Shamanism 101   study shamanism - shamanic healing training - learn shamanism online

Necessary Course Items


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Texts And Supplies



Texts:

You will need to gather a couple of texts
in addition to the material I will be providing to you: 

1) Michael Harner, The Way of the Shaman, Harper San Francisco, 1990. Considered by many to be the classic in what became the core approach to shamanism, this is the earliest broadly read composite of shamanic material to enter widely into mainstream literature. Originally published in 1980, Harner's work was for the time, very groundbreaking and full of the colorful experiences of his early explorations, from which he began to extract the more world-wide core that we recognize today.

 

2) Tom Cowan, Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, The Crossing Press, Freedom, 1996. A very readable, updated and 'matured' look at shamanic practice. Cowan had the opportunity to arrive after Harner, and thus enjoy the increased perspective that time and more information often brings. Cowan, as with the later Harner, recognized primary historical use of the more stable, non-drug, drum or rattle sonic driving to accelerate a shamanic state of consciousness. He broadens the field, bringing in his Celtic practice.

 

(There are probably more recent publications of these books, which would be OK.)



Supplies:

These first items need to be obtained quickly:

1) something soft to cover your eyes to remove light

2) A CD or computer ‘download’ from Foundation for 
Shamanic Studies (FSS): The Shamanic Journey, Solo and Double  Drumming, Michael Harner, 1997 edition or later

3) CD player, headphones or speakers nearby

4) Notebook. record journeys, shamanic phenomena

5) some sage (loose, or a small ‘sage wand’ bound tightly together) and something safe to burn it in

6) a feather at least 6 inches but can be longer

7) For those using a tablet (such as an iPad), you may need to download the paid version of the Puffin browser, which runs about 3 dollars. Many tablets are unable to play the mp3's (audio) at our courses without it. You can easily tell if yours will play the course materials by simply going to the home page here, and attempting to listen to my introductory talk.


The following items are not required in the first half of Level 1 but are recommended by mid-term of Level 1 and are required in Level 2:

8) shaman drum

9) rattle (Best gathered by the middle of Level 1).

Your rattle and drum need to be carefully chosen. Take your time. It is important to find the right one.

Shamanic Supplies:
Questions and Answers



"Help! I Can't hear your lectures!"

Unfortunately, some tablets such as the iPad are unable to listen to the mp3's here at our school, which are the audio tracks. There is a quick workaround, however, which is to go download the Puffin browser (can be found in the iTunes store), paid version, which runs about 3 dollars. So far, this is the only browser that iPads for instance, have that plays the mp3's from the servers where the school is housed on the internet.


Feathers?

"Concerning the class supplies, I eventually found a feather today. Now to the embarrassing question ... should I do anything with it to clean it or in order to preserve it etc.? Can I use normal soap to clean it?"

 

This is a great question! No embarrassment necessary, believe me. Your question points to a sensitivity to the nature of the items, and having this is absolutely on target. Feathers and the other items we gather become sacred tools, and how we treat and care for them is important: it is a reflection on how we treat and care for our practice, and perhaps ourselves as well.

 

Feathers clean up pretty good if they are in fair shape when you find them by simply by ‘preening’ them with your fingers, just as a bird would do with its beak. Soaps will probably break down the surface chemistry, though and I would probably avoid that approach if the feather is in fairly decent condition to begin with. The thick end at the base of the feather is tougher and if some soap was necessary, this would be about the only place I would use it.

 

No need to preserve them though. Feathers are pretty low maintenance. They will likely do just fine even if left out on an alter or in some other important and protected place, as long as there is not too high a constant humidity. Also, they can be vulnerable to small insects.

 

Feathers can be delicate! I found that by getting a couple of thin, light weight strips of wood, that I could lay a feather between them, wrapped within a small sheet of material (I use a very soft piece of tanned deer skin, but that is not necessary). Then, binding it closed, such as by wrapping with cord, makes for a very safe way to transport them. Then, you can take the feather with you when you are doing shamanic practice in nature, or at a friend’s place, and you don’t have to worry about the feather getting hurt en route.

 

People get very creative with their shamanic tools, for there is an understood emphasis on building, creating, designing and artfully crafting anything to do with them. It is part of the tool’s connection with the practitioner when his or her time and attention is put into the tool. The Feather has many uses, although the initial ones for us will be in different spiritual ‘cleaning’ practices, and using it to help direct the smoke from burning sage. I love my feathers, have adorned them and, as I said, built ilittle wood and hide protector cases to transport them in.

 


Notebook?

"Would you recommend keeping a separate journal for anything shamanism-related or can I put it into my normal journal?"

 

Your first notebook in shamanic study might easily be the journal you are already using, if you already have an active journal practice. This is because much of the first part of a practitioner’s training brings up a lot of personal life stuff that needs to be faced, and the kind of stuff that would often fill out a journal anyway. Then, as the basic skills become integrated, this starts to shift. In the more advanced levels of training, and having already transitioned through much of the initial self-discovery part of the shamanic learning curve, we become increasingly focused on specific healing practices. We find that they are many, and complex, and so we need to catalogue and retain them for future use in a way that we can always access easily.


Sage or... ?

“I didn’t have time to buy proper sage and a burning container in an esoteric shop so I had to improvise. I used a glass container to place tea lights in and sage from tea bags.”

As with most any shamanic ritual, the point is where the heart is, not the movements and other ritual matters per se. If you are unable to use sage, no big deal. It is simply that the movements and meditations during the ritual, plus the scent of sage, combine to do a good job of coaxing our heart into the right place. I suppose you could substitute Cheerios – you know, the breakfast cereal made of little ‘O’s? – instead of sage if it coaxed us into that heartfelt place. Until you are able to get some of the suggested ritual material such as sage, or if at some point in the future you do not have sage handy, don’t fret! Just find another way of checking in and focusing your heart, and simply do that instead. 


“I got through most of the ritual before the smoke vanished. I wanted to relight the sage and reached for the lighter but burned my thumb on the really hot metal. Waited a little while before I touched it again, with my other thumb, that is, managed to get some smoke going, and finished the ritual. I had to hurry through the ritual because the smoke never lasted that long. I felt a sense of wholeness when touching the floor at the end of the ritual and the sharp pain I felt from my thumb somehow blended in with that sense of wholeness, rather than diminishing it. Afterwards, it occurred to me that I forgot to call in the spirits for their compassion – wasn’t that the point of the entire exercise and shamanism in general? Argh! I now have a blister reminding me to do that and to get some better sage and a burning container, asap!”

Sounds like your first and second day of washing with sage was a real learning curve! I have some humorous and gently humbling memories of the same sort! We all do....

The cleansing ritual with sage is many things, but it is also a regular reminder of where our heart wants to be, and how to be in the world. Yes, the more we do it, the more we are reminding ourselves of this, and yes, the effects will carry over into our life. Remember, you are shifting a way of being, not just ‘doing something’ such that it is a ‘done deal’. Shifting a way of being is a transition, which more than likely began in the past, and may accelerate in the present now that you are giving it more attention. Letting go, for instance, of what doesn’t serve you.

This study will definitely help you become your real self, what in shamanic practice is called the 'true self'. They are one and the same. This study will also help you reconnect with nature and the world, as you slip into more of what the Zen master Thich Nhat Han called an ‘interbeing’, in this case with Mother Earth.