What is Shamanism? Shamanism in the north?

21 Feb

Core to understanding shamanism is the acknowledgement that the universe is alive, aware, and interconnected. Usually, one thinks of rhythmic drumming, perhaps around a fire, which leads to an altered state of consciousness which in turn leads to the acquiring of knowledge which is used for either healing sickness or states of unwellness or for obtaining knowledge for expanding the consciousness or growing as a spiritual being.


Also common to thoughts of shamanism, is the theme of native american shamanism. Here we especially see the image of people dancing around a fire, chanting and drumming to move their consciousness to higher, unseen realms. Today, in Peru, people practicing shamanic journeys use the spirit plant blend ayahuasca to reach realms of consciousness and subtle energy.


The active ingredient of this plant blend, taken as a tea, is DMT.This tea is made with Banisteriopsis caapi. Typically with an accompanying plant ingredient such as Psychotria viridis, Psychotria carthaginensis,or Diplopterys cabrerana. In fact, many people from the west are attracted to these spirit journeys using this bad tasting but powerful plant concoction and describe the experience as either enlightening, beautiful, terrifying, intense… a wide array of emotions. Many people report addictions and depression being conquered as a result of their intense inner journey initiated by the substances. The important aspect of the scenario which leads to such great liberation is not merely the substance, but the atmosphere and shamanic guidance. Shamanism seems to be associated only with the tribal cultures today, but we forget that Europeans, before becoming so addicted and illusioned by materialism also had a tribal culture connected with the earth, which also recognized the universe as living, interconnected and aware.


Before superficiality took hold of the west, we know from the myths that Oden the nordic god undertook a shamanic journey in order to divine wisdom that was to become the runes. While scholars argue about the origins, the myths tell off shamanic wisdom obtained through an ordeal. Oden hung for nine nights from a tree, upside down, with no food or drink. What we can take from this, even as skeptics, is that shamanic practices were common in Europe and that our ancestors knew that unusual circumstances and frames of mind were conducive to obtaining new insight and knowledge.


Cave drawings and strange sites of worship have appeared throughout Europe upon inspection and archaeological excavation. Herbal healing was practiced effectively throughout Europe since ancient times, and continues today (however suppressed by the profit and power driven large pharmaceutical industry of the west) . Manly P. Hall in his book Secret Teaching of all Ages, describes how shamans knew to isolate particular plants for particular individual’s ailments. They placed themselves in a trance-like state and then went walking where the plants grew. When they saw a particular plant glowing, the shaman knew this plant was the one to use for the ailing individual, and indeed, this worked time and time again. With such precise practices toward finding appropriate healing tools, one would not need to resort to the haphazard methods of testing, of trial and error. We can then see that our ancestors possessed mental faculties of a nature that allowed them to identify clearly plants for healing without fatal error.


Although western civilization in modern times has become a monster of consumption, competition hungry for money and power, we can see from our roots as nature bound people who recognized that all life is interconnected with the rest of the universe possessing intelligence and awareness, from the human to the blade of grass, that we also have a spiritual legacy extending far deeper than mere tales of vikings and gods, or of worship to dogma in a house built by human hands. We can see reflected in the universe itself the core of the human spirit, if we decide to look deep enough. The key to our own tribal past and to shaping a future beyond materialistic back-stabbing and temporary notions of achievement and wealth can perhaps be learnt by looking into the shamanic practices which are active today. The shaman recognizes that life starts at the level of energy, and that all of material existence is built upon that energy which exists in all of us. There is a higher power we are connected to, that is within, and without.


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