kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)
The purpose of this series of blog entries is to review the concept of what consciousness is, how consciousness is altered, and how the shaman uses the shift.


Altered consciousness is the connection of conscious and subconscious. Interestingly, this connection itself can be subconscious and the results can box a person into victimhood relative to the world. The shamanic student or the student of life recognizes this and dissolves the boxes of the ego. They live in a growing state of awareness. In this awareness the world responds to their wishes. The synchronicity of the inner and outer working together in harmony is recognized. Power is aided by tools and knowledge that link worlds and energies. The tools and energies are not the destination, and outcome for the shaman is a topic for another paper. Be content with knowing that there is a process and the process is very flexible. The process of altered consciousness only asks for one thing: Believe.

kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)
The purpose of this series of blog entries is to review the concept of what consciousness is, how consciousness is altered, and how the shaman uses the shift.

The Path to Altered Consciousness

If a state of altered consciousness is active when the subconscious and conscious minds are working together, how do we arrive that that state? The first step is very easy: believe that it is possible. Believe that information can come from unseen places. Believe in divination, channeling, spirit guides, omens, prophecies, time travel, astral projection, and all other manner of subconscious things. Believe in the magical and those things of the altered conscious. You will then see what you believe and the cycle will be upward instead of downward.

Belief is reinforced by tools that are part mundane and part real. The tarot is a good example. The cards are only pieces of card stock. However, they provide a tool to connect to the synchronicity of the universe. The cards provide a means of looking through the veil that separates worlds and energies. The printed card stock becomes a magical tool as it taps into the intuitive energies and archetypes that are ever present and waiting to be contacted.

Knowledge can do the same thing. Knowing color associations, names of angels, rituals of invocation, and so on, gives the user tools to connect to the altered consciousness. The shaman is taught a potentially complex system of beliefs which includes the knowledge and belief in the names of the helping spirits in the shamanic pantheon, the memory of certain texts (sermons, shaman-songs, legends and myths), the rules for activities (rituals, sacrifices, the techniques of ecstasy) and the objects, tools and paraphernalia used by shamans (drum, stick, bow, mirror, costumes, etc.). The expression of all of these elements are determined by the tribe/group that the shaman operates in. The student of shamanism will be exposed and taught according to the tribe/group they instructed through. We have our own metaphysical belief structures that are just as complex. While these are not are traditionally “shamanic”, they do have a tremendous power because they are OURS and they are there for us to use as we alter our consciousness.

Tools and knowledge are just parts of the path of altered consciousness. They should not be thought to be the journey or even the destination. There is a danger here for the growing shaman or anybody on a spiritual journey. There is a trap here. When the tools and rituals of the shaman are seen as dogma, that is, a fixed set of rules, the shamanic path becomes a dead-end. . A person who says, “I am a Master”, has come to their dead-end. This trap is laid by the teacher. Custom, tradition, and ceremony are just tools for a spiritual path. Once the basics are learned, a person must walk their own path. The teacher who holds a properly prepared student to fixed ways is holding them to a dead thing. Anyone who has the tools and only follows the path of others will not discover the living expression of the altered consciousness.

There is a trap that the student sets for themselves. In this modern world everyone wants things too fast without taking their time to learn the tools before setting out on his or her journey. There is a danger for those who do not learn the tools of their group fully and try to walk a spiritual path. They will be thrashing aimlessly in the dark and will eventually hurt themselves and others. Tools have power, and there is responsibility in their power. Teaching will follow a set pattern not because it is dogma, but instead because of consideration to the maturity of spirit and knowledge of the student.

The trap of the teacher and the student are shared by all mystical schools. However, the teaching and learning of shamanism is more endangered because of the uniquely individual path and experience of the practicing shaman.

Shamanism, or any practice of altered consciousness, is ultimately a method, not a religion with a fixed set of dogmas. People arrive at their own experience, deriving conclusions about what is going on in the universe, a place that is “just the way things are”.

There is the following writing from an ancient Chinese parable:

“Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek instead what they sought.”

In summary, to achieve a state of altered consciousness one must first believes it can be done, finds tools (cultural and self) and then uses the tools instead of being used by them.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)
The purpose of this series of blog entries is to review the concept of what consciousness is, how consciousness is altered, and how the shaman uses the shift.

The Magic of Reality

What does it mean to rediscover the magic in life? How does one rediscover the magic? The answer is through altered consciousness. We have glimpses of the magic even as we are in our boxes, but our ego moves us away from the windows and directs us to be safe in our victimhood. The subconscious mind is put in a dark corner of the box, or more likely, it is locked outside. The shifting into altered consciousness reunites the waking and asleep minds. The secret to the reunion is that the boxes of our ego and victimhood build are merely illusions. They are unknowing, sleeping application of the magic of life. The box of ego is melted away when we grasp the altered consciousness. We don’t have to walk out the door because the box was never really there. The box and its door were only present when we chose it to be present.

The combined conscious knows that it sees what it believes. Our realities are only limited by belief. Belief is only limited by imagination. Magical imagination lives outside of fear and embraces all that is known to be possible. Is the limitation of imagination what we know? This is where the subconscious mind gives a hand. The subconscious mind easily taps into ancient archetypes, channeled material, spirit guides, and all other forms of energy, form, and communication that are just out of sight from the conscious mind. The subconscious mind provides or augments the knowledge of the conscious mind.

The conscious mind does take many cues from the physical surroundings. The society around a person has much to say about how things work, when they work, and where they work. This is both very powerful and it can also be a detriment. A culture that is rich in a magical mythology can give a very healthy and vibrant frame for the subconscious to fill in. The restrictive culture stunts the subconscious, providing little room for it to blossom and grow.

There are also layers to a society. Society is parents, authority figures, and teachers. Society is what we learn through our own studies and those directed by others. How does self-taught knowledge relate to the layers of society? The materials used are a product of the society. If the subconscious mind is not providing information, all we can know is what has been already recorded. The subconscious mind provides new fuel for learning. The subconscious mind transcends the layers of society.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)
The purpose of this series of blog entries is to review the concept of what consciousness is, how consciousness is altered, and how the shaman uses the shift.

The Nature of Reality

What is reality? If consciousness – both waking and subconscious – are viewing reality, what are they viewing? The answer lies in the thought that the world of the shaman is very much like the world of the child. In the child’s world everything is alive and everything responds to their desires. They are connected to all things, or at the least, they desire to be connected. The mythology of childhood, the stories and entertainment, support this way of thinking through everything in the world talking and interacting. Journeys to other realities and communication with the inhabitants of those realities are common. Magic is the norm when the hero or heroine of the story is in danger. This is the waking world of the child. This world is later transformed to a more practical world. A world of predictable mechanics is introduced, and believing is seeing. A thing must be demonstrated as “real” before it can be believed and integrated as part of the consciousness.

The world of the child and shaman works in an opposite way from the mechanistic predictive world. They see what they believe. The world is the outcome of what the conscious wishes to perceive. Instead of a dead world that is measured, the shaman has a live world that responds to the desired measurements. Here magic is possible and will happen. This is the magic of the shaman and that of modern quantum physics in juxtaposition.

We in the Western cultures live in a world that unknowingly straddles the adult’s and the child’s thinking. We want to believe everything is cause and effect, but at the same time life continuously manifests through our conscious thoughts and subconscious thoughts. People and events work out how we perceive them to be. A happy outlook results in a happy day. A sad outlook results in a sad day. We loose track of this and measure the outcome, unaware that we had a hand in creating it. When we measure the outcome, and ignore the triggers, we become victims and loose power. The manifestation of events in our lives become the pawns of outside forces. A viscous cycle begins as we believe in a destiny directed by things “outside” of ourselves. The reality of the situation is directed by our thoughts and the perception is rewarded with a matching outcome to those thoughts. This reinforces the perception of victimhood, and the cycle builds until we are seemingly powerless. The magic of the child’s thinking is subverted by the adult’s thinking.

Why does this happen? It happens because we are not aware of the power that our thoughts have. We are not aware that the world responds to us. The ego, that part of us that builds a “safe” reality, builds a box that our intellect and emotions are trapped. Does this mean that the magic is gone? No. The true, alive, and responsive reality is outside the box and has never left. It only waits for we, as adults, to rediscover it.


kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)
The purpose of this series of blog entries is to review the concept of what consciousness is, how consciousness is altered, and how the shaman uses the shift.

What Is Consciousness?

For purposes of this blog, consciousness can be loosely defined as:

The waking perception of objects, events, and time.
Contrasted with consciousness is the subconscious. Our subconscious is a hidden mind just as perceptive of things. Our awaking mind struggles for a language to share information. This gap is bridged during dreams, hypnosis and meditation and other methods of achieving altered consciousness.

Altered consciousness is very much awake and real. The altered perception is shifted from the “norm”. This is an interesting thought. When the new and unusual becomes a normal day of life, it becomes part of the everyday reality of the consciousness. So, it would be beneficial to further explore the definition of altered consciousness. However, at its root, altered consciousness defies fixed definition. It is instead something that is experienced. The triggers for this experience are what we will explore further.

Altered consciousness is very strong when the conscious and subconscious minds communicate with each other. Their dialogue forms the basis of this shifted perception. The reality of the moment is derived from the conscious and the alternate reality from the subconscious. The combination is like the Temperance card in the Tarot as a new, real reality is formed.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Shaman - Pueblo)
I began my shamanic walk just around 1998. A review of my class notes and articles from the first five years of my teaching/study showed that I almost exclusively used the lower case spelling of the word 'shaman'. The exception was one entry in a class outline that said:
Talk about "S"haman and "s"haman. A Shaman requires community recognition. One community may not recognize a shaman from another community. An example is needed to have journeyed to world X to be an official shaman.
What did I call myself? Early on I picked up the reluctance to embrace the title of Shaman. Instead, one of my first articles spoke of a "modern shaman". In another early article I used the words "urban shaman". Neither of these really stuck with me. I chose to avoid these descriptors and instead used the convoluted phrase "I am on the shamanic path".

During the past two years (or so) I've picked up the description of "shamanist" to describe myself. This works well. It does not grasp an undeserved title of spiritual ascendancy. I feel comfortable in the "skin" of being a shamanist. Another development during the recent years has been a gravitation to the uppercase version of 'Shaman' to describe those that truly have rank and tribal recognition. This seemed the right thing to do, or at least it was until recently.

I think I've returned to my roots regarding the use of the word 'shaman'. It has become clear to me that the uppercase and lowercase versions both refer to a person with tribal ranking/recognition. I feel uncomfortable using either case of the word while addressing a person who has not earned the right to be called a shaman. Have I become a snobbish purist? I don't think so. The word 'shaman' comes with so much baggage and assumptions. It simultaneously means everything and nothing. I would rather honor the 'everything' of the word. In this way I honor those who truly deserve to walk with the shaman's shoes. The rest of us can embrace 'shamanist' or another word truer to the path we walk.

This is how I feel today. Do you attempt to differentiate between "shaman" and "Shaman"? Am I making too much of this?
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Shaman - Horse)
I'm currently researching the topic of 'shamanic magic'. My studies have found matching meaning with what would seem to be an unlikely source. The second show of third "Doctor Who" series is entitled "The Shakespeare Code". I found powerful corollaries to my shamanic studies in this bit of media entertainment. This is not really a surprise though. I hold that media entertainment is this society's form of myth. The mystical workings of reality are woven into our seemingly fanciful stories, just as it has forever been for other cultures.

Read more... )

I believe that vibration, relationships, and an advanced understanding of the world are the beginnings of 'shamanic magic'. I look forward to exploring more both in my studies and in my entertainment.

Literary trivia... Shakespeare is credited with adding two to three thousand words to the English language including 'assassination', 'eyeball', 'leapfrog' and 'gloomy').
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Shaman - Sun)
In a public community an insightful LJ member said:
And further irony ensues from this entire thread about "shamanism", considering that there are those who consider that using the term "shamanism" outside of its culture of origin (Siberia & Mongolia) is cultural appropriation. So applying "shaman" to Native American medicine practices is not only cultural misappropriation of the term "shaman", it is also ignoring the cultural uniqueness of the Native American medicine wo/man.
This is an important topic for me. The member's question evoked some thoughts that will become a larger article. For now, I will post my immediate response to these excellent observations:

These are good points, and anybody seriously interesting in pursing the shamanic path should consider them.

Agreed on the Native American angle! I'll be the last to call a NA medicine wo/man a 'shaman' when I am aware of the proper title. It would be like calling an anesthesiologist a 'doctor'. The term does not respect the cultural training and focus.

To continue with the doctor analogy, if I see a person wearing a white lab coat I'd probably call them doctor until I know their specialty. Indigenous groups have their own names for the shaman-type. Non-indigenous people who practice shamanic ways find themselves with a lack of an indigenous name. Rightly so. It is not appropriate to take on another group's title because there are many requirements – emotional, physical and spiritual – before the title is bestowed. So, we stand wearing some version the lab coat, wondering what to call ourselves. Hence the general name of 'shaman' or 'shamanist' is used. IME, the wide spread use of the word was first promoted by the anthropologists before adoption by Neopagan shamanics. We stand on the shoulders of the scientific community when it comes to this general descriptive title

All of this makes the use of the word 'shaman' outside of Siberia and Mongolia a murky matter. Let's assume the person using the title of shaman or shamanist is not claiming heritage or connection to the Siberian traditions. We humans tend to want to use word boxes to label thing. The non-indigenous use of the word 'shaman' or derivations of such (shamanist, shamanic path) seem to have few alternatives for those who stand outside of indigenous systems.

Comments? Where do your own thoughts go on this topic?
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Flute - Kokopelli)
It is not unusual for the shamanist to see and hear things that others do not. Both the unusual (trees, rocks) and unseen (ancestors, astral beings) are available for dialog. Does this make the shamanist a crazy person, speaking to things that others cannot? What keeps the Shaman from being derided as a mentally ill person?

Portions of the following are based on material from the most excellent book "The Shaman's Doorway: Opening Imagination to Power and Myth" by Stephen Larsen. I found this material very early in my shamanic path. It has stood the test of time for me.

Read more... )

In the end, the shamanist and Shaman are challenged to communicate a transpersonal message to their charges. They are called to be an oracle, psychopomp (soul conductor) and healer. The larger society may have it's own judgment, but the inner vision of unseen things is to be shared in a way that both informs and helps the 'tribe'.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Flute - Kokopelli)
A fellow shamanist's comments about adult views of children's books inspired me to write the following essay...

The world of the shamanist is one spent between two worlds, those of humans and those of other beings. There are many types of beings. Some are related to humans; others are not. There are nature spirits and entities that do not rightly belong in our world, only existing in the wildest fantasy and nightmares. All walk through the shamanist's experience. Are these beings foreign to the rest of humanity? Are they aberrations to the mundane world? There is a place where the mundane person shares the shamanist's experience.

Our childhoods are the gateway to the shamanist's companions. There was a time that we knew what the elders only seem to know. The animals talked. The trees offered presents. The monsters were real, inviting the adventurous to take boat rides to faraway places. Magick was expected. Happy endings were possible. Our young selves knew this. The world was alive and responded to our wishes. Adults seem to have forgotten these very special things.

Is there a gateway that can take the ignorant adults back to this knowledge? Can we remember the companionship we had with shamanist's associates? There is one way. The incredible irony is that we adults create this pathway, and then forget we do so. What is magical place? Simple, it is children's books.

Children's books present worlds of shamanic reality. Humans are minority in a world full of animals and a multitude of fantastic beings. The non-humans walk, talk, dance, fight, read, run, love, count, shout, hide, swim, climb, question and LEARN. There is friendship instead of strife, potential instead of rules, and lessons instead of restrictions. The worlds available to the reader are reminders of what we knew. They are mirrors to what the shamanist knows to be the true reality.

Are there hardships in the shamanist's world? Sure. The shamanist heals the wounded. Harmony is restored to corruption. This facilitation must have some aiding touchstone to maintain balance to the shamanist's heart. I say that the children's stories, those that entertained us when we were young, are now available to heal us as adults and shamanists. The shamanist's obstacles fade in the soothing balm of the tales of the past.

Comments on this topic are much appreciated... I would love to hear other's views on the obscured shamanic gateway of childhood.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Flute - Kokopelli)
The shamanic path is one that is both personal and global. Deity stands at the side of the shamanist. The word "personal" flairs to "global" and back. Deity is served by ministering to others. Ministering to others serves deity. In time, the shamanic path fully reveals what deity truly is.

A shamanist is one who follows a shamanic path. A shamanist's life is enriched and healed by their walk with deity. The 'tribe' of the shamanist benefits from their association. There is no guarantee of recognition of priesthood, if the definition of priesthood is the attainment of the title Shaman. Traditionally, Shaman is a title of recognition bestowed by others upon an individual. The result is that there are many on the shamanic path and few who are Shamans. This does not lessen the shamanist's personal relationship with deity.

Read more... )

This is my question to my fellow shamanists. Putting aside my words, and looking into your heart, do you desire to become a full-time Shaman? Do you not? Why? My words are my own. They are colored by my experience. Please do share your own take on what it is to be a shamanist and what it is to be a Shaman.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Flute - Kokopelli)
Several years ago I was on the beginning of my shamanic journey. Heck, I'm still at the beginning, relative to what I could do. Anyway, I felt the shamanic path call to me. I wondered where I was going. What awaited me beyond the books I had already read? I searched the web for websites that answered "What is a Shaman?". The results confirmed that I was on the right path. The cyber-answers are listed below along with their URL for your own further explorations on these excellent websites.

All quotes are used with loving appreciation and full credit is given to their sources. This list was compiled several years ago. Some/many of the URL links no longer work. This is the nature of the internet. All were valuable in their time.

In the spirit of the cyber-answers below, I would very like to have feedback from others so their definitions can be added. All answers are correct, as the shamanic path is simultaneously personal and global. Please share your answer to the question, "What is a Shaman"?

Read more... )
kokopelle: (Cat Chair)
The phenomenon of shamanism is growing in the non-indigenous world. In response, people are comparing it to other similar, but different, spiritual functions. I've written before about the shaman and the witch. Today I will present my opinion about the shaman and the medium.

A blog entry I came across read:
I've read about what quite a few authors think the Shamanic experience is supposed to be. The thing that most of these authors seem to agree upon is that there are two kinds of journeys. Each of them also use about the same two words: Shamanic and Mediumistic. They say that the difference between these two is that in the Shamanic Experience the individual maintains control, while in the Mediumistic Experience the individual gives up control for something/somebody else. Do any of you find this to be true?

When I first read all these authors saying so, I didn't agree with it, but then I thought about it. To me, the journeys are just like the real world. On these journeys, I can't control what other spirits/people do nor can I control the environment around me; however, I can control myself.
I responded with the following, allowing for the disclaimer that this is from my personal experience

If mediumistic is defined as "giving up control for something/somebody", than I believe that the typical shamanic journey is not mediumistic. Indeed, the purpose of the typical journey is to receive information/insight first-hand. The typical journey is not transcribed by an outside person during the journey. Hence, the person has to remember details from the journey after the journey is over. In the super-strict definition of mediumistic experience there is no remembrance of what is said or seen.

It is typical for a shamanic journey to have shifting spirits/people and environments. Different beings are experienced and the landscape shifts. This is not a case of losing control. This does not make it mediumistic. An analogy would be driving to work and seeing something unexpected. There is road construction, an accident, or maybe a new store has opened. In the extreme the driver must make a detour. What if a person comes across a license check stop? They pause, do their business, and then move on. These are different and unexpected, but do they remove "control" from the driving experience, thus shifting it into a mediumistic mode? I don’t think so.

I answer this way from the perspective of both going on traditional shamanic journeys and doing some mediumistic work. The two are typically separate. The mediumistic quality of my psychic readings has me echoing words from another source without my interpretation or evaluation. I, myself, have never "lost control" or been taken over during these times. I have merely offered myself as a conduit for the expression by other beings/spirits. I do know people who go the whole route of giving themselves over during a mediumistic session. Personally I find this unnecessary and perhaps even dangerous.

In closing, my opinion is that the typical shamanic journey is not mediumistic in quality. It is vibrant and changing. It is also my opinion that many mediumistic experiences (i.e. mine) do not have to go to the full definition of the spirit controlled medium. It would be a shame to not remember and embrace your journeys, for they are spiritual gifts.

What have other people experienced? Has there been something different from what I've described?
kokopelle: (Cat Chair)
I have a big event coming up that will tap into my fears and insecurities. The material below is posted in the spirit of informing both myself and others. I wrote this previously on MySpace in response to a person who was having a difficult life and sought the shamanic path as an avenue for healing. My advice was that the shamanic path held promise for the mending of body and soul, but the process was not an easy one.

Read more... )
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Feel Fine)
A LJ friend of mine commented on an article that compared the Shaman and the Witch. Judging the article, my friend said, "The (article's) difference is that shamans are distinguished only by their ability to astral project and lead a completely solitary existence!" and a commenter said, "Most of the pagans I know are shamans by his definition!".

The hubris of the original article was that it spoke in tones of authoritarian surety about the very large topic of shamanism. To this, I commented (slightly edited):
My feedback of "true enough" acknowledges that there are always exceptions. There are no absolutes. This is so especially true in the embrace of Shamanism. When I teach I give a little speech that goes something like this:

"The world of Shamanism is very rich and diverse. Each indigenous culture has it's own rich beliefs and practices. There are many differences between these local derivations. That said, there is also a core of general beliefs that are shared across the multitude. It is to these shared beliefs that I teach from. The result is a form of "modern" shamanism that informs and enriches the nonindigenous person.

Anything that I can share is only a broad overview of the shamanic path. There are many exceptions to what I have to share. In fact, there are exceptions to the exceptions. The only “pure” shamanic teachings would be indigenously specific. I don’t have the qualification to teach from this place. Very few people do. We in the Western world stand outside of those teachings. It is only in glimpses that we see the nuts-n-bolts of the indigenous. This is OK. What we have is enough to find our own shamanic connections to the world around us. We have enough to allowing the healing of ourselves, and in turn, we can reach out to facilitate the healing and embrace of the world around us."
I then put in my $.02 (slightly edited) about the Witch and the Shaman.
There is (almost) no difference if you look at the total breadth of each. Both paths are self-realized journeys of exploration and connection between oneself and the world as a whole. I say this as a person who has walked in the world of the Craft without committing to it.

The catch to statement of "no difference" is that there is no one-size-fits-all mold for either being a Witch or a Shaman. IMO the decision to be a Witch or a Shaman is a personal statement of intention (i.e. "I am a Witch" or "I am a Shaman") and the subsequent recognition of that role, Witch or Shaman, by those around you. A person can be called on not being a Shaman or Witch if they stray too far from the big generalities, but the landscape for those generalities is vast.

On a personal note, Shamanism, by the way I practice it, does have the wrinkle that other people recognize the person to be a shaman with a capital "S". A person can say, "I am on the shamanic path", but it is only others that can say, "That person is a Shaman". There are exceptions to this too, but this is my reality. In contrast (with BIG exceptions also!), the Witch can self-initiate,subsequently stating, "I am a Witch" with no affirming acknowledgement from others.
kokopelle: Horse Totem (Cat Happy)
Below is an outline of a lecture I did several years ago. I believe I got about 3/4 of the way through the outline in about two hours. It would take a full day to properly cover the material. Some sections could take up a day all by themselves. Anyway, I submit this to the blog for people to glean information. Comments/questions are welcome.

Read more... )


kokopelle: Horse Totem (Default)

September 2017

      1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1718 19 20212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 10:42 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios