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Shamanism For exploration of the techniques and insights of various forms of shamanism

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Old 11-14-11   #11
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...do Shamans have to deal with people? Can they work primarily/exclusively with animals?
This is a question I was going to raise, too. Great minds and all that....

MonSno, thanks for your reply to me. I'll get back to you soon-ish. I'm thinking over your response. The fact that I'm drawn to shamanism tells me something, but I have to reconcile this with my pragmatic, non-supernatural side.
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Old 11-14-11   #12
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MonSno, I am enjoying this thread a great deal and learning much from you. If you wouldn't mind, I have a few questions - do Shamans have to deal with people? Can they work primarily/exclusively with animals?
This is where the usage of the term Shaman really gets diluted. In much of Neo-Paganism / Paganism 'Shaman' has become equated with someone who helps / heals people only, however in realility that is not entirely true.

I'll use Native American practice as an example to expound upon what I mean, but note this will not be applicable to all nations in the exact manner i'll describe.

Some Nations have 'Medicine" people who are soley dedicated to healing all peoples. They use thier knowledge and relationship with thier plant allies, stone allies and other allies to work from a medicinal facet for the good of the people. Then within this grouping you'll have some who administer the healing, some who will only gather the plants or needed items, some who will over see moon lodges for women, etc. Of course this group is heavily connected to people and thier well being.

Other's who may work only with the fecundity of the land and herds. They do trance work to tell where the herds are for the hunt, assist in the birthing process for the nations herds. If agro is a facet of nation life they work with that in encouraging the spirits of thier plant allies. At times living within the physical location of the tribe or nation, at other times may acutally live more on the fringes of the society and not interact entirely with the people. This group may or may not have a close attachment to humanity, or only do so when the need is present.

You don't see them mentioned to much but you also had 'Medicine People" who worked with the Warrior cast of the tribe. They went with the raiding and / or war parties. They many times actually coordinted and overseen the preparations and purifications of the Warrior's as they called upon the Spirits for victory and such honors. They would purify, cleanse the spirit of the warrior when thier bravery fled or assist the spirit to cross over if they died.

An example of what they did is seen in the movie CODE TALKERS when you see White Horse do a smoke ceremony over his friend to bring his bravery back after he believes he's shown fear and hesitation on the battle field.

You also have the "Keeper's" who may or may not be medicine type people but hold special places in the society. For instance if you read about "Keeper of the Sacred Relic" those people are selected through what ever criteria the nation holds to andminister to and watch over the "Sacred Buffalo skull and hide". Other's may watch over other sacred relic's or artifacts the nation has such as weapons, songs & Dance, Pipe's or even histories of the nation and its peoples.

Under song & Dance think of things like the Kachina dancers and thier sacred outfits that are passed through the generations. The Dogon people of North Africa have something similar that thier holy men keep track of in association to the star known as The Son of Sirus or Dog Star that occurs every 60 odds years.

Then you have those who are Spirit Keepers. They are associated to the death and granting them time to detach from humanity. These people create homes and / or bodies for the deceased and give them a place to stay while they release thier attachemnt to humanity and thier families grieve and release thier hold that binds them to the physical plain. Sometimes it is a person or group of people who act in this stead, other times it is a practice done by some member within the family of the passed one. Usually lasting for about a physical year from what I have discovered though sometimes less sometimes more.

Then you may also have contraries who are 'Touched" people. They at times are seen as special and touched by Wankan Tanka, Gitichi Manitou or what ever name the nation uses for thier Supreme unknowable. For example, it might be the male who is very feminine and relates to that perspective or even goes on raids but is seen as holding a differing "Medicine" perspective. In some stories I've read those who are mentally touched were also seen as contraries and under the influence of Wankan Tanka or Gitichi Manitou and it was taboo to take coupe on them. Some of the touched would also be seen as possessing of two spirits or souls and have both male and female energies all at once that were in balance. You'd really have to read up on these though as they varied from nation to nation.

For some reason many who would fall into the realm of Medicine People, Contraries, etc seem to be found on the fringes of the social order. Not only on the fringes in regards to placement in the hieracy but physcially living in the fringes.

Within the given society you might have all those differing groups who acted in the interest of the social order. Yet one might find only a few and they functioned in all those capacities at the same time working in the place that was most needed at any given instance.

For instance I was in the military for 23 years. I worked a couple of times as a spirit keeper, have worked in the warrior cast and counceled both young and old in that capacity, then mainly functioned in the role of a keeper of the land and intermediary between the living and the spirit world. Perhaps even seen in the light of one who passes and holds the stories and knowledge at times.

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My daughter had a copy of "The Way of the Shaman" which I read many years ago and now have little memory of the reading. I think, think, I still have her copy. Do you consider this a good book for one interested in learning about this Path?
I trully do not remember the book so can't say one way or the other. Do you recall the author for I have seen a number of books that have "Way of the Shaman" as main title or ssub title.
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Old 11-14-11   #13
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Something else i'll add for consideration, using myself an the example.

Many say to be a shamanic practitioner one has to have experienced a "death". For many to be a traditional Shaman it has to be a true physical death or severe Shamanic sickness. A sickness is one where you linger at death's door then recover but are changed or touched. For me it was in my early youth when I "died" and it was triggered by pinecillian (sp), I stopped breathing, turnt blue and had to be revived. Yet none of that means a person will become a shamanic practitioner only that they have experienced going to the veil and returned.

The other thing is that one does not choose to be a shaman but is choosen for the role. That part usually causes lots of issues for those who are attracted to it but are not choosen for it. One thing of importance is that the more you try to avoid it the more painful and in your face it becomes until you accept it.

Again myself as the example, my parents were told I was touched and had to be guided. At first I don't think they believed but then I spent the next number of years stepping out of deaths vision quite a few times by last minute changes.

Supposed to go with my parents only to have my grandparents suddenly decide I was not going. My parents wrecked and my car seat was compressed beneath the passenger seat. My sister was dropped in the hospital at birth and died I got extremely ill at the same time and was feared I would die. One night my dog just had to sleep in my room, he sat on my chest and wouldn't let me up as I watched a man try to crawl into my room before the dog attacked him in the window. The list just goes on and on where death was at my shoulder and something happened to change it.

The other thing is it seem's most are loners. We might be standing in a room full of people but are alone yet never alone. I think in part because we seem to be of two minds, in that one is always in the physical yet the other always in the unknown. We have to really look because all the people around are not always living or even human. many times I really think we doubt our own sanity for we do not always know just how it is that is speaking to us or what it is for that matter, but we hear it none the less. Many times I really think for some of us its a matter of not ever feeling conencted to humanity and need to escape from it in order to exist with it but know it is where we shall walk. Sometimes longing for nothing more than the ability to detach ourselves and be able to walk with the blinders that we so so many wear and wish we could be unfeeling like that and be human.

I know for myself I have so longed to be able to connect to my family the way I see my friends, siblings and others do. I love them dearly but I am always detached from them and have difficulities connecting to them. Many things that bring joy and elation to others does nothing for me as I feel unattached to them and it. Yet even those who claim to be in favor of the earth and the many peoples of the world I find I detach from for they seem to be the other extreme of humanity and appear just as unfeeling towards things not of thier liking as those they accuse of it.

I personally desire solitude and quiet, away from the turmoil of humanity. Yet I know that Spirit will push me there for its needs. When it needs a talking stick or hollow bone I am utilized.

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Old 11-15-11   #14
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Default Re: Shamanism God

Just to add a quick answer to the seeker - I work shamanically exclusively with non-humans. So yes, it is possible. There's a lot more I could say on this technique but it's a bit off the thread, just to let you know it is something I have done many times, and am now working with plants, although that healing is coming from them to me, not the other way around.
I can't personally imagine working with Spirits on other planes and somehow not believing in anything outside the material (atheism) but hey, if it is a calling for an individual to do so, I wouldn't presume to question it.
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Old 11-15-11   #15
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The other thing is it seem's most are loners. We might be standing in a room full of people but are alone yet never alone. I think in part because we seem to be of two minds, in that one is always in the physical yet the other always in the unknown. We have to really look because all the people around are not always living or even human. many times I really think we doubt our own sanity for we do not always know just how it is that is speaking to us or what it is for that matter, but we hear it none the less. Many times I really think for some of us its a matter of not ever feeling conencted to humanity and need to escape from it in order to exist with it but know it is where we shall walk. Sometimes longing for nothing more than the ability to detach ourselves and be able to walk with the blinders that we so so many wear and wish we could be unfeeling like that and be human.

I know for myself I have so longed to be able to connect to my family the way I see my friends, siblings and others do. I love them dearly but I am always detached from them and have difficulities connecting to them. Many things that bring joy and elation to others does nothing for me as I feel unattached to them and it. Yet even those who claim to be in favor of the earth and the many peoples of the world I find I detach from for they seem to be the other extreme of humanity and appear just as unfeeling towards things not of thier liking as those they accuse of it.

I personally desire solitude and quiet, away from the turmoil of humanity.
These statements are truisms in my own life. From early childhood I have felt I don't belong here among people, I am separated from them in a way I cannot define - always have been. This remains true even tho I can often "hear" and "feel" humans deeply.

Death has touched me intimately (I, too, died as a child from high fever and convulsions) and I feel Death with me always tho not as something to fear or avoid - It simply is.

I don't say these things in an effort to convince anyone, including myself, that I have been hearing the Call of Shamanism - they are simply facts in my world that I feel have meaning and purpose. What that meaning and purpose are - I still seek. And I thank you for sharing, for shining your Light to aid me in the search.
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Old 11-17-11   #16
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[quote=MonSno_LeeDra;262174]
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There in is part of the issue for the Shamanic practioner gains a great deal of trust and respect because they are seen as an alternative method of finding out what GOD / ones God or Goddess / or "Spirit" is upset with them about and how they can fix it.

How about substituting 'psyche' or 'mind' for 'spirit'? This would take shamanism into the realm of psychology or psychotherapy, and I've read that shamanism could actually have been the first form of psychotherapy ie. healing a disorder that manifests itself in terms of say addiction, depression etc - all of which could be seen as spiritual diseases rather than anatomical diseases.

Some modern therapists combine psychotherapeutic and shamanic approaches to their work:

"Shamanic journeys are similar to some methods used in psychotherapy, such as guided imagery, Jungian active imagination, Senoi dreamwork, and holotropic breathwork. The types of images, information, and wisdom received can be quite similar. The SSC tends to be more vivid (like a lucid dream), may involve more senses, and seems to be more "real" to the participant.
Perhaps the biggest differences lie not in the techniques themselves, but in the intentions, language, and belief systems of people using each method. Shamanic work is open to spiritual presence and guidance. Traditional psychotherapy tends to confine its focus to behavior, emotions, and mental processes. However, some forms of transpersonal psychotherapy include spiritual experiences as well. In my practice, I use a range of methods drawn from both psychotherapy and shamanic work, depending on the needs, values, and belief systems of the client."
http://www.ediestone.com/ancient_techniques.html


"Shamanism has been traditionally viewed as a procedure for addressing the spirit world and spiritual illness. These spirit world concepts can be reinterpreted in a neurophenomenological framework as reflecting fundamental structures of consciousness and processes of the human brain. Shamanic soul journeys, guardian spirits, and death and rebirth have neurognostic bases and provide processes for manipulating fundamental aspects of emotion, self, and
identity. Shamanistic healing rituals alter physiological, psychological, and emotional responses, using activity and symbols to produce effects in the autonomic nervous system. Shamanistic healing rituals provide physiologically and culturally mediated forms of adaptation to stress that are reinforced by procedures eliciting opioid release and enhancing serotonergic function."
http://www.public.asu.edu/~atmxw/absneuro.pdf

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Yet part of the healing is that both the healer and healee (is that a word?) would have to believe in the imagery of the totems and the healers allies. Granted it might be seen as a placebo affect / effect to some degree but if you don't believe a given allie can heal you it doesn't matter what you call it.

This was basically the thrust of my original question. Given what we know about the mind, it is possible that the spirit world and spiritual experiences are derived from within us (but the trigger can be external to us eg a sunset, sex or whatever).
This is why I think it is possible to be a shamanic practitioner (one who uses the techniques) and a materialist. Using a technique to achieve an ASC then using the imagery that it produces can be a way of tapping into aspects of the mind that wouldn’t usually be available in an awake state.


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Without that spiritual / religious base it will be very difficult I think to build up such a level of trust and ability to influence when all hope pretty much seems lost to the one who has come looking for aid and guidance.

Well, I would be more than happy to go to a shamanic practitioner for help. I would listen to the healing message that he provided, even though I may disagree with its source.
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Old 11-17-11   #17
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How about substituting 'psyche' or 'mind' for 'spirit'? This would take shamanism into the realm of psychology or psychotherapy, and I've read that shamanism could actually have been the first form of psychotherapy ie. healing a disorder that manifests itself in terms of say addiction, depression etc - all of which could be seen as spiritual diseases rather than anatomical diseases.

Some modern therapists combine psychotherapeutic and shamanic approaches to their work:
Oh I don't disagree that a great part of it lies in the form of psychotherapy or psychology, heck even sociology is thrown in as well. But I think part of the issue, probably a great part of it actually, is what does the word or belief instill in the one coming to see the "Shaman".

I suppose one could equate it to the notion that a preacher provides psychological counselings to thier parishioners. Acts in the sted of a social counselor as well with regard to human interaction and conflict resolution. Provides guidance, ensieght, example of "proper" ways to live, etc many things a Shaman does but then does that make them a Shaman? By defination no for they call upon a different source for their knowledge, though one might argue they are "Choosen"

But I also think this is one of the gray area's in converting Shamanism to modern definations and usages. So while a group or person may utilize practices that are similiar does that make them the same as one who only utilitzes those practices in a given manner?

To use an example from recent news issues. A sweet lodge ceremony was a common example (still is for many native groups) of shamanic purification and journey work. It has very specific requirements as to construction, who does what, when things are done, etc. Yet many corporate retreats have used a sweat lodge type situation as part of thier methods, one in Arizona going so bad that people died from it.

Yet just because the corportations used common shamanic practices does that make them Shaman or shamanic? I think most would agree that they are still corporations not shamanic organizations.

In some ways part of the identity originating not so much from what the Shaman or shamanic practioner does but from the method they were selected based upon community beliefs.

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This was basically the thrust of my original question. Given what we know about the mind, it is possible that the spirit world and spiritual experiences are derived from within us (but the trigger can be external to us eg a sunset, sex or whatever).


Let me answer this with a story, another common shamanic technique actually.

I was about 16 years of age when I was walking home one night. I ran into a man who had a physical presence and we spoke. He advised me to take an alternate route home. In doing so I avoided an accident which I surely would have been part of had I not changed direction, potentially being killed.

The man I had never seen before but would find out later he was an ancestor that died the day of my birth. So would that place the Spirit wourld within?

Yet I also agree that many of our so called Spiritual beliefs and influences are derived from internal influences, conditioning and a great bit of assumption. My personal opinion is that probably 75 percent or greater with regard to spiritual action is derived from psychological internal action. Yet 25 percent or less is derived from external influences that many times have no psychological connection to ones conditioning.

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This is why I think it is possible to be a shamanic practitioner (one who uses the techniques) and a materialist. Using a technique to achieve an ASC then using the imagery that it produces can be a way of tapping into aspects of the mind that wouldn’t usually be available in an awake state.


But here your again splitting hairs type thing. Just because one uses techniques of a practice does not make them one recognized in that practice or of that practice.

I think this more an example of skill sets that enhance or aid us in the performance of our jobs / callings. Yet we employ many various skill sets in order to do so but it does not make us the same as those who utilize those skill sets within their profession only.

As a sailor I used many of the skill sets I employed as a volunteer Fire Fighter. However, I was still a sailor not a fire fighter in the utilization of those skills and methods of looking at situations that were similiar.

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Well, I would be more than happy to go to a shamanic practitioner for help. I would listen to the healing message that he provided, even though I may disagree with its source.


Unfortunately there are many who would not do so. I've worked with people that listened then went to another source to get confirmation of what I said. One of the most interesting to me was one who listened then went to their preacher who repeated all I said but he had more credit than I because they gave him implied authority and creditabiity due to his religious persception.

But all that also goes back to the psychological & sociological conditioning of humanity and our persceptions of legitimate authority and accountability.

It's especially one of the reasons I tend to just say I am a shamanic type practitioner vice utilizing Shaman. Of course in the end its not what we call oursleves as much as what other's see us as and call us.
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Old 11-19-11   #18
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Went digging in my storage units this morning for that book...had the title wrong. It is In the Shadow of the Shaman, Connecting with Self, Nature & Spirit by Amber Wolfe.
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Old 11-08-13   #19
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I came upon this thread while searching sacred smoke, and wanted to say...wow. It was such a pleasure reading it.
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Old 06-15-17   #20
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In my experience each shamanic tradition is unique and works with different spirits. Some work with animals, some work with plants, some work with mountain spirits or sky spirits and some work with angel type spirits or saints ect.... There is a lot of variety and each tradition usually has a very different focus.

In my experience different traditions usually do not work with the same spirits. A few common spirits that multiple traditions might work with though might be "mother earth" or the Sun or Moon ect.....
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