Category Archives: Shamanism In the West

Birth Of a Shaman * The Near-Death Experiences Of Psychiatrist Carl G Jung

One of the most intriguing and, for many, most convincing sources of knowledge about “the Other Side” and the meaning of life here on earth is the Near-Death Experience, known as the NDE.  People almost invariably report similar experiences, including learning about the meaning of life, the illusory nature of death, and the fact that we live not one but many lifetimes.  Above all, the message is one of love and endless patience with each slowly but surely evolving human being.

Here, I reproduce large sections of Carl G. Jung’s own description of his near-death experience which took place while he was very ill (very typical of NDEs) and which in many ways represents the real Jung, as opposed to the more mainstream psychiatrist and cross-cultural explorer.  What we find here are many landmarks of the journey into shamanism, a journey almost never sought, but one which can seldom be evaded.

Beginnings

“As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.” Carl G. Jung.

Continue reading Birth Of a Shaman * The Near-Death Experiences Of Psychiatrist Carl G Jung

Shamanism * Walking the Solitary Path

In Shamanism Part 1 * Journey to the West I talked about the coming of shamanism – in altered “core” forms – to the West, suggesting it was here to stay, and that even in these altered forms, shamanism works.

In Shamanism Part 2 * Psyche, Symbol and Transformation, I discussed why shamanism works as a dynamic, transformative catalyst of healing and growth. I suggested that there is an essential shamanism which resonates with the structure and dynamics of the human psyche long ago revealed in all cultures, in myth, legend, and story-telling. I went on to summarize briefly the essential elements of shamanism which play out in psyche, symbol and journey.

Here, in part 3 of the Shamanism series, I suggest that one may train as a shaman not only outside of ritual but outside of group, within a personal, private framework of meditation and metaphysical studies guided by the Higher Self. Once we understand that transformation occurs within Higher Mind through symbols, we can see why shamanism can “work” for a solitary path.

Indeed, while most shamans serve a community, they are also noted for living apart, often in somewhat inaccessible locations. They continue their work in the various realms even when, perhaps especially when, they are alone.

Continue reading Shamanism * Walking the Solitary Path

Shamanism * Psyche, Symbol and Transformation

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.

Continue reading Shamanism * Psyche, Symbol and Transformation

Animal Allies and Helping Spirits * When Shamanism Enters Your Life

In Shamanism found around the world in indigenous communities, a psychic connection with particular animal spirits called allies is considered essential.  These are sources of power and creative energy which protect, sustain and guide the Shaman in his or her own life, as well as assist the Shaman in working with others.

The indigenous Shaman also makes use of spirits who may be dead family members, other shamans in this world or in other dimensions, and even higher-level shamans who visit this world only occasionally over millennia, to elevate the vibrations of the world in a kind of Christ-like mission. Shamans, in other words, do not work alone; they receive help from entities living and dead who populate the many realms and dimensions of creation.

Continue reading Animal Allies and Helping Spirits * When Shamanism Enters Your Life