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Shamanic World View

The Shamanic World View 

Shamanic reality is discerned differently than that reality which is viewed by many others. ‘Consensual reality’ is actually the usual reality most people see, the often unchallenged and primarily unconscious agreement between one’s personal construction of reality and that shared with others.

Breaking stride with the crowd, the shamanic practitioner challenges and then deepens his or her understanding of what is real. Today, the predominant world view so differs from a shamanic one that contemporary practitioners must necessarily confront and respond to these differences as they mature. However, in different ways and to varying degrees, this was always the case for how the shaman ‘saw’ reality has always been different from most everyone else.

In fact, that was their expertise!
We serve as a kind of interface between worlds. The shaman's brain is a kind of nexus, a place of intersection between the worlds. There is no such thing as 'it’s only my imagination.' Quite to the contrary: it is precisely because of your ability to form images that you are able to see, hear and learn.

When taking a shamanic journey, some people ask, “But what if I am only imagining…?” In the contemporary world, there is a serious tendency to discount our imaging power, as if we are somehow ‘forcing’ the work and thus invalidating it. The mind is an extraordinary tool in the hands of the shaman. The mind for a shaman is a ‘screen’ upon which the images, sounds, and entire experience of journeying takes place.

When you start taking classes in shamanic practice, be sure to cut yourself a little 'slack' when it comes to using your brain. Rather than fear that you might be 'forcing an imagination' (in other words, not having a 'real' journey!), I always encourage new students to imagine wildly! Allow yourself to open your mind’s eye to peer even more closely at what begins to take form.

And remember, this whole idea of 'mind' and 'matter' is also a construction of reality. This too is something that begins to deconstruct as our work deepens. After a while, it is as though we have started from such concepts, and then leave them behind. For not only are they no longer necessary, they may in fact, impede us.

In developing a shamanic world view, a contemporary practitioner faces a huge conceptual leap. Most people grow up in one or another ‘normalizing’ socially reinforced world (through the teaching of family, school, government, etc.) that we (more or less) learn to accept. The product of such a world view are understandings and agreements that many times unconsciously constitute and thus construct our world view. Every world view has positive and negative consequences. These are 'filters' that precondition what we think we see. 

Shamanic reality is engaged by means of a world view that is heavily weighted towards such things as the following:
1) Everything has a life-force, spirit, ‘being-ness’. This has been given the term ‘animism.’
2) ‘Reality’ includes far more than what is physical. In other words, our ‘concrete’ world is just the start of it.
3) Everything is our teacher: our Earth is giving us lessons all of the time!
4) You have the right – and responsibility – to communicate the spirit-world directly. Unfortunately, giving you back this right, discomforts a number of established religious organizations. So be it. What they don't want you to know is that it is completely unnecessary to go through a religious representative who serves as an intermediary between you and the Divine. In fact, to do so would irreparably alter the direct experience of the Divine so that it becomes someone else’s experience of it, not your own.

There are more, other important features that 'round out' the nature of a shaman, provide a shamanic world view, and basically 'rock your world'. These combine to leave one looking at the world in a way that is quite different than our contemporary, ordinary ways. A change in something as large as a world view takes time to digest and integrate, which is part of the reason why I insist teachers return to providing coursework over time. This is also part of what finally pushed me to make this training over the internet, where supervision can be maintained.

There is also an important posture that the shaman must take towards the world that includes a deep measure of compassion. The shaman is one who 'sees with the heart', and their compassion illuminates all that they see and do. Again, such a 'posture' towards the world is not something that can be achieved without consistent practice and encouragement.

A few of us have had the wonderful opportunity to grow up in a society that already knew how to see our world in such a way. For those of us who haven't, we must gradually move towards this view as our eyes become opened through shamanic experience.

There is no hurry. It is a natural process!