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, May 5, 2008

Campbell, Art, and Shamans

I've been watching the "Power of Myth" videos and wanted to share some of Joseph Campbell's comments and views of the shaman. He calls the "artists" of today the equivalent of shamans of past societies.

"The new vision of the universe, it must be kept alive. The only people who can keep it alive are artists. His function is the mythologization of the environment and the world.

The poets of the past were troubled people who found their own way to relate the community:

"They come out of an elite experience, the experience of people particularly gifted whose ears are open to the song of the universe—and that they speak to the folk and there is an answer from the folk which is then received as an interaction, but the first impulse comes from above not from below, in the shaping of those traditions."

He touches on the shaping of the shamanic experience:

“The shaman is the person who has in his late childhood and early youth (could be male or female) had an overwhelming psychological experience that turns them totally inward. The whole unconscious has opened up and they have fallen into it. And it’s been described many, many times and it occurs all the way from Siberia right through the Americas down to tierra del fuego. It’s the kind of schizophrenic-crackup-shaman experience."

Very reassuring, I know. Campbell then distinguishes shamans of the past to priesthood orders:

"A priest is a functionary of a social sort. The society worships certain deities in a certain way and the priest becomes ordained as a functionary to carry on that ritual. And the deity to whom he is devoted is a deity that was there before he came along.

The shaman’s powers are symbolized in “familiars,” deities of his own personal experience and his authority comes out of a psychological experience not a social ordination."

He then brings in the value of the ecstatic experience and, using the example of the African bushmen dance, comments on the altered states that shamans learn to experience and master-- the natural state of "the second attention," we are reading about, I'm guessing.

“This is an actual experience of transit from the earth through the realm of mythological images to god or to the seat of power."

"And the way God is imaged. God is transcendent, finally, of anything like a name: God. As the Hindu’s say, "Beyond names and forms. No tongue has soiled it, no word has reached it."

The entire segment can be seen at the link below. I recommend it. If you want to focus on the shaman commentary, then skip to the last 15 minutes or so.


1 comment:

She.Who.Remembers said...

Thanks for posting! I am also listening to that series and reading "Pathways to Bliss" due to length of my response, I am going to list it as a separate post!