Shamanism - the Medicine Way of Nature

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Healing: Cutting Psychic Ties
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Healing: Testimonials
What is Shamanism
What is Shamanic Healing
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Acknowledgements

 
 
"That the shaman works on the invisible and unreal does not necessarily mean that his science is a fictional one. He constructs a bridge between the world of the spirits and the material world, so that the latter feels and responds to the former, bringing results that are seen in the 'real' world."
---Jimmy Weiskopf, Journalist, Columbia.

flowers-better-small_glowing.jpg

"I like the term 'shaman,' which is Eastern in its origin, because it comes with the understanding that the shaman must know about both the 'good' and the 'bad,' in order to defend himself and help others. The shaman is someone who is responsible both to his own nature and to nature in general. He (or she) is aware of life's cycles and how these changes connect inside and outside his own being. This is an awareness that the shaman can impart to those who truly wish to nourish themselves as well. 
...Shamanism may not be a science, but it is a prescience that is empirical in nature, where the observable can be studied and worked with. If we watch carefully, we will see that the future is a direct causal progression of what we perceive each moment. We must learn to observe and read the future within the symbolic cosmology of our surroundings. If that future is good then we can embrace it---if not, we can work to create another."
---Eduardo Caldero'n Palomino, Curandero, Peru. 
 
The 'heart of a warrior,' courage, ability to face the truth, and knowing one's true calling without fear of extremes or 'ugly things' are the qualities of the shaman.
---Guillermo Arevalo, Curandero, Shipibo-Conibo, Peru.
 
"Shamans are born, not made, in every culture, even in the declining West."
---Unknown, Cuchuhuasi.
 
"....more and more people are talking about shamans: saying....that the rattle, independent of any God, is sufficient, saying it finds lost souls, saying all kinds of things. We, among the strongest who see spirit and experience its power, say that many who talk about such things have not seen, heard, or been touched by what is most essential. We are thereby called to speak our simple truth: A shaman is someone who prays to their God. Prayer is the instrument, the link. All other paths only pretend. It is prayer, prayer, and more prayer. This is what gives you flight, brings you the purest sight, and reconnects you to the web of light.
 
You will know a shaman by the sound of their prayer. They carry the word souls. No song, no shaman. Songs of prayer come from a serving heart. They cleanse, forgive, and rekindle hope. There is no other way of the shaman than prayer and song. It is the way we know God, it is the way we become the forest, it is the truest way.
 
"The life of a shaman is one in which much is revealed. A shaman sees what others cannot see. He or she feels the suffering of the world and in one's own life, but deals with this by grabbing the rattle and praying harder each day. Suffering and prayer comprise the way of the shaman. The problem today is that there are no shamans who can help other shamans stay strong. We've lost this kind of person.
 
If you didn't come to earth to be a shaman, there is nothing you can do to become one. God chooses you. You cannot make yourself become a shaman if you were not chosen to be one. No one can teach you how to be one. You are not a shaman unless you have been given a song."
---Tupa Nevangayu, Guarani Shamans Of The Forest, Bradford Keeney, PH.D, Ringing Rocks Foundation.
 
"Forget 'shamanism' and forget 'shaman.' Look at the universe inside and outside yourself. Open to the mystery. Plant things, trees, vegetables, and talk to them. They will make more sense than you or I ever could. The human is much bigger than he or she appears to be. Everything is much bigger than it appears to be. It is all a matter of the doors of perceoption. The way that the eyes change to see the difference between illusion and truth. This is somnething that can be learnt. The base if it all is the opening of the heart."
---Arbolita Pashak, Curandera, Chiapas, Mexico.
 
"Shamans, real shamans, master shamans absolutely know it's about love and confirm it again and again through these ceremonies. Originally a shaman was a person initiated by a culturally sanctioned shaman and thereby transformed into a rare kind of person who was mystical and practical in nature. The shaman from prehistoric lineages bore the responsibility of maintaining the living link between everyday life and active awareness of the spiritual. It was the responsibility of the shaman to uphold as a living demonstration the reality of senior spiritual identity. The shaman's life was his or her demonstration of their connecting link with The Spirit. That demonstration can appear in a variety of ways, depending upon the person and the times."
---R. Alan Fuller, High Holy Adventure, Shamans, Spirits & Mediums I know and Love.

"...the shaman's path is not about the mind but the heart. ...on the shamanic path synchronicity occurs routinely and can reach an astonishing level. The adept shaman knows to step out of the way and let the natural order of things unfold. Along the way it helps to know how to read the clues nature provides. The message of the Q'ero, like North American Indians before them, is not only an ecospiritual one, but also one of continuous mysticism. This direct way of experiencing reality is not exclusive to Indians, but common to all mystical traditions." 
---J.E. Williams, The Andean Codex, Adventures And Initiations Among The Peruvian Shamans.
 
"Shamanism is the form of pre-historic culture which used controlled access to ecstatic states. Ecstacy is a non-personal knowing state, usually of ritually determined duration and context, used to acquire knowledge in ways not limited by the reach of the physical senses." 
---Willard Johnson, University of California at San Diego, Preface, Rio Tigre and Beyond, F. Bruce Lamb.

"When you travel in the Amazon people say that all the real shaman have died off. And even by most anthropological accounts the last of the really highly trained shaman died around 1965....
---Wade Davis, Author, Botanist, Adventurer, interviewed by Peter Gorman.

"It is hard to calculate precisely, but in small-scale tribal societies probably one out of every 25 or 30 people recieves a shamanic calling. Since shamanism seems to be a universal phenomenon, this statistic should be cross-cultural, which means there are at least 10 million people in our culture who potenially fit the shamanic role. Some of these people are currently alternative healers of some sort, some are artists or psychologists, and I have no doubt that many of them are imprisoned in mental hospitals, or they are among the muttering homeless who refuse integration into society. ....contact with the invisible world is as essential as ordinary knowledge or material gain or any reward that the 'real world' can offer."
---Daniel Pinchbeck, Breaking Open the Head.  

"The shamanic narrative persists and has grown throughout the 20th into the 21st century, dissemminated by radical anthropologists, ethnobotonists, scholars, artists, and therapists. The message remains that humanity has a dual nature, a life of the external world, and the life of the inner unconsciousness. And that if these worlds can be reconciled, and made one again, the fertility circuit will be maintained, and the human condition in time redeemed.
 
Shamanic ecstasy is so inate, primary, rooted in biology, and transcending cultural differences, that shamanism is theoretically recoverable by even demythologized Westerners."
---Steve Beyer, Religious Studies and Psychology Phd.s.

Mount Ranier

Shamanism -  connecting body, heart, soul and spirit:

Shamanism is an ageless Medicine Way of Nature that transcends religion and all systems of belief. This holistic spiritual healing tradition is still in general use today in some parts of the world. Since European contact, this Medicine Way has been practiced more or less openly among indigenous people as permitted by Church and local political authorities. It is a healing wisdom way of life that is devoted to service. Shamanism embodies universal wisdom that goes beyond ethnic cultural borders. This is why we may have been immersed in identical understandings but under different descriptions. 
 
Some historians believe the origin of the term shaman derived from the Vedic 'sram,' meaning to practice austerities. For example 'asram' means an abode where spiritual disciplines are taught and practiced. Others believe the term has its origin in early Indo-European languages. In the Evenk language of Central and Northern Asia, shaman means 'the one who knows.' To shamanize was to use out-of-body journeys to mediate between the seen and unseen worlds serving spirit, community and individual.
 
According to Shamanism everything has a Spirit, a specific spiritual vitality. 'All the green,' those that walk, stand, swim, crawl, and flow including the clouds, wind, rivers, stars and mountains. There is continuous interaction between different dimensions, forces and entities of the cosmos. For the shaman/a humans, plants and animals are eternally connected through cause and effect. Urban de-mythologized people of all cultures, for the most part, are unable to comprehend, let alone experience, these energetic forces and characteristics of Nature without extended meditation time in Nature. Shaman/a have mastered the meditational methods of traversing the non-ordinary dreamtime reality to bring health and happiness to the people. These methods may include fasting in the wilderness, chanting, dancing and drumming. Psycho-active medicinal plants are not a requirement. Shaman/a have ancestral or animal spirits which provide protection, assist traversing the dreamtime realms and guide in their healing work. The shaman/a is a facilitator who lets the Spirits do the work.
 
Shamanism follows an unbroken wisdom-bridge stretching back into Neolithic times. There are theories that the practice dates back at least 40,000 years when early humans experienced a burst of creative development and suddenly began to explore spirituality, looked for understanding of life after death, created more advanced tools and began to paint incredibly accomplished cave art. The traditional master shaman/a's personal visionary experience and 'way of knowing' the energetic cause of illness or the problems of the people is connected to the accumulated wisdom that derives from their ancestors, a line of succession from the mythological origins of their society.
 
We must be respectfully grateful for this legacy of the Medicine Way of Nature traditional aboriginal cultures preserved for the spiritual health of the people of today. More than ever, modern people need life with soul. If we go back far enough this Medicine Way can be found in the tradition of all cultures. Historically all societies have aboriginal origins and have a name for the Medicine Way person who practices what today could be called shamanism. For example, sangoma in South Africa, folk healer of Old Europe, wu of ancient China, dang ki of Singapore, dukun of Indonesia, karadji of Australia, kahuna in the Hawaiian Islands, marakame in Mexico's Sierra Madre, paye of the Takana and taita of Columbia, curandero/a across South America, yachak of Equador and the Ingano, and shiripiari of the Ashaninca and Campa in Amazonia. In Amazonia traditional indigenous language groups have their own respective words as well as Spanish terms for Medicine Way healers. They may recognize but seldom use the term Chamanista. North American natives do not use the term shaman/a to describe their medicine men/women, healers or traditional holy people.

View of rugged train

In ancient times the shaman/a was relied on to divine intent of neighbouring tribes as well as location of food and the cause and cure if illness. If they were unsuccessful, their life could be short. Shaman/a have exceptional courage, are not afraid of unusual spiritual realms, are not faint hearted about unappealing things and know their role in their society. Following only the Spirits - The Laws of Nature, they recieve protocols for ritual ceremony and healing. The traditional shaman/a is a master of ceremonies, makes propitiatory offerings, removes toxic aggressive energy, recovers lost soul parts and conducts healing for those who are committed to personal transformation.
 
Until modern times, the shaman/a was highly respected in their community due to possession of visionary power that enabled communication with the Spirits that ruled the tribe's destiny. As well as healing illness, settling disputes, arranging marriages and conducting ceremonies to ensure abundance of game or good harvests, they were responsible for teaching the youngsters the tribe's traditional stories and accepted moral behaviour. Their word was law. Today the shaman/a's following is mainly due to healing skills. 

Shaman/a see both the physical and non-ordinary reality as a field of forces. It doesn't matter if we believe in a spirit world or not, the results of their work is the same. They will not try to convert you to a religion. They work to effect a cure of a spiritual/energetic source of illness regardless of what the client believes. The shaman/a has no doubts. There always is a question whether the client is truly committed to personal transformational healing.

By chanting, shamans use themselves as an instrument to enter the primordial underlying level of all manifestation. In this state of shamanic unity consciousness, at the finest level of intuitional feeling that the human nervous system is capable of, the master shaman/a with pure intention changes the vibrational direction of energy to effect healing. These 'magic melodies' are taught only by the higher energetic selves of the plants, animals, stones and other Laws of Nature. The apprentice receives the chants directly from the spirits when the requisite level of illumination has been achieved. 

Thankfully, although troublesome, many toxic spiritual energetic problems in the Today World are 'garden variety,' caused by fear, competition, envy and resentment by family, business and social interactions. Looks that kill, killing someone with kindness, running competing businesses out of town, willingness to step on others to climb the corporate ladder, disrespect of others' Medicine Way experience and protocols are some current methods of sorcery. Negative thoughts towards others is modern black magic. Some anthropologists maintain that sorcery was seldom prevalent before the arrival of Europeans with their imported emphasis on ownership of property.

Master shaman/a, when not accessing dream-time realms and performing ceremony and healing work, typically have a daily routine of family life and work which keeps them psychologically balanced and grounded. They have an unpretentious down to earth manner having transcended the need for excessive recognition and accumulation of property. The focus is mainly psychological rather than on worldly abilities. 
 
Acutely aware of the weaknesses of the people, with laser sharp insight into human behaviour, they can exhibit an outrageous scathing sense of humour which the so-called civilized may consider politically incorrect. Although they find humour in humbling the pretentious, mostly they laugh at themselves for their own humiliations. They often have a bawdy vitality. Shaman/a are human, which means they inevitably make mistakes. Nature has the abilty to humble at every turn. Master healer-shaman/a are visionaries, not saints or gurus. Their work is to help clients focus on their personal healing and spiritual issues.
 
Shaman/a are ordained by the Spirits. It is important to understand that regardless of ancestral heritage, the license to shamanize comes from the Creator alone by way of the Spirits - The Laws of Nature, through divine revelation in night-time dream visions and meditating and undergoing austerities in the wilderness. Cultural or religious authority is not relevant. Shamanic ability is 'received' rather than taught, given or taken. We don't hunt the Spirits, the Spirits find the appropriate person. Often the future Medicine Way person is reluctant to accept the role because of the psychologically demanding nature of the duties, but the Spirits may not give rest until they accept. Mentors can assist in interpreting visionary experience but essentially shamanism is a personal quest.
 
Traditionally those who have received the gift 'to shamanize' spend long periods of their life in training with mentors who practice what they teach. To become proficient and recognized by the community as a traditional Medicine Way person requires rigorous apprenticeship involving long periods of social isolation, sexual abstinence, strict dietary prohibitions against consumption of alcohol, sugar, salt, dairy, pork, oil, spices and anything fermented. A common theme is near-death knowledge of the spiritual domains. If the apprentice, even temporarily defaults on the prescribed rules and protocols of their training, the Spirits can take back all the attainment of teachings, good luck and personal health. And sometimes the result of deviation from the apprenticeship protocols can be death. The traditional Medicine Way is a hard school, a demanding vocation. You can't take anyone where you have not yourself already had direct experience.
 
Traditionally the Spirits or the resident shaman/a taught apprentices in their teen years with rigorous testing for suitability. Today, even in remote communities, few aboriginal youth have interest in their society's traditional healing wisdom. It is rare these days for anyone, native or non-native, to be willing to submit to extended solitary time in the wilderness to 'receive' the magical songs, healing and ceremonial teachings and the Spirits authorization to practice the Medicine Way. With the passing of legendary healer-shaman/a the awesome spiritual power they embodied is next to lost forever to their community and humanity. Old-timers lament there no longer are any true healers who are willing to undergo the regimen of rigorous apprenticeship required of their ancestors to strengthen and purify sensibility to spirit teachers. Recognizing that it is next to impossible today to experience the pure natural environment and stress-free way of living of the past, nevertheless, a few remaining traditional master shaman/a are reviving interest by opening their doors for apprenticeship to outsiders. 

The Spirits - The Laws of Nature - give only what is needed, not what is wanted. For this reason 'wanabe' shamanism is empty. Those who call themselves a shaman/a, medicine person or healer is advertising, to those who know, that the focus is on ego. Genuine shamans have always been fewer than their imitators, who darken the essence of ancient wisdom by performing ceremony to attract the attention of a gullible public.
 
The term shaman has gone 'hollywood' as in shamanic financial consulting, shamanic sports coaching and shamanic business strategies, ect. It is laudable to employ archaic knowledge of the principles of Nature to help others but does it involve shamanic ecstatic experience journeying the dreamtime to identify and solve problems.
 
Neo-shamanism is popular through seminar workshops and books due to seekers not being able to find true aboriginal master shamans. Prospective students are welcomed even though they have not experienced any shamanic night-time dream visions. The New Age romanticized way twists archaic spirituality into an exploitive marketable commodity. Intellectual shamanism, although useful to train the mind, only takes the seeker to the threshold of the non-ordinary dreamtime reality. Due to a lifetime of spiritual discipline some are rewarded with the ability to spontaneously enter shamanic consciousness outside of night-time dreaming, either in deep meditation or daytime altered state of consciousness 'seeings from the heart.' But for most, daytime conscious imagination of chackras and light realms is invention. Representational easy-chair shamanism is seductive but essentially empty of spiritual vitality. Anthropological studies is not shamanism. Invoking 'borrowed' spiritual energetic forces that others have described about their personal experience is not the Medicine Way. Repeating ceremonial form without having experienced the transpersonal reality of the state of consciousness that underlies the ceremony is not shamanism. Focus primarily on rules and protocols and moving people around in ceremony without understanding or having been personally taught the original spiritual intent is not shamanism. Medicine Way elders maintain that 'playing with the medicines' is potentially spiritually and energetically harmful to the seeker, their family and the families of everyone involved. Witnessing traditional ceremony does not give authority to practice, let alone teach others.
 
In our search for understanding of our personal dream vision shamanic experiences, if we honestly look into our hearts, many of us have discovered that chasing after spiritual gurus and medicine persons is an egotistical pursuit. It has been said, 'don't call any person Master, the humans will disappoint every time, asking for money, sex or assistance in obtaining fame. Therefore put your trust only in the Great Spirit.'
 
Because the Great Spirit, by it's very nature is indivisible, and shamanic dream visioning is a way of 'feeling' wisdom pictorially, it is impossible to experience shamanism in an intellectual academic representational way.