INSIDE THE SHAMAN'S MIND
An interesting article on what appears to happen to the nervous system during shamanic work. As the author notes: "Whether the otherworld and its spirits are merely hallucinations or are actually real is less easy to determine." That is a matter for each individual to discover for herself. Read the article Submitted by Timothy Flynn, FSS Three Year Program graduate, Monterey Bay area, California.
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YAKUT SHAMAN CALLING SPIRITS.
LORE OF THE LAND
Lore of the Land is a non-profit foundation that nurtures bioregional documentation within indigenous and traditional communities of the Greater Southwest to support an ongoing, self-directed aural history program that is instrumental in maintaining languages, environments, and lifeways. Audio programs are available free for download. The audio series The Lore of the Land by Jack Loeffler is so full of heart, as well as facts, and is highly recommended. It is a fifteen part series of 30-minute documentary radio programs set in the southwestern United States and Mexico. The first seven programs focus on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road to the Interior Lands, thought to be the oldest continuously used road of European provenance in North America. The second half of the series focuses in part on the relationship of indigenous cultures of the Southwest to their respective habitats. Loeffler has recorded and spoken with members of Hopi, Rio Grande Puebloan, Navajo, Tohono O'odham and Hispano cultures, who share their sense of the sacred quality of homeland through stories and song.
NOTE: Each issue we plan to post on the website or provide a link to an article or other media with useful information about shamanism or shamanic healing. Check the Articles section for several varied perspectives on shamanism and shamanic healing, many from past issues of Shamanism and the Shamanism Annual, the Foundation's scholarly journal - one of the exclusive benefits of the Circle of the Foundation.
MAKING KNOWN THE BRIGHT POSSIBILITIES
A recent New York Times piece, "The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wrong but You'll Never Know What It Is", made me think about the current state of our cultures ecological awareness. The article premise goes something like this: There are questions that we don't know the answer to (known unknows) and questions we don't even know to ask. "What happens to the Ocean when millions of gallons of oil are released into it?" would be a known unknown. Dan Rather recently ran an article in the Huffington Post titled "We Don't Know" in answer to that question. Unknown unknowns are simply beyond our ken to ask. Sometimes those questions are the most important.
Not knowing what we don't know has plagued the progress of environmentalism from its birth. How do you explain the intrinsic - dare I say it - sacred value of a creature to someone who has no experience of the transcendent aspects of the natural world? It can't be done. That seems to keep most of us stuck in unknown unknowns when it comes to the natural world. For many Americans, not exposed to the profound spiritual aspects of our Earth, the Gulf oil spill may only translate into small changes in the menu when they eat out. That's not enough if we are collectively going to respond effectively to the harm we're doing to the Earth.
One news analyst proposed that the oil industry's lack of preparedness for a spill of the magnitude happening in the Gulf was caused by the following frame of mind: Something like this had never happened before, so we didn't believe it could happen. It was for them an unknown unknown. I have a feeling that with regards to Mother Nature, we're collectively harboring many more unknown unknowns than we are known unknowns.
"What does the land think about water?" Seems like an obvious question now. That answer was really interesting: "Water binds things to the land. See that animal carcass buried there. Its substance becomes part of the land through the impact of water. Water is the great healer of the land." This opens up so many great questions! Does the land need the healing water brings? Do I really want to bind this to the land by showering it with water?
Transforming unknown unknowns into really interesting questions has only been possible because it is directly transmitted in my shamanic journeys and made concrete by my physical labor. I am waking up to the abundance in which we all live. The systems of the Earth renew themselves season after season, eon after eon. We exist as a part of that process of renewal, whether or not we're conscious of its existence. By working the land and journeying to the spirit of the land, these cycles and the reality of the Earth's abundance are becoming tangible to me. There is something uniquely powerful about combining the urgency of growing one's own food with the shamanic journey.
Journeying changes our frame of mind, opening us to the wisdom of the compassionate helping spirits who can see our lives in the context of the Earth's life even when we cannot. The more we journey the more present to the realities of Earthly living we become. Shamanism gives us the ability to see beyond our own limitations – that is perhaps its greatest gift to humanity.
It seems outlandish to think oil executives and workers could journey before beginning a drilling project. And yet, those things that lurk in the unknown unknown are not only dangerous and problematic – some are bright possibilities we have only to entertain for a moment, so that they may become a tangible part of the Earth's cycles of renewal, a tangible part of our future.
Timothy Flynn, FSS Three Year Program graduate, Monterey Bay area, California. Contact Tim through his writing blog.
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NOTE: "Healing Words" contains helpful practices, ideas and suggestions from shamanic healers, answers to questions of concern to those practicing shamanism, and inspiring stories. FSS presents them as a service to the shamanic community without endorsement; as always, each shamanic healer is responsible for using these ideas in a responsible and ethical manner. If you would like to SUBMIT A HELPFUL TIP, email the Editor. (A few succinct paragraphs, please.)
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For more than two decades, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies has worked to preserve, study, and teach shamanic knowledge for the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants. Michael Harner's pioneering work has led to a revival of shamanic healing in a contemporary context. In addition to its training programs, attended by thousands annually, the FSS works to preserve and revive indigenous shamanism as well researching the practical applications of shamanic healing and knowledge to present day problems.
Living Treasure Pau Nyima Dhondup, Tibetan shaman living in Nepal. Photo by Sarah Sifers.
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Editor: Susan Mokelke
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