Being a Shaman

June 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm 6 comments

Ever since I found out I have Native American ancestry (one of my ancestors “went native” back in the frontier days) and especially since I went to the Pacific Northwest and studied Native American art and lore, I’ve begun to consider myself a shaman. I admitted this to myself abashedly, mostly because what I know about shaman is so slight (except that they travel to other planes of consciousness, learn from nature and are, by nature, solitary practioners), and because I felt I couldn’t be sure the name really fit myself and my practice.

So when I got to the chapter in Leaves of Yggdrasil on “Runic Magic” I was thrilled to find a detailed overview of shamanic practice because I finally had something to “prove” to myself that this title I like to call myself isn’t a crock of shit. Of course, my higher self told me I should’ve just trusted myself enough not to doubt, but I’m still working on that. Here’s some of what the book had to say:

The magic is in the mind of the sorcerer, whatever kind of magic is used. Whatever energy is used has to be transmitted through two agencies. The energy is invoked, processed first through the subconscious mind and then processed mentally, before it is available for use. This is an act of will which creates change on three levels. In drawing energy from a given plane, a vacuum is created which has to be compensated for in turn. This is the magical working of the Gebo rune, the rune which is used in balancing. Life energy has to be exchanged for life energy; therefore the energy employed in magical work has to be compensated for with life energy from the Self. This results in:

  • A change in the unconscious of the individual.
  • A change in the personal web of the individual.
  • A change in the individual’s conscious mind.

Shamanism relies heavily on the information received in altered states of consciousness, either in the dream state or during so-called “traveling.” There are differences between these two states, and for the inexperienced it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. In dreams, things happen to the dreamer while s/he is in a passive mode, for it can be said that the dream state is a manifestation of the personal or, more rarely, the collective unconscious. In traveling or trances, however, the shaman remains in control of his or her state of consciousness, and his or her actions continue to be determined by his or her own will. S/he is still able to make decisions, is aware of what is happening and can intervene if s/he wishes. In these states the shaman is at a level which is deeper than the personal unconscious: s/he is on the level of the primal unconsciousness of the entire planet.

Each shaman will encounter different shamanic experiences. The shaman has to learn by experience how to distinguish between the various levels of reality and must clearly know what is real and what is fantasy, and to what extent s/he is acting under his/her own conscious will. S/he must create his/her own system of working and not be enslaved by anyone else’s. Shamanism is usually practiced alone or with one or two apprentices.

I love this because it explains so much about me in one fell swoop: my tendancy to daydream/have lucid dreams and true dreams/project myself astrally/have dreams about interacting with other ppl’s unconscious projections of themselves in a fight for light on the planet; my stubborn refusal to accept any prescribed mode of religion as my own instead weaving my own out of the bits and parts that mean the most to me and leaving the rest behind; and, my like of being so drunk that I can step outside of myself and let a part of my spirit interact with others that I normally can’t do. Also, if you look back at the post about my runes, you’ll notice a lot of them are linked to shamanistic pratice.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, I really liked this book.


Entry filed under: dreams, reality, spiritual. Tags: , , , , , , .

My Runes My Crystals

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wildreiki  |  June 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Thoughtful post, and of course I love Susan Seddon Boulet’s artwork.

    As a mesa carrier in the Peruvian Q’ero lineage, I would like to expand on the statement from the book that you read that said, “Shamanism is usually practiced alone or with one or two apprentices.”

    It is true that one’s personal work is often done alone, but my training focused on the concept that you do not do this work alone when doing larger work. It is done in harmony with the universe and with the assistance of energies greater than yourself such as spirit allies and archetypes. In addition you do this work in community and on behalf of the community. Don Manuel Quispe, and Q’ero elder said, “Do this work in community, otherwise it will isolate you.”

    For myself this has taken the form of inviting community to fire and despacho ceremonies done on behalf of healing the earth or local zoo animals, for example. If you would like to read more about that you can check out my article “New Year’s Revolutions, Part 1” on my website at There are also additional articles on my blog.

    My best wishes to you on your journey, may your life be filled with great joy and wondrous experiences!

    Rose De Dan
    Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing

  • 2. May  |  June 27, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I think you make a good point, but I also think that practicing alone isn’t the same thing as isolation. It does require time with onesself, however. I love being part of a community and making changes with a large group for the better, so I can understand your encouraging of it. It’s very strengthening and uplifting.

  • 3. wildreiki  |  June 28, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I absolutely agree. I believe that it is the balance between the two that is important; personal growth/change and working with/for community strengthens the practitioner.

  • 4. Pine Knot  |  February 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I suggest reading a series of books by Carlos Castaneda if you would like to go deeper into shamanism. Start with A Seperate Reality.

  • 5. May  |  March 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks, I’ll check that out.

  • 6. Max  |  April 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Live and let live- Learn to address your two energy’s, be careful of where your life force is coming from, To practice healing, one must enter the mind of the lung or liver, for they can’t regenerate, using (pot) (tobacco) (beer) (whine) etc. know that what you take in and what you give out must be in a mind that can love/hate gentle/cruel- a mind of indifference free of judgement, just able to feel what the planet is trying to tell you, she’s listening and talking when you address her as such, know that spirits often talk through her oddity’s- that’s just nature- all is one and one is all- It’s seeing everything and at the same time nothing- for once there was only dark until a spark-


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