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 Post subject: Shamanism and religious believes
 Post Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 6:02 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 11:26 am
Posts: 181
Location: Bavaria, Germany
This is a more personal kind of thought-stream here, induced by some discussions I attended in Germany.

I am thinking on the connection between these two things. Shamanism as a worldwide phenomenon and religion [as another important one]. Here in Germany where I am living there are many religions around, living together in a kind of harmony. Most of them respect each other more or less. Back then, when I started to shamanize after the spirits call was reaching me I was surprised what "shamanism" was standing for [in most peoples minds I met back then]: There were Hobbyists around (and still are), who mixed native american religions with it. Once I was asked: "So, you are a shaman - then you are leading Sweating Lodges" - I never heard before of sweating lodges (and myself attended the first in my life recently in 2006!). Neither do I think this is good nor bad - I simply accept it as a kind of approach to shamanism.

Since I am walking consciously between the worlds of reality I had to face exactly the same situation, [but with a different emphasize]. During my studies in university I actually avoided the readings on South America - I did not want to hear anything from the believes and spiritual practices of the Indigenas, simply because I did not want to be framed as a plastic or wannabee or be influenced by the spiritual ways of the Andes, [where the Condor is a part of, and the apus]. I kept my personal relation to the Spirit of the Condor secret as long as possible, actually until 1997, in order to establish a personal and individual approach to her (hence my spiritual name in Quechua, it was given to me in 2001). So I concentrated on Siberian shamanism to learn as much as possible about myself and what was happening to me from a scientific point of view [because my actual practice has some central asiatic aspects]. Well, I learned more by the spirits and much less from these lectures and books, to recapitulate what I learned there.

So I wondered what is going on and what is this the usual way of reception of shamanism and religion. Well, after long years I realized that most people practicing shamanism actually borrow something from foreign believing systems. I wondered about the reasons for this. There are some intelligent persons around claiming to know why: they say that it is a reaction of a lack of spirituality in the established religions (like catholicism). I do not think so, I meet frequently people of exactly these religions who are deeply spiritual.

I came around asking myself what is my own religion. I am not christian, native, buddhistic, heathen, asatru, atheistic, nihilistic or animistic, neither I am jew or hindu, nor scientistic, ufologist or conspiracistic, nor anything else you may come up with. Currently, when I am asked by others I reply that I am believing in the power of belief and there may be no absolute truth and that everything is possible.

My question now is: How is shamanism changing your own religious believes?

I hope I was not too long in my thoughts,

Yours,

Apu Kuntur

[Edit: Corrected some grammar ... - english is not so my beloved language to communicate with]


Last edited by Apu Kuntur on Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:12 am
Posts: 62
Location: Canada
Interesting question, I think, Apu Kuntur - and a very complex one.

I prefer to draw a line between organized religion and spirituality, though they are certainly not mutually exclusive. Let me begin by drawing the largest possible distinction between them - and after that, I'll make the line less clear - at least to my way of thinking. I was raised Catholic; I attended Catholic schools; as part of the education I had to attend mass every day until I was 16. I did not have one single spiritual experience within the framework of Catholicism....and started the process of dis-engaging myself at 14.

For me, Christianity as a religion is about an organised hierarchy - more to the point, a patriarchy - with the priest as the mediator between the believer and the divine. On one hand, it is about rules that the believer must follow. On the other hand, it is about the prestige and power invested in a "sacred" priesthood.

In contrast, spirituality is a personal experience of of the divine, however the "experiencer" might define the divine. It is not mediated, not rule-bound, and certainly not hierarchical or patriarchal.

Furthermore, I share the belief that shamanic/spiritual experience is the proto-religious experience - the experience that predates organized religion.

Now to make the line less clear, it seems obvious that at the core of every religion is the possibility of profound spiritual experience. Certainly, many believers in specific religions have personally encountered the divine. They dress up this encounter in the language of their belief system. Thus, Christians will encounter Jesus. Muslims will experience Allah. In fact, I think they are all having the same profound encounter with the divine - which they then understand through their own cultural filters and their own culture's stories.

I don't have a problem with this at all UNLESS they are aggressive fundamentalists who believe that theirs is the one and only RIGHT way. The one thing I cannot tolerate is intolerance! :roll:

So, where am I these days? I see it like this - the Void, the divine mind/light that holds the universe together, the world of spirit with whom we shamanic types interact, humans, and the physical manifestations of nature which are in fact vibrational spiritual energy just like us. Now the nature of language sets it up so that I have to list those elements in an order which seems to be hierarchical - but I don't understand it that way at all - I understand those elements as all mixed together - all inter-penetrating - all vibrational within an illusion of solidity.

Now, on the journey work level, I think the spirits come to us in forms that they think we will be able to relate to. For example, I have a very powerful friend who gets a lot of spirits in Christian form among others. Personally, I get very little in Christian form. Coming from a Celtic/Germanic ancestry I would have expected Celtic/Nordic spirits. But, I get native American spirits. As I have said elsewhere on this board, I was never interested in native American culture until they started to appear to me. When this started, I concluded that the spirits of the land here were used to having native Americans communicate with them for millenia - and so they take native American form to communicate with someone like me who can see/hear them....and these spirits want/need to be heard and seen. As I said, it surprises me that they come in this form - even more since I really don't interact with native Americans at all. They just aren't part of my life in ordinary reality.

But then, spirits have been a part of my life since I was a child - ghosts, voices in my head - both good and bad ones - strangely enough, it never bothered me that they were there. And when the native spirits showed up, I was surprised but didn't think too much about it. I took their advice when I thought it was good - and ignored the bad advice. Being a bit of a simpleton at heart, I just thought everyone saw and heard stuff - but that nobody ever talked about it...so, I didn't talk about it either, or very very little...and just went on with my rather conventional life....but now that I have come fully home to myself and the world of spirit alive within me and around me through active shamanic work - and am part of a very active and supportive shamanic community here - I feel whole in profound ways that I never dreamed possible before.

That feels like a good place to stop for tonight...on a long dark night with the temperature below freezing, snow threatening, and the winter looming.

Chris


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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:23 pm
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Location: Euclid, OH
I believe there is no conflict with walking a Shamanic path and being a religious person, unless, as was said, the religion is such that it is intolerant of the ways of Shamanism.

Crowtalker


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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:23 pm
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Location: Euclid, OH
I believe there is no conflict with walking a Shamanic path and being a religious person, unless, as was said, the religion is such that it is intolerant of the ways of Shamanism.

Crowtalker


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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:25 pm
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Location: Seattle,WA
shamanism is NOT a religion. It is based on specific cultural philosophies
dependent upon that individual group.


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 Post Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:20 am
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Location: Arvada, CO, USA
I agree very much with Chris----and you can see that in the few postings I have already made after having just joined this site. (The first site I have ever joined).

I think that shamanism is a label we apply to that pure spiritualism that has existed since the dawn of human experience. When man first began to join together in agricultural based societies, and the planter group ethic displaced the individual-based ethics of the hunter-gatherer, this spirituality evolved into the institution of religion. But as an institution, it has social goals, which too easily displace spirituality. It can create a wedge between us and the spiritual side of the universe, as we can leave all that spiritual stuff up to the people who have taken it upon themselves to decide what is and isn't right, religious, and so forth. (Granted there are spiritual people in the institution as well, and it does serve a need---but, for many of us who have found shamanism---it may not fulfill our needs). You can find the traces of shamanism in all religion----look at the universality of the axis mundi, for example.

What ulchi said is true---the shamanism of a local indigenous community is dependant on the cultural context of that community----which has long lived on the land they find as home. There is a Quantum Phycisist by the name of Wolfe, who has wrote some great books, including at least one on his experiences with shamanism (He was also one of the experts featured in the movie, What the Bleep do we Know). His experiences, coupled with his quantum physical understanding of the universe, has told him that the local spirits of the land, is what is powerful within a given region---the land is in tune with them. Therefore, while in North America, it may be more likely to deal with a Native American spirit, than a Nordic one for example.

The problem is, that religion has destroyed so much of the primal spiritual traditions that we had in the West, that in trying to rediscover it, we have little choice but to look at those cultures that have retained more of it. I have struggled with the phoniness of using motiffs and cultural contexts, even religious, that may be alien to my own cultural identity.

But would it have made any difference to the shamans and indigenous people to borrow a motiff from out of their culture? I don't think so! This is why indigenous people have fallen as such easy prey to missionaries and have had their cultural identities wiped out.

Consider that there is no traditional word for religion in the thousands of dialects, and languages of ancient North America. That is because there was no concept of secular and nonsecular----everything was of the Great Spirit. There was no reason to prosyletize, nor convert. Everything was sacred. (In the Southern areas of North America and into Central America, in the planter societies, you begin to see the rise of what would become religion---the kachina cults and so on). But since everything is of the Great Spirit, there is nothing wrong with allowing other spirits to join in with your own. Hence we have the rise of the Native American Church, which combines Native American spirituality and the sacred peyote, with Christian beliefs.

Japanese Shintoism, before the introduction of buddhism, was the same. This is why you traditionally cannot be 'converted' into Shinto---you are born Japanese, so you are shinto, that's all. When Buddhism was introduced Shintoism copied the institutional structure and became a pseudo-religion. But Shinto and Buddhism have a symbiotic union----because, everything is sacred. There was nothing wrong for Shinto to include Buddhist deities alongside their gods or kami. You are born shinto, have a shinto marriage, pray to your buddhist ancestors and have a buddhist funeral.

I think that today man is feeling a call back to the garden more than ever before--and that is why there is the resurgence of indigenous ways----a closing of the sacred hoop. Look at the repetitive beat of trance and techno music, for example. Perhaps in our social future we may see a dialectic synthesis of the planter and hunter-gatherer philosophies. But if it is all sacred, than the real question of borrowing from other cultures should be "how sincere in using this external symbol, archetype, motiff, are you?" I tend to run from things I consider 'New Age' because I feel that there is a lack of sincerity, and certainly a lack of understanding of the cultural context things are pulled from-----then all you have is-----a fad.

Anyway---I guess I better get to bed. I hope my postings are not too long for people.........

Mountain Wolf


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