When people come across the concept of Shamanism, or heard the word spoken (and often exploited) by modern materialistic based society to describe shallow cultural practices, or if you were to ever meet a real shaman, what would you think? The common conceptions from a normal human being on anything metaphysical, spiritual, or esoteric are far removed from their systematic, routine based way of thinking that it is truly hard to comprehend what this word is, or other psychosomatic personalities like gurus, and tantrikas. If they were to give an answer, there would be replies of old-world native Indians with dead condor headdresses who live in the deserts, getting high on ayuhuasca and smudging sapo on their scars, healing people with chanting and dance and mystical visions, teachers of the self beyond the temporal, and this is fine but this means that their only source of what this beings are about has only stemmed from that documentary you seen on BBC or elsewhere. I personally am not satisfied with this description, and am attempting to discover who a shaman truly is, but also, where they can be found if you live in a rural metropolis. With the changing of times, and industrial revolution, there is less and less space for the individual to flourish. The nervous system performs a rooting function of all of this. It is naive to think that the only ‘connected’ and nature loving persons are living the idyllic lifestyle back in the land, with constant access to peyote plants, wearing old garments of hide, etc. when there are so many people existing on the contrary and constantly trying to escape their own situation of violence, oppression, urban dis-ease, law, etc. and undertake very different means to surpass them. These persons today; Solidarity activists, who risk their life with dangerous methods of living, outsiders going against the iron grain, anarchists at heart that do are not seeking chaos and destruction but a reaffirmation of the organic totality of primal human needs and values. To transcend the mundane situation and thus alter their life towards an enlightened and more conscious state.
George Gurdjieff “Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies. In this state of sleep we are not conscious, we exist as drones unthinkingly going throughout life, trapped by our own subjective perceptions. If we are able to ‘wake up’ and escape this state of mind, then we can better understand ourselves and reality”
This latter part of this quote by Gurdjieff is essentially the way of the shaman, it is finding the meta-spiritual praxis to encounter the raw, the fabric of what we are and find reality. The former part of the quote can be adopted, by any rebel in today’s society who feels trapped in this epoch. They perceive themselves as sleeping, but wakeful enough to transform. With anarchism, deep green ecology, mind-altering substances like Damiana, Marijuana and Kava, and tribe community, they are finding vessels to higher purposes, attaining vistas of clarity of the becoming. These are the tools of the shaman in a way, but interpreted in a different way. With drugs we clear the mind, with close-kin community we teach, with anarchism we manifest an understanding. For someone who chooses to live a vegetarian (now myself included), they are expanding their influence not only upon themselves and those they interact with but also
our animal counterparts. Shamans have always used totemic symbolism to recognize the essential relationships we have with animals, and vegetarianism, raw food diet, or vegan-ism has the same fundamental values. If we can’t use a craft made from the dead parts of favorite spirit guide, we can still entwine our energy in other just as powerful ways by choosing not to support mass slaughter of animals and changing our diet. For future reference, I do enjoy the taste of all meats, even exotics but have lately chosen to eat only non-sentient life like plants until I can return to a more animistic lifestyle and hunt on my own, always giving something back to nature. If you are a militant vegan for example, you are using your energy (in your mindful actions) and directing it towards animal protection by not buying a cut up animal. You would be enhancing your life, your drug being a natural unprocessed earth food, and in turn heightening the experience of your life, and the unknown animal with their health. As the old-world, and traditional shaman adept is enlivened by an ascetic lifestyle change to achieve blissful states of living.
Just by being adopted into a world with strict societal conformations, standardized moralities, materialistic dependencies like money and objects, and a generally religious based morality system, we are taught at the earliest times of susceptible growth to live in a first circuit phase. The complete dependency and obeyant stage. As we evolve, or I should say ascend to the second circuit of the ego through exposure to choices we start to recognize some kind of ‘elite’ or at least a scale. We are still close-minded here, but sense a polarity of sorts beyond our discontinuous mind. (The skeptic of the Shaman) Then through such movements that at least represent our generation now like rebellion, hedonism, spirituality, protest, and experimentation we are suspended in a film where higher purposes seem to be attainable through the av-ant-garde, and esoteric ways of living and become like a filter of information, sending out negative consequences, and altering everyday actions towards the positive. But still we are are in the grey zone and sometimes helpless to change anything. (The shaman-type with the wrong tincture of DMT) This would be third circuit, relating to Robert Anton Wilson’s mind system. Through trial and error, we gradually refine and establish support. Passing gnosis from one group, or one tribal community to the next, like any scientific experiment that goes right, it is from rigorous practice until the plateu is reached and we are in the 4th circuit. (The breeding shaman, looking from outside to inside).
Also, does is shamanistic experience confined only to adept human beings? We transform places in our environment and they alter us in return. Part of our identity is mirrored in the surroundings we inhabit and a unity of consciousness exists with them. Bio-regionalism connects the identity with the place, the creature and the tree, country, or heritage. So can not a shaman-like experience as well happen in other mammals, or for that matter reptiles, oceanic invertebrates and birds if their own lives can be enhanced and free by direct action. The animal can experience state of subjective bliss if their habitat is kept in perfect order, and they have enough food to eat, but become tame when any interference is made. The earth can appear to experience a new pattern that gives off more powerful energies. Just ask anyone who has walked in unspoilt land and found inspiring landscapes. There is a radiance here, that stands out from the rest of nature it seems. Even a walk in an old-growth forest, a night under the Aurora Australis, or seeing an animal you have never met can trigger the advent of the shamanistic experience. We are shaped by this oneness and are a catalyst to all other life that can permit CHANGE, this is how an affair with a natural way, a higher way is born. Therefore, with alternate tools of influencing the psychosocial self and the body, we have fused into the spirit. The shaman high after a ritual of the flesh where a unity is the intake, Kaivalya. We study the arts as a scholar, or heal the self with love, or go against the slumbering world as a vigil, to know what IS, and this is how I KNOW….
These are mere reflections of mine on the nature of transcendence for the practitioner of meta-physicalities, and spiritual disciplines whether it be for an outsider living in an over-populated bio-region with a weekend excursion into the woods for a shisha session, or a naked chieftain in a jungle of Datura trees and psychedelic frogs. Feedback is always welcomed, for the purpose of reflection or perhaps relation. We find ourselves in a place misunderstood and beyond comprehension by outsiders through sole experience. We hold an indescribable truth, we believe ourselves to have gone past the mere shell of the body, and action and reaction, we exist on a different plane it seems. The shaman is at one, because he has mended the fragmentary, he knows the secrets but does not reveal them because the one in askance can never get it truly until he or she has gone there.