To quote Einstein, who I would consider to be among the greatest of modern Shaman “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” To me one of the most beautiful aspects of shamanism is that it is a true spiritual and scientific democracy, an understanding that everything is one, and of humankind’s kinship to all other life forms. We are each other, we are all existence, we are all our collective thoughts, intentions and actions, we ourselves are the collective, feeling, seeing, blinking universe. It is that universe that provides us with beauty and providence beyond all measure. In my mind everything is ‘God’ and once I had accepted this as my own truth I felt a lot happier. It is possible to see, feel and touch divinity in everything around us.
This article starts with some scientific blurb (so it does not sound too weird) although it is interesting stuff, it then goes on into the real Shamanic practice. Understanding ourselves and the universe is Shamanism….
If there is one darkness in our world today that needs urgent illumination it is the understanding of this ‘one-ness’, there is no religion, or science or anything else existing in isolation, just a vibrating synthesis of consciousness , energy perceived as visual information. This is what is understood during the collapse of time and distance that occurs when the true self touches and becomes part of all creation. This dimension is accessible to everyone, yet lies beyond the accepted human understanding of measurement represented by zero to infinity. We touch creation all the time, as with all memes once created or observed nothing ever dies, even with natural selection. Anyone acquainted with Darwin’s theory of evolution can surely see it. This theory of endless life through replication and evolution applies to all life forms and ideas, all that is observed by the consciousness present in all existence, this lives on in continuous expansion for all eternity. It is a perfect system which in my mind is designed by God. Similar views to that of Darwin have also been put forward in the world of physics were the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics states that every possible quantum outcome is realized, this appears correct in many ways when you consider how aspects of everything live on in some form in evolutionary terms.
Whatever other gifts the Shamanic practitioner has, it is this understanding of connectedness that is at the core of Shamanism, both ancient and modern. Being mindful of this, humankind should show our children all that is good in the world and protect them from witnessing harm, prejudice and negativity. Ideas self-expand just as the universe does, as more of collective consciousness observes both positive and negative behavior and thinking….at least these are how my own thoughts on Shamanism are solidifying.As part of this I have recently become re-acquainted with Darwin’s theory of evolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity along with later scientific quantum field theories, such as Bells inequality theorem which to some extent explains time and distance collapse, and Neils Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation which explains the collapse of matter into a vibration (waves). I have done this in order to try and objectify my spiritual beliefs, reorder my thoughts on God, Christianity and science and place these harmoniously alongside a more Shamanic worldview, which was not at first an easy task. Since I believe without doubt that ‘God’ is the first cause of the cosmos and find the teachings of Christianity most relevant to myself and my family I have to call myself a Shamanic Christian……a combination that the church will surely welcome with open arms…. Regardless of the prejudice I have already encountered Christianity and Shamanism go together in my mind, after all what was Jesus if not a great Shaman with teachings to follow? A healer who dedicated his life to humility, forgiveness, love and service to others. What is Shamanism if not a type of mystical communion with God? Shamanism is not after all a religious practice in itself, it is the foundation of modern religion and can sit happily alongside anything- possibly even materialism…
So where did it all start…..? and, if you are reading this and want to start for yourself then welcome to what is a direct experience…. and a playful, mystical kaleidoscopic world of illogicality and ‘uncommon’ sense….and don’t forget to enjoy your journey!
As a teenager with no spiritual direction, education, parenting or any other direction to speak of my path lighters have always been books and those friends who recommended them. Anyone who likes to read will know that one book leads to another. So my Shamanic journey began at 15 with the Tao of Physics (1975) by Fritjof Capra a quantum physicist. I then read Capra’s later titles, The Turning Point (1982) and Uncommon Wisdom (1988); the books joined together eastern Mysticism with quantum physics. Capra also continually mentioned Carlos Castaneda and ‘The teachings of Don Juan’ although I have never really experimented with drugs as Casdaneda did, however I did become very interested in dreams, recording my dreams and ‘actively’ rather than passively day dreaming. No one had ever told me about Shamanic journeying as such so my methods were entirely of my own invention, but slightly based on the wanderings and observations of Castaneda. I later combined this with elements of the Northern European pagan traditions simply because these seemed nearer to me spiritually than the traditions of the Americas. As a child, teenager, and very recently I have used all kinds of methods to induce a deep meditation. As a child I had a very annoying (to my family) habit of tongue clicking, something I soon discovered could induce a state where I could experience a deep ‘daydream’, the washing machine on spin was another one. The others were visual; I observed moving clouds to disorientate myself, or the visual vibration of slightly moving leaves. Squinted at lights on the motorway so they became a continuous stream. Anything that alters perception is a potential door opener to an altered state of consciousness. Clouds were (and still are) one of my favorite methods, By lying on the ground while tilting my head back so that I am unable to see any of myself (like the nose), it is possible to get the impression of being a body-less free floating consciousness without actually doing an out of body experience. Non of these methods are in themselves Shamanism which is a very purposeful practice. Castaneda to some extent kept my childhood practices going… Although I forgot about all of this for more than 20 years while I build a career, business and had a family….in a crisis of stress several months ago meditation was the most important thing I did, and I thank God and others for it.
Now I have returned to some of the childhood methods described earlier and am enjoying having these experiences of absolute bliss, one-ness and time collapse all over again. For anyone wishing to find this, start by doing what makes you happy whenever you can. I do Shamanic journeys, meditate, listen to binaural beats music, hum along to the Indian Harmonium (Shruti box). Any practice where ‘time collapse’ is experienced is true meditation, wherever this can be found, simple pencil drawing is another place I find this, particularly portraits, where I literally visualize the person, feel what it is like to be them by literally ‘getting inside’ them in order to create a ‘likeness’- Time collapse can be explained in the objective world, if you are enjoying yourself time speeds up, this is one way of understanding the mystical aspect of timlessnes.
I have for years seen what appears in my dreams as powerful metaphors for guidance that speak from deep within the subconscious, and I have just re-started recording my dreams. In my mind, you are your own guide, a wolf (important in my own Shamanic journeys) is a powerful path lighter, and a mirror of the self- in other words you are the wolf and its representations, or it may show you what you need to become. In the case of the wolf this may mean loyalty, endurance, intellect, instinct and the ability to operate alone and with others. All guides have a shadow side which is also a reflection of the self. In my case the wolf also represents the shadow side of working alone and over self-reliance. Another of my guides is the Falcon. The Falcon means flying high and alone. Classic interpretations of the falcon include visionary power, wisdom, and a guardian who leads you to your life purpose. It also represents the Archangel Michael. Those attributes aside what means most to me is travelling alone and the Falcon’s message of transition and change which are also relevant in my current life circumstances. I do not rely only on my intuition to interpret what I see, I also look them up. Shamans have and find knowledge….so the internet seems a good tool. Shamanic wisdom holds that guides are symbols of what your own and the higher collective subconscious (God) expects of you. This may be why guides are often culturally appropriate, a Christian might see Jesus for example, but Jesus would be unlikely to appear to a Muslim as unless they were experiencing a crisis of faith, there would be no message in it. I do not worry if the guides are real or imagined, everything that was ever invented came from imagination rather than knowledge and it is startling what sometimes appears on journeys.
Inspiration (‘in-spirit-ing’) regularly appears to me via books- my most important guides in the objective world. If a book has been given to me I know that its message will be a powerful one even if this is a single sentence. This are often non-spiritual books by the way. I have also started to find teaching in those who weave together Shamanic thinking or Celtic traditions with Christianity. Although I am only very casually acquainted with poetry I am beginning to find a lot of inspiration in the late Irish poet, philosopher and priest John O’Donohue who’s divinely inspired work creates a wonderful synthesis of all existence within his poetry. Christianity and Celtic Shamanic reverence for trees, rivers, skies and hills are skilfully woven into a spiritual on-ness. Like O’Donohue, the American poet Emily Dickenson’s work sings to the soul and is replete with references to an intimacy with nature.
Einstein’s ability to join the spiritual with the material was also very inspired. Just like the ancient Shaman he appeared to be guided by imagination that came from a place far beyond human intellect. Although Einstein did not believe in a personal God, here are some of his views on spirituality:
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness….Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science…..To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.”
(Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science)
Einstein once said of himself that he was not so smart; he just stayed with his problems longer. I have recently read an account of Einstein’s life and it is clear he was a deeply spiritual; often he would lie down, blank his mind and trust that something higher would enter. That something was the Theory of relativity (E = mc2), an equation which describes the relationship between energy and matter, and which demonstrated that “energy and matter are equal, identical, and interchangeable, operating through vibration. This theory although incomplete remains the foundation of modern physics. Later interpretations such as the Copenhagen interpretation and Bells inequality theorem go some way towards science understanding what Shamans know, although the 70 year old paradox of the Particle-Wave Duality of Matter still remains outside of the logic of science and Mathematics.
What separates the Shamanic thinker from the tribe is the belief in spiritual democracy and the understanding that everything is one. The practitioner trusts in instinct and lets their imagination take them to the ‘other worlds’ described in Shamanic writings. This ‘higher place’ is the one where inventiveness, intuition, healing and prophecy come from. As with Quantum Mechanics, Shamanic insight relies on the observer effect to bring it into objective reality, A Shamanic healer will ‘imagine’ the patient getting better, they believe it, observe it and therefore make it real. Spirit and science (QM) work in exactly the same way (in my understanding) along with everything else…..No need for anything special here, The Shaman, Both ancient and modern or ‘one who knows’ is able to weave spiritual practice into their life work through their ordinary occupations in the everyday world. No need to hide away like a hermit or live like a saint. Shamans enjoy blissful experience with or without natural drugs such as plants and sex along with creative pursuits Shamans work in the interests of other existence and this is always their intent, and this understanding is part of what brings peace and happiness…I could not call myself a ‘Shaman’ but I am enjoying integrating this thinking into my own practice. Once again, enjoy your journey!