“Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants if he once has heard stone growing in a cliff?” Tao Te Ching (translated by Witter Bynner)
Today I am ruminating a little on the shamanic state of consciousness. I am realizing that I have something in common with traditional shamans. I believe that the visionary realms and spirits residing within them are real and that they have a life and their own agenda that is separate from the individual who perceives them.
I have studied Jungian psychology and therefore I am very aware that a Jungian psychologist might likely take a position that the worlds that the shamans visit are a type of dreamworld/s that exist within the unconscious minds of us all. Jungians believe in a type of collective unconscious that we all have access to. However, a cognitive scientist might postulate that these places were not discovered by the human mind but rather were created by it. The traditional shaman, however, believes that the spirits and their visionary world are real and not at all individual inventions. In fact, as well-known anthropologist and author Hank Wesselman states, “the shaman experiences the nonordinary reality of the altered state as a discreet but hidden universe, peopled by spiritual beings at various levels of development and awareness, from whom one can acquire wisdom, power and assistance.” (SPIRITWALKER)
I believe that there is much more to the universe than what exists in my mind or the mind of any other human.
In his book Spiritwalker Wesselman recalls words from a lecture by Joseph Campbell that he attended in San Francisco: “Anyone incapable of understanding these spirits as ‘gods’ tends to perceive them as ‘devils’. Those individuals who are ‘unready’ are unable to traverse the zone of magnified power and enter the nonordinary spiritual realms…and for these unworthies, the doorway is closed.”
When did the doorway open for you? What was your experience? Please answer this in your journal in beautiful detail. This will offer you insights that only you can decipher.
Sometimes dreams are dreams and sometimes dreams are doorways into other realms. I feel that since I had my shamanic release from Dr. Steven Farmer in 2006 a new doorway opened up. I became very aware of power animals and my guide, Gray Wolf, whom I had been aware of for many decades – became an even more powerful ally because of my consciousness of his presence. My willingness to acknowledge his place in my ‘ordinary reality’ rather than only my ‘nonordinary reality.’ Is that related to the magnified power of which Joseph Campbell speaks?
Steven Farmer studied with Western shaman Michael Harner, author of The Way of the Shaman. Wesselman took classes with him as well. In fact, Wesselman’s “carefully constructed scientific worldview” began to come apart before those studies due to a number of spontaneous altered states that were as remarkable as they were baffling. He wondered, in his darkest moments, if he was going crazy and yet the anthropologist in him enabled him to make mental notes during his altered state and then write them down later.
A true shaman is always directed by strong, altruistic motivations. Wesselman’s initial impulses he admits were to write up his own experiences as a “lucid dream” or “imaginary narrative” but he claimed his experiences as ‘real’ and began writing them up as “fieldwork” not disguising his own experiences in order to maintain scientific credibility. “So, what does one do when one is handed a plate with a slice of something quite different from what one is used to eating? Those with more conservative tastes or closed minds might send it back to the kitchen. Having always had an interest in the unusual or bizarre, however, I chose to eat it – and to analyze how it was made, and then to try to get into the kitchen for second and third helpings.” Those are the words Wesselman wrote about his shamanic journeyings a few decades ago.
Have you recently been handed a slice of something quite different? Are you going to send it back to the kitchen?
Love & Light, Monica