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Thread: Accepting Shamanism

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    Default Accepting Shamanism

    "She lets out a piercing cry, her body starts shaking violently, her hands are clapping to the rhythm of large African drums - she is calling out to her ancestors. Thabiso Siswana is a traditional healer, known in South Africa as a sangoma.

    The 24 year old is not your typical sangoma though - she is also a corporate administrator at Bidvest Bank, one of South Africa's best known and most prestigious institutions and has dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman."



    Shamans are present in many cultures to this day.......but, within the westernised world the face of shamanism is changing very rapidly......

    ......the opening quote in this thread is from a report by a BBC correspondent on a Sangoma in Southern Africa who has apparently given cause for surprise by openly taking up her role, after years of staving it off......the surprise, it seems, stems from the fact that she holds a respected position in a large bank. But, is this all there is to it? In a country where spiritual values are themselves undergoing transformation this raises some interesting questions. How acceptable is the role of the shaman and diviner in our times, for instance....

    In the west people from all walks of life are being called to the shamanic path, but, it is arguable that their visibility is also compromised - do we also suffer the same surprise, and even stigmatisation, upon becoming visible.......and how can acceptability be brought to this oldest of callings?


    Here is the link to the article :
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22306869
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    I just had a wonderful vision ... that all the bankers in the world suddenly broke out into being shamans, after all!

    They emerge like butterflies from all the useless piles of gold that they've amassed but that no-one can eat, but that have caused so many wars and so much bloodshed, to lead everyone back to reconnecting with the Land of Milk and Honey.

    Well, I can dream, can't I?

    Excellent thread, Rob, and maybe a springboard to discussing the calling from the spirits ... and how resisting it causes all sorts of dis-ease.
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    Quote Originally Posted by owlmirror View Post

    In the west people from all walks of life are being called to the shamanic path, but, it is arguable that their visibility is also compromised - do we also suffer the same surprise, and even stigmatisation, upon becoming visible.......and how can acceptability be brought to this oldest of
    In a nutshell, the only solution that I can see is that we raise awareness about what shamanism is and what the shaman is and does. (See What Is A Shaman and What Does A Shaman Do?) Raising that awareness is very much what we're about here on Ishtar's Gate, showing how as you say, it is the oldest of callings, and we demonstrate this via the artifacts found in ritual settings by archaeologists which are hundreds of thousands of years old, and also by decoding the myths and the artwork of our earliest ancestors to discover their advanced knowledge about the geometries and processes of the natural world.

    I feel very lucky that I now live in one of the rarest of places in the Western hemisphere, an English market town were to be a shaman is considered to be quite normal. Not so where I lived before, along the commuter belt around London. Despite it originally being a Druid settlement (how could it not be with a name like Seven Oaks?) no-one that lived was ever aware of the town's spiritual history, apart from when I wrote it about in the Sevenoaks Chronicle... but most wouldn't have even been interested.

    It was so difficult to 'come out' there as a shaman, in this town of merchant bankers and stockbrokers. Once I tried to light a fire in the garden at midnight, to do a ritual, and all the neighbours' lights suddenly came on and they were looking out of their bedroom windows... I could hardly shout: "Don't worry! I'm just doing a ritual!" as if that would reassure them!

    The oldest oak there is on the Vine cricket ground, and one day I was talking to the dryad of that tree. I wasn't talking out loud. I was standing and talking to him, mentally, and offering spring water. But a gang of teenagers came along and started to really react to me badly. I went over to explain to them what I was doing, but that just made me even more mad in their eyes.

    So I feel that in coming to live here in Glastonbury, I've been completely let off having to solve the problem which you raise, Owlmirror. I expect you come up against it a lot yourself, where you are, though, and I wonder how you deal with it? And also I wonder about some of the newbie practitioners on here ... how are you getting on with this aspect of your unfolding development?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    In a nutshell, the only solution that I can see is that we raise awareness about what shamanism is and what the shaman is and does.

    Owlmirror. I expect you come up against it a lot yourself, where you are, though, and I wonder how you deal with it?

    I am a very private person in many respects and especially when it comes to my involvement with the spirit worlds.....most of the people I have come asking for help arrive through word of mouth.....I never refer to myself as a shaman, although others have......most of what I do these days is via the ancestors, very much in kind with the Sangoma........but, my practice is idiosyncratic and needs to be as it includes many strands upon which I can draw and weave together if so called, but, through a long and very hard process, I can truly say they are mine,that they ring true, and this matters a great deal when helping others......given these factors, in most days I will find myself talking with someone about one aspect or another of this......my neighbours know, but, we keep a respectful distance from the subject, especially as some of them are from cultures where medicine in the indigenous sense is a matter bound by taboos and a fearsome respect......this suits me fine and, if ever any of them need a bit of help, they know I will.....even the devout religious types......its about being human, thats all, first and foremost, and the prejudices are there to be exposed for what they are, but, only by being a loving and caring human and part of the community in that sense first......I'll say nothing about Glasto in respect of any of this....but, I know it is what is seen to be in the persons heart that matters more than whether one is known as a this that or the other or not......and people always vote with their feet.......they do come back, time and again, and then,when they do, its like an old friend visiting, and we can really cut through the dross and crap of the world around us together........peace be with them
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    Quote Originally Posted by owlmirror View Post
    .....I'll say nothing about Glasto in respect of any of this....
    But when you say "I'll say nothing.... " you imply so much and leave uncertainty in the mind of the reader... well, this reader anyway.

    I don't 'fit in' in Glasto, partly because nobody can fit in a town where nobody fits in, where it's not considered important to fit in....and so for all its strangeness, weirdness and oddities, I can just be myself. That's what I enjoy so much. I don't take part much in what I call the 'fairground rides' in this permanent Greatest Show on Earth. I keep to myself here, with just a small handful of trusted friends.

    But I'd like to add..... I know that we were trained not to say that we are shamans... and that we should let others should call us shamans. For me, I think we're way beyond such niceties. This may work in societies where there is still an indigenous memory of what the shaman is and can do. It may also work in societies where people know their neighbours, and you're lucky that you do, particularly in London. But in my opinion, many don't live in tight-knit communities, and are having to survive within the deliberate isolation caused by various forms of 'blue meanie-ism' such as Thatcherism, working mothers, and Tebbit's exhortation to us all to 'get on our bikes' to find work. Many did and so now what we have is highly fragmented, nuclear families living in separate boxes, or single people living in flats, where so many feel alienated from each other. In that situation, I believe that there is an urgency now for people, who are casting around for solutions in this global craziness, to know where they can get help and what sort of help is available to them.

    In the same way that a barber puts out his barber's pole, so that people know where to go to get their hair cut, and for the same reason, I tell people that I'm a shaman and what that means. As I'm a former journalist and then advertising copywriter, I build on those skills to serve that cause. Of course, at the end of day, it is the spirits that guide people into our paths. And I believe that all of those qualities "... being human .... first and foremost ...and being a loving and caring human and part of the community first ..." have to be also present, of course, as much as possible. But if the burgeoning shaman finds themself where there is no community to speak of, what then?

    I believe that the modern day shaman should not be afraid of applying new tools and technologies and ways of doing things just because they weren't used in the past when the needs and situation were much different. Different problems call for different solutions. And a
    s my mother always says, 'there's always more than one way to skin a cat'.
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    Unfortunately the vast majority have been conditioned to such a degree that most people don't even believe in spirit at all! They only know the type of spirit that can be consumed.
    Science has done its job well.

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    Ish, thanks for your comment.....I simply answered your question about awareness and raising it - in your response are, I feel, many important points and I'll do my best to respond to them step by step......

    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    But when you say "I'll say nothing.... " you imply so much and leave uncertainty in the mind of the reader... well, this reader anyway.

    I don't 'fit in' in Glasto, partly because nobody can fit in a town where nobody fits in, where it's not considered important to fit in....and so for all its strangeness, weirdness and oddities, I can just be myself. That's what I enjoy so much. I don't take part much in what I call the 'fairground rides' in this permanent Greatest Show on Earth. I keep to myself here, with just a small handful of trusted friends.
    Well, I have never lived in Glastonbury and simply don't feel in a position to comment, so, thanks for the heads-up and inside view - however.....

    Yeh, 'fitting in' is what we are 'expected' and indeed 'educated' into doing as a part of our induction into 'society' - and, it is one of the perceived conventions and, therefore, proofs of our ability to both participate in and contribute to the 'collective', according with the values of the collective, whether we call it community, society or even the 'public' arena, that we do indeed fit in....and, at the same time, the ability of any collective to embrace individuality within those values is a true measure of its diversity, and constraints upon diversity likewise define individuality in terms of fitting in....why is this important to shamans? Firstly, as you say later in your comment, "at the end of day, it is the spirits that guide people into our paths."....ie. not the collective, and, this marks the shaman as an individual outside of collective requirements to 'fit in'......so, yes, I understand why you enjoy the experience of being yourself, and, yes, it also mirrors the calling, in more ways than one......but, before going into what that means.....what you say next illustrates the flip-side of the 'fitting in' debacle very well......


    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    But I'd like to add..... I know that we were trained not to say that we are shamans... and that we should let others should call us shamans. For me, I think we're way beyond such niceties. This may work in societies where there is still an indigenous memory of what the shaman is and can do. It may also work in societies where people know their neighbours, and you're lucky that you do, particularly in London. But in my opinion, many don't live in tight-knit communities, and are having to survive within the deliberate isolation caused by various forms of 'blue meanie-ism' such as Thatcherism, working mothers, and Tebbit's exhortation to us all to 'get on our bikes' to find work. Many did and so now what we have is highly fragmented, nuclear families living in separate boxes, or single people living in flats, where so many feel alienated from each other. In that situation, I believe that there is an urgency now for people, who are casting around for solutions in this global craziness, to know where they can get help and what sort of help is available to them.
    Just to clear up my own experience in respect of that first sentence, I have not personally ever been trained not to or told not to say that I am a shaman.....but, this does not mean that I am uninterested in people knowing that I am here doing what I do......there is indeed 'more than one way....'etc - you choose your way, I choose mine, simply that.....and, it should be said, theres no personal comment or implication of one way being preferable or better than the other involved in either your way or mine, just different approaches......I follow my calling as it calls me to do so, and, I feel sure, the same is true for you......

    Yes, the fragmentation of community, on any scale, from individual experience of isolation, on through family, and on again through community, is a symptom of a disfunction and disempowerment that is wholy pervasive in the world, and, much of the work that I believe we both may be involved in through the agencies of the spirits is a direct response to this, and, potentially, addresses the cause as well as the effects.....that disfunction has roots beyond the constraints of conformity, I would say......and, you are right to say that we have gone beyond the 'niceties' of being called a shaman or not, according to whatever training, or not.......but, I personally do not consider the matter as being of 'niceties', as this also represents my personal approach, choices and path, the calling that I have undertaken to follow in answering to those present needs in the world, and that are very much under the guidance of the spirit worlds......


    Quote Originally Posted by Ishtar View Post
    In the same way that a barber puts out his barber's pole, so that people know where to go to get their hair cut, and for the same reason, I tell people that I'm a shaman and what that means. As I'm a former journalist and then advertising copywriter, I build on those skills to serve that cause. Of course, at the end of day, it is the spirits that guide people into our paths. And I believe that all of those qualities "... being human .... first and foremost ...and being a loving and caring human and part of the community first ..." have to be also present, of course, as much as possible. But if the burgeoning shaman finds themself where there is no community to speak of, what then?

    I believe that the modern day shaman should not be afraid of applying new tools and technologies and ways of doing things just because they weren't used in the past when the needs and situation were much different. Different problems call for different solutions. And a
    s my mother always says, 'there's always more than one way to skin a cat'.
    Great! I celebrate your approach and may it not only empower your work in the world, but, confirm the immediate value of those innate as well as hard won skills you have at your disposal! This is how it should be imho, that the tools we have at our disposal are put into the hands of the spirit worlds, if we are truly going to follow the shamanic path - everything counts! And, importantly, as Thabiso shows, that does not mean we have to make everything we do appear shamanic......

    If, however, there is no community, as you ask, what then?!.......absolutely.....perhaps thats a part of why we are here, and, I found this to be one of the most interesting implications in Thabiso's experience with her customers while in the bank......does she nevertheless stop being a Sangoma in the bank? This is, in my view, a highly significant question.....especially for us now

    I completely agree with your last para, about technologies etc.........this is a defining factor in how the dynamic of change functions in our present world and stands in stark contrast to the dynamic of change as it may be understood in the indigenous context - however, many indigenous shamans are well hip to this now, especially when they come face to face with it......look at the Kogi and the shamans of the America's for example.....it is impossible to ignore

    To be called to the spirits, as Thabiso has been, can undoubtedly be a challenge, in the face of forcefull conformity, within westernisation and the materially dominated paradigms at large in the world......whether that challange be met within the individual, society and community, or indeed, within the healing community itself.....even there there exist pressures to conform......these too can be extremely destructive and make life very difficult for the emergent shaman who is struggling to find their feet in the spirit worlds - 'collectivism' is a great danger here too and is often confused with the validity of identity and community, both in tension with each other - training with an experienced shaman can help, but, ultimately, it is in guiding the individual to a place of independant personal relationship with the spirits, which we might think of as the initiatic experience, out of which their own path under the guidance of the spirits may emerge and, at that point, this does not preclude but takes precedence to those of the human teacher - the mentor will hopefully succeed in giving something of value to the individual's personal journey - this has been my experience, and I count myself extremely fortunate in this.....however, I ask, is this not, in itself, an underlying factor in one of the most pernicious stigma's attached to acceptance both on the individual and communal level of the shamans role...... the perception of its initiatic nature within a society that has no control over this process, that may even feel threatened by it, be perceived of as a threat to the status quo, as well as, as Vince points out, the denial of 'spirit' - this path is one of very personal empowerment, and that empowerment is seen to be of value, at least to those who see its benefits - the very same ones who might then be able to confer the honour of being called a shaman upon oneself in light of their experience......perhaps we can discuss that stigma.....
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    Owlmirror, I may have misunderstood. I thought that all core shamanism teaches that their graduates shouldn't call themselves shamans, but wait for our communities to recognise us as such. But now after your reply, I realise that it might just be the brand of core shamanism that I was taught at the Sacred Trust, which is a sort of sister organisation to Michael Harner's Foundation for Shamanic Studies in America.

    I have enormous respect for Michael Harner and for how much he has done to introduce shamanism to the West. But ... and I guess you could hear the 'but' coming ... he comes from the point of view of an anthropologist. And anthropologists that work with indigenous tribes, quite rightly, want to preserve their ways and resist the advance of modernity to change them. However, there is a fine line between preserving the practises of an indigenous tribe, for the tribe itself, and propagating those practises into a society which is structured differently and which therefore has different needs.

    What Harner would have found (as did the many of the anthropologists whose interviews with shamans worldwide, on the cusp 19th/20th century, were recorded in Mircea Eliade's Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy ) were tribes that had had shamans for thousands of years. In these tribes, the Elders were very practised in recognising shamans from a very young age ~ and in fact, according to Eliade's reports, the budding shaman child was often recognised through his or her inability to "fit in", in that he or she would be slightly odd in some way. This 'oddness', though, was seen as a sign that the youngster would probably be able to cross into the other dimensions more easily than anyone else. But in any case, the main point I want to make is, in this way, the tribe did recognise and appoint the apprentice shaman, and begin the training from an early age, and that method of selecting and appointing the shaman worked well within that context.

    However, in this society in West, another fate would be much more likely to await that child. We don't have tribes or wise Elders, and so any signs of difference would more likely to be put down a variety of pseudo diseases, such as ADHD or some of the milder conditions on the autism and schizophrenia spectrum, and they would be put on ritalin or worse. It wouldn't occur to our "Elders" that this difference could be "a good thing", because they don't know what a shaman is, or what a shaman can do. And so that's a budding shaman that will be never be recognised.

    public-school.jpg

    So this is why I disagree with Michael Harner on his core shamanism rule that the shaman should never say that they are a shaman, but wait to be recognised by their community as such. It doesn't work in an ignorant, fragmented society ~ the sort that we live in ~ added to which, there is also a contradiction inherent in his teaching. Because at the same time, Harner's taught definition of the shaman is very clear. His definition, which I think is a good one, is that the shaman is one who journeys into the other dimensions to meet and bring back to the community or individual healing, guidance or information from the spirits he or she meets there.

    Well, that is what I'm doing... quite regularly... and so I meet Harner's definition of a shaman, and yet he would object to me calling myself one. Doesn't make sense ...

    And this feeds into a whole can of worms of problems, including the stigma (which I'll get to in a minute) but also the plethora of fakes that have arisen.

    I wrote about this before ~ about all the 'spiritual healers' that are calling themselves shamans, but that cannot journey into the other dimensions.

    The other sign that separates the shaman from the sham man is the fire in the head. When we journey, we feel a "fire" burning in our heads.

    My point is, if we real shamans ~ that do journey into the other dimensions and do experience the fire in the head ~ don’t own this word ‘shaman’, then every Tom, Dick and snake oil salesman will take it from us to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear of their own mediocre skills.

    So just so's we can move on to the next point with no feathers ruffled, I hope you do realise that I had no intention of criticising your own chosen way, developed over time with your spirit guides. I was criticising that particular teaching of core shamanism. I hope the above helps you to see what I was really getting at.

    Some other points you raise about Thabisco: can she ever not be a shaman and just be a corporate administrator at a bank? How can we know? In the same way that I cannot know which way your spirits are guiding you. As you say: "'collectivism' is a great danger here too and is often confused with the validity of identity and community."

    Collectivism is death, as far as I'm concerned.

    This is entirely an individual path, and the only rule, apart from the protocols that the spirits require, should be: "Journey on it." That's one of the things for which I'm very grateful to Simon Buxton. Very soon after we'd learned to journey, he stopped answering almost all questions. To every question, he'd reply: "Journey on it." It was frustrating at times, but he was right. Once we are in touch with the all-knowing spirits, they are our counsellors, guides and healers ... and who could be better? So I entirely agree with you that:

    "....ultimately, it is in guiding the individual to a place of independent personal relationship with the spirits, which we might think of as the initiatic experience, out of which their own path under the guidance of the spirits may emerge and, at that point, this does not preclude but takes precedence to those of the human teacher ..."

    The other factor we have to consider is that Thabisco is in a country which, despite the veneer of civilisation, is still very much in touch with its indigenous roots. I visited the neighbouring country, Botswana, on safari, and noticed that our guides didn't even carry guns because they 'talked' to the lions and knew how to exist alongside them. Their connectivity to the land has never really been lost, and that may have made it easier for her to gain acceptance from her colleagues.

    And so speaking entirely for myself on the question of whether Thabisco can 'switch off' from being a shaman when she's at work: I am never off... I don't get any days off from being a shaman. Because to me it is a state of consciousness that began for me when I was in India with Sai Baba, and it was a hard won state of mind and state of being that can never be undone. This makes it quite difficult for me to fit into "normal society" in the West, although I did try to for a long time. I worked in the City, Canary Wharf, Soho ...As a freelance editor and copywriter, I worked for many years in the heart of the Beast. But I was always very alone and very unhappy, having to spend my days alongside people with such low empathy and with such different core values to myself. I was a stranger in a strange land. That's just how it felt to me.

    People talk about the culture shock which they undergo when they first arrive in India. I did experience that, but not for long. What was infinitely worse was the culture shock I experienced when I got back to England, and I've never really "recovered" from that.

    Of course, there were exceptions, the occasional godsend, such as Caigwyn, who was my project manager for eight weeks, where I'd been hired to write a content management user manual. I really enjoyed his company and we stayed in touch ever since... and now he's our Resident Sceptic on the Gate!

    And finally to the stigma.... which only exists, I believe, in the absence of knowledge about what shamanism really is, and in the light of religious prejudice and bigotry, by which I mean both Christianity, Islam, Judaism and classical science.

    My spirits have given me this role, and asked me to open up this cyber platform, Ishtar's Gate, in order to provide content to help break all that down as much as I can, in my own small way. I consider myself very lucky that others have been attracted to this work too, to help in that task... as they are doing it also in their own lives and in their own self-empowered ways, via books, videos, artworks and other media. I think we're making inroads, slowly but surely....! I hope so, anyway!
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    I am not a graduate of Core Shamanism.......and do not follow its dictates

    I do respect Harner, but, more for the help that his methodology has brought to reviving shamanic cultures within indigenous settings, where it had/has been forced to the brink of extinction, through political (and religious) suppression, such as that in Tuva, via people like Larry Peters, than for its impact upon the west.....

    that impact has been instrumental in disseminating a form of shamanism that is heavily 'journey' oriented..........not all shamanism is.....my own included, very much so.....Thabiso's too, I would say.....

    I know how to, can do so, do when called to, but, not as habit, or as a central part of my work, but, I can teach others to and have.......but, in my own honest opinion, that does not
    make them shamans.....or I

    I guess, by your definition, I must be a snake oil salesman then as, I do not experience fire-in-the-head as a prerequisite for shamanic work, either

    yes, there are many charlatans out there as well as a burgeoning whelter of wannabe's in the west, not least of all now we have the Harner method available - it is perfectly suited to the consumer society....but, how can genuine connection with spirit be commodified - Thabiso illustrates a clear distinction - resisted the call, rather than went seeking it out......theres a huge and fundamental difference right there....

    And, you say "Some other points you raise about Thabisco: can she ever not be a shaman and just be a corporate administrator at a bank?"
    .....where-as, my question was "does she nevertheless stop being a Sangoma in the bank?"......it was not a question about whether or how she might want to turn 'it' off. As you go on to say "....And so speaking entirely for myself on the question of whether Thabisco can 'switch off' from being a shaman when she's at work: I am never off". And why would she, having made the total commitment required of her calling. When you look at how she is when she is working as a Sangoma the difference is profound tho.....nevertheless, as she seems to be discovering, there is no discontinuity - and that discontinuity is a question she must have come face to face with.....how do the demands of the Sangoma fit with the demands of her bank job.......its a risk.....theres only one way to find out

    In other words, just because she is at work does that make her any the less a Sangoma.....that, to me is key.....the way to encourage acceptance might well be to be through this.....it does not mean anyone has to change their appearance to be a shaman, or become marked out in any overt way as such. It is the work that makes her so, and it is the very normality of her appearance and situation within the bank that makes this a story.....but, I suspect it is not at all as unusual an occurance as the story implies....

    I am saddened to hear that your own experience in the city was such a lonesome and unhappy affair. It is a test that some traditions put their shamans and seers through, sometimes for years - to be in that environment in full awareness does not suit everone or everyones path tho, so, it is probably best that you are out of the beast's belly....

    This, in my perception, is where shamanic experience is changing most.....the context, and, a possible answer to how shamanism can become more accepted might be found by studying how the content is being changed by the context......we do have the means to do so

    The 'belly of the beast' seems to be integral to shamanic work.....in meeting the disease and taking it into themselves, the shaman is able to bring the spirits powers of transformation and healing to bear on the disease. Perhaps this is no longer required or desired.....new age ethics seem to preclude it......

    My own path has taken me into that place for well over three decades now, I benefit otherworldly support in this, they have made it clear that this is a part of my own learning and continual initiation, but, they also make it clear that this has been where the work I am here to do, and able to do, through this time is located....and most needed. This is now changing as, very recently, the message has come through to begin looking for a new location, a natural one, and to begin a transition, time-sharing between the city and the wilder places, with a shift of emphasis to the wild....and who knows where that will lead.....in my heart I hope it leads to a more permanent place in nature, as that is where I feel most at home.....such is the nature of my own path, and I do have to recharge and keep my connections with nature as, without this and the spirits who reside there, I would not be able to do this work.....much of my work is in environmental healing too, and, with the current radical shift of the 'war-zone's' battle-fronts happening in the natural world so much, perhaps this is behind the spirits urgings......one thing I do know is that I do not have to be anything other than just an ordinary Jo in the eyes of others......while still living in full contact and integration with the spirit worlds.....while I am not trying to beat my own drum in saying this, I say it as I feel that this may well be one of the best approaches to bringing acceptance of shamanism into our shattered communities with all their prejudices
    and misconceptions - and, Thabiso herself says that at home she and her family are Christian......
    Last edited by owlmirror; May 9th, 2013 at 09:56 AM.
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    Owlmirror, I must have misremembered one of our conversations. I thought you'd been trained through Core Shamanism. I know of course that there's a hell of a lot more to your background than that, but I thought your spiritual development had included the core shamanism training along the way. Must be the dementia setting in!

    So to clarify....

    What I object to is spiritual healers saying that they are spiritual healers when they are not in touch with the spirits. I would have thought that if one is going to call oneself a spiritual healer, it is a vital prerequisite, according to the job title, to be in touch with the spirits in their own realms ~ how ever you do it, journeying or otherwise ~ to call yourself a spiritual healer.

    For example, if a spiritual healer is not in touch with the spirits, it would the same as Classical Homeopath calling herself a homeopath without having any experience of homeopath medicine. Luckily, for all of us, she is extremely experienced in working with homeopathic remedies.

    Also on your point about changing one's appearance, I know of very few shamans in the West that change their appearance. I might stick a few feathers in my hair to do public ceremonial work, and I have recently bought a red top hat for such purpose, although not yet used it. But that is just for the theatre, which is also important in this work as discussed in another thread, because it helps to anchor the work in this dimension. Otherwise, I just wear ordinary clothes and look like an ordinary Jo... as do most shamans I know. You get the odd one coming to Glastonbury who's trying to look like Merlin or Gandalf, but they're usually sham mans or wizards on an ego trip.

    As you say...

    "It is the work that makes her so, and it is the very normality of her appearance and situation within the bank that makes this a story...."

    Please don't be sad for my experience in the City, although I appreciate the sentiment behind it. Even while I was within that process, I knew that it was necessary for my path, and so I wouldn't have that time taken away from me. It is what has empowered me.

    Even now, within this 'spiritual fairground', I am still, largely, alone... but I'm no longer lonely... hard to explain that... I'm also still in the belly of the Beast.... it's just a more occult kind of Beast. I would come back in a second to the London Beast, if asked to do so. My life is totally given over to this work and so I follow where the guidance takes me. I was asked to come here, and was guided to be here in Glastonbury....perhaps for very similar reasons to why you're being guided to find a new, more rural, location, as you explain here, with my bolding:

    "...very recently, the message has come through to begin looking for a new location, a natural one, and to begin a transition, time-sharing between the city and the wilder places, with a shift of emphasis to the wild....and who knows where that will lead.....in my heart I hope it leads to a more permanent place in nature, as that is where I feel most at home.....such is the nature of my own path, and I do have to recharge and keep my connections with nature as, without this and the spirits who reside there, I would not be able to do this work....."

    I was brought here for those very same reasons. To recharge myself by working with the spirits of the Land. But also to work alongside the spirits of the Land because of what has been done and is being done to the Land by those who we call 'the blue meanies'. It's not just about restoring the green areas... it's also about what they've done and are doing to the energy arteries, aka leylines. In fact, the two are intrinsically linked. I think you've read my article on Burrow Mump and the role I believe it plays in the Divine Right of Kings?

    For all its fairground rides and fake sham mans and pseudo pagan revels, I believe that I'm living on the heart womb of Britain. I believe that is why the Christian church established itself here first, hundreds of years before Augustine. I believe that's also why some are trying to establish a New Jerusalem here now, not content with the existing one which they likely aim to 'sacrifice' in their next conflagaration.

    Any shamanic work done here permeates out countrywide, and then worldwide, along the myriad of leylines that all meet here, and I very consciously work in that way, with certain tools that I've developed. So I've been brought here to discover more about that way of working... and to pass on what I learn to the upcoming generations.

    It is only those that have access to the spirit realms (to widen it from just 'journeying' in the classical sense of the word) that can do this work, because the spirits are vital in guiding the work.... by which I mean the ancestors too. Only those that can remember what happened know what needs to be undone.

    Thank you for this excellent conversation!
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    What a wonderful thread! Some very pertinent and insightful points made. Owlmirror, you ask a question that has been rattling around in my head for many long years now, and oddly enough, which I am writing about at this very time. Through research and Spirit guidance, I've been given to understand that often in the past, unlike today, a shaman/healer in a tribal culture would have all the same jobs and work to do as everyone else. Looking after their animals, tending their crops, cleaning their home, cooking food, preparing hides etc etc, but on top of all that, when everyone else is tired and needing rest, the shaman would have to start again, making offerings, sitting up all night through a healing ritual, preparing herbs or magical items and it was the community who would make allowances for this by taking on the shaman's work the next day, allowing them to sleep. The job wasn't relished or sought out by anyone because it was SO demanding and not a little scary too. So when you say:

    Thabiso illustrates a clear distinction - resisted the call, rather than went seeking it out......theres a huge and fundamental difference right there...
    That is something which fits with the ethnographic and historical information. Working in a bank and also being a Sangoma makes perfect sense to me and where the pragmatic, rational aspect of the bank work overlaps the metaphysical shamanic work, the result should be an amazing balance on both sides.

    When you ask: "how acceptable is the role of shaman or diviner in our times?". It is a very difficult question to answer from a western mindset because there seems to be a paradox of both wanting the kudos which arises from being seen as special, distinct and powerful in ways that others are not but also being shunned, questioned and viewed with derision by a society who place the emphasis of proof firmly on what can be seen or rationalised within a scientific framework. Even when a person is cured of a longterm illness, there are usually so many other factors at play (existing medication, previous standard treatments, changes in diet, dietary supplements, lifestyle changes, psychological changes etc) that a shaman's work is often not recognised as playing any part in the recovery simply because there is no consensus framework for Spirit interaction within mainstream western society now. Even from a Christian background, a miracle of healing can be fully believed as being attributed to God's intervention but the Shaman's helping Spirits are views as tricksters, evil or fantasy! So it is very difficult to answer that question from a typical western viewpoint.

    The question of what to call oneself, well, that is a big old can of worms which never fails to find willing adherents on either side. There are lots of people who don't fully understand what a shaman is or what it means or they mistake living a shamanistic life with being a shaman. A lot of people are being called to live a shamanistic life, to learn about how they are part of the Universe, and to follow the signs and connect deeply with the land they belong to. However, it doesn't necessarily mean they are going to be a shaman, any more than living in a fishing village and walking along the harbour side every day makes a person a fisherman.

    Like you Owlmirror, I have also been part of the help given to others by the Spirits, through shamanic means. My house is open to a group who come to drum and talk and hold ceremony together. I can help and encourage others by offering places to look, alternate views or challenging a negative thought pattern but does that make me a shaman? Do I need the title? For me, the answer is no because it is a blessed relief to not have to use that label which has so much baggage attached to it and like you, I need to be an ordinary Jo with a job just like everyone else. It keeps my feet on the ground so perhaps it's just a case of one size doesn't fit all.

    The human brain has the capacity for several states of being. These different frequency cycles which we commonly refer to as Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta are hard wired as part of every human brain and so we all have the capacity to access each level, just like we can all learn to play the piano but only a small percentage of us will ever have the natural ability combined with hard work, practice and sheer love of the music to become virtuosos. Likewise, I feel that virtually everyone is offered a spiritual crisis at some point in their lives, often more than once. Some are lead to what we would now call a shamanic path and some will ignore it and carry on with life. What seems strange to me is how elsewhere in the world, a spiritual crisis would be understood as being very different to a shamanic calling/illness yet in the West, there is virtually no teaching about simply coming through that crisis to live an informed, shamanistic life, instead, all the teaching seems to be about how to become a shaman and one has to wonder a) just how many of the thousands of people who have undertaken western style shamanic training, actually go on to become a powerful healer working with the Ancestors and Spirits and b) why do we consider it appropriate to teach shamanic healing to anyone who will pay instead of teaching how to live with connection, respect and gratitude? I have to conclude that in many cases, the teachers didn't fully understand the difference themselves. We are all learning so much as we re-learn such things.

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    .....one for Millie.....

    magic-fire2 (2).jpg
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    When I read this thread I was nodding to myself in interest and some belives, I just wanted to say that I agree with you all before I speak further.
    Also, I'm from Norway so my english writings is not one of the best ones.

    I have done practicions, but are not a "true" shaman. Thou my heart and soul keeps calling for it.

    Last year I started my shamanic teaching in Ireland at a wonderful place called Dunderry Park. It is mainly done by the shaman Martin Duffy, it included the solstice rituals as firewalk, sweatlodge and other cermonies, it was overwhelming. The Dana energies are so embracing (mother earth), she's very strong on cell-level.

    The three spirals in celtic shamanism is about the known death, rebirth and afterlife. I think I've just landed near the bottom of the death spiral, the ego death seems very hard at times and is why I still only 'think' I'm there, I myself can't go back to my former life, I need to start on my rebirth, this isn't just what I say out of a 'shamanic protocol', I can feel it in my dreams, heart and in nature.

    So, I struggle hard to go further, living the normal life feels like going back to what I was, it's like giving all the trickstery back to my ego which is impossible. Having a job or interest that keeps the food on the table etc is what gives us some of the right purpose in life. As a shaman (my opinion) the purpose must be working within something that a shaman truly belives in and masters. I can't be in a ordinary job that only gives money and thats it. Even with a ordinary job with great side affects that includes shamanic work I would still give it a 'maybe'. My isolation evolves in this, I can't function in the role of a society which has the term 'normal' just to live a life.

    As David Whyte wrote "Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you".

    For a shaman this becomes even stronger in the sence that he/she is the 'anything or anyone'. Even I'm not a shaman I realise now that my life is to small for me, so I'm not bringing myself alive as I should.

    As a shaman you need to do the cermonies, the prayers, the drumjourneys, the chanting/singing, the wild dancing, the healing, soul retrivial etc. If you can't do this you're not bringing yourself alive and you become too small. This is one of my real barrier in the world, to my neighbours, friends and parts of my family etc cause people don't understand what it is and will try to shut you down out of fear. So to do shamanic work seems to create a side effect of being doomed into isolation in some aspects. I more and more dream of living alone with my soulmate, in a house inside a forest so I can be all that I am. This sounds more like an escape and maybe it is, a shaman should be strong enouf to stand against non belivers and do his/her work despite the resistance he/she confronts in the normal world. If he/she's not..is it the ego that does his 'fear' trickster yet one more time?

    I know that you need to find a way to live a life as a human, both in this world and the spirit world, and to teach the humans about the forgotten, the Dana godess in Ireland tells you this at a cell-level, you don't even have to ask..you just know after she has touched your heart. In harmony and respect of all living beings, including yourself and it's nature, a divine love for mother earth and the universe.

    @owlmirror
    Even it wasn't ment for me, many thanks for the magpie picture. The magpie is one my spirit/power animals, and came to me in my first drumjourney, it is a very special symbol/totem to me.
    Last edited by newborn; August 12th, 2013 at 12:45 AM.

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    newborn, welcome, and thank you for such a heartfelt post. Your thoughts are tugging on my heart strings. I think everything you say is true... or true for me, anyway... how it's been in my life. I hope you find the Gate supports you in your path....it's what we're here for. Please do ask if we can help in anyway.

    Carry on with your practice and you'll be surprised at how, after only a little time, the universe comes round to support you! There is a process at the beginning which is difficult, as we have to sort out which bits no longer serve our highest purpose, and sometimes it can seem like there's so much of that, that you can't see anything else. But that does pass as you continue along the path.

    In alchemy, you sound as if you're at what's known as the nigredo stage. I've written some more about the stages of personal transformation using alchemical symbols in this thread: Alchemical Dreaming.

    Glad to hear owlmirror's magpie resonated with you. I love magpies too!
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    Hello Ishtar

    Many thanks for your warm welcome, I might be in some what moody stage now and then but I'm a nice guy.

    I read about your tip, the nigredo stage, it's interesting cause not long ago I noticed the Merlin story when reading a book, about his insanity, aimless walks in the woods to finally get heals from nature.
    The problem is that nothing is absolute, I feel like I'm in several stages at the same time not just one.

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    Lovely to meet you Newborn, that picture of the drum looks interesting, is it yours? Tell us more about the feathers you are getting. I know this is going to sound wrong but I thought you were a woman because you seem soft. It is hard to be vulnerable but it is where true strength lies. It leaves a gap for the Spirit to get into our hearts and then our lives become magical. I don't think we need to fight our ego either. We just use it as a power tool we are given charge of. That's me being a bit macho, sledge hammer ego, power drill ego, chainsaw ego! Not me, just me using ego for good purpose.
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    Hello Gerri, nice to me meet you too

    Yes, I am soft, it is one of my sides I really like, also...I feel as a woman as I have some kind of memories of being a dancer, the freedom to express yourself without words only thru your body.
    The rest of me is a man, I love the woman in all aspect as a man does, maybe too much at times lol! So no offence taken!

    That drum is mine, it is created by a shaman from Denmark, his wife (I think) make totems and smugde feather fans etc.
    The shaman was told in one of his journeys to create drums for other shamans, originally as the ancestors did it in Siberia, the oval shape, the pins etc. It is created on the shamanic principals and aided by power animals and spiritual guides.

    The motive on the drum spoke to me in many ways, there was many to choose from, even more pretty ones, but I was finding myself going back to this one when browsing them all, warm feelings in my chest said this is the one. All his drums has an ID thou its not its name, mine had Capricorn and I felt a resistance since I'm Sagittarius (I love when something you feel strong about gives that little resistance). When I study the drum from a small distance I see the lowerworld, middleworld, upperworld and mother earth raise and sway her female body all the way from lower to upperworld. When I'm close I see so much more, elephant, shaman praying, wolf, bear, lots of birds, magpies, bird people, arch angel, dragon, hidden faces etc. On top of that it has the brown/red colour. Capricorn is earth, the drum is brown/red symbol for grounding, mother earth is grounding, I need grounding alot as I feel the past year has bin a lifetime of spiritual experiences and I feel fragmented in all direction at the moment, and I knew that it had to be about grounding before looking for a drum. The making of the drum has interesting small stories, one of the pins are made out of a tree that was splintered by lightning, another one is from a meeting he had with an old woman when asking permission to take wood from it. I knew from the begining that my drum couldn't be about one symbol nor could it be factory made, also it had to include everything, this one shapeshift with its patterns when using my eyes. The journeys will be extremly powerful when I master it. At the moment I feel abit sad that I cant use it that much since I'm living in a flat with neighbours all around me, the sound is so powerful that everything vibrates when drumming, the neighbours will hate me if I did a 30min journey, thats for sure.

    As for the feathers, when I replyed back to the shaman as a happy owner of the drum he sendt me I made a 2nd wish. If a dead magpie turns up, could you please tell your wife to make me a power jewelery out it's claw and a tourmaline quartz in the middle and a smudgefan of one of its wings. He replyed back that he would give my request to his wife. Already now I had trust in these people, it's vital to me that the animal has not bin killed or used in a way only to earn money. The death of the animal must be in a natural way or by accident. Anything else would be a great sin to everything I belive in.
    Several months after my request I suddenly felt that there was a mail waiting for me, So I checked, and it was one from his wife, sendt one day ago. They had bin in a swedish forest and on their way back they found a magpie killed by traffic, missing it's head. It had only bin dead for a half an hour or so and the rest of the bird was untouched and undamaged. Again synchronicity took a turn along with karma my way . After a phone call she told me that she had a spiritual journey that told her the story about the magpie, I will not tell what it was about here since she only give info about her journeys one to one and never in emails etc. We also agreed on that I can have the feather from it's 'behind' (the long pretty ones) as I want to give my drum a gift. So I feel like doing it the shamanic way when offering the gift to my drum, and thats why my asking.

    The crafting these two shamans do is 'the real deal' it's higly spiritual and you can feel the sence of it. I recommend them for anyone thats looking for something special with 'soul'. I will ask for permission to link their web site here.

    This became very long and the story could have bin shortened down abit, but it is what it is.

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    Thank you! We found a dead bird outside and only just buried it yesterday. It was a sweet little finch and maybe I should have thought of feathers as I am thinking of drums. I used it to teach my boys about honoring ritual and cycles of nature when we buried it under a beautiful tree at the end of my garden. Knew it was a gift. I know it's not the same, but why don't you record yourself or someone banging your drum and then play it back on something with headphones.
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    Respect to nature is so great, you feel that embracing love to everything when you honour it like that. That bird was probably not ment for a drum totem or gift as you didnt think of it before after. But I'm sure your kids have teached a good lesson about how we act and behave with nature. They will remember that day when they are grown ups, thats for sure

    I do drum journeys with headphones but for some reason it becomes very stale, I loose tension and very often I fell asleep. As I also think drums has their own souls, mine has it too, so it becomes wierd to have a drum that you don't use while playback from headphones are ok, almost as an disrespect. I ask the spirits as often I can to enter their world, this is hard as they don't let in people that easy, so I feel like I need to do it more the right way. But it's better than nothing at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newborn View Post
    I ask the spirits as often I can to enter their world, this is hard as they don't let in people that easy, so I feel like I need to do it more the right way. But it's better than nothing at all.
    Can I just chip in here? My experience is that if you're doing work that the spirits are supporting, they're more inclined to work with you. Sometimes we're a little bit selfish with our desire for journeying - we want to have a spiritual experience, we want to have a cosmic experience, we want to be a psychonaut. But these are all quite self-centred reasons for journeying and they are result of the 'smallness of our life' that you mentioned in another post.

    We have to open up into that altruism and selflessness that the spirits themselves resonate with. Many of them have given up liberation until we have evolved, and out of unconditional love, they've stayed behind to help us. If we can lift ourselves out of our 'small lives' and our desires, and act more for the good of All, the shamanic experience will open up to embrace us, because the spirits will see us as someone like them.

    The main food of these spirits is unconditional love. When we are emanating unconditional love for All, and our shamanic work is as a result of that emanation, they cannot resist working with us.

    At the moment, the spirits are supporting any work that helps that helps the environment, because the times are such now that this battle has to be fought and won if are grandchildren's grandchildren are going to have a planet to live on. If you put yourself in the way of such altruistic work, you might find the journeys come easier....drum or no drum. I have a drum, and yes I agree it has a spirit of its own. But most times, I journey to no sound at all.
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