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Shamanism - To be Hidden?

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 7:43 pm
by Crazy Healer Lady
I belong to a forum on Shamanism that was actually the first forum I ever joined, and led to me joining The Pagan Library. It is a tiny group, but 9/10 of the members I would consider to be true Shamans. I know their opinions on this matter. Now I want to know yours.

I realize there are Shamans on this forum as well, though they would never call themselves such. I also know that others are studying this realm of spirituality, while others peek at it with passing interest.

It is known that exploring the Other Worlds untrained is very dangerous, yet there are many books available that teach you to do this. Of those that I respect, the need for care and responsibility is stressed over and over. The rise of the popularity of "Shamanism" has led many to become anxious over the idea of wannabes doing damage to themselves and others, and I have witnessed this happen. Still, those who have a direct Shamanic calling are finding themselves in the middle of the Christian or nonreligious suburbs having frightening visions and no other link to an understanding of these callings other than the mainstream books on the market.

What are your personal feelings of the rise of popularity in this ancient art? How do you feel about the availability of "How-To" books on the market, be they credible or maneur?

I have my ideas pretty well set, so I will refrain from making any comments until others have given their opinions. My interest lies in the opinions of those in the Pagan world, Shamanic or no.

Re: Shamanism - To be Hidden?

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 9:21 pm
by Ragnar
Crazy Healer Lady wrote: How do you feel about the availability of "How-To" books on the market, be they credible or maneur?
I'm going to build me a nuclear power station, because I just saw this book in the library "How to split the atom in your kitchen" and it's a WHOLE 143 pages long.

Wow, I will make MILLIONS.

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 10:14 pm
by daibanjo
Here's my problem with 'how to' books and internet information on Shamanism and other aspects of the occult. It requires the serious practitioner to delve deeply into themselves, to discover very deep places. Any one who is not balanced or who has psychological problems or who is not emotionally mature enough can find themselves suffering great harm.
I am a believer in the oral tradition. In finding a teacher. Only a personal interaction with one who is grounded in the old ways can it be understood if this path will do more harm than good. It takes a personal interaction to know who is a genuine seeker versus someone who is disturbed. The inter- net catches all manner of fish and frankly, some should be thrown back.
As for those who genuinly have a direct Shamanic calling, my experience shows me that they wil have the opportunity to be guided. It is up to them whether they take the opportunities offered them.l

Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 10:33 pm
by Ragnar
My Grany was not very eneamoured by people who wanted to be shamn any way.

Her opinion, and mine, is that you do not seek to be a shaman, shamanism seeks YOU.

And when it does, you know about it.

I saw a young girl ask my granny if she would train her to be a shaman, once. My Grannies reaction was to do the shamanistic equivalent of the boss sending the new guy to stores for a long stand, one bucket of steam, and a bucket of black and white striped paint. :lol:

Interestingly, my Granny always praised, of all things, "Karate Kid 1" as an example of how some one who asks to be trained should be dealt with.

As to "training" themselves..... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 1:37 am
by Windwalker
I practice a sort of shamanic Journeying that probably isn't "proper" shamanic Journeying. I probably shouldn't call mine "shamanic" :-D I've been doing it since before I got into Paganism, and then I bought a book on Shamanism and some of the stuff fell into place.

BUT, I would never call myself a Shaman, or think I was even close to a Shaman. Because Shamans are called, emphatically. And I was not. I find the subject facinating and I would truly value some proper training. But it's not a path I would devote my life to. I know Shamans who are called don't actually have a choice; like it or not, that's what they're doing. It's not my path. The basic skills may be valuable, which is why I'm drawn to learn what I can.

I'm iffy about how-to books. The first book on shamanism I picked up was "Exploring Shamanism" by Hillary S. Webb and it's very, very good. It took me a long time to read, despite being only a couple of hundred pages, because it gave me a good deal to think about. It's now annotated in pencil. I annotate the annotations when I reread and think of something else I hadn't before. The second book on shamanism I picked up declared that everyone was a sort of shaman and wasn't particularly useful... but it DID have a CD of drumming tracks, and it was cheap, which is why I bought it.

I have yet to finish forming a complete opinion on how-to books and the people who read them. I take vague exception to people who take on a title they don't have a right to, but appreciate that definitions of terms like "shaman" can vary, so the exception I take relates mostly to the confusion it causes, and people who take money from others. Also, far be it from me to tell people what they are and what they aren't.

Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 8:07 am
by Kitsune
I know I'm not a shaman, in fact, I think the closest thing to a book on Shaminism that I've picked up is Ted Andrews "Animal Speak". :lol:

It is a path that you are drawn to or not. And I'm a harsh taskmaster... I figure if you read something and screw up, it's your fault for trying something that you knew was beyond you. I will help you once you're done being stupid about it, but some people never get past this stage... I like to call it "Natural Selection", the intelligent survive. :lol:

I don't travel to other worlds (except in meditaiton, which I still find extreamly difficult, impossible unless I am being guided or have music to focus on :-? ), but I have been called Summoner before. Generally because I can befriend all but the most angry of spirits... I can only remeber once being attacked by one (how dare I shield and be standing there, where it could run into me!), and over the years I've even had one or two attach themselves to me for a time. :-D

So put out all the how-to books you want... If you understand it, and can use the information presented within, then you'll be able to do it properly, if not, then the knowledge is secret and you need more study first. [-X

Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 5:31 pm
by davisherm
While I know a few things, I'm not a Shamam by any stretch. That being said, I think that for the most part, those 'how to' books are a way for somebody who knows a little bit about the subject to try and cash in on their knowledge without taking responsibility for what their selling. And that sickens me. If it was "How to do all your own plumbing" or "Complete Idiot's Guide to Changing Your Own Oil" that's fine. They're not hurting anybody. But this stuff, when attempted by an unguided beginner, can seriously harm somebody, and not just the newbie. You'd be better off buying "How to disarm unexploded ordinance in five easy steps" written by Johnny Three Fingers.

Imagine, if you will, somebody who's just learned to doggy paddle wading around in the ocean when they step off a shelf or worse, get caught by an undertow. There's no lifeguard on duty, but any decent person nearby will try to help them. But this poor soul is so nervous and afraid that they're lashing out, desperately searching for something to grab to keep afloat with. More often than not, the good Samaritan ends up getting pulled under by the drowning swimmer and is now in danger too.

There is no Lifeguard in the Spiritual Realm and I'm not about to be that guy who ventures into the deep waters to save somebody from their own stupidity. Maybe if they're right on my back porch, where I know all the energies pretty well and I've got a line tied taught to my forest, maybe then I'd think about it. But even at that rate, somebody flailing about with no control over their energies is not something I want to be around.

Maybe that makes me a little harsh, but people shouldn't play with things they don't understand. They end up hurt, or hurting somebody else.

Anyway, that's my rant on how to books when applied to spiritualism in any way, shape, or form.

/end rant

Re: Shamanism - To be Hidden?

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:41 am
by Labrys
Crazy Healer Lady wrote:Still, those who have a direct Shamanic calling are finding themselves in the middle of the Christian or nonreligious suburbs having frightening visions and no other link to an understanding of these callings other than the mainstream books on the market.

What are your personal feelings of the rise of popularity in this ancient art? How do you feel about the availability of "How-To" books on the market, be they credible or maneur?
Coming to this very late, of course, being a newcomer here at the Library. The first sentence I quoted exactly described my experience of initiation back in late 1985. I was very frightened, horrified that I was going mad, while simultaneously feeling intense excitement and surety that I was finally on the path of the "true."

I think many of the books are manure. I think one does not choose to be a shaman---one is chosen. Ideally, one finds some mentor, or is mentored by those Beings who chose you---and I personally believe fighting the path can be damaging. Shamanism is, in my opinion, almost like being drafted---saying "no" is a really bad idea; but success at the path is never a guaranteed thing. More than twenty years of effort up and down, with intermittent periods of trying to outrun the "call"....I still can't say I've "got it." I've just got more of it than I once had, and still usually feel I am missing major precepts that I should have by now.

I have realized, I can tell when I am going "grade to grade" a bit easier----each tiny leap forward is preceded by a very dark period of doubt and alienation. One begins to feel like a special weapon being shaped on the anvil---the process yields results, but sure as hell isn't pleasant.

AS for the current popularity, well, I am of two minds about that. First, my inner bit of fluff thinks perhaps it actually means more are called (tho' it might be like Army Special Forces---very few graduate the training course!), because there is such a terrific NEED in the world for this oldest of spiritual worker-bee. Second, well, there is always the popularity brought on by the sheer trendiness factor----I wear a certain amount of enamel off my teeth when pondering that factor, :-?

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:46 pm
by SageWolf
My calling is Shamanism, I never really looked into it, it just showed up, but I was like 5 when it happened if not younger, I don't like the how too books because I believe Shamanism is something that can't be taught on pages of a book, or on a website, I also think that dealing with the spirit world is too dangerous to do it alone and in a how too book.

I have admitted that I am a shaman, well because I like you people and I know that respect is foremost here. I don't announce it to People I work with actually to tell the truth besided my immediate family your the only ones who I've told.

I'd like to point out that I've fought Shamanism for the longest time, I have just recently accepted who and what I am, mainly because I've been given no choice, The spirits are so funny sometimes.

But I try to stay away from the spirt world because I don't feel I'm ready, But I still get "pulled" in when they want me there.


P.S. Did I just go off on a tangent or did I answer the question?

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:18 pm
by Kitsune
Just on a small tangent... I think that we all try to run when we're being tested. No matter how brilliant you think you are, there is always something that's bigger and tougher than you out there! :-?

Me and Grimwell were recently tested... together, in such a way that either of us alone wouldn't have survived the onslaught, but since we were together and could work in harmony, we were "simply" tested and came away unscathed...

I'm still rather wary of giving the details out... to my logical "society" mind, it seems unreal. :lol:

But being tested is definately no fun... Even if you succeed and pass with flying colours! :-? [-o<

Shamanism seems full of testing, but I do have a question...

Is it (Shamanism) more testing than other paths? Or is it simply that the path is more vocal about it, making the "tests" more obvious?

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:50 am
by Labrys
Kitsune wrote:Just on a small tangent... I think that we all try to run when we're being tested. No matter how brilliant you think you are, there is always something that's bigger and tougher than you out there! :-?

Is it (Shamanism) more testing than other paths? Or is it simply that the path is more vocal about it, making the "tests" more obvious?
I think that is a very perceptive comment, Kitsune---yes, there are big, bad things and the brain screams "Run!"...possibly correctly, too!
Even when it is not a "bad' thing the brain screams because, you know, who NEEDS their life more complicated?

I don't know if there is more "testing"....I think of most esoteric fields as staircases of a sort....and with shamanism there is some sort of trial lurking at every landing. I don't know if there are more, lol, but it is certainly a possibility that I am simply more likely to kwetch and whine about it! And then, some fields of study incline one to more of a stiff upper lip---I for instance rarely have encountered a ceremonial magician who would admit that any of his effort almost got his tail tucked between his legs! I do think, at least for me, the sense of failing not for myself, but for certain others, is what makes me more up front about my sense of inadequacy---it is not a field that encourages (or tolerates) hubris.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:40 am
by Crazy Healer Lady
Is it (Shamanism) more testing than other paths? Or is it simply that the path is more vocal about it, making the "tests" more obvious?
A Shaman traditionally is the one in the community upon whom the safety and future of the community rests. It is the Shaman who informs of the right time to hunt, who appeases Spirit and spirits who are angry. It is Shaman who heals wounds, possessions, who helps to birth newborns (or the Shaman in conjunction with another who is skilled). He guides the offerings, arranges coming-of-age rites. He is the connection between Spirit and Man.

In this role, the Shaman must be continually aware of shadows in his own life. The Shaman must be a clear channel. Because we are never fully clear, we always have lessons to learn. Many others can get away with living with their shadows for years, even lifetimes, but a Shaman cannot. A wrong prophecy that could destroy a community could get a Shaman banished. Therefore, there are continual tests, along with very strict and often painful rites of passage and teachings, brought on by the mentor and/or Spirit.

Not to mention what always comes up when discussing this sort of thing: The Death Rite, which is when one called to the Shamanic path dies and is born again.

In this way, I do feel that Shamans are tested more frequently more in total, but the fact is that this really does not mean a lot. How much you are tested is not a thing of pride or a comparison, because we are all tested individually according to what life has in store for us, and how we are to be of service to the world. There may be Shamans who are tested gently, because of their continual change; one could say their entire life is one cleanse/trial/test stretched over years and years. Others, who fight it, or in who's life plan it is more effective if it is so, experience very painful, very rough tests.

Either way, along a shamanic path there is much pain. There is a continual need to be willing to be clear, because there will be a time when someone's well-being is resting on this, whether it is your own or another's. I make it sound dramatic.

There are many warnings out there for those who wish to learn shamanism. It is meant to scare away the wannabes, but also to prepare those for whom this path is meant. The best advice I can offer is this: Befriend Spirit. This is the best teacher.

And I am going to stop now because I feel someone will want to speak through me if I go further.

PS: As I state often, I make no attempts to claim myself as Shaman. I am just one who has studied the path often, and cannot place a name on myself, except dancer with spirit. Even that makes me sound egoic and mighty, but I take the name with grace and love.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:29 pm
by SageWolf
Very well Put CHL, I was gonna say the same thing till I read your post. I myself have had a VERY rough road, but in the same light I've been gifted with physical and material that is beyond wonder, I Have been gifted with 2 beautiful children and a wacky husband, But I look at it as my husband is my rock. When I've been "visited" and I'm completely drained my husband will get me a cup of tea or something to help me "Zone back in" He's very patient, and he also is the big kid I've always wanted to be but haven't been "allowed" to be (long story)

I also agree that an entire community depends on you as a Shaman. So not only are you tested in the non physical way but your community will test you as well to make sure you are worthy,

And yes fighting the shamanistic path is a dangerous way to go, because when the spirits call and your not prepared for them it could go disasteredly wrong. So I've learned the very hard way.

Anyway CHL, I think your more shaman then you think. But not so much that your going to devote your entire life to it, that was the biggest thing I fought against, I wanted to study other things in my life besides shamanism, but the spirits had their say and well that was that.

Anyway I think I did another tangent thingy LOL


Modern Shamanism

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:14 am
by Labrys
I think one of the tougher things for me about following a path that began with shamanic initiation, is finding relevance. Sure, when one studies the past of shamanic tradition, it was easy to see the "job"...finding prey for hunters, occasionally healing or retrieving "lost souls".

But we are not small tribes of hunter gatherers any more. And other than a few nutcake Christian fundamentalists, most folks have doctors and mental health counselors for physical illness and the array of mental issues and heart-break that could have been attributed in the past to "soul loss." This is not to say, if such IS your cultural surround---such as is in some Indian tribes, that the attentions of a traditional healer will not augment such treatment. But, for the most part, in spite of shamanism being the latest and greatest fad again,
finding what it is in daily 21st century life in the western world that someone who walks the liminal borders is good for NOW?

For me, studying shamanism as it existed in Siberia, or Celtic & Nordic lands, or even in South Africa, did not answer that question. Instead, I found my answer in my study of ancient Greek religion; for although I am not a Hellenic Reconstructionist, I am at least partially a Hellenic Pagan. Athena can be an unforgiving mistress sort of patron; she is (for me) prone to sort of barking commands and leaving it to me to find out how to do it.

Did I mention I am a bit stupid? Did I mention that I need to fully understand what I am doing to do it well? She didn't seem to much care; if she were around today in the flesh, she would be a Marine and would bark "Suck it UP!" So, I stumbled forward and finally went begging aid from another goddess ---not strictly or only Greek: Hekate. Hekate to the Greeks and others was not the "wedged into a MMC matrix" hag that one finds in some bad neo-pagan books. She is a Titaness, "Lady of Sea and Air and Earth", the guide both of brides and the dead, the companion of Persephone and aide of Demeter. Her special province is the "aoroi" --the angry dead.

How the dead were treated was of prime importance to the ancient Greeks---soldiers for instance, had to be properly brought home and buried with suitable honor. A general who failed to take care of his dead could pretty much kiss his career good-bye. Likewise, women who abused or neglected children, or killed them, would be in trouble in the Greek world----and with Greek deities. For such behaviors created unhappy ghosts----somewhat akin to the Navaho idea of "chindi"---hungry ghosts. Such dissatisfied (disfunctional?) dead sapped the living society and were seen as a danger.

Shamanic tradition has often included components of working with the dead, to ensure they find their way where-ever it is they are bound for after shuffling from this mortal coil. But for many years as I stumbled along, I had no idea why I would be called to what seemed terribly like a superceded and archaic pathway.

Until the war began. And then, it seemed I was deluged with divine 'shoulder taps'...and found out why I had been "prepared." It seems my job to worry over the dead of the war---those whose caskets are not publicly viewed on television as the other generations of war dead have been---in the Greek sense, this could be deemed a "lack of proper honor and notice." My dreams were of sights I had never and could never see....and I knew I was seeing what those whose names I began to keep had seen last.

So, I have, for a while (and I hope a SHORT while) found my personal relevance. It is why I built the Labyrinth. I will not lengthen this doubtless boring post with more detail----anyone who is not already snoring or more curious can find info at the link below my signature line. It might be nicer to find herds for hunting---but alas, THAT time is gone. I REFUSE, lol, to decide the stock market is the "hunt" and divine market predictions! #-o

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:51 pm
by Crazy Healer Lady
I checked your site a few days ago - a noble task, yours :)

Wonderful information, mon ami. However, I must disagree that the services of psychopomp are the only services modern Shamans have to offer. There are many who receive no benefit from doctors, shrinks, ministers. It is my personal opinion that Shamans are first and foremost healers - of themselves first, of course, and then others. I would classify your work as healing work, as you are essentially healing the souls of the dead and allowing wounds from these souls and their families to heal over.

This said, absolutely wonderful how you have discovered how to help to heal the world around you. Acting as a psychopomp to leagues of souls is something that overwhelms me greatly, another reason I refuse to call myself Shaman.