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                                     What is Shamanism? 
                        Michelle Klein-Hass/SysOp, Shaman's Soup BBS 
           Pardon me for asking, but what is Shamanism?  That's one area of "the 
           occult" that I don't remember hearing about. 
           OK, I guess I'm the resident shamanism maven here, so I'll try to 
           define it.  Shamanism is the name (from the Tungus Shaman, meaning 
           miracle-worker) for any tradition of ecstatic worship of the Earth, 
           and the forces that reside and pervade Her.  Most traditions of 
           shamanism worship two deities, the God and the Goddess.  In the 
           European shamanic tradition, also known as Wicca, the God and Goddess 
           are most commonly known as The Lord and The Lady, or Great Mother and 
           the Lord of the Hunt. In the Yoruban tradition, they are known as Ogun
           and Yemaja. In the shamanic tradition of the Chiricahua Teneh 
           (Apache), they are known as Earth Mother and Sky Father, and also as 
           White Painted Woman and Killer of Enemies.  In other traditions, there
           are more deities worshipped, and in most of those named, there are 
           other lesser deities.  Some forms of shamanic tradition can be 
           classified as true polytheism, some, like the tradition of the 
           Australian Dreamtime, are truly pantheistic (the God-force is in all, 
           and all exists in the God-force, or as they put it, the Dreamtime) and
           at least in the tradition of the Yoruba (Nigerian African) and in most
           Native American traditions, these Gods and Goddesses are seen as 
           emanations from a Great Spirit.  In the Teneh tongue, this spirit is 
           known as Usen', Who is neither Male nor Female but encompasses both. 
           Joe Wilson describes the difference between the path of the Shaman and
           the path of the Priest this way: the Priest is the custodian of 
           tradition and rite, the Shaman is the one who journeys within and 
           experiences the God(esse)s directly. The path of the shaman is the 
           path of healing, direct involvement with ones Gods/Goddesses, and the 
           path of acquiring Power for The Good.  Modern Shamanism in America is 
           usually of two currents: Wiccan and Native.  
                Wicca  is a reconstructed  system, which is  probably similar but
           not  identical  to the  pre-Christian  religion  of  the  Keltoi  (the
           Britons, the  Gallics, the Irish and Scottish Gael, the Picts, and the
           Cymri(Welsh)  It  used to  claim quite an  impressive history, but  is
           reliably  traceable  to people  like  Gerald Gardner,  who  designed a
           system of Wiccan practice from various sources, including, supposedly,
           a wealthy woman whose family had practiced witchcraft for generations.
           He obviously had a good grasp of some of the  Anthropological works on
           the subject, but liberally borrowed as well from Crowley, Freemasonry,
           and  *fin de  Siecle* occultism  like the  Order of  the Golden  Dawn.
           Artificial or authentic, it seems to still work.  
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                Native shamanism works with either  traditions of a native people
           like the Native Americans  or the Yoruba tribe (present  in Santeria),
           or is a distillation of many practices, as is the  shamanism taught by
           Dr. Michael  Harner and  by Joseph  Wilson of Toteg  Tribe.   The true
           native traditions are dying  out quickly, and most native  Shamans are
           unwilling to transmit their  knowledge.  In some cases,  the knowledge
           has died out, and those descendants who remain and wish to embrace the
           Old Ways must  re-invent their  tradition.  My  teacher, Misha  Sacred
           Wolf  of  the  Naiche-Tosawi  band  of  the  Chiricahua,  is  in  that
           unenviable  position.  The Apache still exist, and they celebrate some
           of the old festivals for the benefit of tourists.  But much of the Old
           Knowledge died with the coming of the  white man, the reservation, and
           the  missionaries  that  considered  the  reservation  their  rightful
           "mission field". 
                While it is true that many Native peoples are indignant about any
           non-Native  involvement in shamanism, and the new age movement is full
           to  the brim with  hucksters and shysters  who if you  give them money
           will teach you "how to become a Shaman", there are two non-Natives who
           seem to respect the Ways, and have attempted to present  the teachings
           of  Native shamanism  in a  respectful, reverential way.   One  is Dr.
           Michael Harner,  author of  "The Way of  the Shaman" (Bantam)  and his
           "core  shamanism"  system.   His approach  is  sometimes a  little too
           eclectic, with a  glaring lack  of the  ritual and  mythos that  makes
           shamanism so  powerful.  He  has reduced the shamanic  experience to a
           few major elements: The Lowerworld Journey, where the  shamanist comes
           face-to-  face with their "Power Animal", which is a representative of
           the person's basic  animal energy; The  Upperworld Journey, where  the
           person  journeys  to   contact  their  "Teacher  Within",   who  is  a
           representation of  the person's Higher Self;  the Middleworld Journey,
           where ordinary reality is seen through non-ordinary eyes; and  various
           techniques of healing, primarily the Jivaro "sucking doctor"technique.
           A  non-ordinary state  of  consciousness is  reached through  rhythmic
           drumming,  singing,  and visualization.    Despite  the very  clinical
           "self-help" aspect of Harner's work, it is very valuable.  If you live
           in the Los Angeles area,  you are quite fortunate in that  perhaps the
           most exciting work in  the eclectic shamanic  way is going on  through
           Toteg  Tribe, a  shamanic society  founded and  facilitated by  Joseph
           Wilson. Joseph  was a  participant in the  Neo-Pagan (Wiccan-shamanic)
           movement for  more than 25  years, and  is now trying  to forge  a new
           shamanic way  for ALL  people of the  Americas.  He  has built  on the
           techniques of Harner with insight from both traditional Native peoples
           of  this  land that  he  has studied  with  and entirely  new  ways of
           expression  that he and others  that work with  him have spontaneously
           come up with.  He  does not claim to teach traditional  shamanic ways,
           but his  work is quite valuable  and instead of looking  behind to the
           old days  of Tribal America,  is aimed  towards the  21st century  and
           beyond.  Again, I study with  a woman who is of the Chiricahua  Apache
           tradition,  but I  also find  Wilson's work  to  be exciting  and very
           important.   I hope this  cleared up a  few things...there's a  lot of
           good info in the file areas about shamanic practice. 
           Hi Dicho--this is finished (sigh of relief) 
           Enju! B*B Michelle Klein-Hass (Chihacou White Puma) 
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 

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