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)

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's in a Story?

The power of the story is revealing itself more regularly. There is a magic to the storytelling art and our readings have formed an inner storytelling geiger counter that helps me detect this skill in those around me. A good storyteller can spark the imagination while also having to include information and use a style that engages the listener. As with certain poetry or music, while I can recognize and appreciate good storytelling, I have trouble instinctively creating my own story and letting the words flow with their own life to form a vibrant self-sustaining and coherent piece of art that effortlessly contains coded information--it's more familier for me to spend hours preparing, modifying, tweaking and rearranging my projects--sometimes rehearsing and rereading over and over to determine what sounds good. The pieces I produce without painstaking over-processing tend to be the most evocative and satisfying.

I was always under the impression that cramming the head with information and stats and mastering the arguments for and against would help me gain a person's maximum attention and to reach them with my message. Typical teaching methods train the mind to accumulate raw info and introduce buzzwords here and there to give the info context--this may be useful for a parrot, but we need more to relate to each other. I'm now seeing that in a conversation the receiver responds most warmly and attentively to association, symbols, themes, humor and the presence of the communicator. I also know that my conditioning and obsession with efficiency has pushed the noble craft of storytelling to the junk yard doldrums of my mind, and personal fears and inhibitions prevent me from recording the treasures of seemingly unremarkable daily events and picking up the way of the storyteller. By looking to the future or being gripped by the past, I've not been present enough in my own life to collect a story's golden ingredients- Instead, I've collected the most unavoidable experiences, let countless other stories and telling experiences slip by, or been malnourished by living through and replicating the stories of others-- much like a comatose sleeper kept on life support. Similarly, I haven't had patience for people's stories, or I switch the senses off when one dances across plain view. It's no wonder I am not satisfied with the contents of my own stories or my capacity to retain and deliver them.

Could it be that the combination of ingredients that make the content of the story compelling are no different to the fragments of consciousness that form a whirlpool in the head and settle once we drift into the land of our dreams. Content is only one aspect-- the storyteller's mind works an extraordinary relationship with words, the order of their use, their creation of images, and their delivery: these are all key elements that culminate with audience captivation. There is also a personal element of revealing an authentic and vulnerable side of the self that connects the storyteller to their audience.

One other observation that has relevance: the "therapist" listens to your stories and helps you draw them out, but the shaman takes notice of the quality and scope of your stories. This may explain the difference between knowing the symbols and knowing the essence of the symbols.


Walks In Two Worlds said...

I love this about the therapist...so right on! Use essence and be a shaman. Love, Robin

Heart of The Mother said...

Perfectly spoken.

My experience of working with a shaman and a psychologist, both of whom have utilized ideology or methodology from Tolle's book is such:
The thoughts, ideas, or even quotes spoken by the psychologist simply "fall flat."
However, these same spoken ideas from the shaman, "pack a punch." The essence is apparent and palpable on many levels.

Walks In Two Worlds said...

You all asked to speak to this more. So here's a quick example to show the levels...

Story: A person is given a bottle of water, one from the pure runoff of an ancient volcano. The other, blessed by a holy monk known to pray 20 hours a day.

Possible Symbols: container, water, intermediary, purity of nature, prayer, purity of spiritual life, lava.

Essence: Clear nourishment of what we are all made of as a blessing/offering. Those essences are needs of everyone. They bypass the judgement (prayer, bottled water, etc...) of the story, and even the hidden prejudices of symbolic interpretation.

Healing at the essence level bypasses all that can get hung up, and releases the fullness of the chi within the symbol.