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 Post subject: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:07 pm 
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My question is simple. When do you know that you're a shaman. According to Michael Harner, there are a few characteristics of one that has become a shaman, which are: personal certainty of one's guardian spirit, certainty of one's spirit helpers, the ability to shamanic journey, and knowledge of the basic concepts and cosmology of shamanism. What I think is not as tightly knit and neat as Harner's proposed qualities that all shaman's share. He also goes on to comment on how you know that you're a shaman because of the feedback you get from people you try or succeed to heal. This is the only way to know for sure, as far as I know.

Now, according to you all, what makes a person a shaman. And when are you ready to leap from being just a shamanic practitioner into a fully fledged shaman. Anyone?


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:05 pm 
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We don't try or succeed to heal people. We facilitate a healing experience within someone. They are healing themselves, we are simply making it possible for the healing to take place.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:12 pm 
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zen17 wrote:
We don't try or succeed to heal people. We facilitate a healing experience within someone. They are healing themselves, we are simply making it possible for the healing to take place.


I agree entirely with you, Zen17!

Healing is usually a "journey" rather than a single snapshot event. When someone comes to us for a soul retrieval [SR] process, for example, this is just the next step on their journey.

After they have left us, they have to integrate and "ground" [bring into their everday lifestyle patterns] the potential for healing that was highlighted by the SR work, alternatively they may choose, or be drawn, into "slipping back" into soul-disconnection again.

So at what point can you claim a healing has been successful? - after an hour of "new life", a week? a month? six months?

It is difficult enough to decide when a healing has been successfully completed [integrated into everyday living]. Deciding who should get the credit is even more difficult!! - we are all subject to so many influences [sources of support, inspiration, models, teachers, facilitators etc] on our personal "Path of Healing".

Can we just be content and fulfilled to take our place in the magical flow of life? - or will our insecure ego always dominate us with its insatiable cravings for more and more status and self-aggrandisement?


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:34 pm 
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teopiltzin wrote:
When do you know that you're a shaman?


My view is that there are 2 things which, taken together, mark someone out as being a "shaman"...

1. An unsought initiation/revelation from the Great Spirit [i.e. a visionary communication of "divine appointment"].

2. Being acknowledged as a "shaman" by the community who have experienced your lifestyle, healing and teaching work over a period of time.


teopiltzin wrote:
When are you ready to leap from being just a shamanic practitioner into a fully fledged shaman?


I am very wary of folks who call themselves "a shaman", unless of course you happen to hold this official appointment in a Turko-Mongol or Tungusic community. It is a wonderful gift to be acknowledged as a shaman in the 2 ways I have described, but to self-appoint and describe oneself as a "shaman" can be an enormous "ego-trap" in our post-modern "me-centred" cultures.

To be content with calling onself a "shamanic practitioner" is, in my view, a mark of the humility which befits anyone wishing to take on the "divine service" role which is at the heart of shamanism.

Mikhael


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:01 am 
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brothermichael wrote:
To be content with calling onself a "shamanic practitioner" is, in my view, a mark of the humility which befits anyone wishing to take on the "divine service" role which is at the heart of shamanism.

Mikhael


I totally agree with this, however I think that second of the two points you list is not a fair assessment in modern times.

In years gone by, people lived in smallish villages where everyone knew everyone else, and therefore the Shaman would always be pointed out by anyone in the village.

These days we live in large towns and cities, where nobody really knows anyone else and most people would not want to consult with a Shaman and therefore very few people in one's community would even know that you are a shaman, and therefore you cannot be 'pointed out' as you would in olden times.

If there are 'criteria' for being called a Shaman, then they need to move with the times.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:22 am 
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1.) The Term Shaman has been discussed and dismissed on moral grounds in more discussion than I care to re-count... again.
--A.) If shaman is an inappropriate word, then produce a suitable, viable, acceptable substitute that means the same and can be used by western revivalists seeking to reconnect to their shamanic roots.
--B.) If the term shaman is unacceptable, then the whole of the English language is unacceptable for the same reasons. English is, after all is said and done, an amalgamation of Gaelic, Latin, Saxon, Medieval French, German, and Greek that has been borrowed, stolen, appropriated, and adapted for use, often at the expense of the original meaning. 'Shaman' is no different, and no less valid for it. Regardless of where it came from or how it entered the language, it is now an English word, separate and independent of its etymology and with its own meaning and implications.
--C.) The purpose of language is to communicate ideas and thoughts effectively and efficiently with a minimum of confusion and/or misunderstanding. Which then begs the question: "Did you understand the question?", and if so; "Did you misunderstand his implications because of a misstatement?" As long as the term is a proper term in the English language, and it effects both efficient and effective communication with a minimum of confusion and/or misunderstanding, I will continue to use the term...

But then, I define shamanism a little differently too...

Shamanism: n. A term from anthropology referring to the social advance found in animist tribal societies from individual, personal beliefs (limited or no sharing of religious ideas among members) to a more communal system as a means of supporting the community and promoting unity; and which marks a milestone event on the path to the institutionalization of religion with the creation of the office of the part-time "holy man" healer known generically as a shaman.

Which then makes shaman...

Shaman: n. A term from anthropology referring to the relevant creation in animist cultures, of a part-time "holy-man" healer that is culturally relevant to the society and community that created the position and duties, and which endowed the position (and thus the acting agent) with 'special' authority to act on the behalf of the community as defined by the community.

Is this a comprehensive definition of the terms? Not at all. It wasn't meant to be. It is my working definition and allows me to use the terms effectively and, in my opinion, correctly. In other words, it promotes the effective and efficient communication of ideas and thoughts with a minimum of confusion and misunderstandings.

Do I consider myself a Shaman (even by the general definition for effective communication)? No. I consider myself a Non-Shaman Animist (Yes it is important to include all the words). I cannot qualify for the role of a shaman in a community that has no shaman role for me to fill. However, and this is the more important part, the shaman wasn't doing anything the other members of the tribe could not. He simply did it better, with more show, and with a great deal more control and training.

All animists were in connection with the spirits to one degree or other, and dreams are a soul-flight in most (if not all) animist belief systems. The shaman might have been "especially" gifted as the "chosen" of the spirits, but its only trough the skills and specialized knowledge learned in the apprenticeship that gives that person the control that really separates them from the remainder of their community (on a personal power and ability level).

And while this perspective is anything but popular in these discussion boards, and rely heavily on semantics, they are no less valid as observations and interpretations of the available facts. Though, I do see the discussion boards as a limited, dysfunctional sort of community. If you are, in point of fact, serving an online community that endows you with a title, then you are serving a community as long as you are fulfilling the obligations of the role they have defined for you.

In short, to avoid the morality police calling you to task for inappropriate use of a word they have deemed anathema, avoid calling yourself by that term specifically. It doesn't matter that they are wrong, just that they are far more vocal than the rest of us, who have bigger concerns than the "moral" question of the "sublimation of foreign terms into the English language".

Refer to:

The Natural History of Religion, David Hume; 1757
Primitive Cultures, Sir Edward Tylor; 1871
The Threshold of Religion, Robert Marett; 1909
Animism: Or, thought currents of Primitive Peoples, George Gilmore; 1919
Shamanic and/or Cognitive Evolution, Mihaly Hoppal; 2006
Conflicting Perspectives on Shamanism and Shaman: Points and Counter Points, Stanley Krippner Ph.D. 2002
Animism: Respecting the living world, Graham Harvey; 2006
Animism, the seed of Religion, Edward Clodd; 1905
The nature of shamanism: substance and function of a religious metaphor, Michael Ripinsky-Naxon; 1993
Shamans and Shamanism, John Lee Maddox; 1923
Shamanism in Siberia: Aboriginal Siberia, A study in Social Anthropology, M. A. Czaplicka; 1914

See also:

Last, First. (2010) Watt2008.pdf (application/pdf Object. Retrieved September 16, 2010, from http://hmongstudies.org/Watt2008.pdf
...which contains a beautifully accentuated illustration of the English Language's failure to convey or contain ideas that are not Western Culture Specific. (Thus necessitating either the sublimation of foreign terms for the purpose, or the creation of new ones)

Last, First. (2010) oroqen_shaman_fssforumaug07.pdf (application/pdf Object. Retrieved September 16, 2010, from http://www.desales.edu/assets/desales/s ... maug07.pdf
...which is an essay detailing the ethnography of the last shaman of the Oroqen of China, with an interview that addresses these very questions.

Last, First. (2010) Black Elk speaks: being the life ... - Books. Retrieved September 16, 2010, from http://books.google.com/books?id=7p9VqR ... &q&f=false
...which is an ethnography of the Holy Man Black Elk, interviewed as a surviving witness to the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Timely Demise of General George Armstrong Custer, and which details the way his society defined the questions you are asking.

Key word Search suggestions...
Ethnography
Social Anthropology
Animism
Animatism (be careful it will pull up a lot of references to animation)
Or search for the names of indigenous tribes from regions of interest and see if you can find information on them. (Example: Karankawa Ethnography)


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:27 am 
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SoaringSpirit wrote:
...therefore very few people in one's community would even know that you are a shaman


Let me explain, SoaringSpirit, that "community" does not have to be a geographical local community that you live in. "Community" refers to the community of people that know you through your shamanic work. There has to be such a group of people otherwise you cannot be a "shaman" or even "shamanic practitioner" - because a "service" role is an essential part of the Tungusic and anthropological origins of "shaman" and "shamanic" - you cannot be a shaman on your own!


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:36 am 
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Ahhh, okay, that use of 'community' makes more sense


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:43 am 
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Its hard to say if a one person is shaman or not.

Even if he heals a person we cannot say that he is shaman,
even if a person saw spirits or what we cannot say that he is shaman.

there are things that we must to consider to say that he is a shaman.

I agree on Michael Harner that you must have those ability and quality to be a shaman.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:19 pm 
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HeavySplash wrote:
Even if he heals a person we cannot say that he is shaman, even if a person saw spirits or what we cannot say that he is shaman.



Michael Harner rightly emphasises that certain technical accomplishments are important to the label "shaman"...

teopiltzin wrote:
According to , there are a few characteristics of one that has become a shaman, which are: personal certainty of one's guardian spirit, certainty of one's spirit helpers, the ability to shamanic journey, and knowledge of the basic concepts and cosmology of shamanism.


However, when it comes to the SERVICE [healing/teaching/guidance] aspect of being a Shaman, personal accomplishments are not always sufficient to mark someone out as being a Shaman. Our unresolved "inner demons", unmet personal needs and our subconscious "ego agendas" can distort or corrupt our healing and teaching of others. More important still - they can even distort or corrupt our interpretation and "grounding" of our own personal shamanic journeys.

So how can I tell if I, or someone else, has attained the level of MASTERY of the Shamanic Path at the level of PERSONAL INTEGRITY and SERVICE to others?

Below is a list of tips on the art of "Shamanic Mastery" that I put together some years ago for my Advanced Level Shamanic Practitioner trainees. It was inspired by my own years of training in these skills with a wide range of teachers, in particular the Kairos Foundation and "Universal Training".

++++++++++++++++
Shamanic Mastery
++++++++++++++++


A "shaman" is a mediator between, and integrator (healer) of, the worlds of: Nature, Spirit & Community.

He or She is characterised by continuing, sustained efforts towards [plus a track-record of achievements in] the following skills....


---------------
A. Self-Mastery
---------------


1. CONSTANT PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT/GROWTH/ADAPTATION...

a) open to challenges and feedback
b) reflecting on (processing) negative experiences
c) exercising a self-critical approach to praise & self-valuation
d) willingness to admit error and ignorance
e) capacity for "witness consciousness" [detached self-observation]

2. SELF-AWARENESS of...

a) "self-talk" and its consequences
b) feelings, drives, impulses and ego-agendas

3. COURAGE to...
a) feel the fear but, with discrimination, "do it anyway"
b) face the truth, including "home-truths"
c) tell the truth (with discrimination & sensitivity)
d) live in the "here and now"
e) be spontaneous & self-expressive

4. SELF-DISCIPLINE & REGULAR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE to...

a) maintain an "awakened" state
b) receive divine guidance and protection
c) tread the path of wisdom, love, creativity & contribution
d) self-remember ("self-centre") at intervals throughout the day
e) cultivate "Inner Peace", "Inner Strength", "Contentment"

5. DIS-IDENTIFICATION FROM & RISING ABOVE...

a) feelings, drives, automatic reactions, impulses & ego-agendas
b) perfectionism, insecurity, hatred, aggression, dogma
c) arrogance, bigotry, blame, manipulation, victimhood


-------------------------------------------------------
B. Mastery of Contribution (Service) to One's Community
-------------------------------------------------------


1. CONTRIBUTING BEYOND...

a) self-interest, expectation of reward, "staying safe"
b) what is easy or comfortable to give
c) what is easy or comfortable for others to receive
d) boundaries (capabilities) imposed by self or others

2. CONTRIBUTING WITHOUT...

a) self-destructiveness
b) (severe) self-neglect
c) encouraging exploitation (soul-loss) by others
d) attachment to (limited by) specific goals, plans or outcomes


3. FINDING FULFILMENT & JOY in...

a) contributing, sharing, giving, empowering, healing
b) truth, justice, compassion
c) doing one's best, regardless of the difficulties
d) being one's best, regardless of the vulnerability

Source: www.brothermichael.org.uk
Recommended Reading: "Mastery Through Accomplishment" [details] and
"The Art of Being and Becoming" [details]


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:44 am 
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Also it is good to remember, that man made rules or borderlines do not exist in spiritual realms, where much of the work is done.

If question here is, when one may call himself a shaman as a statussymbol, usually that start to happen, when ego says so. Some start to call themselves a shaman, because that is what they do as a profession. So, people can easier understand, what it is they do.

I have not heard anybody telling, that spirits say: "you are a shaman now". Have any?

Usually it is humans, who want to be called like that for a reason or other. And mostly it is only ego-talk than anything else, like practical means.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:30 am 
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Jusma wrote:
Also it is good to remember, that man made rules or borderlines do not exist in spiritual realms, where much of the work is done.


Agreed Jusma. I have met some excellent "shamans" who did not call themselves by such a name.

Jusma wrote:
I have not heard anybody telling, that spirits say: "you are a shaman now". Have any?


Yes, I had such a visionary experience, Jusma - quite unexpectedly! - while meditating with a group of friends in 1997. My name was called and I went to a clearing in a forest to see who called it. At the time I had no ambition to be a shamanic practitioner, but I had travelled the path of "rebirth" after crisis - complete disintefration of my life, followed by reassembly in a new lifestyle. There was an altar, and a gathering in that clearing of the shamans of all ages and cultures past and present who acknowledged me as being one of them. This is how I know that the "spiritual" community acknowledgement [INITIATION] is as important as the earthly community one - as mentioned in my first posting.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 3:38 pm 
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Well, I ment spirits literally used a word 'shaman'. Initiation itself is a quite common thing. Anyway I am delighted to hear about those experiences, because of their sacredness and also that there is very special way those happen in each individual.

When all universe feels to be present, everything at present rarely acknowledges it to be a shaman or sage or healer or seer or any other similar to that. Usually it is something, that just is. Also it may be, that I use and understand that word differently. In that way it sounds me that your were accepted into the council of elders. Because the word 'elder' includes all possible ways for wisdom, not just one tungusian familyline.

But anyway, yes spirits take people and boil, dismember and eat them, making them vehicles to carry their power, work and to share it around, but it is rare that they give a word shaman to a person telling that you must use it for now on.

however, that point if any for my liking is the one, when a person knows he is becoming or ready shaman. My experiences and what my friends have told about their initiations, it is more like a beginning of becoming. When a person is ready? It is more the point of putting the label 'shaman a side and start really working.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:36 pm 
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After learning what a shaman is and understanding the responsibilities, if you can say I am a shaman without feeling like a liar. Your a shaman. Not a very good one but its done. May the wind at your back not be your own.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you know when you've become a shaman?
 Post Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:44 am 
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Why worry about titles? Be open to the will of the Creator and carry his light to the dark places of the world. That is what "shamanism" is all about, no? Western society is based on the need to measure, catagorize, conquer and name everything to death. In the end, it's really only our collective ego seeking to hang its hat upon something "solid".

Let others worry about what they want to call us. We just work here.


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