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)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Conflicts, Pride, and Dreaming Together

Below is an edited version of my response to an email blast criticizing the bigotry that can result from extreme nationalist and ethnic pride. I have attached it because it is filled with ideas I draw from the Shaman's Body. I didn't think it would happen, but the book is beginning to seep into my subconscious.

In chapter 12, Mindell suggests that it is the personal phantoms that possess people and can be played out through violence between communities. Dealing with hidden conflict through "constructive" dialog or expression is one way of allowing the sufferer and the forgotten spirit she carries to "accept pain and change its source."

The specter of radical nationalist or ethnic pride, exaggerates the differences between real people, and is a "destructive" way of expressing the hidden conflict. It is a means of reducing each individual's complex story to a false notion of one collective good against another collective evil. Victims may gain comfort from substituting this type of collective story with their personal dreaming body's stories, using pain as power. This is one way to move together in trances, in my view. And what a dangerous and deadly mode of travel it is.

Night Sings

"I am so grateful for your email--it illustrates the utter prejudice and subhumanization spawned from outrageous nationalist and ethnic zealotry. Indeed, it is nationalist and ethnic extremism that is responsible for the world's most recent devastating wars. I would also add ideological zealotry to this list since for several decades the world was victimized by a bipolar political order that pitted communism against capitalism... It is, then, important to remember that abuse and false deification of any constructed identity can enslave the human race and lead to the scapegoating of one group. The response from that group has been bonding, political mobilization, sometimes military mobilization (even what you and I would refer to as terrorism) as a means of empowerment to battle back against the perceived collective injustice--hence, in power relations, it is the most victimized and threatened groups that tend to resort to ethnic hatred--and the cycle continues.

I am not opposed to respect for a person's cultural or religious distinctiveness but we must acknowledge the injustices of the past, honor the pain, get over the tyrant-victim relationship and let go of our "personal histories" once in a while to set free the ghosts that haunt our efforts to move forward. What about celebrating our collective experiences and shared humanity? A common race fractured by the trauma of the past cannot get beyond the petty, short-sightedness of the current order. As our true mother and only real cultural home we know, Earth, is showing us today through global warming and the international food crisis, "if one community fails, we all fail."

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