There is nothing new about being a shaman. Humans from different cultures for thousands of years have discovered and practiced the shamanic arts of connecting with spirit. Indeed, the word shaman is just one iteration of the multitude of words humans have used to describe this naturally occurring phenomena. What we currently refer to as shamanism is so common cross culturally that it would appear that humans evolved preprogrammed with the ability to spiritually connect with many different unseen forces of our world.
We modern humans live in a very different world than our eco-centric ancestors. We are living during a time of self domestication, a time where we are raised outside of the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. Our culture has become so disintegrated from the spiritual connection to nature that those still lucky enough to hear the call of the shaman are often looked on as being touched or unstable by family and peers. It can be nearly impossible for any modern day seeker to find the authentic spiritual headwaters of a shamanic tradition as nearly all the ancient lineages have been broken by conquest, disintegration, and disease. Luckily though, shaman is in the blood, and the spiritual arts reveal themselves to those who listen. And although the ties to our shamanic birthright have been severed and the old teachings lost, we can reform the ancient path of our ancestors for the modern world. We can become the new shamans.
5 Basic Patterns of Shamanic Theory
1. The Web That Binds All Things
Shamans throughout the ages have discovered many similar patterns in the expression of reality. One of the most fundamental understandings of the shaman is the web that binds all things. The shaman knows that all matter and energy are connected in an infinite and ever changing web that can be accessed by practicing shamanic arts. In old Norse shamanism, the web that binds all things is known as the wyrd, in Nigerian shamanism it is called Ifa, and in Hawaiian craft it is called aka. Shamans often experience and describe this web as a weaving, whereby different energies and patterns can come together to form groups of interdependent consciousnesses and realities that can manifest to form anything from ecosystems to ancestral spirits. The shaman understands that everything is connected through the web that binds all things, and through that connection anything within our Universe can be spiritually contacted.
2. The Sentient Source of All That Is
Nearly all shamanic cultures refer to the web that binds all things as a sentient source, that is, the web of connections is self aware. Just like the neurons that join together to make a brain, the different threads of matter and energy in our Universe are connected in a network that forms a sentient consciousness; a consciousness that can be interacted with and directed through the shaman's intention. Our human minds utilizes several hundreds of trillions of neural connections to generate self awareness in a biological form. The Universe has an infinite number of more connections creating a network for self awareness that is vastly more sophisticated than our human brains. Indeed, the shaman knows all of this, for the shaman has the experience of being a web within the web; the shaman knows that she is just the universe experiencing the itself.
3. The Layers of the Web
Within the web that binds all things, different patterns of energy can come together to form bandwidths of consciousness like clusters of neurons within a brain. But unlike the brain, sentience within the web that binds all things is not limited to biological matter. The shaman knows that all bandwidths of energy have a level of consciousness; some limited and some vast. Even a relatively simple organism such as a tree contains a multitude of vibrational frequencies that can be accessed through shamanic arts and influenced through the shaman's intention. For example, a shaman can call forth the unique vibrational spirit of any specific tree, but the shaman can also call forth the many other vibrational layers that comprise that tree. The shaman can call upon the larger bandwidth of the spirit of the species of that tree, the vibration of arboreal trees in general, the pattern of photosynthesizing plants, the ecosystem or forest, the frequency of green, of carbon and oxygen, etc. Within any expression of physical matter there are untold levels of vibrational threads and bandwidths that a shaman can access and interface with to shape reality.
4. Connecting with Entities
The shaman knows that to interface with a specific bandwidth of consciousness within the web that binds all things she needs to be in right relationship with that energy or entity. The shaman is fundamentally an animist at heart, meaning that she experiences all patterns that comprise the web of having a level of sentience. She knows that the threads that comprise reality are not to be commanded from a place authority, but rather invited from a place of humble friendship and authenticity. For the shaman to connect with the spirit of the deer, she needs to be in good standing with deer spirit-energy, and so she might do a ritual, make an offering, or create a piece of art to draw her spirit energy and the deers spirit-energy into harmony. A shaman knows that the aid of sentient bandwidths of energy (i.e. deities) is necessary to accomplish any spiritual goals and so proper relationships need to be cultivated for the shaman to be effective in his work.
Accepting and celebrating the mystery of our Universe is one of the most important tenants for the Shaman. Recognizing the limitations of our own understanding of the world cultivates a sense of humility that can save the shaman from the dangerous and myopic attitude of, "I have the answer" or "I know why" while at the same time opening us up to new possibilities and outcomes. Our modern science teaches us the physical matter is mostly empty space, with tiny atoms bonding across relatively vast expanses to empty space to make molecules. The holographic nature of our three dimensional reality reinforces the shamanic principle of mystery, and the new shaman knows that his brain does not have the hardware to grasp the full expression of realities within our Universe. Just as the human eye is only capable of perceiving .003% of all the light expressed on the electromagnetic spectrum the brain is only capable of experiencing a small glimpse of the nature of reality. The new shaman understands and accepts the limitation of understand and so chooses to engage spiritual ideas and energies from a perspective of openness, first hand experience, and diversity. The word “impossible” is not within the vernacular of the new shaman because the new shaman believes first and foremost in a religion where anything is possible, the new shaman believes in a religion that is unbound, the new shaman experiences a religion of mystery.
The New Shaman: You
A healthy grounding in Shamanic philosophy is paramount for anyone intending on walking the path of our ancestors. While every living tradition has a myriad of differing practices and belief structures, the foundations of philosophy remain the same: Everything is connected, the web is sentient, the web is multi layered, the web holds consciousness, mystery is truth.
Follow these guidelines and trust your blood to lead you where you need to go. Hold the intention for the highest and best unfoldment and stay humble; the path will reveal itself to all those who seek. Even in the times of broken lineages and confused teaching we can find our way home. We can become the new shamans.