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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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