Nearly every culture has a shamanic heritage rooted back in the days when our human consciousness was able to perceive and communicate with plants, animals, stones, trees, and with the earth and cosmic energies themselves. There are some who claim that all religions have their beginning thread in the shamanic mystical cycles because, at one time, each and everyone of us were the native peoples and we were deeply attached and interconnected to the land upon which we walked. It was not a religion, but a way of life; a spiritual practice which helped us to be aware and conscious and connected. The reason this was so is that in order to survive we needed to be aware of our surroundings. If the herds moved, we followed. If the snows came, we had to either move to a warmer locale or have the forethought to gather food and warm clothing for the season. This Awareness was a part of everyday life and consciousness and, as some of the American Indian Elders say: we lived by continual communion with forces which surround us and with the Great Mystery. *br* Today’s farmers maintain this connection to the natural cycles, but most of the rest of us have lost it because we buy food whether or not it is in season and we live in homes which enable us to virtually ignore the seasonal changes.*br* *br* Walking the the Shamanic path is different from walking some of the other spiritual paths available today. Shamanism has no dogma and very few rules because it is about doing, experiencing, and knowing. It is, perhaps, a difficult path because it requires you to walk under the direction of your heart and higher mind. It’s goal is a mergence between the physical aspect that you call yourself, and the part of you which is Spirit, and the classes are held here, upon this Earth School. *br* In learning the techniques of Shamanism, you learn to participate in realms of experience which differ from physical reality — these realms are sometimes called Non-ordinary Reality, but they are very real. To the evolving conscious spirit reality has many levels and only a small portion of the Greater Reality is revealed to the physical senses. So we, whether we are male or female, strive to open the inner eyes and other senses so that more and more of the Greater Reality is experienced and learned from.*br* *br* Most westerners are essentially objective in defining their reality. In other words, they believe what they see. Indigenous people and, inherently spiritual people, on the other hand, understand reality as levels of objective experience and subjective awareness. From the shamanic point of view everything that exists has a right to exist, is alive with some level of consciousness, has a purpose, and is interrelated and interdependent. In learning to walk the Shamanic path we are provided with a model and a means to live a spiritually aware and responsible life. We begin to live our lives peacefully, creatively, and progressively. We can open our minds and hearts to an ordered and multidimensional reality and to working partnerships with all life forms. Doing this eliminates dogma and most of the confusion and empowers the individual by teaching him or her that reality and one’s perception of it is as internal as it is external.*br* *br* Really, there are only two basic tenets in Shamanism. The first is to recognize that everything that exists is divine. And the second is to recognize that everything that exists is connected. The tools that are used to learn these two tenets are the Shamanic Journey and Consciousness Expansion. These two tools are all you need to begin to explore the many dimensions and levels of reality which surround us at all times. A journey is like a waking dream or an astral journey. One enters this “waking dream” at will using chanting, drumming, rattling, or whatever method appeals and is effective. Journeys are similar to guided visualizations. The difference is that in a guided visualization you are told how to get there, what to see, who to see, and what will happen. You are restricted by whatever the person guiding you decides to put in. In a shamanic journey, you are in control of how you are going to get there, but not of everything that occurs once there. You also have control over how you react to what happens and can end the experience any time you choose to. Journeys always have a purpose. This might be seeking an Inner World Teacher, finding a guide, learning the reason behind an illness, helping a friend or family member, for a spiritual lesson, or to simply map out Otherworldly terrain. As you gain experience you will learn to ‘go in’ to retrieve more specific and higher level information. One of the wonderful things about journey work is that you can progress relatively quickly. If you do the work, you can get to the next, deeper level. If you don’t do the work, you are blocked from progressing further. In time the Journeys will enable you to retrieve information and guidance for the benefit of others. *br* The other thing about Journeys is that you are given constant updates and reports on your progress, so you always know whether or not you’ve been successful in evolving consciously. This constant feed back helps you monitor every level of your spiritual journey.*br* *br* Shamanism requires us to find our way back to a simpler, and more open and honest relationships with ourselves, each other, and the universe. We are constantly reminded of the extent of our cosmic families and to think more progressively and inclusively, rather than judgmentally and exclusively. As we move along the path in experience we learn to balance ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually — in truth, the Shaman strives to walk in balance at all times under all circumstances even as we are thrown off kilter when we are suddenly and sharply reminded of some habitual response that we have which we were unaware of. As we progress we strive to reclaim the bond that we once shared with all of our relations in the plant, animal, mineral, human, and spirit worlds. As we study and practice — for shamanism is more practice than study — we are truly learning to work, once again, with the cosmic forces that surround us and regaining that lost sense of interconnectedness to the web of life.*br* *br* Shamanism is often called the path of the Great Alone because much of the work is done alone. As we learn we come to the realization that we, as individuals have the ability and potential to become our own prophet and that each of us is capable of receiving spiritual revelation directly from the highest sources. We do this by getting back to the basics of common human nature, our ancestry, and by learning to directly connect with the plants, animals, and the planet itself. This is done by very simple means; you practice daily to expand your awareness so that it includes these other beings in your normal thought process; this is most usually done with Journeys, communion with the All, and vision quests and daily practice. */p* *p align=”center”*For example, instead of reacting to that spider that drops down in front of your face by killing it, you might catch it and set it free out doors or in one of your house plants. Instead of ripping up those weeds, you might research them and discover another use for them, in a tea or as a vegetable side dish. Truly shamanic practices are a spiritual and ecological activism in which one works to broaden your perspective of reality and to work in a co-operative effort with the Universal Creative Source. */p* *p align=”center”*This co-creative endeavor allows us to shift our perspective between realities and broadens our ability to see the BIG PICTURE, or the Universal Web of Life, rather than just our small piece of it. *br* *br* Shamans learn to live their own lives, that might sound extremely attractive but owning your own life means taking responsibility for everything that happens within your life — good, bad, or indifferent. Not many are willing or prepared to do that. The up-side, however, is learning that we have all the answers we need if we just settle down and are willing to hear them. Notice I said HEAR not listen? We all listen, but sometimes we only hear what we want to hear. So how do you do that? How do you learn to listen to the wind, or hear the voice of the plants? Journey work gives you the equipment necessary to expand your senses and perceptions. One of the biggest lessons you’ll ever learn in Shamanism is to trust your intuition and the tools that your body, mind, and heart are. Shamanism doesn’t use many tools because its basic precept is that our bodies, minds, and hearts ARE the only tools we have need of; all we have to do is learn how to use them. And remember, to the awakened Soul everything is a tool. All you have to do is discover what works for you and use it.*br*Some tribal shamans, and a few of the techno-shamans, do use physical tools. The most common of these are the Medicine Bag, a bundle that contains herbs, animal bones or claws which are representations of happenings on Journey, or serve as psychic links to the Otherworld, totems, or teachers. Rattles and Drums are used for healing work and to accompany Journeys by providing monotonous sounds which enable a shift in consciousness. Chants, which serve the same purpose as rattles and drums, and Prayers, which are ways of communing with the directions, spiritual family members, and the Source. Prayer Sticks, which are used to in Talking Circles; the person holding the stick has the floor and others must listen without interruption until he is through or until he passes the stick to the next speaker. */p* *p align=”center”**strong*Prayer and Tobacco Flags:*/strong* Prayer flags are pieces of cloth with a wish or prayer written on them. These are tied outdoors and left to be blown freely away; the wind carries the prayer to the Source or, as the writing fades from the cloth, the prayer comes into being. Tobacco ties are similar to Prayer Flags except the prayer cloth is wrapped around a small bunder of sacred tobacco (not cigarette tobacco) and left outside to the elements as an offering in exchange for requested help. And, of course, the Medicine Wheel, which is a presentation of the self and one’s place within the universe as well as a tool to attune to worldly and Otherworldly teachers. *br* *br* Now what are the benefits of this form of spirituality? The biggest benefit is empowerment. As you come awake and your mind and heart open and begin to heal your sense of self-worth blossoms. You begin to realize who you are and what you are capable of. You are constantly learning about your own inner workings and the way of those things and people which surround you. As you grow your Authentic Self — the Soul — opens its eyes and begins to teach you about your body, your belief system, and personal myths. As this happens you suddenly begin to be able to decipher the issues within the tissues and are able to transcend them. Every lesson and encounter with the Authentic self and the Spirit World enable you to search out the answers to questions about your identity, origins, and purpose. The journey towards becoming an awakened, enlightened soul is truly a Soul Quest and the object of that quest is to remember the Real Self which is deeply connected with the land and earth itself. What is taught here will provide methods for hanging normal consciousness so that it is able to perceive the intelligence inherent in Nature which teaches us how to enhance life’s quality rather than to damage or destroy it. *br* *br* Becoming an awakened Soul means learning that we are not at the mercy of events; we form the events to which we react, as Seth/Jane Roberts might say. It means coming to the, sometimes, startling conclusion that there is an intimate connection between expectations and perception. It means coming to the realization that no-one can tell you what road to follow. You have all the answers within you and should beware of anyone who hands you ready answers. And this fact is, perhaps, one of the major tenets of any true Spirituality: there is a huge difference between being told things and knowing them. Knowing comes from within. And when you know, you don’t need to be told. Using shamanic methods we learn to explore the layers of Self and, thus, learn who we are and who we are capable of becoming. We learn to form true kinships with plants, animals, stones, the wind, the ocean…indeed, with Divinity.*br*

Author