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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Archaic Revival


The Archaic Revival: Shamanism in the 21st Century
Hank Wesselman

In the Western world, when we hear the word “shaman,” most of us tend to conjure up an image of a masked and costumed indigenous tribal person, dancing around a fire in the dark, involved in some sort of mysterious ritual, accompanied by singing and drum beats. But inside that cultural shell of mask, costume and ritual, there is a woman or a man with a set of very real skills. The shaman is the master of the trance experience.
All true shamans are able to achieve expanded states of awareness in which they can direct the focus of their consciousness away from our everyday physical reality and into the inner worlds of the dreamtime while very much awake.
The first thing they discover is that these inner worlds are inhabited, for there they encounter spirits–the spirits of nature, the spirits of the elementals, the spirits of the ancestors, and the higher, compassionate transpersonal forces, many of whom serve humanity as spirit helpers and guardians, teachers and guides.
It is this extraordinary visionary ability that sets shamans apart from all other religious practitioners. And it is through their relationship with these archetypal beings that shamans are able to do various things, initially on behalf of themselves and then increasingly on behalf of others. What sorts of things?
At the top of the list is probably ‘empowerment.’ Working with the assistance of their helping spirits, shamans are able to restore power to persons who have lost theirs or who have been diminished by their life experiences. Shamanic practitioners are able to access information from ‘the other side’ through divination; some are skilled at guiding the souls of the deceased to where they are supposed to go in the afterlife, an ability known as psychopomp work; and many shamans are master healers at the physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual levels of our being.
And… in their role as master healers in the imaginal realms, many shamanic practitioners are accomplished at restoring the fabric of a client’s soul, a transpersonal healing modality known as soul retrieval.
Sanctified by their initiatory experiences and furnished with their spirit guardians, the shaman alone among human beings is able to consciously travel into the spiritual worlds as cosmic explorers.
Now here’s something interesting: Because of my work as an anthropologist and because of my books about my own experiences on the shaman’s path, I have been brought into close connection with increasing numbers of modern spiritual seekers at conferences and workshops over the past 28 years, and I have watched, riveted, as non-tribal Westerners successfully achieve shamanic states of trance, and often on the very first attempt.
The Shamanic State of Consciousness
This evidence has led me (and others) to suspect that there is a biological-energetic “program” on our DNA, on our genetic “hard drive” so to speak, and it has been my personal experience that when this program is “double-clicked” with the right “mouse,” higher functions coded into the personal mind-body matrix may be awakened. In response, our conscious awareness may expand dramatically, allowing us to have that direct, transpersonal connection with the sacred realms that defines the shaman.
The inner fieldwork of the eastern mystics suggests that this program is associated with the ductless glands, the brain, and the heart, organs that, in turn, are in relationship with those dense concentrations of energy known as chakras located in the core of our personal etheric matrix. When these physical and energetic mission control centers are activated, the relationship between them can dramatically affect the body and the brain, which may undergo striking changes in response.
The Technology of Transcendence
Now… in talking about the shaman’s path, it is known that the traditional people in indigenous societies have developed families of techniques for altering consciousness in specific ways. These constitute a form of technology-the technology of transcendence.
Indigenous people know everything there is to know about their surrounding environments in great detail, and if there are psychotropic plants growing nearby, the ritual use of hallucinogens derived from these “plant teachers” is sometimes utilized for the purpose of expanding awareness and accessing the sacred realms of things hidden.
The same held true for the mystery schools in the ancient world, and the growing literature on hallucinogens reveals striking cross-cultural similarities in the reported effects of these natural substances on human consciousness. These include the capacity to channel the energy of the universe, to discover the most profound secrets of Nature, and to acquire wisdom that may be used for magical, medical, and religious purposes.
From consciouslifenews