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, August 23, 2010

Why Shamanic Tools?

In a prior entry, I discussed the simplistic lifestyle of the Ancients and how it was suggested that they had an easier time of accessing Spirit in the past. I noted that our ancestors may have channeled wisdom from outside realms using shamanic tools during an era when it was acceptable to tune in to explore the mind’s gifts.

Today, we talk about shamanic technology or tools as those natural instruments or substances that are used by a shaman to heighten their senses or travel to other realms/altered states and gain insights not normally accessible —others call this psychonavigation.

With shamanic technology, I come at life with the view that I can overcome my challenges because I believe we each carry the necessary wisdom within us to do so.

There is also an intention to heal and an implicit trust in a shaman’s goal of reminding the individual about their innate power to make the best choices. Under this model, technology is used as a support for raising the consciousness and elevating the mind. In other words, the nature of shamanic tools is to quiet or focus the mind’s busy operations and machinelike functions, so Spirit can be set in motion. Much like a hidden force activating the lotus flower to open in bloom from the murk of mud and water, these tools remind us to use our inner resources to honor our natural path and have faith in the process of development.

It seems to me that while we consider modern technology to be neutral, most new tools are “designed” to inhibit our psychonavigation powers and elevate the hyper-processing behavior of the “monkey mind.”

From the ages of industry to information, we have been more focused as a society on producing toys, machines, and other tools that provide luxury, maximize efficiency, and increase access to entertainment. Many argue that the costs outweigh the benefits of these new models and the multimillion dollar marketing campaigns that go with them because they create a culture of dependency and wastefulness. These designs are in stark contrast to the direct experience of clarity brought about from the shamanic tool. And its ability to help us explore fresh ways of thinking independently.

There are three key considerations that come to mind here: while new technologies are great for improving certain functions, any tool or technology in a profit-driven society is frequently subject to abuse and misuse. Multiple threats to health, for example, are associated with side effects and unintended consequences of modern technology. We’re aware of the damage done to eyes by peering at monitors for too long, or the health risks of using microwaves, synthetic pharmaceuticals and cellphones, to name a few. Other technological terrors like modern weaponry and factory farms are self-explanatory.

Secondly, efficiency and mass consumption of replaceable parts and products as a goal makes it easier to routinely deplete and pollute natural resources; destroying the environment and distancing us further from nature’s lessons, chi energy, and holistic healing. An assault on nature is an attack on the self.

Finally, while all these matters exist, we cannot roll back time and we cannot be deterred. We cannot deny that we are in an high-tech age, and we can’t reject what is already here. As modern shamans, this truth makes it incumbent upon us to be facilitators of a modern consciousness, to help form communities that integrate technology creatively and constructively. The few shamans of old who are left are deliberately keeping the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients alive for people like us to receive it and bridge the gap, finding ways to unite the two worlds.

In coming full circle, hope can be found in our capacity to awaken to our potential; as original thinkers; and as those who can combine the best elements of the past’s high awareness and the future’s opportunities for advancement. I’d like to think more about ways our work can merge the two and realign appropriate modern technologies into shamanic tools-- or at least to prevent them from actively dumbing us down. One possibility is a shamanic intermediary network or guild, to more formally explore some of these concepts and present positions that represent us as a collective.


“One of the science fiction fantasies that haunts the collective unconscious is expressed in the phrase "a world run by machines," in the 1950s this was first articulated in the notion, "perhaps the future will be a terrible place where the world is run by machines". Well now, let's think about machines for a moment. They are extremely impartial, very predictable, not subject to moral suasion, value neutral and very long lived in their functioning.

Now let's think about what machines are made of, in the light of Sheldrake's morphogenetic field theory. Machines are made of metal, glass. gold, silicon, and plastic ; they are made of what the earth is made of. Now wouldn't it be strange if biology were a way for earth to alchemically transform itself into a self-reflecting thing. In which case then, what we're headed for; inevitably what we are in fact creating, is a world run by machines. And once these machines are in place, they can be expected to manage our economies, languages, social aspirations, and so forth, in such a way that we stop killing each other, stop starving each other, stop destroying land, and so forth. Actually the fear of being ruled by machines is the male ego's fear of relinquishing control of the planet to the maternal matrix of Gaia.”

--Terence McKenna

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