This is an ongoing US and global project to help enthusiasts, scholars, practitioners, and curious parties learn more about shamanic living in a contemporary culture. The space here is devoted to sharing info, experiences and opinions about all forms of shamanic expression covering shamanism's multiple permutations. Among subjects explored are traditions, techniques, insights, definitions, events, artists, authors, and creativity. You are invited to draw from your own experiences and contribute.

What is a SHAMAN?

MAYAN: "a technichian of the Holy, a lover of the Sacred." CELTIC: "Empower the people...by changing the way we think." MEXICAN APACHE: "Someone who has simply learned to give freely of themselves..." AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL: "...a teacher or healer, a wisdom keeper of knowledge... (who) takes people to a door and encourages them to enter." W. AFRICAN DIAGRA: "views every event in life within a spiritual context." HAWAIIAN: "...human bridges to the spiritual world and its laws and the material world and its trials..." QUECHUA INDIAN: "embodies all experience." AMAZON: "...willing to engage the forces of the Universe...in a beneficial end for self, people, and for life in general."

-- from Travelers, Magicians and Shamans (Danny Paradise)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On choosing a teacher

For readers who wish to study with someone, and are looking for a teacher, these are some suggestions:

Traditions - Is the teacher attached to one tradition, did s/he study in it and gain mastery, is s/he eclectic, or Spirit or self taught. Are you comfortable with this. Read books in the traditions you are considering, do they resonate, do they fit? The Shamanic world is rich and diverase. If one approach doesn't suit you, read on. If you get hit between the eyes, find a teacher who is familiar with what you are reading and can take you further.

A weekend workshop is also a good way to check out a teacher. If you're afraid of the kool-aid, or if you feel that the teacher is favoring obviously wealthy students - keep looking.

Community - Is there someone or a group with whom you can practice? It can get lonely out there. A monthly fire warms more than your body. The best fellow-students may not be community if they are a $400 plane ride away and meet every Wednesday night, do they e-mail or phone - does this work for you?

When you are studying with a teacher in a group, are you comfortable with the students who are attracted to your teacher. They are your tribe. The elder students may be your Elders. They may be extremly diverse but is there something about them that resonates.

Accessibility - If you have questions, or if you are in trouble (it happens) is there someone you can talk with or e-mail? Everyone is comfortable with a different degree of independent work, but if I mess up (ouch!) I want to fix it or work on it as soon as possible, not four months from now, especially if my work has been with another person.

These are just a few factors. I am sure that my tribe could offer more. Happy journeying


Walks In Two Worlds said...

Hi Fearless Woman! Is there something you are not telling me? SMILE!

Seriously, this is good (did you write it, or is it from somewhere else?)

A few questions I would add... Are you CALLED to this teacher? Does the teacher know his/her own stuff, including areas of personal seduction, and does he/she deal with it primarily OUTSIDE OF THE CLASS? Can the teacher hold a contaniner big enough to allow for many different expressions of the unique work that comes from each student? Can the teach allow the student to surpass them? Even rejoice when this happens? Is the teacher willing to "die" when it is time? Does the teacher understand projection, and is he/she able to sort what is his/hers, and what is not? Whew, the list goes on and on. But really, each teacher will be imperfect...so can you deal with those imperfections, and still get what YOU need? Love to all, Robin

fearless.woman said...

Robin- Thanks. Yes, these are my thoughts. I've been trying to figure out why this apprenticeship has worked for me while others haven't. You raise points that are important and which I hadn't considered, although we had talked about them in class or session. In so many instances of teachers who travel nationally these would never arise, because so few of them really get to know their students, apart from a small group of "originals", the older students who "knew them when". In consideration, I would also add the teacher's puropose. Some teachers work on cosmology and not individual healing techniques, others are more interested in earth purification, detox work, etc. This is a huge factor, and can influence a student's whole shamanic future.
Thanks for your input. I hope that some readers will choose teachers on a more informed level than I did in 2001. I learned from each of them, and honor all of them. My work with them adds greatly to what I am doing now. In retrospect, I would not change a thing, but I've been lucky. I hope that the blog will give readers more than I had back then, and more of an idea of the range of experience possible.

Night Sings said...

I have held discussions with one of my close friends about mentorship and style. He was taught martial arts by a man who believed in strict, rigid, authoritarian, and often harsh "warrior" training. He admits some of his sensai's methods were unsound and emotionally scarring. But the master's aim was to make "a man" out of his students as well as transferring a craft. My friend says that his sensai developed in him a winning attitude that made him one of the best and helped him tackle most all of his life's problems. My friend laments the fact that these days you could not find such teachers. Personally, I agree with setting challenges for learners but wholeheartedly believe that many do not belong to the way of the warrior. Some are sensitive and would feel crushed by the view that to make a man, one has to break a man. So I would urge prospectives to consider personality and leadership styles of the teacher. Likewise, a good teacher has to be able to identify student strengths and weaknesses and be willing to adapt to the different styles, personalities, and cores of their students.

Night Sings said...

One other thought. Mistakes are part of the process. Both learner and master need to rely on patience: a master's patience for the learner to grasp concepts and a learner's patience for the master's method of sharing truth. The awareness to locate answers available within ourselves is sometimes the greatest gift a teacher can share, I believe.