is not part of a ‘lineage’. I’d like to hear what you think of this concept. It can’t be new.

I wonder if this focus upon community isn’t a leftover from an earlier age when group-integrity was the key to personal and species survival. I agree that it is valuable and advantageous, I’m just not so sure that it is necessary. It reminds me of the requirement that saints and mystics be within religious *traditions*. I’m not so sure that

1) there is a big difference between these saints and mystics and what you are calling ‘shamans’

2) shamans aren’t found outside of any particular tradition.

Kali Yuga 49941019

I think that the divide between scholasticism and practitioners should be mentioned when discussing ‘vocabulary’. In many ways the *study of shamanism* is a academic pursuit (valuable but still academic). Unless you are willing to posit a sort of eclectic, global shamanism which subsumes the various specific instances and manifests within and through Academia (:>) then the terms are exterior to the individual traditions or particular within certain exemplars.

‘Shamanic perspective’ is a fallacy. I’m sure that there are countless perspectives which function for shamans quite well (hey, I could be wrong). Knowledge is only beneficial for politicians and engineers. My hit on this is that *some* shamans do function as bridges and this is called by many names. Example: RJ Stewart “mediator”. These ‘higher and lower states’ are mythological referents to specific experiences of the subjective universe, which is as much a reflection as it is the origin of what modern materialists call ‘the real world’.

…While it is true that the shaman exists at the ‘edge of reality’ this need not only be the fringes of an urban or village population (i.e. geographic). The shaman just as accurately lives on the edges of a society’s *consciousness*, existing below or within that society and ‘tweaking’ it like psychotechnicians tuning up their host body; a veritable pineal gland regulating the social endocrine system.

Kali Yuga 49941024

…I sense beings I call ‘elementals’ who inhabit the elemental planes (E/A/F/W else Chinese 5 if I’m really good :>). These, as I know them, are the Salamanders of the Fire Realm, the Sylphs of the Air, the Brownies of the Earth and the Undines of the Water (sometimes I call them Sprites for some reason). I perceive them as conscious beings of purelyelemental energy.

Dragons are nature-wisdom-beings who dwell in a realm once-removed from my ordinary consciousness (I call this ‘the Faerie’ and have enjoyed learning to move betwixt the ordinary and Faere realms, wherein my kinfolk, the elves and dragons (and others?) reside).

What I call ‘the astral plane’ is often a mix of emotional and imaginary components, yet I was referring to what are called ‘Psychic Attacks’ such as are portrayed in Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense and Crowley’s Moonchild. I’m not always one for ‘seeing energy’ and tend to sense it intuitively (not somatically, sonically or, as is apparently popular, visually). For me it is more of a reflection than a direct perception.

I also don’t have much experience with what is called ‘OOBE’ or ‘Out Of Body Experience’, what is typically associated with ‘astral travel’, though I do see my sorcerous and shamanic journeys (otherworldly expeditions into the Faerie, the latter successfully bringing to ground the contents of the experience for the benefit of myself and my kin) as similar in many ways.

During these journeys I sometimes come upon Gates, or portals between major sectors of the Faerie. Occasionally there will be Guardians at these locales, those whose job it is to provide a challenge so as to screen out those who are not yet ready for what lies beyond. One such Guardian whom I engaged wrestling/mating turned out to be a dragon.

If you want me to distinguish between ‘metaphor’ and ‘literal’ I’m unsure exactly where to draw the line. Likely if you were to have observed any of what I describe above you’d characterize these as ‘inner experiences’ and perhaps ‘imaginary’, though they seemed very concrete and ‘real’ to me at the time. :> I don’t consider radical objectivism to be superior to radical subjectivism, nor to I direct my scientific worship toward the material world.