There are many great books and articles written about shamanism, it’s practices, both past and present; and today there is much renewal of interest in the topics surrounding shamanism. Most authorities believe that shamanistic spiritual practices have been in existence for over 40,000 years and that today they touch virtually every culture on the globe with their historical roots and the blooms of their vital healing essence for people here and now.
How has this type of spirituality flourished for so long? When spirit acts directly in your life and you are able to directly experience it – see it clearly and truly for what it is, you have been called to the shaman’s path and your soul awakens, and begins to remember. Here are a few thoughts on what I’ve come to realize on the subject.
My path has been a healing path since a near death experience in January 2007 when I was awakened to the spirit world and the need for my own healing with the help of spirit. Some people, when they speak about being spiritual, have notions of believing in God or a Spirit of the Universe, doing good, living happily, praying, meditating and not harming others. These are all wonderful things to carry us through life. My experiences, at the time of death and since then, have been of having spirits communicate and act with benign effects in my life or the life of someone who has requested help. “Spiritual” then takes on a new meaning – it means the spirits are real and that I can ask for assistance especially on behalf of others. This becomes an act of compassion and love for both me and the spirits who agree to help. I am grateful for this help and I spend time appreciating and honoring the spirits with my thoughts, words and actions especially in nature.
Drawn into the world of spirit I have studied much of the wisdom from Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman, Alberto Villaldo, Linda Star Wolf, Hank Wesselman, Carolyn Myss, John Perkins and many others to help me better understand this path through their experiences. In powerfully articulated ways, these people have helped me understand:
- the spirits are real – not just imagined
- we can gain access to their knowledge and assistance through an altered state of consciousness accessible to nearly anyone – this is called “journeying” or “conscious dreaming” and is facilitated by rhythmic drumming
- spirits reside in everything – plants, minerals, animals – and they are willing to communicate with us
- spirits present themselves to us in forms we are willing to recognize
- spirits act compassionately and with love and they can bring special insight and healing to people and situations when they are asked by someone with the right intention
- shamanic practitioners seek to intervene with the spirits on another person’s behalf and at their direct request
Michael Harner sums up this aspect of the shaman’s path for me quite well:
“…in our culture many consider it avant-garde if a person talks about the mind-body connection, but the fact that the brain is connected to the rest of the body is not the most exciting news. It’s been known for hundreds and thousands of years. What’s really important about shamanism, in my opinion, is that the shaman knows that we are not alone. By that I mean, when one human being compassionately works to relieve the suffering of another, the helping spirits are interested and become involved.”
In addition to the spirits’ compassionate response to our intentions for helping and healing others, we have our own spirit to consider. The shaman’s path has most definitively led me into the realm of personal spirit – knowing myself as spirit embodied, allowing me to occasionally leave the flesh behind and fly, observe and return with new information. Places and things I could not possibly have known or seen before. The US military calls this “remote viewing” and it has been an erstwhile stepchild of the defense department. This capability of tracking through distance or time is another one of our gifts of spirit that we can learn to explore.
John Perkin’s captures the concept in a vibrant experience in this excerpt from Psychonavigation:
“Can the Birdmen fly only in villages this high up?”
Without looking away from the road, I could feel his eyes. “That has nothing to do with it. You really don’t understand, do you? Flying is not just physical; it is also spiritual. I can’t tell you about it. You have to experience it. Your experience may be different from mine. Remember this as you watch. When the Birdmen fly, it is to seek advice from dead ancestors. These things are not to be understood, only felt. Perhaps you will feel them as we do. Who knows.”
Most important for me has been the realization of spirit through direct experience. With much less emphasis on the intellect (which in truth often gets in the way), I have been put in the middle of experiences that defy my logical mind and go right to my heart. These are of course faith building experiences – when we see, hear or know through direct communication – that which could not possibly be seen, heard or known – and then to have it verified directly and independently.
All of this is powerful and humbling at once, and I hope you who read this will consider joining me on the journey. The path is open to anyone who cares to step onto it.
Om Namah Shivaya,
Narayran (Doug), May 2011
For more information on Shamanism see Anne Le Floch’s website: