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 Post subject: Personal Thoughts, Opinions and Experiences with Shamanism
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:18 pm
Posts: 20
Hey all.

The general rule of internet conversation is "show, don't tell" meaning that claiming authority, whether lineage or training or special circumstance, is not appropriate in a medium known for bullshit. That said, I wanted to share my background, not to place myself as any sort of authority (which I am most certainly not) but to show my personal perspective. Anyone who reads this is welcome to believe none of it, but it will still show a unique outlook, one that seems under-represented on this forum.

I am a religious studies scholar. I read people like Kierkegaard, William James, Rudolph Otto, all philosophers of religion. I've read the Gita, the Koran, the Bible. I've studied with Sufis, Yogis, the Ba'hai, Christian mystics and occult practitioners. Twenty five years I have spent as something the Ba'hai called "a seeker." My specific quest involved religious history. Not one particular religion, but religions in general. My grand thesis was to be "A Hegelian Historical Approach to Religious Evolution." But, sadly, money dried up and I never went to grad school.

The important point I am trying to make here is that I studied shamanism as a historical entity. On this forum, and in many other places, I find many who want to define shamanism very specifically. The only specific "shaman" are those of the Tungus valley. The more general term refers to practices that early man, and certain cultures isolated from the stain of western progress, developed naturally. That so many of these practices follow similar paths is remarkable.

I am not a cultural relativist (a person who believes one way is as good as any other.) Rather, I am a cultural perspectivist. I believe there is one true way, but much like the blind men and the elephant, we are all blind to that whole, only perceiving that part which is at hand. If the truth is shamanic, then shamanism is everywhere, and it's presence is felt in every faith. In the christian tradition, there are the mystics. Who can deny that John of Patmos' famous Revelation is a shamanic journey? (One that has been sorely misinterpreted for cultures alien to the original audience.) John the Baptist was quite the shamanic figure, and Jesus taught with stories. In Islam, there is Rumi. John Fox of the Society of Friends (Quakers.) Emmanuel Swedenborg, William Blake, John Milton...look into the western tradition and you will find them, though they were certainly confused by the authority of their culture.

I was quite happy being a seeker. It had a kind of positive agnosticism to it. Twelve years ago I stopped seeking. I am a natural skeptic. Leaving ones faith will do that, and the grip of Catholicism is clawed. Wounds heal with scars. I have never been a fan of new age (mainly due to its commercialism.) I don't particularly associate with native people. But when the spirits want you, they don't give up. In essence, I was told "You will be a shaman, no go learn what that means."

That is why I am here. My spirits come in western garb at times, because those are how I will understand them. My first "Journey Circle" was a disaster. The people weren't serious. I find a lot of BS from one camp, and a lot of anger at stolen values from another. But there aren't two camps.

At the top of this forum is a poll. The answers available are "yes" and "no." I believe this question is itself divisive. While the poll results skew more toward my way of thinking, I find the question and its prominence mildly off putting. If a moderator reads this post, please think about un-sticking it to the top, as I find it has little to do with my quest. (Any "indigenous" (whatever that means...that is a loaded term) shaman that would teach a westerner is suspect in my opinion, not to mention none are available to me where I live.)

Shaman are not going to agree to much. That is a good thing. Shamanism is evolutionary. The lack of a book allows it to change with circumstances. Yes or no questions have no place in shamanism. Period.


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 Post subject: Re: Personal Thoughts, Opinions and Experiences with Shamani
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:16 pm
Posts: 260
Location: NW UK
Thank you for sharing your journey so far with us sonoffox.

I think I see what you are getting at with the yes and no questions but all things need to be discussed, however, it's the absolutes which have no place perhaps?

Journey circles can easily be difficult because one has to feel comfortable with all present and on the same wavelength so to speak. One BIG reason that many circles are private and by invite only. Even then it can be difficult if one or more present are not 'whole'.

The term 'Shaman' does, from everything I have read, technically belong to the Tungus language and many find it a difficult term to use. A friend of mine in Croatia works with a group and many there use the term "starovjerci" ("those of old faith") which I rather like. Other than the word though, the underlying way/belief/path remains pretty much the same the world over.


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