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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in shamanism

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Archers on Horseback

My ancestors rode across the steppes
rode beneath the rolling thunder.
Between them and the land
their mother
there was no divide
but the trampling of hooves.
The dancing of shamans
rumbled the earth below
and shook the skies above.
Fire carried the departed
back to the stars
and archers on horseback
led an age of gold and valor.
And now I sit and languish,
riding only a rusty beast
in an age of entropy, of the artificial
mourning the past, fearing the future.

What would my ancestors say?





© Meredith Everwhite 2024 - All Rights Reserved

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Beautiful!
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Thank you, Archer! Ha, appropriate name!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Shamanism: A Human Birthright

I consider shamanic practice to be the purest spirituality as it is ubiquitous throughout world cultures, is rooted in nature, and is not part of any structured dogma or organized religion. The purpose of religion is to control the human spirit. The purpose of shamanism is to free it.

Shamanism has no ruling deities, no rulers or central figures of any kind, no creed, no dogma. This puts the practice, the power, the responsibility, all in the hands of the individual practitioner. Shamanism allows us to find our true and natural power within ourselves. It does not bid us prostrate ourselves before invented figureheads. Shamanism empowers the individual, and this is one of the main reasons why many would seek to malign and even eradicate it.

This has been the agenda that the church/state and organized religion has historically had against various pagan, animistic and shamanic practices. The pagan shaman has no need of confession, atonement, redemption, sacrament, baptism, repentance, forgiveness, nothing. This undermines the powers that be. The shamanic practitioner becomes the power that is.

Even Buddhism, much admired and emulated in the west, is not untainted by such socio-political agendas, having a long history of suppressing shamanism. This is a history that most Americans and other westerners are probably not familiar with, and one that I was surprised and saddened to discover.

Buddhism first arrived in Mongolia in the 13th century, primarily through Tibetan Buddhist missionaries. Over time, Buddhism became deeply integrated into Mongolian society, influencing various aspects of culture, politics, and spirituality.

Shamanism, on the other hand, had been the indigenous spiritual tradition of the Mongolian people for centuries prior to the arrival of Buddhism.

Initially, Buddhism and shamanism coexisted in Mongolia, often with elements of syncretism where practices from both traditions were incorporated into local belief systems. However, as Buddhism gained more institutional power and support from Mongolian rulers, tensions began to rise between the two belief systems.

From the 16th century onward, there were concerted efforts by Mongolian rulers, often with support from Tibetan Buddhist authorities, to suppress shamanism and promote Buddhism as the dominant religion. This was driven by various factors, including political consolidation, the desire for religious uniformity, and the perceived threat that shamanism posed to Buddhist authority.

At times, these efforts to suppress shamanism resulted in violent conflicts between Buddhist and shamanic practitioners. Temples and sacred sites associated with shamanism were sometimes destroyed, and shamans themselves were persecuted or forced to convert to Buddhism, or murdered.

Despite these efforts, shamanism survived in Mongolia and has even experienced a revival since the decline of communist influence. Shamanism itself has been flourishing around the world in the past thirty years.

Michael Harner created a “core shamanism”; a modern approach to shamanic practice that seeks to distill the essence of shamanic techniques from various indigenous cultures around the world into a cohesive and accessible system. Key features include universal techniques, shamanic journeying, power animals and spirit guides, healing and divination, and ecological awareness.

This system is the birthright of every human and no one race or culture holds a monopoly on it. We all have shamanic traditions in our ancestry, all of us, be it the Arctic shamanism of the Saami or the Amazonian shamanism of the Shipibo-Conibo. Therefore we can all benefit from returning to our shamanic roots.

Shamanic resurgence in the face of historical suppression underscores its enduring relevance and universal appeal, its essence transcends cultural boundaries, offering a pathway for all individuals to reclaim their inherent spiritual heritage. In embracing shamanic practice, we rediscover not only our own power but also our interconnection with all beings and the Earth itself—a timeless wisdom accessible to all who seek it, regardless of race, culture, or creed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Three Fish

Have you been having weird dreams since this all began, dreams that seem somehow more mythic, more weighted, more charged with meaning, than usual? Me too.

Here's today's.

 

Every year my grandfather would drive up north to a particular lake in Canada.

When he got there, he would lay down on the shore of the lake, and his soul would leave his body through his mouth. For three days and nights it would fly, while his body lay unmoving on the lakeshore.

Where it flew off to he would never say, but this much I can say: when he awoke, there would always be three fish lined up on the ground beside him.

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Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

Only those who have had visions of the thunder beings of the west can act as heyokas. They have sacred power and they share some of this with all the people, but they do it through funny actions. When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier, for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm.” – Black Elk Speaks, as told through John G. Neihardt, 1932

The thunder beings and the thunderbird(s) are synonymous throughout Native American lore and cultures. This powerful spirit associated with water, storms, holy powers and the West is known and revered among tribes from the Pacific northwest to the plains to the Eastern coasts, including the Sioux, Arapaho, Lenape, Cherokee, Iroquois, Ojibwe, Salish, Menominee and many others.

To me, the Thunderbird represents a veritable symphony of all elemental powers. To Native Americans he was and is at once that embodied force of nature as well as a mighty cryptid creature, even if that creature only exists in our imaginations and hearts, without which we may manifest nothing. Why then must “imaginary” be inherently exclusive of reality? There is often a very fine line between the two.

There are theories that the earliest ideas for the Thunderbird were inspired by discoveries of pterosaur fossils (not pterodactyl, which only applies to a specific genus of pterosaur), if not perhaps by sightings of late-existing actual pterosaurs or some similar megafauna.

Thunder beings of various kinds are known in cultures the world over, most of which are anthropomorphic e.g. Thor-Donar of Norse and Germanic lore, and Zeus-Jupiter of Greek and Roman mythology. However, speaking of Norse cosmology, there is also a great hawk or falcon named Veðrfölnir  (Old Norse for “storm pale”, often Anglicized as Vedfolnir and roughly pronounced as VETH-fol-neer) who sits between the eyes of an unnamed eagle perched atop Yggdrasil, the world tree. 

From its three great roots the tree attained such a marvelous height that its topmost bough, called Lerad (the peace-giver), overshadowed Odin’s hall, while the other wide-spreading branches towered over the other worlds. An eagle was perched on the bough Lerad, and between his eyes sat the falcon Vedfolnir, sending his piercing glances down into heaven, earth, and Nifl-heim, and reporting all that he saw.” – Myths of the Norsemen by Helene A. Guerber

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I see. Yeah I definitely know what multimedia is, just wasn't sure what exactly you meant in context! Thanks for clarifying, good
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think the thunder beings and possibly the birds of prey are trying to transmit a story through you. Humans are story telling cr
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies website had some articles on it. In one of them the author described going to meet a thunder
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I don't think I am either, as I said. Actually I know I'm not. That is a very specific and very powerful role that few have been o
Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Syncing with the divine

When I tell people that part of my spiritual practice involves ecstatic body postures, most of them look at me like I've grown a second head. The practice of assuming a specific pose and holding it while slipping into trance goes back millennia in many different cultures around the world, but it's a practice that isn't very well known in modern times. I'd like to change that.

Ecstasy isn't a word we hear very often in terms of Pagan spirituality, but I think humans are hard-wired for it. In fact, I think the modern world is ecstasy deprived and many of us are looking for that kind of experience, the numinous alive within and around us.

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Minoan Bell Jar Goddesses: All the funny hats

When someone says "Minoan" many people immediately think of the snake goddess figurines from Knossos. But there are other goddess figurines from ancient Crete that are just as interesting, maybe more so. Case in point: the Poppy Goddess at the top of this post.

She wears a crown with three poppy seed pods that have been scored so the latex will ooze out, part of the process for making opium, which the Minoans appear to have used ritually. Like many of the other bell jar figurines (so called because of the shape of their skirts), she has her arms raised in a gesture that looks a lot like the Minoan sacred horns. In Ariadne's Tribe, we call this post Upraised Arms. It's one of several ecstatic postures that we use in our spiritual practice.

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Taking Myth Literally: A labyrinthine issue

All my life, I've heard people complain about the Christians who take the stories in the Bible literally rather than as allegory or symbolic storytelling. A few days ago, I realized that Pagans sometimes do the same thing, and I think we probably have for centuries, right back into ancient times. Case in point: the Labyrinth.

The Greeks, who are ancient to us but who lived centuries later than Minoan civilization, figured that the Labyrinth must have been an actual physical structure of some sort. And they assumed that the Minoan inventor/smith god Daedalus, whom they viewed as a mortal man, had built it.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely - we just worked that myth at Reclaiming's California Witchcamp -

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