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 Post subject: Good Shaman or Bad Shaman... That is the question...
 Post Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:37 am 
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In most shamanic cultures, the idea that a shaman served his community was implicit. There existed the potential for the shaman to turn those abilities and skills around to serve more personal interests, and this was the basis for 'witches' (People who use shaman skills and techniques for personal reasons and represent a real and continuing threat to others).

The identification and isolation or containment of the the threat such people represented became a high priority.


This line of inquiry led me to the idea of an implicit social contract.

It seems the nature of shaman would be seen as a balance/compromise between the need for the services and sense of control and the potential threat inherent in the nature of the job.

People seldom trust what they cannot understand. The skill and techniques of the shaman would, by necessity, need to be closely guarded secrets... if only to prevent those with self serving intent from seeking an advantage. How, then, do you trust the shaman not to do exactly that?

Where is this implicit social contract in the neo-shaman constructs? Is there a need for one?


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 Post Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm 
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I think what you are referring to is purity of spirit. The intentions of the practitioner directly relate to the purity of his/her spirit. Rules created by man will always have the inevitable consequence of being broken. If someone desires to be a dark shaman or a self serving one it is solely up to the person practicing. This cannot be controlled even with a contract. A shamans success or social stature in his/her community directly relates to his/her skill in performing divination, healing and retrieving messages from the spirit realm. If they cannot deliver, they are not revered. In order for us to obtain and keep trust, we must continue to serve interests other than our own. We come from a place of humility...Not power. The only reason we possess the skills we do is because the spirits allow it. We work with them, we do not control them. It is also our responsibility to give thanks to those who help further our path and offer skills to help us help others. We are the membrane between our world and theirs...We pass through both worlds because of our connection with spirit.

The subject kinda reminds me of gun control laws. The authorities believe if you make various weapons illegal, nobody will have them. More laws just means those who break the laws will have what those who follow the law do not.

It just comes down to moral decision...Walk in light or walk in darkness.

Peace, walkthepath


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 Post Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:14 pm 
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An implicit social contract is one that is not specified directly by verbal or written means, but which everyone is not only aware of the implications of the arrangement but their status within it. Friendship is an implicit social contract.

Shaman agree, sort of, to provide certain services to the community in return for a community to serve. In return, the community gains a healer, the benefits of limited foreknowledge, the protection and alliance of certain spirits of place and things so long as the arrangement is beneficial to the community.

I was under the impression that the abilities of a shaman came to us from the spirits that our abilities were a gift of the spirits as they operated through us, not that we in any way manifest the abilities without the will of the spirits.

So yes, the abilities of a shaman are similar to the gun argument. Guns don't kill people, the bullets do... and only when a person pulls the trigger. That again brings up the argument for an implicit social contract.

The problem being, spirits do not have the same morality as people. The concept of 'spiritual purity' is ambiguous and designed by humans and is, in this case, an analog for concepts of good and evil. The culture in which a shaman exists and develops determines the morality and ethics. It is through the community and the spirit with the shaman as intermediary that the community and spirits maintain the whole. If the shaman fails to maintain this as his contract demands, then an imbalance occurs and forms a disparity between the spirit world and the physical world that can manifest in droughts, famines, plagues...

While I would agree that our standing and reverence in the community has a direct relation to the implicit value we bring to the community, we still see the evil sorcerer dynamic in the indigenous communities. Perhaps one of the most dramatic is the spirit walker of the Navajo. While perhaps the best known and research-able, it is hardly the only example. In some cases, the wendigo is manifest with negative shaman abilities after conversion.

Certainly, a tribal shaman would be revered by their tribe after successfully eliminated a rival tribe as a threat. The tribe to which s/he belonged would revere them for the act. The victim tribe would hardly see them the same way. You can see examples of this in Voodoo, African tribal religions, and many Native American religions.

In that way, yes I am referring to the practitioner's intentions directly. Intent forms the will and the will drives the forces of motion.

If it is my intention to heal a child and secure it against further harm from malicious spiritual influences, then most communities will see this as a beneficial and beneficent act. It will add to the communities positive view of me.

If, on the other hand, I use the abilities of a shaman to gain the marriage of woman who has attracted my attentions but had or has not attraction to me, I would call it immoral. But, it is such a small thing and no one else would know... so how does this play into your 'spiritual purity'? Some will resist and pine away in the classic self sacrifice. Others will not and you know the value of it.

Other ways the balance can be thrown off, when a shaman becomes too familiar with one set of interests, such as the ecology or animal rights. When they no longer balance the needs of a community against the balance of the whole with impartiality, they add to the imbalance of nature that threaten to bring famine, drought... This can also manifest in a biased agenda that favors humanity or its progress.

"How does a sick mind know that it is sick?" A quote from criminal minds.

You cannot judge your intentions and actions accurately from within your thoughts. Humans have progressed intellectually to the point where we can rationalize and justify almost anything to ourselves. When a person desires something the will is manifest as desire is intent manifest. How do you know if you are unbiased and serving the best interest of a community if you have no community to serve and judge your intentions from a clearer point of view?


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