Way of the Shaman
Applying the Old Ways to Modern Reality
BY ED TURNER
A growing spiritual movement has taken root in the world today that is surprisingly widespread. Known as Neoshaman-ism, in our local region it is particu-larly strong. It is a return to a perspective and technique used by humanity since time immemorial. That technique, known as Shaman-ism, is the indigenous practice of spirituality as it pertains to life on Earth. It is a practice that facilitates communication between humanity and the world of Spirit.
Modern Western Civilization forbade these practices long ago but they were never totally obliterated. Now they are being revived thanks to the efforts of South American shamans, who in response to direction from their spirit teachers have trained North American seekers in the techniques. People who have been seeking a deeper connection to Spirit in the West are responding to shamanic practice because it is an inherently more balanced approach than anything offered by orthodox spiritual methods, and it presents an advantage over what has become known as “New Age” spirituality, because shamanism shows new age doctrine and its antecedents to be polarized. By this, I mean that they are polarized to the mental side of conscious energy to the detriment of the feeling side of Life.
To live in balance on Earth humans need the help of the Spirits who share our planet and embody multi-dimensional reality. It is obvious from the present state of the human condition that energy is out of balance in human relations and in man’s relation to the environment. Shamanism has remedies for these imbalances. In traditional societies it is the shaman's job to effect healing when conditions get out of balance. This goes for individual as well as societal imbalances. Then, when the social relationship to the envi-ronment appears to be counter productive, the shaman “journeys” to the other side, to non ordinary reality, to consult with the tribal spirits who hold insight into the problem. Then the group can cooperate to remedy the situation.
Responsibility for our lives is what the shamanic perspective brings to modern living. Respon-sibility for our personal condition and responsibility for our relational involvements is not commonly understood or practiced in our modern society. We turn to the healthcare industry for our health and we tend to turn to government for our social problems. This has proven to be an abdication of personal power. We all have personal power whether we realize it or not. When we give that power away to external forces we suffer the condition of vulnerability and dysfunction. Shamanic practice is an opportunity to take power back and live well.
To live well is to live in balance. That means being balanced physically in our bodies in every depart-ment, chemically, structurally, electromagnetically, and physiologically. Emotional balance is more challen-ging because it requires recovery of balance we may never have had since birth. Mental balance depends on these underlying emotional preconditions, but is attainable without the usual compensating behavior and denial patterns.
This may all sound familiar to any modern person who has paid attention to their personal development. So, why shamanism? It’s all in the technique. Modern shamanic technique can put you in touch with the Quantum Field. We know from modern scientific research and practice that the Quantum Field is the ground of all energy on all dimensions. Conscious access to the Quantum Field transcends time and space. The Now is where we access the All, and with it conditions past, present and future that may need therapeutic attention. What makes shamanic practice different from other modalities used to access the “Field” is imagination.
Imagination is a human faculty that modern man has hugely underutilized in living. Sure, there have been great advances in science and marvelous accomplishments in the arts through the use of imagination. The use of imagination in shamanic practice is, however, central. For shamans everything is alive in the environment. This is known as the enlivened world view. Thus, the environment lives in the shaman's imagination. Then, as the practicing shaman becomes known by his environment, he (she) lives in the environment's imagination. This is much different than a human being navigating the world as an ego/intellect, totally dependent on empirical experience and memory. Imagination puts the shaman in the realm of his need, through his lower, middle, or upper world—his instinc-tive, human, or spiritual nature. The helping spirits then respond accor-ding to their choice. The resources thus accessed transcend anything available to the intellect. This is, in effect, how the shaman accesses higher consciousness.
Higher consciousness accessed through shamanic practice is on a somewhat different wavelength than that accessed through Yogic, Buddhic, Zen, or other meditative practices. Brainwave measurements of meditative states have been shown to be located in other areas of the brain than those active when the shaman is journeying in non ordin-ary states of reality. What is the significance of these differences? At first it is a matter of style. Where you land in non ordinary reality is a matter of realm. Realms in the dimensions differ in style and content. Many realms in the higher dimensions bear the mark of human creation. They are styled by ethnic influence, religious philosophy, and earthly perspective. The openness and balance available through modern shamanic practice give access to the dimensions of the Quantum Field with an equanimity unavail-able to any polarized approach. Modern shamans, with a background in the other polarized spiritual practices, find themselves uniquely positioned to participate in microcosmic and macrocosmic recoveries and healings inaccessible to practitioners with a narrower perspective.
In this column, I would like to share this perspective. I have been practicing spirituality as an orthodox metaphysical esoteric, and now shamanic practitioner, for over thirty-four years of my adult life. I am currently engaged locally and on cosmic levels to maintain the natural balance and achieve more of the same as we journey into the future. I work with like minded practitioners within the readership of this publication. Perhaps our perspective can be helpful to you in your life.
Editor’s note: Black Eagle, by El Patton, is offered for sale this month at the Moosehorn Gallery benefit for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Big Sky.