Shamanism

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Heith
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Shamanism

Postby Heith » Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:44 am

I've actually tried to post this thread three times now over a course of time, and each time the forums have crashed. So one final attempt.

I was a bit surprised when I realized we do not have a thread on this massive topic. I was wondering what are your views on Shamanism? Do you practice it or view it as a valid practice, and why so? How did you come to begin your Shamanic techniques?

As an animist, Shamanistic way of thinking seems quite natural and fits my personality well. There is also something about this that brings me strange sense of calm and joy. I am not a powerful practicer, and do drumming very randomly and not too often. I would never call myself a Shaman (and I do think people adopt this title way too easily these days), but a Shamanist. With this I mean, that I apply some of the techniques in my practice (like drumming for example) and share the world-view, at least as I understand it to be.

There's different branches of Shamanism of course, and it's impossible to know how it was thousands of years ago. I think we must accept that this tradition is not unbroken. Sometimes one hears things of people supposedly having practiced Shamanism in the family in secret since the dawn of time but I am quite sceptic about this. I do believe that it is possible to retrieve pieces of the past with Shamanic techniques though, for example to gain information from the spirits of things that have occurred in the family's past.
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Re: Shamanism

Postby RaktaZoci » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:54 pm

This is quite an interesting subject. Once again, my background knowledge is not overwhelming, but I do share the affection to things natural, such as the Runes, and to nature itself.

Surprisingly I've recently gotten into contact with persons who are interested in shamanistic practice and would wish to develop their skills further.

As you wrote:
Heith wrote:There is also something about this that brings me strange sense of calm and joy.
Do you believe that a person will "know" if they are meant for this way of life, so if it´s more of a natural ability than something that could be learned?

There are numerous writings of shamans often using mushrooms or other kind of hallucinogens to achieve the trance they need to contact the spirits. Do you think this is a requirement or are there alternatives for this?
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Heith » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:13 am

RaktaZoci wrote: Do you believe that a person will "know" if they are meant for this way of life, so if it´s more of a natural ability than something that could be learned?
Absolutely- but very few people are. "this way of life" is very different for a Shaman and a Shamanist. I believe that were I to reject this ideology completely and go and lead a more superficial lifestyle, I could survive from that. But if a shaman would do that, they wouldn't be able to. This opinion I base completely on the things that I've read from books were shamans describe their path. The spirits choose them. Strangely now in the west it's become something that people want, and is considered a priviledge which is completely paradoxal. A shaman, chosen by spirits, was always considered to be a extremely hard and even unlucky event.

But of course this is a skill like any other. One needs to keep doing it, to get better at it. One can be gifted artistically, for example, but if you don't practice drawing you won't get any better at it.
RaktaZoci wrote: There are numerous writings of shamans often using mushrooms or other kind of hallucinogens to achieve the trance they need to contact the spirits. Do you think this is a requirement or are there alternatives for this?
I do not think that a shaman needs anything for their working to be a successful one. A shamanic working, like any other magical practice, is an act of will. Some people might wear costumes, but these are for show- for the audience, to help them to adopt a proper state of mind. They also psychologically allow the shaman to adopt the role of the Shaman. The same with all tools, I think.

When it comes to drugs of any kind, I think this can be good or bad. Drugs tend to fuck up the system and can alter the journey greatly. They also leave space for doubt; whose experience was this? Of course, if one needs to discuss with the spirit of the mushroom, this might be an appropriate approach. But overall I think it a lazy person's choice. There are some undoubtedly powerful shamans- for example Johannes Setälä here in Finland- who are absolutists.
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Re: Shamanism

Postby RaktaZoci » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:38 am

Heith wrote:A shaman, chosen by spirits, was always considered to be a extremely hard and even unlucky event.
This was the view I had on the matter also. I have a friend who's suffered from a mental illness from time to time and it has been very difficult for her. After getting to know her, however, I felt strongly that there could me something else behind this. Just all these doctors and medical people had been telling her that she should just take more pills to make it go away, but it just got worse after that. Didnt feel natural.
So I suggested the shamanistic possibility and she then agreed that she had actually had similar thoughts and that there had been someone else in the past who was talking of the same thing.

I do agree also that the path would be a hard one, if chosen. Or is there even a matter of choosing, if it is the spirits that choose you? Or is it just your fate, then?
Heith wrote: Some people might wear costumes, but these are for show- for the audience, to help them to adopt a proper state of mind. They also psychologically allow the shaman to adopt the role of the Shaman. The same with all tools, I think.
I think the same way about ceremonial magic, in general. the external is just props, not necessary for the actual success of the work.
Heith wrote: When it comes to drugs of any kind, I think this can be good or bad. Drugs tend to fuck up the system and can alter the journey greatly.
I agree on this also. I've personally always been very anti-drugs, since I've lost too many friends to these substances and they'd never given me any positive experience. New to the subject though I felt this was a necessary question to ask. I'm glad to hear that the answer concerning the matter was negative.
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Heith
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Heith » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:49 pm

RaktaZoci wrote:Just all these doctors and medical people had been telling her that she should just take more pills to make it go away, but it just got worse after that. Didnt feel natural.
So I suggested the shamanistic possibility and she then agreed that she had actually had similar thoughts and that there had been someone else in the past who was talking of the same thing.
Sadly a very common problem these days. Eating pills is so common and frankly it disgusts me a little. There are times when someone is in such a sorry state that medication is a good option. But it should rarely, or never, be the answer for life. Sensitive people -and all who have a knack for magical workings are sensitive- suffer the most in our society. There is so much sickness in our times and we have grown so distant from nature that a sensitive person will have a hard time coping with this as they will probably pick up astral influence from their surrounding; the moods and emotions of other people can affect them. This sounds very mundane but it can get overwhelming. I get this sometimes a little, and can't go to places with a lot of people in them. In the same way I can't work if there are people in the room, as they will mess up my line of thought. It might be just a privacy thing, perhaps I've a need of territory- or it might be that I unwillingly pick up their brainstuffs. So I understand why the Shaman often lived a little away from people- as he or she exists between the worlds.

These days, however, we dot not recognize this. We do not recognize the possibility that disease (mental or physical) for example can be caused by spirits- for the sake of clarity let's call them demons. We try to heal the body only, not the spirit. Or we try to heal the mind by numbing it.

As to shamanic (or indeed any magical) workings, I must advise against doing these with a imbalanced mind. It will almost always make more trouble than what one began with, at least this is the case for me. For example, I will not attend a drumming if I do not feel top notch. If I do shamanic journeying when my body is not on a relatively good state, I will get the flu. Every damn time! Same goes for Runic things. And feeling low or chaotic, or otherwise of balance. On these times I only do very mild things, maybe looking at a Rune or carrying one around in my pocket to regain balance, or to stop.

But I do believe you when you say this about your friend- after all, I don't know them and you do! I just had to be the mother goose there for a bit :)
RaktaZoci wrote:I do agree also that the path would be a hard one, if chosen. Or is there even a matter of choosing, if it is the spirits that choose you? Or is it just your fate, then?
I guess it can be the same thing- if the spirits choose a person, that could be their fate. If we believe in fate that is. Of this I can only say that I was fucking miserable and lost in my life before I found my path. When I look at it now it seems very clear that the path was there all along, trying to awaken me to realize to come and trot upon it. I was too stubborn and arrogant to accept it and had to go quite low before catching a hold of the red thread. Of course, I am still stubborn and arrogant- but now these are focused on other things.
RaktaZoci wrote: I think the same way about ceremonial magic, in general. the external is just props, not necessary for the actual success of the work.
Completely off-topic, but there's a new radio show by Perttu Häkkinen where he discusses ritual magic. Maybe you already listened to it. I haven't yet. Here is a link:
http://areena.yle.fi/radio/2344691 (sorry guys, this is in Finnish)
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Re: Shamanism

Postby RaktaZoci » Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:20 am

Heith wrote:There is so much sickness in our times and we have grown so distant from nature that a sensitive person will have a hard time coping with this as they will probably pick up astral influence from their surrounding; the moods and emotions of other people can affect them. This sounds very mundane but it can get overwhelming. I get this sometimes a little, and can't go to places with a lot of people in them.
I know what you mean by this. I don't particularly enjoy crowds myself, but I can still remain calm, if need be. It is kinda sad that this alienation has happened from nature and our roots. People just live in their concrete bunkers and everything and all should be defined by scientific studies ect. Many people even get offended if you try to have a conversation with them about spirituality or even anything that's remotely related to it.
Heith wrote: As to shamanic (or indeed any magical) workings, I must advise against doing these with a imbalanced mind.
I am aware of this and will keep it in mind. There is always good to have a mother goose about though, just in case. ;)
Heith wrote: Of this I can only say that I was fucking miserable and lost in my life before I found my path.
I can relate to this also. It took be over 10 years to find what I was looking for. but still I'm not sure if it could have been something else that I've had found if it wasnt for the obstacles and different narrower paths in between from where I started from and where I am now.
Heith wrote:I was too stubborn and arrogant to accept it and had to go quite low before catching a hold of the red thread. Of course, I am still stubborn and arrogant- but now these are focused on other things.
These qualitys seem to be quite common to the red team. I too have learned to control my excessive energy bursts and balance myself out, but it has taken a lot of work, I can tell you.
Heith wrote:These days, however, we dot not recognize this. We do not recognize the possibility that disease (mental or physical) for example can be caused by spirits- for the sake of clarity let's call them demons. We try to heal the body only, not the spirit. Or we try to heal the mind by numbing it.
This reminded me of a movie called "Neverwas" starring Ian McKellen. Its a story of an old man who's been put to the nut house since he claims to be a king of a country that doesnt exist and therefore they believe he's delusional.
On modern days the difference between sane and insane is so minimal that usually its just a matter of the person who makes the decision, and sometimes its even impossible. Who's to determine who's crazy and who's not?
But it's a movie I would recommend. Very symphatetic.
Heith wrote: Completely off-topic, but there's a new radio show by Perttu Häkkinen where he discusses ritual magic.
This was news to me. Thanks for the link, sis! =)
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Heith » Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:31 pm

If you have any interest towards Shamanism in Japan I would recommend Catalpa Bow. This was recommended to me by obnoxion. It's available in some libraries, although a little bit rare. There's a very interesting take on witch animals in the Japanese culture and how families with supposed witchdom in them were treated.

Currently my interest has taken me further north- I'm reading some Sámi mythology things and shamanism. It's a nice break from all the Norse stuff, even if I can't help to make a few comparisons here and there and wonder how much the things are related. I do think that the Norse took an awful lot of Sámi influence in their stories, myths and practices perhaps even. But maybe I can start a Sámi - related topic at some point.

I would also recommend Juha Pentikäinen's books, some of them apparently available in English as well.
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Jiva » Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:22 am

I guess I see depth psychology sort of like a modern kind of shamanism, but apart from that I don't think I've ever done anything expressly shamanic although I would like to at some point in the future. The major reason I haven't done anything like drumming, at least as part of a group, is simple self-consciousness. Perhaps if it was 'updated' so to say to me and some other people jamming with guitars I would feel more comfortable, but then this is not strictly shamanic either :P.

Defining what a shaman is and shamanic practices isn't something I've explored very much. In fact, the only book I've read that went into any detail is Clive Tolley's Shamanism in Norse Myth and Magic that explores many Eurasian shamanistic practices to contrast them with Old Norse practices which, despite the title, he doesn't think are shamanic at all.
Heith wrote:Currently my interest has taken me further north- I'm reading some Sámi mythology things and shamanism. It's a nice break from all the Norse stuff, even if I can't help to make a few comparisons here and there and wonder how much the things are related. I do think that the Norse took an awful lot of Sámi influence in their stories, myths and practices perhaps even. But maybe I can start a Sámi - related topic at some point.
I think there are definitely some Sámi influence on Norse beliefs and culture, and vice versa. There was an uneasy tolerance of each other which was difficult at times due to land disputes resulting from the Sámi being essentially nomads while the Norse were settled. However, despite any difficulties, the Sámi were respected for their magical abilities. “Semsveinum” are mentioned in the Vatnsdæla saga, which is usually translated as Sámi, although at other times to Lapp or Finn. In short, they shut themselves in a shed and go into a trance for three days to basically do long-distance reconnaissance work for the Icelanders who hired them. There are instances of other Norse figures doing something similar e.g. Bjarke in Bjarkamál - whose bear projection fights while he is asleep in a nearby tent - and also Odin in the Ynglinga saga.
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Heith » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:39 am

Jiva wrote:I guess I see depth psychology sort of like a modern kind of shamanism, but apart from that I don't think I've ever done anything expressly shamanic although I would like to at some point in the future. The major reason I haven't done anything like drumming, at least as part of a group, is simple self-consciousness. Perhaps if it was 'updated' so to say to me and some other people jamming with guitars I would feel more comfortable, but then this is not strictly shamanic either :P.
Well, you could have a little rattler if you like? But on a more serious note, I think the main purpose of a drum is to alter consciousness. A drum has a certain tone (is this the word I am looking for?) that has been proven to change the brain activity closer to how one is during dreaming.

Being embarrassed over drumming is something I know full well. I always thought that there is no musical skills in me so I sometimes get really awkward when there's other people listening to my drumming. It's gotten a little better, and I can be confident in drumming when people I know quite well are around.
Jiva wrote:Defining what a shaman is and shamanic practices isn't something I've explored very much.
What I mean with the difference of a Shaman and a shamanist is that the latter is a person who does these things, perhaps practices his or her skills but can not be described as a Shaman, who in turn is a fully qualified person practicing this art, most often recognized by the community as well. People like calling themselves Shaman if they do drumming and can for example visualize during. But there is a huge difference between this and a deep trance when one loses consciousness of their body and actually is transported to another place. I guess New Age has a lot to do with this, as at some point Shamanism became interesting to New Agers, and as I've understood it the New Age movement is not generally known for their in- depth explorations or study.

I guess the CV of the Shaman varies from one place to another, but mostly they work as a intermediate between our physical world and that of the spirits. In our society there is little need for some of the jobs that used to belong in the field of the Shaman, such as knowing when certain animals are on the move. But I do think there is a great deal of sickness, physical & mental occurring both in- and outside of ourselves that certainly can and should be addressed. For this I think, Shamanism a good tool. Simply already because it teaches us to respect nature.
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Re: Shamanism

Postby Nokkonen » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:25 am

Love this topic! I've been interested in shamanism ever since I was a child and have also been studying it academically. It's fascinating that same ideas seem to cross the Arctic. For example here the Athabascan religious experts believed that the medicine men can take forms of caribou and fight each other to death, which is a well-known saami story as well. There are also other strikingly similar ideas. My personal take on the subject has always been perhaps too respectful in that, at some point, I decided to not even dabble with it since I didn't feel called by the spirits.

But, in a way, I've gone through some kind of an initiation in my spiritual life that was akin to dying and being renewed into another kind of a creature. I just don't feel like that had much to do with shaman's spirits, although I've never been very sensitive to invisible spirits in any case.

Recently, I've renewed my interest in shamanizing since I encountered this local shamanistic group that practices energy healing techniques etc. They are quite new-agey, but then again, there might be something to their techniques and I should just go see what they are about in any case.

What comes to entheogens, they have historically been very much part of the deal with shamanism. I believe that they might not be the answer to modern practitioners since our understanding on human consciousness has evolved while at the same time, traditional understanding on the spiritual realm has disintegrated. It can cause problems if one can't face their demons while on hallucinogens and there is no guidance for doing so. Traditional societies had, and some still have, strictly supervised and ceremonial ways of doing drugs, and I don't believe that drugs are necessarily awesome and safe to use without professionals guidance. I don't condemn drug use as such, however, and my own journey back to mental and spiritual health was greatly aided by it.

Anyway, could anybody recommend some good and reputable introductory books to modern shamanizing?

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