The way of the Shaman, what is it? What is a shaman, exactly? Or, rather, who is a shaman? What does shamanism mean in our world as we know
and experience it now?
The Time of Re-Claiming is to Be Bold
I have spent the last probably 25 years learning how to ask "the right" questions. What I didn't realize was that I was practicing for asking the Right questions that would lead me to Right Relationship, which is a integral root of alignment for shamanic living.
I'm going to do something that may be considered bold or brash here. I am going to call my Self a Shaman. How dare I? The Right question is: how dare I not? Shamanic living is in my blood. And I would wager that it is in yours, too.
We get very sensitive and uncomfortable when anything that might even have a tiny whiff of cultural appropriation comes up. I understand that completely, I have felt that discomfort myself. As I move more fully into the shamanic way of living life, though, I have to say, my fear of "culturally appropriating" has diminished, if not extinguished entirely. For, while some may claim that no seemingly white person, no modern person, no American woman could possibly live as the shamans did and still do in many parts of the world, I am going to argue that the shamanic way of life is not defined by a place on the map, the gender or sex of a body, the color of skin the body is held together by, or the man-made calendar year that one may find oneself in. The shamanic way of life is timeless. It knows no boundaries of race or ethnicity.
It is for everyone who desires to answer the call and walk it fully.
If you're offended or fired up, ready to rebuke me, you are free to. Just be clear on what part of this is striking a discordant note within you before you do. And be sure that you are standing tall and firm in what you are offering. Because, I promise you, I am standing tall and firm in what I share here.
I was having a conversation with my teacher, recently, and she was echoing what I was beginning to feel about my shamanic path and lifestyle. Shamanism, she says, is not confined to one area or practice: you can be the shaman that cooks, the shaman that sings, the shaman that teaches, the shaman that heals with different modalities. And you can be more than one. It's likely you will be! And, most importantly, she added, you can be all of these things in a spiritual, as well as a mundane way.
What does that mean?
It means everything, really. Shamanism is a way of life. It is not just a set of practices. It is what those practices lead one to Know about themselves/Selves and this world. The world is people, is plants, is animals, is Earth Herself. And we are called into relationship with each one of these kingdoms, called forth to honor them as they are, and to conduct ourselves in a way so as to be non-intrusive to their existence. We are called to be in Right Relationship with All. To uphold balance and mutual sustainment. We serve the Earth just as She serves us. To keep our lives in ways that serve the highest good of All. We are all part of these kingdoms, and connected to each other through our existence in the realm of matter.
To take this further in a life-application way, its giving more than just a damn about what we put into our bodies, our oceans, our landfills. So we stopped using straws. Ok, bravo.
What else can we further remove from our existence that would otherwise continue to suffocate and snuff out life elsewhere on the planet? A shaman is one who seeks only to be in a way that does not harm. That is a core Truth of a shamanic life. So, if I want the car that I've been saving up for in the midnight blue color, and yet midnight blue isn't available for the hybrid model, what do I do? That isn't even a question. If I truly Know that the hybrid is going to reduce my carbon footprint and will be a safe and reliable vehicle for myself and my family to move about the streets, then the color, features, ego-y stuff that appeals to any desire to want to be seen and recognized is not important. I'm making decisions that will benefit more than just me and my immeadiate surroundings.
The shaman is dealing and deciding on behalf of the collective as well. And if that sounds lofty or like a lot of responsibly, yes, it is. And yet, when we begin to live in this way, it is remarkable how truly natural it comes. It's the piddly ego shit that really actually causes us the most anxiety and back and forth about what we should do. When we just step back and let our greater humanitarian, the shaman or wise one within, make the decisions, it is remarkable how we are compelled, with ease, to choose what feels Right, not only for us, but also for our neighbors worldwide.
Consumerism and capitalism has not set humanity up to re-member their shamanic ancestry or
the ability to live a simpler life. We don't see messages that encourage us to pare down, live with less, feel more, and take care of a greater need than those of our own selves, and if we do, we don't even know where to begin with them. Maybe, we even get flared up, thinking that maybe someone is trying to take something from us, that we worked so hard for, and how dare they?!
Shamanic living is not about taking from anyone or anything. It is about showing up with the heart of a Giver, who can share her replenished cup with anyone who needs a little something, and she knows that someday someone will do that for her, too, if her need arises. It's the antidote to the "horde it all" mentality because it asks us to live in a detached way that ties nothing to material possessions, or to the privileges bought by money, class, or race.
Shamanic living is for everyone.
How can this be? Certainly we have to tie ourselves to something in order to remain anchored in life? Yes, we do. We anchor into our Selves. In our personal power. In our unique voices. In our desires to do great and beautiful things for this blessed and extraordinary Earth and Her people.
We can think of, or get the feel of it, like this: Shamanic living does not necessarily demand immediate, forceful change. Rather, the drum beat calls us in the background, growing stronger and louder over time, while we slowly adjust our eyes to a different way of perceiving our world and our role in it. Instead of feeling numbed out, or overwhelmed by the amount that the myriad of systems seeks to control us, and the way the machine crushes and constricts us, instead we say, "I choose to reclaim my power. No thing or person can take that which is innate in me, and I am going to cultivate a life that is honoring to my power." And then, with that intention as the guide, we do just that. We create the non-harming, harmonious, united way of life that seeks to align us with the powers that our ancestors also honored and worked with daily. The first step? Curiosity. And the whole-hearted willingness to do and be in a different state. There is much to a shamanic life. And we will go deeper and deeper into it as this path unfolds.
The Reckoning: Turning Towards, Using Full Vision
When we decide to awaken to a shamanic lifestyle, we are pivoting our lives to look at the ways that we ourselves have been polluting the natural world, projecting our unhealed emotional, spiritual and psychological wounding on our surroundings, and pilfering from the bounty of resources that can be used for all when we loosen our tight fisted grasp on them. Sounds harsh? Well, the way we have been living has been harsh; harsh on everyone. EVERYONE. And on some, way more so than others.
Answering the call towards a shamanic life is the willingness to look the desolation created by modern living in the face, and say "no more". It's the courage to scale back on the pushiness of over-marketing and cultural narrative on what one "needs" in order to live.
What I'm not saying here is to jump ship entirely and move to a remote hut on a mountaintop. We need you here, in cities, in suburbs, in small towns, in tiny house communities. We need shamanically dedicated souls everywhere, reclaiming the practices and Knowings of people worldwide.
We need you at the grocery store, checking your products for harsh chemicals, choosing the foods that aren't over-processed, stripped of goodness, that aren't wrapped in layers of plastics and non-biodegradable packaging. We need you buying sustainable or second hand clothes that are not made within a system of modern slavery. We need to drop the "as long as its not me or my family / people / community" laissez-faire mindset. Because in the end, it IS all of us.
We need all of us to bring our awareness to the choices we, ourselves, make, instead of looking over there at "those people", or resting our hopes and dreams on some political miracle. YOU are the miracle. The shaman, wise one, within you is ready to help you restore this world in a way that only you can. You have a set of unique purposes to bring out and fulfill during your time on this Earth. Want to know what they are? Then start tuning into your unique voice. There is a good chance that a shamanic drumbeat is undulating within the cadence of the words it speaks.
There is the potential of a shamanic song to be sung within every life. How do you desire yours to sound? That is fully up to you, whenever you are ready to participate with the rhythms of your inner shaman, the wise one, your soul-led existence.
So get up, stand up, bang the drum, grind the herbs, chant, sing, dance, and then, be still. The calling will come. Whenever you are ready. It will find you. And your shamanic life will begin. Aho