What is Shamanism? I am prompted to write this piece since I was approached by a student of film production at the local University this morning, asking me if I would be willing to be interviewed for the documentary she is making for her coursework.
Interesting… This was in response to a small ad I had placed in the local wholefood shop offering an introduction to Shamanism. So the way this has happened is like an example of Shamanism in itself. I put out an offer, a question to the Universe, and the Universe responded.
A mere chance connection, you may say. No such thing in the world of the Shaman. The Shamanic world is one being, a spiritual entity of which we all are simply nodes, monads reflecting the Universe back to itself, fragments of the hologrammatic unity. Break a holographic plate into a thousand pieces and each shard will be found to have a complete, if miniature image of the original whole.
Shamanism is about recognising that wholeness, of finding a path of reconnection. The Hundredth Monkey healing camp was essentially about that, seeking it for world healing.
People will have many images of Shamanism: native American ‘witchdoctors’, the original people of Australia following the songlines, getting in touch with the Dreamtime, Merlin of the ancient Britons summoning spirits and demons. These are all part of Shamanism, but it is important not to mistake the images and the practices for what it is.
It is a path of getting in touch with the Universe, or remembering who we are. It is The Path of Soul Awakening. We may use drumming, dancing, chanting, meditation, entheogens and anything which opens the doors of perception and makes the scales fall from our eyes so that we may see a deeper and truer vision of reality.
Reality is a living thing. The Universe is a living and conscious being which is mirrored in each and every one of us.
We presently face the greatest challenge which could be imagined. For whatever reason, and we can perhaps discuss what that is later, our society, our world has become disconnected from the source of all that is. It has become mired in illusion. It does not feel gratitude and love for our Mother the Earth who had nurtured us, it does not recognise the pervading spiritual power of our Father the Sun which gives his energy that we may be sustained. Instead our civilisation, if it can be called as such, is trapped in the extremes of separation, which sees the World as no more than matter to be used and then discarded. But even in that view Matter is a word which comes from the Latin meaning Mother. To use your Mother in such a way is the greatest disrespect. She is not only our Mother, but our Sister too, a fellow child of the Universe.
What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair Sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her,
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn,
Tied her with fences
And dragged her down
Not all Shamans are medicine men or women from traditional indigenous cultures. Jim Morrison was probably the greatest Shaman of popular culture in the last half century. Poet and performer he confronted and awoke his audience with sometimes terrifying visions that unnerved the establishment. The power of his presence was surely unrivalled in his generation and since. He contacted and manifested a transpersonal energy. The Doors were named after Aldous Huxley’s book ‘The Doors of Perception’ about the authors experiences with mescaline, the sacred entheogen of the native American Shamans of the south west. The first track on their debut album was entitled ‘Break on Through (to the Other Side)’.
This is all about getting in touch with a reality which is beyond the surface, beyond the superficialities of conventional existence.
Consensus reality is all very well for the mundane and even necessary functions of material existence, but that is a small and narrowly confined circle. If we allow ourselves to be persuaded that it is all that there is then we will be like the prisoner who does not believe there is anything beyond his cell. To begin to understand the limitless extent of the Universe beyond the horizons we experience we must first accept that we know but a miniscule fraction of what is. The hubris of the modern technocracy which rules the mind of the world is to try to persuade us that it has all knowledge, or that at least such an attainment was within its reach.
Lord Kelvin said such a thing in about 1895, claiming that there were no great mysteries left to solve, that all which remained for science was to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Within a decade Einstein had proposed Relativity and Planck the beginnings of Quantum Physics. This is the fate which befalls any who dare to make claims of this nature.
The ancients knew the truth, that consciousness is the foundation from which all else flows. That the Universe is a Great Mind in which we are thoughts. To believe that we are trapped in matter is the great delusion. The purpose of Shamanic practice is to free us from the constraints of this delusion, to break the bonds of the brainwashing and mind control which has been placed on the world.
I said near the beginning that we could discuss the cause of this. In some ways it is perhaps of little consequence. Perhaps this enslavement is perpetrated by those who having forgotten who they truly are and seek to hide in even greater forgetfulness. Perhaps it is simply a test put on us by the Great Mind in order that we may learn and grow. Either way we are confronted by this challenge, to break out of the cage of thought limitation which surrounds us. To challenge what we are told to believe, and believe what our inner senses tell us, that the Universe is magical beyond belief, that thought and consciousness is a foundation beyond the gross nature of projected matter and most important of all, that there is purpose to our existence, in defiance of the Religion of Meaninglessness which extends its thrall ever further over the minds of the human race.