Three decades ago, an anthropologist studying with the Shur Peoples of South America, wrote a book that would change our opinions about Indigenous Peoples the world over and, ultimately, our opinions about how mind and Spirit work. Michael Harner’s seminal work, “The Way of the Shaman”, brought to the awareness of academics and lay people alike the power of the human mind and soul to positively affect the process of healing. Up until that time, the accepted position of most Western academics was that the indigenous shaman was simply “a little crazy” and that their visions and rituals were perhaps the result of taking one too many hallucinogens. But Harner had a different perception. In describing “Core Shamanism”, Harner explained that the process of Shamanic visioning and healing was inimical to being human. We all, no matter our cultural origins, can be Shaman. Harner, with his wife Sandra, went on to establish The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, an organization that supports Shamans and their cultures throughout the world as well as trains people in Shamanic arts.
But why become an “Urban Shaman” and what exactly are the implications of embracing Shamanism as a way of life. First of all, it is important to note that we mean no disrespect to Native American or Indigenous Peoples. Seeking to follow the wisdom ways of Indigenous Peoples is not about appropriating the cultural merits of others. This is more to encourage Westerners to access a wisdom that will connect them to each other, their communities, the Earth and the world on a powerful energetic plane. A plane that cannot be touched by the rampant greed and disrespect evidenced by recent political and cultural events, but may indeed benefit Gaia and all Peoples who live upon her.
Our Earth , its creatures and people are under assault. Decisions to open sacred grounds to oil and gas drilling, decisions to control our bodies and health through deregulation is to put forth an agenda of violence. Returning to the core of belief in how the Universe works, and our place in it can actually expand our abilities to help and to heal people and return us to right relationships with the Earth.
At the center of an understanding of Core Shamanism is a very simple precept, and one that has been mentioned by countless Spiritual teachers and scientists, in one form or another, that is, that we are all connected. If we are energetically connected to each other, all living things and Gaia, the Earth, herself, then we can energetically affect change. How we direct our energies is up to us, of course. Some of us will want to help heal others, and by drawing on the strength of the Compassionate Spirits who are our guides, we can assist in returning the physical body to balance. Whether as a healer of mind or body, in traditional and non-traditional modalities, if the practitioner is rooted in a core belief then they can effect more powerful healing.
Some of us may choose to work with the animal kingdom or the plant kingdoms. We can be Shaman in the way we caretake our land and grow and process and serve our food, whether in our own back yards for our families or on farms for a larger audience.
We can be Shaman is how we teach our children and how we interact each day with our neighbors. We can be Shaman is making mindful choices about whom we support and why by asking the simple question, “what is for the best and highest good of all concerned?” before taking a step. Shamanism is a belief in connection.
You might say that learning the practices of Core Shamanism are simply ways of accessing a discipline or tool that can enhance your abilities to access a Higher Wisdom to utilize when needed for ourself or others. This tool may move you into peaceful protests or interactions with your elected officials. It might just as easily lead you to pay attention to your neighbor’s needs, a friendly hand for an elder or a smile for an immigrant.
Let’s begin with the simple ritual of Morning Tobacco Prayers. Get some unadulterated tobacco. Put it in a jar or dish by your back door. Each morning go out on your porch or in your yard and take a pinch of tobacco and, in turn, offer it to the Father Sky, Mother Earth and each of the four directions with a prayer to bring in the power and lesson represented by that direction, into your life that day. This moment of mindful connection can change your attitude to the events which will be drawn to you that day.
Close your day by taking some cornmeal and honoring the Lunar/Feminine energies and thanking the Grandmother’s for their support and protection. You can make up your own prayers, or read appropriate prayers ( there are many books on the subject) , or come to one of my classes and learn the ways taught to me by my mentors. However you choose, you will notice a shift in your own attitudes and energy, and your ability to harness that energy for the good of your community in a positive way.
As each of us can walk a Shamanic path in our own small orbits, our energies will link to form a larger web of protection around this Earth. If we are energetically linked in mind, Spirit and Energy in the ethers, we can affect positive change on our climate, which is so now out of balance due to our neglect. Mother Earth is becoming angry and wanting our attention, all we have to do is observe her rages this past year. Unprecedented storms, fires and floods, quakes and other manifestations of her imbalance. Science alone cannot save us and the wheels of government moved too slowly (and oftentimes not for the highest good). But if each of us does our part, physically by using renewable bags, going Green when we can, growing our own food or taking part in community gardens, protecting our water sources, for instance, we can make a difference for that Greater Whole. When we help a neighbor, “pay it forward”, offer a smile or “namaste” we change the energetic atmosphere around us.
The rise in Energy Medicine as a complement and to traditional Western approaches to healing has been gaining in popularity. I believe this is so because the power of Intention, Mind/Soul connection, Positive Affirmation, Prayer and other alternative forms of integrated , Holistic support have proven their worth. These forms of healing all lie at the core of a Shamanic approach to the World.
In the Indigenous world, the Shaman walks among their community as a friend and family member and only when called upon do they assume the mantle of Healer and Spiritual Guide, at service to their community. To be an Urban Shaman means that we live according to a core code of belief, act for the benefit of all in our daily lives and then move into the realm of intercessor ,when asked, with our full attention.. And we can do that here and now, whether we live on a farm or in a city. We all live on this small planet. We share our lives with the creatures that live on it. What happens on the other side of the world will certainly have its affect on us, in our small community. All we can do is strive to channel healing energy in a mindful way for the betterment of all concerned. Find out how you can become and Urban Shaman. Change starts from within.
For more information on The Foundation for Shamanic Studies go to www.ffss.org and for more information on my classes go to www.SoulWisdomhealing.com, www.NorthernLightsHolistic.one
Contact Cris to set up times and dates at 401-662-6642