A Shaman’s 3 Responsibilities
Every Shaman has a duty to the world: to be a great Shaman. In ages past, a good Shaman would isolate his/herself from the tribe so that s/he could learn pure truth, as free from the constraints of the tribe’s culture and traditions as possible (though not abandoning the parts that “work”), while still maintaining membership in the tribe and participating in tribal affairs, such as initiations and such.
Today, our deeply troubled world needs Shamanic insight more than ever and, as a result of my 30+ years as a practicing Shaman, I believe that, rather than sitting in isolation, waiting for seekers to approach, every Shaman has a responsibility to to approach sleeping would-be seekers and to help others from the inside, as a participant.
While there is a lot of hoopty do and BS about Shamanism floating around these days, a Shaman’s duty (what Shamanism “is”) can be summarized in 3 parts:
1. Find truth wherever and whenever it can be found and share it by living it
Charlatans of this age have made the word “spiritual” into a fluffy, ugly-sounding thing, but the type of truth a Shaman is responsible for is primarily of a spiritual kind. Apathy and depression spring from a wounded spirit, drowning in lack of meaning, purpose, and motivation. I suffered from a deep, crippling, suicidal depression for many years and curing myself of it was one of my greatest trials.
Truth is an elixir for the malaise that poisons the world.
Truth isn’t dogma and it isn’t religion. Truth is anti-dogma in action. There is no single indisputable “Truth”, but many truths and some of them are more poignant than others, given the time and circumstances. Sorting through this, growing and evolving along the way, is a Shaman’s first responsibility.
2. Serve as a conduit between our world and the spirit world
By “spirit world”, I don’t necessarily mean the place where souls wander, though that can certainly be part of it. I mean the 8 layers of reality described by some Shamans in the Amazon, reflected in Timothy Leary’s 8 Circuit Theory (of the mind; beautifully explored as a Shamanic system in Antero Alli’s sublime but typo-riddled book, Angel Tech).
A Shaman has to explore and be familiar with these realms of being and (be sensitive enough to) share what s/he finds there in as helpful a way as possible. To be so thorough as to obtain familiarity is frightening and painful and certainly serves as a major obstacle to everyone becoming a Shaman.
Every Shaman has to be able to guide others into these realms with competence and warmth – even when frightening and painful experiences are what the seeker needs. Afterward, a good Shaman has to be able to help seekers interpret what they’ve experienced, ideally guiding them to discover the meanings on their own.
3. Assist others’ transformations
This is a unique time period where our technology has wildly exceeded our ability to emotionally and spiritually cope with it. People are breaking and spinning out of control. Dark forces feed on this chaos, furthering its reach.
Every Shaman has a responsibility to assist people in discovering their “pure” selves and helping them transform themselves into brighter, more spiritually advanced, creative, empowered, beautiful beings. Helping people to unblock people’s energy, heal their “psychic” wounds, and bring them into their bodies as more fully realized people is vital, important work and must be done. This sounds like a tall order because it is. Fluffy “Just be, man” attitudes are not what’s needed (for most people, though some certainly need more of this).
The modern Shaman has some advantages when it comes to healing people: there are more techniques and exercises available than ever: meditation of all stripes, yoga, pranayama, toning with music and chant, creativity exercises (arts, crafts, etc.), various archetypes to work with (animal totems, tarot, etc.), holistic medicine, energy and body work (massage, hands-on healing, acupuncture, etc.), rituals of every persuasion, sweat lodges, all sorts of entheogens and medicines (in situations where they are legal and safe, of course), and much more. If a Shaman is willing to explore what the world has to offer s/he can find whatever s/he needs to help others.
“How do I find the right Shaman?” you might ask.
I’ll explain this in the next piece I write on the subject, I promise. You could always take a look at this character’s site.