When I received the information to look more deeply into Shamanism I was more than a little reluctant to be associated with this form of practice. I threw some questions out about where to look and got what I can only describe as divine guidance from ‘R’ who responded with a comment on the blog.
If you read A hero with a thousand faces or The Writers Journey they suggest writers are modern day shamans. Maggie Whitehouse has some interesting things to say on shamanism – also google ayuhuesca and modern shamanism. X
Thank you so much ‘R’ for this comment. There was so much contained in such a small space. I spent a big chunk of today researching all the areas you suggested. It made immediate sense to me that writers would be Shamans. Especially after watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on genius, and my experiences with my second novel. As a writer Joseph Campbell’s work is part of my tool kit so it was easy to find a hook for this.
I hunted everywhere for Maggy Whitehouse’s comments but the only sites with any references to Shamanism were unavailable.
I’ve made it this far without taking any consciousness enhancing aids but found the information on Ayuhuesca fascinating.
By far the area that absorbed most of my time was the information on Modern Shamanism.
There were a few sites but the first one I went to made me understand my reluctance.
In the Western world, when we hear the word “shaman,” most of us tend to conjure up an image of a masked and costumed indigenous tribal person, dancing around a fire in the dark, involved in some sort of mysterious ritual, accompanied by singing and drum beats.
This is not an easy thing for me to visualise myself participating in. It wasn’t till I read a little further that I began to relax, and even to become slightly excited.
But inside that cultural shell of mask, costume and ritual, there is a woman or a man with a set of very real skills. The shaman is the master of the trance experience.
All true shamans are able to achieve expanded states of awareness in which they can direct the focus of their consciousness away from our everyday physical reality and into the inner worlds of the dreamtime while very much awake.
The first thing they discover is that these inner worlds are inhabited, for there they encounter spirits–the spirits of nature, the spirits of the elementals, the spirits of the ancestors, and the higher, compassionate transpersonal forces, many of whom serve humanity as spirit helpers and guardians, teachers and guides.
It is this extraordinary visionary ability that sets shamans apart from all other religious practitioners. And it is through their relationship with these archetypal beings that shamans are able to do various things, initially on behalf of themselves and then increasingly on behalf of others. What sorts of things?
At the top of the list is probably ’empowerment.’ Working with the assistance of their helping spirits, shamans are able to restore power to persons who have lost theirs or who have been diminished by their life experiences. Shamanic practitioners are able to access information from ‘the other side’ through divination; some are skilled at guiding the souls of the deceased to where they are supposed to go in the afterlife, an ability known as psychopomp work; and many shamans are master healers at the physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual levels of our being.
I’ve resisted this spiritual journey every step of the way, because of the negative connotations attached to most spiritual practices that fall outside of the main stream religions. I’m a scientist and psychologist. At each step I’ve questioned my sanity, wondered whether I would be ridiculed, loose friends, gain enemies, loose livelihood.
Yet each step has brought me better health, more harmonious relationships and greater peace and sense of purpose. So why would this be any different?
I’m not saying that I’m rushing to become a fully paid up student of Shamanism, but I’m certainly considering the possibility. What is very clear from the research is the central role trance plays in this practice. Another reminder of how important meditation is.
Shamanism is about service to individuals and to the community, about helping to repair damaged bodies, emotional turmoil and to heal fragmented souls. The language of Shamanism is the same language of Constellation work. It has been suggested that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of a fragmented soul.
I see the use of parts integration techniques in my Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) training as related to making fragmented souls whole. Healing the whole person is the principle of all spiritual healing such as my Reiki, and sitting in a spiritual development circle is all about connecting with the spirit realm who instruct and guide us.
Maybe it’s not too big a step… like I said, at least worth considering. Thanks again R for your very helpful suggestions.
Has anyone attended any workshops in the Midlands of England? I note there are some in London but I was wandering if you know of any closer to the centre.