In Shamanism * Journey to the West, I suggested that Shamanism had come to the West in the same way that successive waves of Eastern philosophies and practices had come. Just as yoga and meditation, Buddhism and Taoism were embraced by a spiritually bankrupt West, so Shamanism has resonated in the Western soul. I observed that Shamanism seems not only here to stay, but is here because – even in its stripped-down “westernized” forms – Shamanism works.
I wondered if we in the West have been mistaken in our concerns about emulating the dramatic indigenous forms of traditional Shamanism. It seems clear that the spiritual and psychological power of Shamanism lies in the metaphysical realities – alchemical processes of the Mind – which it has embodied and transmitted through the ages. Though we have so much to learn from traditional Shamanism, is it possible this is a two-way street? Has Shamanism come to the West on its own Journey, to explore its origins, find new forms, and express itself anew?
Here, I look at the elements of Shamanism that I believe have been somewhat obscured in both Indigenous Shamanism and the new “Core” Shamanism in the West. It seems to me that, beyond all these cultural forms of shamanism, there exists what an essential Shamanism in which the psyche, through symbol, can access energy and matter to create transformation and healing.