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Safety & Discernment

 in Shamanic Practices

Please allow me to approach the subject of safety from a couple of angles. 

Shamanism holds at its core the discipline of observation.  The shaman observes violence and danger within harmony, deceit, feint and trust all active in a complex interplay that is any ecosystem on the planet (even in the city!).

To assume that things are different in the non-physical is to go against every observation of life on this planet.  There are positive and negative (relative terms of course) elements in all life systems, physical, energetic and spiritual.

Once embarked upon tuition in Shamanic Practices, an apprentice is usually guided by a master, providing safety and backup just as a driving instructor works with their student.  Once competent, they no longer require the protection of another.  Until that level of competence is achieved though, the guardianship is needed and is vital.

Safety takes many forms, but much is experiential, hence a master-apprentice arrangement the most common form of shamanic training.  Learning how to shield oneself yet remain effective is an experientially gained skill set.  I urge anyone who is embarking on a voyage of Shamanic Learning to seek a master, and remain open to that master not being necessarily in the form you might expect!

Personal story - I had years of severe and debilitating pain in my lower back following physical injury.  Whilst essentially negative in my experience of that pain, I also defined and developed many, many techniques to help relieve the pain of others [within my Myotherapy practice] in the seeking of a solution for myself.  My pain was a good teacher (I'd have preferred reading a book though!).

As a footnote of sorts, whilst facilitating a person with their own healing of a back problem, mine was also healed.  All teachers leave when they are no longer required.

Not all is Love and Mung Beans!

A number of spiritual philosophies tell us that, beyond the physical, all is good"; that all information may be relied upon and that deceit does not happen there.  This is not how any other life system works and is therefore highly unlikely to be so in realms so intrinsically tied to and formative of our physical plane.  In the Shamanic realms there exist predators and prey, deception and beauty, lies and truths.  The gift that is a part of the Calling of a Shaman is the Gift of Discernment.

Put in a far more 'Australian' way, the Gift of Discernment is a 'bull-shit detector'!

Without trying to scare anyone, just look in your garden, the sparrows get out of the crow's way, just as the crow is shy of the hawk.  The sparrow also eats seeds and grubs - good if your a cat, bad if your a grub!  Cat chases bird - but in North Queensland, I've seen with my own eyes Wedge Tail Eagles carry away cats too! 

The examples within any biosphere or ecosystem are all there for the observation.  As the non-physical is intrinsically tied to the physical mirror that is our physical universe, there is no reason to believe it to be modelled on any other structure. 

If I were to travel through an Amazonian rain forest, I would most definitely and totally want a guide who knows what to eat, what to avoid, how to stay safe and how to live.  Please regard the non-physical as another type of jungle and treat it with similar caution.

Trust is earned, respect is given, deceit is avoided,.. in the physical and the meta-physical worlds.  I've never heard an accomplished Shaman say that in the metaphysical, all is good and wonderful; most would laugh at the naivety of the concept!  The Shaman tells us to look around and see what possible reason we'd have to even think such a thing.

All work in the metaphysical requires of its voyagers discernment and caution.  All information, all understandings, all experiences need to be run through your personal discernment filters to stand on their own before being trusted.  It may take months before you can trust information from a specific source, just as it does concerning another human.

Aside from discernment, caution is also very much required.  The first rule,.. do not go beyond your calling!  The second rule is, "DO NOT go beyond your calling!"

Delving into uncharted waters can sometimes turn out well, but more often than not is disastrous, as are many unwise physical or metaphysical journeys. If you feel that you have slipped into deeper waters than you are comfortable in, come back now!  If you feel you might have picked up something 'out there', seek another practitioner to back you up and deal with any problems, sooner rather than later.

If you feel a solid Calling into shadow or dark work, seek a master you trust to guide you and show you the way into these realms.  Later in this site, I will detail the techniques of shadow and dark work, but these are NOT meant to be guides or instruction manuals.  I can not convey the personal understandings or experiences needed to perform these techniques safely and many voyagers have been broken through intentional or unintentional journeying into these realms (think LSD psychosis for an example).

Shamanic journeying using entheogens (drugs to induce theta level brain activity) is common in some areas, but far more common and preferable is the use of specific, monotonous rhythms.  When an uninitiated person takes a drug and finds themselves in strange waters, a psychic fracture can occur.  In shamanic terms, parts of the soul and mind can be lost, separated from the whole.  If this part is a 'vital' part, the mind is fractured and will not operate as it once did.

In some cases, a soul retrieval is performed for those fractured by inadvertent journeying during recreational drug use but the success of this is dependant also on the integrity of the brain's structures as well as its associated mind.  If the physical brain is 'burned out' by drugs, no soul recovery is likely to be successful in any meaningful way.

In summary, not all is happy and peaceful in the metaphysical, just as it is not here in the physical.  Caution, judiciousness and training should be exercised and undertaken at all times to remain safe and effective in any shamanic practices, as in life.




Craig Berry - 1996 - 2010, All rights reserved - reproduction without written permission prohibited.