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Starting In Shamanism

Discussion in 'Shamanism DIR' started by lightstorm, May 20, 2010.

  1. lightstorm

    lightstorm New Member

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    Hello all! This is my first time posting, though I've been reading through a lot of the stuff here recently. I find it all very interesting and would love to learn more, which is why I'm posting.

    Long story short, I was raised without a religion and only in the past few years have I begun the search for a spiritual identity. I have a fairly solid base of beliefs now, though I don't know what to do with them really. The practices of pagans, shamans, and Native Americans have always interested me, and I feel like my beliefs fit more in line with those religions than those of the Abrahamic religions. I don't know how to get involved with them though. I'd really like to delve more into Shamanism since it seems to fit what I believe perfectly and I feel it's the right path for me, but I don't know where or how to start. I know it takes a lot of time and dedication, but I'm willing to do it. I've spent years finding my way spiritually, so I can surely handle a few more.

    I would love some suggestions on what to do or where to start, even if it's just things to start researching. Any help would be most appreciated! :)
     
  2. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    Anyone trying to sell you something or asking for money is not to be trusted.

    There are no shortcuts.

    wa:do
     
  3. Noaidi

    Noaidi slow walker

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    Hi Lightstorm
    I've found these books interesting:

    Shamanism for Beginners by James Endredy (despite the title, it's quite an indepth review of shamanism)

    The World of Shamanism by Roger Walsh. I can't recommend this highly enough. Fantastic overview of shamanism.

    Shamanic Voices by Joan Halifax. Now a classic. The book is comprised of interviews from around the world.

    Shamans by Ronald Hutton. Focuses mainly on the origins of shamanism from the Siberian region.

    Hope some of these help.

    Edit: I should add that these books are not 'how to be a shaman' books. They deal with the historical and cultural aspects of shamanism. I can't recommend any 'how to' books as I personally don't think this is something that can be learned by reading. As enchanted_one1975 said below, asking actual practitioners for guidance is probably the best approach.
     
    #3 Noaidi, May 23, 2010
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  4. enchanted_one1975

    enchanted_one1975 Resident Lycanthrope

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    I did not intend to get into Shamanism, but I have found that many of my beliefs and goals border on being Shamanistic. While I have not looked specifically into Shamanism, I do what feels right and sometimes I find myself asking Shamanistic folks for advice. Do what is right for you and all the details will work out. Reading the books some here have mentioned won't hurt either. :)
     
  5. Noaidi

    Noaidi slow walker

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    Modern shamanism has much in common with psychology as it utilises the inner world of a particular person, so both methods can provide answers from the subconscious mind. Shamanism presents you with many ways to retrieve and use hidden information obtained by combining the physical world, the imagination and visions induced through entheogens or meditations or drumming.

    In this way, it is perfectly possible to be an atheist shaman, because you are dealing with your own mind and not the supernatural. I mention this because I don't know if you believe in supernatural entities or not.
     
  6. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    True Shamanism is not something you can choose to do.

    "Modern shamanism" is very different. A branch of New Age Paganism IMHO.

    wa:do
     
  7. Cosmos

    Cosmos Member

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    I wish to tell you straight up and honestly that it is a fact the only way to actually be a real, true, genuine shaman is if you are initiated by a shaman AND you must die... literally.

    Without the taste of actual death or an initiation ceremony by master teachers, well, the interest is mutual and should be relegated to the eclectic book shelf.

    Another thing I want to add is that there is a misconception amongst people today in the New Age communities that Shamanism, and more specifically, traditional Native American religion, is synonymous with paganism (i.e. polytheism). I wish to only express that this should be greatly reconsidered, as Monotheism/Monism have deep and ancient roots in Native American communities. My fiance is also of Native American descent and properly understands that the Cherokees and Ute worshipped the One God (abstract God) as the Father Spirit or Creator and many Native American Elders share this view, as well. There are of course many Names of God expressing the Qualities and Attributes of God in ancient cultures such as the Americas, also reflected in other ancestral religions, such as the Egyptian religion (Traditional African Religions) where today most perceive the religion as polytheistic really evolved into such but whose roots are not expressed as such.
     
    #7 Cosmos, May 24, 2010
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  8. lightstorm

    lightstorm New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses guys!

    I know that Shamanism isn't something you choose and you must be initiated. I didn't know about the dying part though, that's intense. From that start though I knew that those things weren't options so Modern Shamanism is the only version available to me. How similar to True Shamanism is the Modern version?
     
  9. Noaidi

    Noaidi slow walker

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    Hi Painted Wolf
    I agree that shamanism is something that you are either compelled to do or initiated into. Do you mean by 'modern shamanism' the type I mentioned previously i.e. using a book or going on a weekend retreat? In that sense, yes, it is very different from true shamanism. It becomes almost like a weekend hobby ("I think I'll do some shaman stuff today before I go shopping"). But modern shamanism, to me, just means shamanism practiced in modern times. It can still adhere to the basic principles.
     
  10. Noaidi

    Noaidi slow walker

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    It doesn't mean dying in the physical sense (dont worry!) It's more to do with the temporary death of the ego / self-identity.
    If you use ayahuasca or salvia, as shamans in South America and Mexico respectively do, then the experience is one of dissolution where you become no longer 'you', but of the energy of animals, plants, objects.
    Some shamans return from such journeys reporting having being ripped apart and pieced back together again, only to have a more focussed approach to the problem they set out to solve.
     
    #10 Noaidi, May 24, 2010
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  11. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    Yes, that is what I mean my "modern shamanism"... I do not call my faith/religion shamanism. I have never met traditional member of any First Nation that uses that term.
    It either conjures up "ooga-booga" steriotypes or New Age practices, neither of which are appropriate. Plus, the term Shaman is a holy role particular to a specific people and I choose to respect that.

    I can respect that... but I can't use the term in the same way.

    Also I have to strongly warn against salvia... it is deadly unless you know exactly what you are doing... no two plants have the same dosage of the chemical and only a trained practitioner of traditional herbal medicine can prepare it safely and appease it's spirit.

    Do not attempt traditional ceremonies unless you are with an elder who knows what they are doing and who you share mutual respect with!

    Traditional "shamanism" is about seeking aid from the spirit world... approaching native spirits incorrectly is dangerous and they can kill you if you disrespect them! Seeking death and dying on a "shamanic journey" isn't always metaphorical.

    wa:do
     
  12. Noaidi

    Noaidi slow walker

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    I totally agree. I only mentioned ayahuasca and salvia as examples of what some shamans use. I wasn't advocating their use for the uninitiated. :no:
    If one is going to use such guides and allies, then it has to be with respect.
     
  13. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    I just wanted to make sure it was clear what risks were involved. :cool:

    wa:do
     
  14. kreeden

    kreeden Virus of the Mind

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    As you can see Lightstorm , the term Shaman brings up all kinds of responces . That is because of the modern defination of the word . As PW said , most First Nation People do not even call their Spiritual leaders Shamans . So there is even a debate over that ...

    Call it what you want , if it is meant to be , it will come about . As there are other forces at work then you . If not ? It doesn't hurt to look into other views .

    As for the drugs , personally I do not think they are needed . I believe that their use " opens " one's mind . And you definitly have to have an open mind . But I don't believe that one needs them . With all respect PW / Noaidi , you don't have to eat Wolf to gain her aid . And if in some causes the drugs are needed , then it would only be for the hard core .

    BTW , Noaidi was saying that Shamanism has much in common with psychology . I believe that he was prefering to Carl Jung's work ? It is a good place to start , but I feel that his Archetypes are not quite the same thing ... Close , but they just aren't quite the same .
     
  15. TheMontanankid.

    TheMontanankid. New Member

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    I've equated drugs+spiritual revelation+pantheistic belief=shamanism but I'm pretty sure thats not it..

    can someone please inform me on this?
     
  16. Tiapan

    Tiapan Grumpy Old Man

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    If I find a real one, I'll let you know!
    Oneness with place is a common theme in many indigenous cultures, beliefs vary and often have little basis in science, however as effective sustainable ecologically neutral societies they certainly work.

    The belief in animal and place spirit is common, but rather than entities they are really the accumulated tribal wisdom that helps visualize their appropriate place in life and the universe.
    Belief makes them real.

    Many never experience "spiritual experience" but many do, thirst, starvation, the use of enthobotanicals, snakebite, puffer fish, and possibly through meditation and yoga, can all induce altered states that most would interpret as a spiritual experience, hence the need for "a taste of death" to understand.

    During the middle ages a climate of damp miserable weather lead to the staple gain, Rye, being contaminated with a fungus called ergot. People who ate the rye bread, regularly had visions and distortions of reality which they could only assume were real. They saw devils, spirits, auras as plain as the nose on your face. The Salem Witch hunt may have also been so affected. Little did they know they had dosed them selves on an alkaloid closely related to the powerful LSD. Mexican Aztecs regularly used Teonactal (psilocybe Mushrooms) again powerful hallucinogen. Peyote is still regularly used by the native church of America.

    These had profound effects on the culture. Just look at Aztec petroglyphs and it is obvious to the initiate.

    I am not advocating their use, but they are a major part of real shamanism in many indigenous cultures for very valid reasons, in fact they cannot be fully understood without them.

    As already pointed out many of these plants and animals can be lethal if used unwisely.

    Cheers
     
    #16 Tiapan, Jul 4, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  17. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    Drugs are not always part of the picture... fasting, sleep deprivation, dancing and pain inducement were also used.

    wa:do
     
  18. elmarna

    elmarna Well-Known Member

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    Shaminisum is a path. you do not decide to become a shaman.
    it is a state of being that evolves all aspects of being connected in a higher sense of being !
    If youe spiritual, emotional, and thinking have done this then you have the makeings of this honor!
     
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  19. Mist

    Mist New Member

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    I wish to not make anyone mad or upset in this so please correct me if I am wrong.

    In the sense of dying, it has to be as one of you said a death of ego, you must let yourself go including some emotion. Near death experiences can influence you becoming a Shaman.

    Seeing ghost is not uncommon as well, being that Shamans walk in both worlds (the spirit-world, and the physical world.) the sight of ghost can be expected.

    Feeling of a magical presence around you if you can feel magic around you say like electricity flowing through your veins then you may be able to bend it to your will. Allowing yourself to go into a trance in meditation.

    feeling strong and powerful but knowing how to use it is entirely important. Knowing that you have the power to destroy or build is entirely important.

    Having full color dreams and remembering them, not including dreams of visions and alternate purpose (word of the gods you believe in)

    Forcing your will to make things that you want to happen happen.

    Healing others or knowing exactly where a person is in pain before you actually know.

    Being a Shaman takes years of meditation and practice. There is a Shaman sickness that we all must endure in order to become those that were are.

    You are not truly initiated into Shamanism this is something that you just one day decide to become. You either are one or not. The New Age has given false hopes to those who think that you can just become one in a thought.

    When you can bend the will of the flames when your are trance meditation or are visited by another in your meditation and shack yourself out of it to find that you did exactly as they did in your vision then you are to be considered a shaman.
     
  20. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    From what I understand, Shamanic practices are heavily culturally-embedded. You can’t just “go to a Shamanic ‘church,’ or gathering, and be considered part of the community, unless you’ve been made “part of the tribe.” “Core Shamanism,” as introduced by people like Michael Harner and Alberto Villoldo, is more of a metaphysical, new age, even more medical/scientific approach. Core shamanism is more “open” in terms of joining a community than is traditional shamanism.

    All shamanism works for the interconnectedness of all things, respects the spirits of the earth, and seeks to get to the “thin places” where the demarcation between the physical and spiritual is very thin.

    I’m not a shaman (and I prefer not to use that term). I’m a student working on building my Mesa, and have undergone only one initiation. I prefer the term “earth medicine”and “earth medicine practitioner,” if I have to put a label on it.

    Earth medicine isn’t something you “do.” It isn’t something you make happen; it’s something in which you participate intuitively. In order to participate — at least in my particular discipline — you have to call in and work with various spirits (apus, Santa Tierras, etc.).

    My particular avenue into this particular work is through a master of Peruvian shamanic work. If you’re interested, I’d suggest becoming acuainted with someone who practices the type of spiritual work you’re interested in, and see where Spirit takes you. You’ll probably end up in a place you never expected.
     
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