There’s an aspect of shamanism that shouldn’t be overlooked. While shamanism is not a religion, there are certain principles that are embedded into it when you decide to use it as a spiritual practice. Every single thing that exists in this world has wisdom. Every single thing has spirit and is in some way alive just as you and I are.
This is different then what you might get from hierarchical view. Hierarchy is like king and subjects. There are higher people and lesser people starting from the top and working your way down. People at the bottom of the hierarchy are less important, and things which are not human even less important. Once you get to rocks… well its not even worth mentioning. And something like soil?? Worth less than the dirt on your shoe!
Shamans do not look at the world in this way. While I can’t say that shamans have never participated in hierarchy (human beings can’t seem to resist ranking other human beings!), journeying is centered in the belief that something else can offer you wisdom. Why else do you journey to have a conversation with a tree? Why do you go talk to the spirit of the clouds? Why would you honor a spirit world that you can’t even see in day to day life?
Yes, some of the time it was probably an act of desperation that sent someone trotting off to ask the clouds how to end the drought. Or to inquire of an animal spirit, would the herd mind stopping by later today so that my tribe can shoot spears at you? Throughout its history shamanic practice has been a results based job. You can’t say a shaman is a good shaman if she doesn’t get any results. And really, even in primitive societies people weren’t too sure about that chanting, animal skin wearing, oddball living at the outskirts of the village. As a shaman you had better deliver the goods, or you’d find yourself looking for a new hut.
But regardless of whether your the shaman who was dragged kicking and screaming into the job, or the one who was born loving the earth and all its creatures: You can’t escape the knowledge that will grow inside of you…
Everything is alive.
Everything has wisdom.
Once you have approached another being in the spirit world…
…once you begin to see the results of the wisdom that was shared with you…
…the way your life is enriched by this wisdom…
…a feeling of gratitude begins to grow inside of you.
When you see how things are transformed by what you learn in your journeys, you can’t help but feel that you are supported by the spirit world. Just by interacting with the energy of another being on a journey, whether it be a tree, an eagle, or a lake, you absorb the powerful energy that is the essence of that being. Those energies begin to become part of who you are. So that even when your walking around in your day to day world, you can’t help looking at that tree, or seeing that body of water, and knowing that you are loved.
Lauren Torres – Lansing, IL
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