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The Wounded Healer
It is often said that the shaman/ess is the Wounded Healer,
but just what does that mean? It
means many things, not least of which is stepping up into the
role of the shaman/ess to be a
healer with the understanding of what it means to sustain wounds.
How that comes about has
wide range and many life experiences that are painful so we
can understand the need for
compassion when others suffer....so we can understand what it
takes to overcome that suffering
through tolerance of time and efforts others put forth...and
so we can share our own experiences
and hence teach those methods of turning victimization into
survival and growth.
Stepping up isn't always easy. Sometimes it feels like we have
no choice in the matter,
sometimes it feels like that decision must be made. In either
case we must accept that role and be
willing to let go of the pain from the past, or the pain this
particular step is causing us. To step up
means we have to leave that last step behind, and all those
that came before it. That's not always
an easy thing but if you can find your faith in yourself and
in Spirit to guide you then that step
These things are not restricted to just shamans but are part
of the pattern of spiritual growth each
of us faces time and again. I want to talk about the wounding
though, the hard part, that point
where transition begins to take hold and puts our life into
a chaotic spin indicating change is
forthcoming. It's perfectly normal to want to get out of the
chaos, out of the situation that will
cause us pain and perhaps bring pain to those we care about.
How can it hurt others? Think about
it....we make choices they may not like, choices that call for
us to go in different directions or
leave them behind completely, that hurts. When we have shared
our path with others of likemind
and friendships have grown, sometimes those friendships have
to come to an end. We
outgrow them too but sometimes they are ripped away and that
hurts with the tattered edges afire
with the pain. This happens when the person we have befriended
is not able to keep up with the
pace of the path we walk, we essentially step up, but they are
on the step we are leaving behind.
We may have minor connections, we may reconnect later, and we
may never see each other
again. An unknown looms in the darkness, and we have to pull
away regardless. At the time we
can't predict that outcome, but we have to trust that the light
Spirit is holding up for us is the one
we are to follow, so we trust our own inner spirit to recognize
it's glimmer and lead us forward.
We take the step. It's leading us up a dark mountain with only
a pinpoint of light at the top most
of the time. What's "up there?"
Sometimes that step up means that we've taken a wrong turn on
our path in life, perhaps
connected to teachings or teachers that are leading us in a
direction that is not promoting growth.
Sometimes we have followed them way too long and it's taken
us a long time to see that. Waking
up hurts; seeing what we've allowed ourselves to become or the
tracks of our deeds hurts; seeing
the pain we may have caused others hurts; taking responsibility
for the choices we made hurts.
Each place we hurt wounds us. There is but one way to heal...to
turn away, to take a step up, to
embrace our truth and live it. That can hurt.
Sometimes we take a turn in life that leads us down a one way
road in the wrong direction. We
fight oncoming traffic, determined to break all the rules and
live life our way. We're on a self-
destructive path, putting ourselves (and probably those we are
closest to) in danger. At the end of
that one way street is a brick wall and at the bottom of the
brick wall there's a seemingly
bottomless pit and we're heading pedal to the metal straight
for it. Blinded by our own
misgivings we crash. Sometimes we bounce back right away, shake
ourselves off and say
"whew! got through that one", and sometimes we fall
into the pit where we have to hit rock
bottom before we can begin the agonizing climb back up out of
there...clawing and scraping
foothold, hanging on for dear life so we don't fall back and
have to start over again. Drug
addiction, alcoholism, a path of darkness and corruption, crimes
against others that were
thoughtless and shameful. We take on the negatives of these
actions, and we cast blame on
ourselves for what we've done. In essence we are a victim of
our own circumstances and if we
stay a victim we stunt our growth. But how does one survive
that? How does one turn it around?
It's a choice we all have to make, and we all head down that
road somehow at one time or
another. It's the School of Hard Knocks that we don't recognize
until that 2x4 comes out of
nowhere and whacks us over the head good and hard. Sometimes
with skull-splitting force. But it
does make the lights come on. "Thank you, Spirit! But Ouch!
Did you have to hit me that hard? I
guess so." So we rub the wound and tend it and we look
in the mirror to assess the damage.
Sheesh! It's bad!! What a mess life has become, there's no way
to undo the wrongs, to take back
what was said, to turn things around...or is there?
Well maybe there is. We can see the wrong, the hurt, and the
damage. We can see we do not
want to do that to ourselves or to others again. We can see
that enough is enough. We can see
that being a victim of our own doing is not going to serve anything
other than to feed the pain.
Can we get beyond the pain? Can we take the next step up? It
might hurt but yes, we can. Do we
take it? That's a choice we each have to make, how bad do we
want to survive? How bad do we
want to change? What are we willing to do? Are we willing to
stop running into the bottomless
pit? The brick wall? The oncoming traffic? Are we willing to
look at those around us and break
free of unwanted influences and energies? And if we do then
what's ahead? Will we be alone?
Will it be better or more of the same? Ouch, that wound still
hurts, and the leg is still aching
from the fall, it hurts to lift it up, even a few inches, and
hesitating with it in the air hurts to keep
it there. What to do???
If you want to survive you take the next step and find out what
it leads to. Gosh! It feels good to
be on level ground again, getting your bearings you look around
and all you see is a mirror.
Better check out the damage. Ouch! Look at that reflection...where
I've been, what I've done, and
where I am now. Where are you? Well, you're at a point of learning
and growth, you see the truth
for what it is, understand full well the process of getting
where you are, and the need to not go
back that way again. The healing has begun, not an easy thing,
it may take a long time for a full
recovery, but you're moving forward at least. Life teaches us
like this many times, again and
again, different song/issues, but it's the same dance. When
we exhaust ourselves we decide it's
time for different steps, different songs and we start seeking
them out. The healing begins and we
have compassion to seek, forgiveness to ask for, changes to
So we seek and what we search for is not always there. We burn
some bridges and move on.
Sometimes we are able to find that compassion, forgiveness,
and even a hand extended to help us
through our time of change. We find in this gratitude for the
success, and confidence we can do it
again, take it a step further. The process and the pattern continues.
Once through the healing we
can reflect in that mirror again and say: "Stars! I've
come a long way." We learn what it takes to
do that, and we see others who are where we once were. Because
we changed we want to help
them do the same, but we know because we've been there ourselves
that the desire must come
from them. We've learned tolerance for them, and others like
them, that are learning these
lessons in life the hard way. We've learned compassion for the
road to recovery. We've learned
appreciation for the help that is sometimes offered and the
desperate need to have it during
moments of weakness. Gosh, we've got empathy in our hearts for
those shattered spirits, and in
that our own spirit takes strength and grows to expand and extend
that helping hand when it is
needed and asked for. We hear the voice that cries for help
and we can recognize when it means
it or when it is wallowing in the victimization of self-pity.
We know when to extend our own
hand and help someone heal.
Through our lessons we learn what is needed, we change, and
transform, and those steps though
sometimes quite steep ask us to continue to climb the mountain.
Atop the mountain is Spirit,
holding up that light that says "this is the way"
and carve our path to get there. This is the path of
the Wounded Healer, one who has been there or witnessed much
in life, who has suffered to
know, and who has the compassion and love within them to help
others overcome the hard times
and the rough spots. The path of one who knows what it is to
walk away from those they care for
but can no longer remain with. Who have they walked from? Lifelong
friends or short term
friends, does it matter, they were friends. Family estrangements,
disappointments, divorce, a
child given up for adoption, does it matter, they were family.
A teacher or healer that brought
them compassion, brought them enlightenment, brought them healing,
does it matter, they were
taught and they were healed. The time has come to let go, to
move on, to continue the journey
down a path that is always unfolding, always calling "come
forward", and so the next step is
taken and sometimes it hurts, but we take it anyway, we grow
and we survive to press forward.
As we rise up on this mountain of stairs our perspective gets
stronger, the light gets brighter, we
see a little further, we expand our minds a little more and
we take heart that our inner spirit is
taking us where we need to go, it recognizes the truths before
us and shouts at us to "follow that
truth!". So we take the next step. As we continue to climb
and we look back we can now see how
far we've come, but we have to stop to rest to do that or we
might lose our footing on this narrow
path...we might tumble and fall back to the bottom, have to
start all over again, no, we can't go
back, only forward, and sometimes that hurts. There's a landing
up ahead though, a ledge that
offers a place to rest for the night, that's where camp will
be made. As we draw closer we can
make out the figure of someone occupying that shelf, we must
ask to share it. It's either a
stranger, one who will teach us as our paths cross, or it's
an old friend that found a short cut (or
not) to get there before us. Either way a connection is made
and we're able to assimilate the
journey with the help and sharing they offer us. Again learning
to exchange our help for theirs
and together two lives touch, and grow, and become better for
It's a purging process and we all have things in our lives we'd
like to forget but forgetting is
denial. We can move past them but only after we've embraced
them as part of our shadow and
found the gratitude within to see them for the lessons they
were. The old wounds heal, but they
leave scars behind to mark that perilous journey. Scars that
are reminders, visible or not, to hold
our compassion and tolerance and to extend our hand. We become
the shaman/ess in our own
fashion, and our wounds make us the Healer...and now we can
smile, we can let the love of Spirit
that has taught us so much, shown us our path, shine from our
hearts to light the way for another
who is seeking and will touch us as we touch them. This is the
path of the Wounded Healer.
Actually I think this question might pertain to any kind of
spirituality but I'll post it here for want
of a better place. So I am wondering about something like: there
are a lot of mental illnesses out
there where people seem to have visions and stuff or walk through
the shadows. I am thinking
like schizophrenia and bipolar or depressions etc. that seem
to be quite shamanic. Sometimes I
wondered whether i was Schizophrenic because I had such strong
visions and also growing up
with clear connections to Earth and plants and to be quite frank,
very empathic where other
people were concerned, in a world where that sort of thing wasn't
considered a normal part of
But then I met someone with schizophrenia who became a friend,
and I realized what he was
experiencing was in a totally different league to what I experienced.
Although on the surface he
seemed to be simply in need of some sound spiritual counselling,
it was clear on further
understanding that there was something much stranger going on.
I was just thinking about this
after reading something SWC said about being connected to everything,
and also wondering
about Cinn's Wounded Healer post...
Not being an expert in the field of psychology, I can only share
my opinions. Personally I think
there are times it is a fine line and that center and balance
issues come into play. If we don't
retain a sense of balance about our spiritual path and lives
we can go over the edge and become
obsessed to the point of neurosis. But there are times we all
show moments of instability. For
instance, Squirrel Medicine can appear to be very erratic behavior.
I walk with Squirrel, and if I
forget where I store the nut I want and go looking for it I
look scattered for a while but I stabilize
myself quickly. It's fairly clear to one who walks a spiritual
path when someone is not stable
though. They're erratic the majority of the time, and that is
often triggered by instances that
display it as over-reactive.
Psychology embraces spirituality more today than it ever has,
and I do believe that years ago
people having visions were considered mentally ill, and that
they were helping to populate the
institutions. Today psychologists and therapists are better
trained to deal with this fine line. In
the case of mental illness there are usually other factors involved
that are going to determine
things. It's not just the visions but the reaction to them.
Does the person work with them for their
betterment or do they go off into delusion because of it? Is
the reaction harmful to others either
intentionally or unintentionally?
What about the person that hears a voice saying someone is evil
and they react by taking that
individual's life? That's not a spiritually sound person, it's
someone who's crossed the line of
sanity or rationality. We have to balance what we are shown
and temper our reaction to it and be
responsible for things we do. I think that's a starting point
to answer your question. It would take
more than a child having imaginary friends or an adult having
visions or OBE's to convince a
psychologist that they had crossed that line. Much more.
Sometimes I wondered whether i was Schizophrenic because
I had such strong visions and also
growing up with clear connections to Earth and plants and to
be quite frank, very empathic
where other people were concerned, in a world where that sort
of thing wasn't considered a
normal part of reality.
The most important word in your statement (IMHO) is "wondered"-
people who are
schizophrenic or have other types of psychotic disorders do
NOT wonder if they are mentally ill.
This question usually does not even occur to them and if someone
else tries to tell them they have
a mental illness they often deny that is a possibility. Even
when given medication that takes away
the voices and other symptoms they have trouble accepting that
they are ill and in need of
treatment. Anyone who is concerned or wonders if they are "crazy"
probably is not!! I think the
major distinction between hallucinations and visions is the
individual's ability to examine the
experience with curiosity, interest, and apply intellectual
evaluative skills to what they have
experienced. On many threads here we see people seeking the
essence and the meaning of their
experiences and seeking to learn more about themselves and the
world they live in. They analyze,
examine, seek other opinions about their experiences and accept
that these experiences are one
type of communication/learning -but not the only type. They
approach these experience with
reverence and often with skepticism and humor.... and do not
seek to make these experiences the
only criteria for their beliefs. They also tend to treasure
these experiences and keep them private
and only share them with those who they know will understand
and who they trust. Usually for
someone having hallucinations or delusions, the capacity for
intelligent reasoning is also greatly
diminished, at least while they are going through it. They become
so trapped by what they are
experiencing that all other information available to them through
their senses and their intellect
become inaccessible and their thoughts and actions are directed
only by the psychotic processes.
And they often broadcast their delusional thinking everywhere
they go-- and are very surprised
and even angry when someone says they're irrational --- For
myself, if someone says "you're
crazy" for what I believe, I merely smile and move on.
Again IMHO those who walk a shamanic path actually walk in both
worlds - the world of here
and now reality and the world of spirit and the ethereal - we
can go to work, take care of our
families, go shopping, have dinner with friends, have arguments
or discussions, carry on all of
the business of living our lives - and hold the core of our
spiritual lives in our hearts and as the
bedrock of our interactions with our world... and sometimes
no one else will ever know the
depth, power, importance of that core. Those who are psychotic
often cannot do any of these
Shamanism and mental health is an area, where there are many
concerns. Shamanism has often
been related to "arctic hysteria" and schizophrenia,
and sometimes schizophrenia has been
romanticized as being shamanic. Before one runs into any conclusions
about the subject, I feel
that first there is a need to ask the question: "What IS
Eliade, quote: Shamanism in the strict sense is pre-eminently
a religious phenomenon of Siberia
and Central Asia." Eliade writes about Shamanism very well,
as does Juha Pentikainen and
Mihaly Hoppal f.e.x. For they have the insights into shamanism,
it being their "ancestral
culture", and the ability to convey this information to
the more sophisticated western mind.
When there is a want to "get into shamanism and shamanic
practices", without actually first
wanting to learn what shamanism is, this is a concern ... in
a mental health sort of way.
What we all do, is order chaos, so that we can function in the
world, understand it & have our
needs met .... etc. etc. etc. and stay sane at the same time.
Maybe the synonym for sanity could
be "functionality". Sometimes it can be difficult
to differentiate a shaman from a madman,
because a shaman's methods are no longer bound by conventional
concepts of what sanity is.
And this is a dangerous thing to say ... for the sentence could
be understood in a way, that we can
disregard sanity, -which couldn't be further from the truth.
With all this "crazy stuff", we are our
own "guinea pigs", and need to test our new pieces
of craziness against the "sanity of earth" ...
functionality. And a good thing is to listen to our hearts:
"Does it feel at ease, when I proceed, or
Ok, back to shamanism & ordering chaos. What we must also
understand is, that shamanism was
born out of or within a hunter-gathering culture. In efforts
to order chaos, to have one's needs
met, to understand the world one is part of, dealing with the
guilt of killing animals, meeting the
many challenges that the kind of lifestyle brought .....a certain
consensus started to form, people
agreed on things, which then spread wider and became a collective
"Reality Orientation" .... a
collective worldview .... that worked, that functioned ....
so everybody started collectively
"Dreaming" it. For the many thousands of years, as
the lifestyle remained the same, this
collective "Dreaming" was passed on, from generation
to generation. I mean like in this country,
Australia, 60 000 years !!!!!!
At "the cradle of western civilization", due to different
lifestyle ....( I'm sure there are many
factors), another way of ordering chaos started to form, people
agreed on things, creating a
consensus, which then spread wider and became a collective reality
orientation .... a collective
worldview .... that worked, that functioned ... so that everybody
started collectively dreaming it,
which then was passed on ... and so on.
To say that our reality orientation (the way we have managed
to order chaos) ... quite literally is
but a collective dream .....is outrageous, crazy and "off
the wall" ...a concept ... because we all
see our reality orientations as being "The All Encompassing
Reality", and can not fathom that
other "collective dreams" could be possible.
To want to get into shamanism and shamanic practices without
first learning about one's own
mind and reality-orientation-collective-dream ..... could potentially
be dangerous, for these two
"reality-dreaming-programs" are different in many
respects, even in parts un-reconcilably
In Southern Africa someone born with a physical or mental difference/defect
is often seen as
someone born to be a Sangoma (shaman) or witch-doctor. I have
a book on Xhosa "igqira"
(Xhosa name for a sangoma - not an easy word to say! It's a
click language.) Unfortunately the
book is packed away so I can't quote direct, but from what I
remember the anthropologist doing
the study in the book said that although many of the people
"called" to become igqira seemed to
have mental disorders like schizophrenia they showed a clarity
of mind not present in real cases
of the mental disorder. He admitted he really couldn't figure
it out. They saw things and acted in
ways that made them seem "insane" yet they weren't.
He had no answers.
NOTE - a witch-doctor is a very specific type of shaman. Their
job is literally to detect witches.
Witchcraft is seen as "evil" and punishable by death.
People are still regularly killed in South
Africa after being accused of witchcraft.
In Zulu they put the definitions more clearly than the Xhosa
do. The Zulu shaman types are:
inyanga = herbalist, medicine man
isangoma = diviner, soothsayer
isanusi = witchdoctor (literally "smeller-out of witches)
Your question draws a difference of opinion in both the medical
and spiritual community. There
is quite a debate around the question, Can schizophrenia
and other diseases of the mind be
called a Spiritual emergence?
We do know that mental illness can trigger religious revelations,
visions, voices, out-of-body and
near-death experiences. We also know Schizophrenia, a disease
of the brain, has been
misunderstood for so long but patients who respond to drug therapy
can live a very productive
life. Without medication, delusions, extremely vivid visions
and voices, are common among
individuals with schizophrenia.
Although research has turned up some intriguing clues, the puzzle
of what causes schizophrenia
has yet to be solved.
Manic depression also known as Bi-polar Affective Disorder involves
extreme mood swings and
has been called a brilliant madness because of the expansive
ideas that psychosis can create. The
illness is episodic and it is possible to remain well for long
Once again, although much progress has been made in understanding
bi-polar affective disorder
and how it can be managed, yet research has still not led to
either a consensus on the cause or cure.
Some professionals suggest creative individuals tend to be emotionally
unstable, and many are
affected by mental disorders. Studies on the link between creativity
and mental illnesses show
that it is exactly the characteristics of the mental disorder
which also confer some advantage on
John Weir Perry, the Former Assistant Clinical Professor at
the University of California, San
Francisco writes in his book Trials of the Visionary Mind:
Spiritual Emergency and the
Renewal Process stress may cause highly activated mythic
images to erupt from the psyche's
deepest levels in the form of turbulent visionary experience.
Depending on whether the
interactions between the individual and the immediate surroundings
lean toward affirmation or
invalidation, comprehension of these visions can turn the visionary
experience into a step in
growth or into a disorder, as an acute psychosis.
There is a growing consensus that the unconscious mind plays
a major role in illness and disease.
But a great deal of confusion exists about theories and techniques,
what works, what doesnt,
whose right, whose not. Truly, I dont believe we have
even begun to tap into the vast amount of
knowledge or memory within the brain. When it comes to diseases
that affect the mind, we have
so few answers.
Therefore, whatever we observe becomes our reality and what
we experience can or cannot
trigger a positive or negative response. Perhaps the key to
unlocking the mystery is to look at
reality and how reality is perceived. Reality is
not a finite something outside ourselves, its
an inner experience.
The word shaman as mentioned in Artic's post is
derived from the language of the Tungus
people of Siberia and can be translated as Wise One
or One Who Knows or something
similar. This refers to a shamans [shamaness] particular
ability to experience realities through a
shift of awareness. So when awareness is shifted shamanically,
it is not the self but what the self
experiences that change. It is possible that those who experience
disorders of the mind, have
difficulty carrying information from one level or dimension
to another. Perhaps they lose their
sense of identity or self-awareness or they not able to maintain
an attitude or understanding of
Like Edgar Cayce, I have always believed all life is imbued
with spirit and balance among body,
mind, and spirit is the key to healing and good health and in
order for healing to be complete and
lasting, all three levels must be balanced, similar to a triangle,
three equal lines. IMHO, virtually
no illness or disease can be treated successfully at only one
of these three levels. If I observe
small fragmented pockets some as tiny as seeds in an aura, I
interpret this as a tear resulting in a
loss of energy and power, which often leads to a major illness.
This, to me, is an indication that
there the spirit needs healing.
As Cinn mentions in her post, "Psychology does embrace
spirituality more today than ever. We
are better trained at the same time there are still many unanswered
Being in the Clinical field, I am no more qualified to comment
then the rest of the folk. I too,
have wondered if some of the people that are diagnosed schizophrenic
are in fact very connected
to the spirit world. The unfortunate part is that the psychiatrist
medicate the people because they
themselves have no understanding of spirituality outside they're
indoctrines. I have met a lot of
people that have been hurt by medication and misdiagnosed. I
would never tell anyone that they
should get off meds but I will suggest that they talk to the
doctors and seek second opinions. I
have met some pretty interesting people (clients) in my work
who are searching for better ways
of belief for themselves. I believe that some of these people
are able to commune with the spirits
more easily than some of us. Unfortunately, some have succumbed
to heavy medication. Just a
friendly tip from one who has been "NUTS" (drug induced).
Those who feel they are mentally ill
are more than likely not mentally ill. Feelings and Emotions
can make us believe anything.
Those who are mentally ill don't know they are until they have
been diagnosed. They may know
something is not right, but they don't know what it is that
isn't right! Si Norhama, Bear
I have a family member who is mentally "not right"
(never diagnosed, but trust me, our family
all know!). Now in her case she feels nothing. She has no connection
to anyone and her emotions
are strange. Like she's acting something she doesn't actually
understand. Maybe unrelated, but
she's also a complete atheist. So in a way could it be that
the difference lies between those that
feel and see too much and those that cannot connect at all?
Seems to me that those that feel/see
too much are the ones who often get labelled as "nuts"
or feel they can't cope/are nuts whilst they
might just be a case of a normal person tuned too high?
I can only assume that they are "tuned to high" I
don't have the answer to that. I have worked in
the addictions field for over 17 years and it appears so. I
am not qualified to diagnosis anyone, I
use the theory that "If it looks like a duck, walks like
a duck, quacks like a duck--- be pretty safe
to assume its a DUCK!" The unfortunate part of that
is I think the Doctors are using the same
theory and that is why a lot of people get diagnosed "Mentally
ill" when in fact they "Walk to a
different Beat" I am not saying that quite a few don't
need meds because it does help others, for
some--- It makes matters worse for them...
A concern about mental health issues & a series of events
that have happened in my personal life
lately led me to this web site:
Extract from it:
"The length of each age is unknown, but the prophecy is
that during the time of each age, man
would gradually become a "two-heart". The Hopi Prophecy
Rock clearly depicts three "twoheart"
individuals. A two-hearted person is one who thinks with his
head rather than his heart.
This is in reference to the left-brain function of analytical
thinking. A person who think with his
heart usese the right-brain function of intuitive thinking.
Currently modern man is out of balance
because we live in a left brained dominated society. We place
more emphasis on left-brain
modes of thinking vs. right-brain modes of thought. The Hopi
Prophecy Rock shows a junction
where the two-hearted people have a choice of choosing to start
thinking with their hearts or
continue to think with their heads only. If they chose the latter,
it will lead to self-destruction; if
they chose to think with their hearts they would gradually return
to the natural way and their own
survival". Any further thoughts ?
Soooooo much food for thought. Well, during my training with
Native Amereican teachers we
also went through these questions... It is a long story, but
please let me add some few points (in a
veeeeeery short version and very to the point...From the outside
it may look the same -
schizophrenia and "shamanic behaviour" - but what
is behind the outside may make a difference.
A shaman acts with an intent - before he starts to work there
is a certain task - an intent for
action (ceremony, ritual, journey, hands on healing...) is born
- the action is prepared (preparing
the room, preparing tools, preparing the client, calling helpers...)
- the action takes place, also in
"other realms" - and then the shaman returns into
"normal daily consciousness" again
(veeeeeery short version).
The shaman enters the other realms with an intent - he "knows"
how to move in there and how to
move out - and he is doing this for the work he has to fulfill
on this earth (or where he has to
work). With his helpers he developed a frame that helps him
to move secure and with free will
(this means not to get lost - and to return when it is the time
to do so...).
During the time of being "called" as a shaman, the
first time of a "shaman to be", the
experiences might be very similar to those who are schizophrenic:
"Something" is happening to
the shaman to be - it is a kind of out of control - the system
of the shaman is being kicked out of
normal daily consciousness - then help may be needed from experienced
people/shamans to help
him going through this - to develop tools to work with these
experiences - and step by step he
adjusts to the other realms to work with these realms - but
not to become a kind of "victim".
There is the free will to walk in there and to walk out of these
realms... The guidance and help of
experienced people/teachers may help a lot especially during
the first time - to distinguish, too,
whether it is a "call" for a person to walk the path
of a shamanic practitioner or whether it is a
time of schizophrenia where help is needed. Experienced people/elders/teacher/other
may help the people who are touched this way - they may help
them to work with this and
through this - and they may help each one in the appropriate
What may be important is whether one is "haunted"
or a "victim" of what happens - or whether it
is a "tool" one starts to work with in co-creative
partnership with the other realms and the
helpers to fulfill certain tasks - to do the work that has to
be done (to follow the calling). These
are veeeery short points that I picked out to write them down
here. Please forgive me if they are
toooo short - I will be thankful if you help to add things or
to correct them.
I can only tell you a little bit about my tradition, as I understand
it ... others can tell about theirs.
There are 3 groups in Siberia, the Altaic, the Paleo-Siberian
and the Uralic, and each of these
groups contain smaller groups.
What they all had in common, was shamanism, though there are
differences between these
traditions ... and no two shaman even from the same tribal group
are the same.
There are great many similarities between Native American and
Siberian traditions, but one
couldn't call them the "same".
In my own tradition, we also called shaman "Tietaja"
i.e. "The one who knows". And ours is the
Mihaly Hoppal has done some work comparing the ideas Siberians
and Native Americans have
in common, and I guess the book:
"Grebe Vicuna ...Methodological Uncertainties in the Study
of Finno-Ugric and North American
Indian Shamanism - Carla Corradi Musi" .... also deals
with these. Don't know, - haven't read
But the very first thing in regards to a shaman is, that you
can not separate a shaman from "a
shamanic worldview". And this worldview, I quite literally
call a collective dream..... Many
heads and hearts "Dreaming the same collective dream"
(though each individual experiences
this dream through different forms of manifestation).
Shamanic worldview is mythological. The story of the birth of
our world .... "The Diving Bird -
myth" is said to be similar to the one Salish Coast Indians
tell ..... but ours is the lowly duck.
"The duck is often associated with the heavens, with upper
gods and spirits, the loon is more
independent and is connected with the god of earth and water
... the loon is not subordinated to
the celestial creator ... it appears as a peculiar trickster
and duck is the instrument of the
creator". I guess the loon song is a bit like the Creek
(?) Siren thing.
For my birthday, my closest relatives gave me a brooch, which
is like alpha and omega of our
worldview. You put this brooch in the middle of your chest,
above your heart, as a reminder of
who you are, where you have come from, and how to realize the
full potential of your worldview
i.e.birthright. And this brooch is a duck ... with a head of
an eagle and its tail ....fire......and this
brooch has 7 symbols, or "keys" 4 ducks feet, (4 earthly
symbols) and 3 sacred symbols i.e. 3
kota's (tepee-like-tents), with a fire in the middle.
First sacred symbol, "Sky-Kota" with fire in the middle:
In our worldview sky was seen as a
dome, and earth as flat .... 8 - cornered. 8 cornered mythologically
.... "as above so below" ....
Spirit and Earth in one perceptional experience. The Spirit
spells out Earth, and the Earth spells
out Spirit. Sacred way of "seeing" things. The sky-dome
was held up by a world pole, the world
tree .... the center of sacred space.... the center of our "collective
dream". The power, the sacred
fire of that center is likened to the Sun. Sky God in its solarized
form. The power of the Great
Spirit shining on everyone equally. In traditional costumes
many women still wear the sun-disk
upon their hearts, as a reminder of their surrender to this
path to become the purest reflection of
the Sun. ( In terms of by becoming nothing, we can be everything,
because it is not "ME" who
becomes like the Sun ... but it is in the surrender of "ME"
as the center ... that ... unfolding can
happen). 2Crows gave us "Unfolding a Rosebud" ....
that is just sooooo beautiful ! Same
sentiment of surrender .... two traditions. So in "meditation"
... in "collective dream", you have
the Power of the Great Spirit shining upon you/upon everything
all the time, within (Sky-Dome)
Sacred Space.... and at heart level you surrender.
Second sacred symbol, Kota with fire in the middle. My ancestors
lived in kotas, 8-cornered at
the base (of course). These kotas as replica of our cosmological
world view. The kota as a dome
with center pole and a fire in the middle.....space within kota
thus also sacred, and all our
actions within that sacred space aligning to this cosmological
order of things.
Third sacred symbol, Kota with fire in the middle. Our bodies
also seen as kota. Inner space is
also sacred. There is no boundary between inner and outer space
... all space is sacred. And
within us also fire. Personal power, a spark of the Divine.
Through this spark of the power of the
Sacred shaman learns to act in accordance with The Power of
the Great Sky Spirit.
When we align our head with our heart .... (I repeat from earlier
post): "You are what you are.
You have sense consciousness, six of them according to the Buddhist
tradition. The sixth one is
mind-consciousness, and the other five are sight, sound, smell,
hearing, taste and touch. The
sixth one, mind-consciousness is also regarded as a sense organ
---- brain and heart work
together. And the sense of being takes place there." This
(inner) sense of being, that we can listen
to in silence is also like a "sounding board" to all
(outer) experience. It's quality is very
innocent, infant-like openness, of heart and mind ...that knows
nothing and asks Spirit to show
"what is" ....surrendering one's whole being to the
answer. It is not our "knowing", our minds
ability to handle greater and greater complexities of concepts,
nor our cultivation of conceptual
sense of ideal-self-image with attributes & attitudes to
boot ... that is the lotus. It is our infantlike
innocence & openness, infant hood like purity ....that starts
to bloom into wisdom.
As all mythological creatures shape-shift, the lowly duck turns
into an eagle ... the thunderbird.
Thunderbirds descent ... an awakening ... a shamans death experience
can be likened to the
descent of Christian "Holy Ghost" ... born again experience.
And by the sounds of it, it can be
likened to aboriginal Rainbow Serpent: "The Rainbow Serpent
contains the whole world in it's
belly. The Rainbow Serpent is living power and when thunder
roars, it is the Snake's voice".
NorthernStar, I know that I didn't really answer your questions
as such, but it is that shaman is
born out of & within a shamanic worldview.
there is something in your post that calls me sooooo very much
- the atmosphere around your
words is soooo beautiful. Arctic, this feeling is so very strong
about what comes with your post
that I could not read it to the end up to now - I will have
to be with this feeling at first that
reminds me of something long, long ago - I will be with this
at first. And then I will read the post
to the end - step by step...
I was called so very deeply to my roots - they are in the North,
too - and I was praying for some
I feel that a gift had come to me - thank you so very much.
Yes, you answered my questions -
questions that I did not know to express in an appropriate way
and with the right words. You
answered questions that I asked in silence - and then I spoke
to one of my best friends only about
two weeks ago about my wish to know more about my roots in the
North... Thank you, Arctic! I
feel that there is very, very much for me in your post - I feel
Well ... I really am no "cultural teacher" here, and
I am far from being an "expert". Yes,
Shamanism is my ancestral culture ... but I have never been
taught it, it was something my
grandparents and parents went silent about. Our shamanic heritage,
as I was growing up ...(I
once read in a book, describing something) ...."is like
a broken perfume bottle, there is nothing
left, but the scent still lingers on". So I have been running
"on a smell of an oily rag" all my life,
trying to reconstruct the perfume from the scent ... to "bottle
it again" ... in efforts to make myself
whole again, because I was born a "space cadet" with
a "center pole" in my brain, and had
"shifts" with symbolism attached to them, my left
brain, (logic, reason) couldn't understand
where they had come from. It is only about 4 years ago now,
that I made the connection .... to my
much previously "shamed" spiritual heritage.
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