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Is Learning from indigenous shamans essential?
Yes 20%  20%  [ 32 ]
No 80%  80%  [ 128 ]
Total votes : 160
 
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 Post Posted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:41 pm 
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I'm sure my response will offend some people here, but I feel the truth is important to share here...

I am old school. I am part blood Chinook Indian, and went through a traditional apprenticeship with a Native American teacher from a reservation. I do not agree with all these online or weekend courses you can find on becoming a shaman. These courses, many with outrageous fees, in my opinion are people cashing in on the popularity of shamanism – just to make money. They practice the “religion of greed”. The only cost of a traditional apprenticeship is that of time and assisting one's teacher with his practice while under apprenticeship. Also, not just anyone can be a shaman because they desire to be; a shaman is a person who receives a gift, either at birth or after a “shamanic death” experience. The worst thing that happened to shamanism in my opinion was Michael Harner.

I also do not believe in an eclectic approach which is one who performs shamanic healings along with other services like reiki and such. The disciplines of shamanism are not unlike those of a monk – constant adherence to rites & rituals to maintain ones connection with spirit. To truly be connected with spirit, one must practice, practice practice. It may be a gift, but one that must be developed and honed to perfection to be knowledgeable and wise in the practice, after all we are talking about people’s souls here – that is eternal.


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 Post Posted: Tue May 12, 2009 11:06 pm 
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Location: Surry, Maine
This topic is one that interests me greatly, because of my own experience, and my attempts to learn how to handle what happened to me from indigenous shamans.

In 1988 I was caught in a propane explosion and fire in which I was severely burned. In the midst of the explosion, I was propelled out of my body into my journey towards death. However, my way was blocked by five looming spirits. The largest of them spoke to me, and as he did so, the spirit shapes took on the form of grizzly bears. They asked me to return to my body as there was a "work" they wished me to do for the Bear Spirit Clan, and promised to facilitiate my physical healing should I agree. I had a choice. I agreed, and before propelling me back into my body, the largest bear spirit somehow transmitted into my consciousness a large number of images so rapidly that I could not see each individual image.

During my physical recovery, I could see and hear these bear spirits, and could feel their healing touch on my body. My doctors said that I healed faster than anybody they had seen with such extensive burns.

The bears continued to be with me in both my waking and dream lives following my physical recovery, and the images transmitted to me during the fire gradually began "opening". They contained images, stories, and teachings that the Bear Spirit Clan was asking me to make available to people in my culture by means of my art and words (I am an artist and a writer.)

I am a white woman of Irish Catholic ancestry, and was raised in that culture. I had never heard the word shamanism. I believed I was insane and saw several therapists to try and discover why I was hallucinating these bears. They could not find that I was crazy and didn't know what was happening to me. Finally, I took some of my paintings of the visions I was having to one therapist, who said, "Those look shamanic." Tha was the first time I had heard the word.

Eventually, I realized that I needed guidance from somebody outside my own culture. I was led to a Native American teacher, a Mohawk, with whom I studied for three years. While she taught me the basics of how to handle the shamanic power that had come to me during the fire, her hatred of white culture and especially of white women, made her very dangerous to me in the altered state I was in. I eventually had to break my ties with her. From then until a couple of years ago, I was on my own, and because of my extremely negative experience with an indigenous teacher, I didn't seek another one. A couple of years ago, I was approached by the spiritual leader of one of Maine's tribes, who, after evaluating me for some time, decided that she would teach me, and I am now under her guidance. I am having a very different experience with her than I had with my first teacher, a much better one.

I think that in reality, there are very few non-indigenous people who go through the kind of shamanic death experience that I went through, and I think that those of us who have are in great jeopary of being taken advantage of financially and abused in various ways by indigenous shamans (or indigenous people claiming to be shamans), who project their hatred of white culture onto their students while charging huge amounts of money for their teachings.

Having said all of this, I agree that anybody who is called to this path through a shamanic death experience or other traditional means very much needs a physical teacher. Without guidance from an experienced shaman, it's all too easy to become lost in one's own ideas about what shamanism is. I think it is even more important for those who simply want to learn shamanism to do so. I'm not so sure that the teaching shaman needs to be indigenous, but I am sure that the teaching shaman needs to be genuinely called and experienced. I think it's even more important that those who are seekers study with experienced shamans, because it's even easier for such people to be wrongly guided.

I agree with you about Michael Harner. The idea that somebody can become a shaman from taking a few workshops is ludicrous. I also think it's a bad idea to mix shamanic ways up with other ways, such as Reiki, etc. Each tradition has its tried and true methods of working, and not all of them work with the same energies or spirits, etc. There are many realms of alternate reality, and I've seen people become very confused about where they are, where their spirit helpers come from, etc.

Shaman_Cougar wrote:
I'm sure my response will offend some people here, but I feel the truth is important to share here...

I am old school. I am part blood Chinook Indian, and went through a traditional apprenticeship with a Native American teacher from a reservation. I do not agree with all these online or weekend courses you can find on becoming a shaman. These courses, many with outrageous fees, in my opinion are people cashing in on the popularity of shamanism – just to make money. They practice the “religion of greed”. The only cost of a traditional apprenticeship is that of time and assisting one's teacher with his practice while under apprenticeship. Also, not just anyone can be a shaman because they desire to be; a shaman is a person who receives a gift, either at birth or after a “shamanic death” experience. The worst thing that happened to shamanism in my opinion was Michael Harner.

I also do not believe in an eclectic approach which is one who performs shamanic healings along with other services like reiki and such. The disciplines of shamanism are not unlike those of a monk – constant adherence to rites & rituals to maintain ones connection with spirit. To truly be connected with spirit, one must practice, practice practice. It may be a gift, but one that must be developed and honed to perfection to be knowledgeable and wise in the practice, after all we are talking about people’s souls here – that is eternal.


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 Post Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:13 pm
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Location: New Zealand
Hi All,
Where do we draw the line of who is and who is not a Shaman? Even before reading books on the topic, I found myself doing shamanic practices. I started honoring the four directions well before I had read anything about it. Many of the practices I use, came to me naturally, without having to read about them. I use a didgeridoo to clear spaces in which to work. No one taught me this, it just felt natural. As I discovered more and more shamanic practices, I read more about them from various authors, which added to my knowledge. Often I would experience something and later read about it. We can all tap into the same universal energies without the intermediate instruction of an indigenous person. Not all information comes from books, or even word of mouth. It can come direct from spirit. We can talk to the trees, plants, rocks, and rivers – and if we listen, we can hear their wisdom. But other peoples experiences can validate our own.
We are all here to learn; likewise we are all here to teach. If I learn something knew from a person, I don’t ask to see a certificate of completion of some shamanic workshop. I don’t ask to see their Shamans’ license. More and more people are cultivating shamanic tendencies. When and where do we draw the line of who and who is not a Shaman. Do I consider myself to be a Shaman. No. Was I a Shaman in some previous lifetime? Who knows? Do I believe that shaking a rattle over someone would help heal them? At one time I would have said: No. I have come to change my mind. Can you be a Shaman if you put qualifiers on it, such as Neo Shaman, or Urban Shaman, or how about: White boy Shaman? If I learn something knew, I don’t question the source – but I do question the information itself to see if it resonates. The label of Shaman or even Indigenous Shaman is a misnomer. I was born in America, as were my parents, why am I not considered to be a native American? I believe it is up to the individual to put what ever label they want upon themselves. It is also up to the individual how to define those labels.
All My Relations, Glenn
:wink:


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 Post Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:46 pm 
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So many people confuse shamanism (the practice of a spiritual leader and healer) with a spiritual belief system – shamanism is NOT a spiritual belief system. When one does ceremonies and observances, it doesn’t make them a shaman; it makes them a practitioner of a spiritual belief system. In my tribal language, ixqi’yen is what we call our spiritual beliefs and etaminua is our name for a shaman. Everyone in the tribe practices ixqi’yən, but not everyone is an etaminua.


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 Post Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:41 am 
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Location: Pennsylavania
In this very forum I have been on both sides.

Cougar, The above question is "Is learning from indigenous shamans essential. Defining who is a shaman and who is not is a separate question entirely.

I agree with you with respect to people who practice shamanic ways vs. being a full time practicing shaman of a tribe.

Anyhow a little off topic.

If you get the chance to work with someone who is indigenous then do it. Make the effort. If you are really stuck in your location with no way to do anything save some reading and some trial and error then at least do something.

If you want to know if you are a shaman or not. The people are the ones who refer to you as one. This happens usually after a long series of results.

In the end there are not enough people practicing what they have been taught anyhow.

I see literally hundreds of people who need help every day. Most don't even know how to ask for help.

Make yourself available, ditch the pride as to who can be what and get to serving the universe.

I have done both paths. Sometimes studying with people for months and years who can only speak about 5 words of English. Other times picking up tricks here and there.

Indigenous shamanism is becoming a lost art.

If you can get some, please do before all we are really left with is history books which talk about a dozen people who did shamanic miracles 2000 years ago.


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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:23 am
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Location: PERU, Cusco
Take a look at this short video based on the use of the mother in a conscious, responsible and heart centered environment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIEzLJAepkQ

Blessings,

Diego


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 Post Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:15 pm 
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Location: Finland
I have pondered question ofrom the wiev, where from shamanism raises. It raises from connection, not only your helping spirits, but everything. Without nature, earth there would be no civilization. The Earth is the basis, where we live on. Without undesrtanding the surroundings we live, we cannnot give the proper respect. Mountains, seas, rivers, forests have all differents spirits, which have been described in fairytales, mountains and fields have diffrent sprites.

Thay are unique, like persons. I believe these local spirtis form the local customs, and give the orders how we best serve them.

What picks me, is that workshops do not teach anything of the basis of shamanism, but different techniques. For example Bear was feared and worshipped here at ancinet times and he also have asked to remember him more. The main figure of shamanic practise here is not included in teaching of shamanism here. But can any indiginous teacher teach me anything else than his way, his people way? Would an indinious shaman from Brasil or Peru teach me the ways to celebrate, worship, respect cougar, alligator, anakonda or tapir? Climate, people, animals, plants are different in different locations, what use it is to learn use plants not growing here? What good is there to learn ways used under Southern Cross, when I follow the Northern Star, where the Bear lives?

Thay say shamanism is oldest spiritual tradition, which is known worldwide. They too often forget, that there is no same customs. Gods and cultures are all diffrent. The seremonie's forms are quite distant of each others. Thay do not serve the same gods or same ways, which form the base of shamanic practise.
Michaels harner's method is not a tradition, but a combination. It do not carry any cultural value. It works the way it works.


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 Post Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:33 pm 
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Location: New Zealand
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Jusma wrote: Climate, people, animals, plants are different in different locations, what use it is to learn use plants not growing here? What good is there to learn ways used under Southern Cross, when I follow the Northern Star, where the Bear lives?


Spirit is in everything. It crosses boundaries and cultures. When a person communes with a tree the tree responds in the language of the person talking to it. Communication transcends language. We do not need to learn each others specific language in order to communicate at a spiritual or psychic level. It is desirable to learn from an indigenous person but that is not always possible. I am an American living in New Zealand and was given the great honor of being taken to a sacred Maori site and initiated in the frigid waters. (It was winter with snow on the ground) A couple of years later I brought an Australian friend (white Anglo-Saxon) to the site. It didn’t matter that we were from other countries and cultures. We approached the site with respect and asked permission (telepathically). My friend stripped off his clothes and immersed himself in the waters). I had the privilege of seeing the face of Tane Mahuta’s face superimposed on my friends face with a full facial moko (tattoo). The spirit was grinning from ear to ear. In Maori culture Tane Mahuta is the Lord of the forest and Father of plants and man, represented on the physical plane by a huge Kauri tree on the North Island. I had been to the physical tree and communed with it years before.
Respect, honor, gratitude, and love do not change from one land, hemisphere, or culture to another. Hence the term universal truths. PS my totem animal is bear, in NZ it is the Tui.


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 Post Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:42 pm 
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think it's good to work/connect with traditional medicine folks from various cultures (if you can) b/c many times you do learn things that you might not learn otherwise, along with receiving gifts/blessings through them that can speed your process up and help you re-member more quickly...


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 Post Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:39 pm 
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There is only one way to reply to this, silly ones...

What is indegenous???

Do you mean culturally?

Is it definesd with an age, neolithic, paleolithic, "whatever..ithic"

Is it geographical...Mexico, Peru, Arizona...
Colombia...Venezuela...

or is it something of NO AGE...that we hear...
something with no location "like the Moon"
or the "Wind"

Well then, does the Wind and the moon belong to a particular time, place, or age...

Alas there is your answer...my friends...could you now help me with mine...


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 Post Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:28 am 
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I was really thinking about ..What is it to be indegenous?

I could only come up with this:

As long as I step on the ground, have the sun to look at, with the breeze to pass me by..the moon to ask questions to? Then no matter what my location age or space I am indegenous of this earth.

Now if I went and lived in Mars, and stayed a little bit in the moon...and lived a while in a space station...
well then...I would be something else... a visitor maybe..a visitor in a strange land??maybe? I don't really know.. I know I am indegenous of this place, and this place knows me.


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 Post Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:20 pm 
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^^ not so sure most in the usa could be considered indigenous and tend to think we are guests living freely on land belonging to our indigenous prisoners now sitting on the reservation trash lands.... think even a blind person could see that our consumerism mentality lacks essential elements that those indigenous to this land possessed...


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 Post Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:52 am 
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ups! mmmm...

your soul is nice coloring book...try to stay inside the lines

to generalize between millions is always a healthy thing to do,
to hold the great-great-great-great great granchildrens resposible and accountable for errors made also a sound thing to do.

keep on hating, you are not alone.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:29 pm 
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Location: Cusco, Peru
It depends whether you wish to learn culturally specific practices or not.

It is extremely valuable to study with elders from various perspectives because they WILL open up new areas which exist outside of your band of reality... and provide you with different points of view.

However, unless you are born into an isolated traditional culture (which you clearly were not) and study exclusively within it you will always be eclectic. That has many strengths as well as weaknesses. It is a fallicy to think "shamanic" culture was or is perfect or utopian. Also, even the so called traditional cultures are becoming more and more eclectic themselves. So, whether studying with Amazonian ayahuasceros or Mazatc curenderdas you will find that they are part of living, organic cultures and not static "museum" pieces. They have been adapting culturally and from a practice perspective for a long, long time as well.

So, yes, you can find your own way in Shamanism. In the end you always have to to some extent because it is an EXPERIENCE an individual must undergo. HOW you trigger those experiences becomes a useful question. It is very, very useful to have teachers.

Chose your teachers carefully based on their individual attributes, not on their skin colour. There are good and bad in all regions and cultures. I have seen a pretty wide spectrum from around the world and believe me, being "brown" or purple for that matter is not a ticket to authenticity.

However, there are very profound "native" teachers who have dedicated their lives to their practice in ways that most other people are simply not prepared to do. That IS important. They also may have tried and true descriptions for reality that can be very powerful.

So, find your own way... and also find great teachers! Don't worry too much about your own label of "becoming" a shaman. Develop a reciprocal relationship with your environment. Seek to serve. The label "I am a shaman!" is the least important thing you will get in return.

Good luck :)


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 Post Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:39 pm 
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^^ very well said and very true....unfortunately, most in our culture cannot, or do not choose to devote their lives in quite the same way as those traditional native/indigenous folks that are raised to walk/live the path from birth.. encountering and being able to spend any amount of time with those that are totally devoted to living spirit's medicine ways (no matter what color or culture) are very great gifts that help us to weed our gardens and eliminate all that is not serving our greatest and highest good imo


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