The Shaman's Hearth is the internet's home of shamanic practices and discussions. .

 

Recommended Reading

 

Welcome and Introduction

 to the Shaman's Hearth

Welcome!

When I first started to write this site, my thoughts were to write what was essentially a description of shamanic practice for the modern citizen of an industrialised world.  The site has grown in size and scope since then as the need for foundations and structures became more and more evident. 

The concepts of shamanism are beautifully simple, whilst revealing levels of elegance and complexity only being glimpsed at on the very leading edges of science.  I write these words (and this site) in the hope that you will get a feel for what shamanism’s principles and practices are about in today’s industrialised society. 

It is to you, the industrialised citizen, that I speak in these pages. We, the children of the industrialised world, lack the oral histories, traditions, lore and law of our root, non-industrialised societies.  We are [mostly] a mixed lot of heritages and traditions; bloodlines and cultures mixed and blended throughout all industrialised societies by the natural effect of globalisation. 

As a generalisation, the industrialised citizen lacks a singular, significant cultural root in all but the most isolated communities.  In the most isolated north of Australia, you will find not only Australia's aboriginal custodians, but also Chinese, Asian, European and even [in one case I know of] an Inuit from Canada's north!

Conveying an effective and workable understanding of the principles and practice of shamanism in our industrialised world requires a different vehicle of data transfer than those used by traditional, non-industrialised societies.  We (industrialised people) have incredibly strong traditions, but they are an industrialised tradition; we've learnt to develop intense and deep understandings through reductionism; the practice of reducing things down into their smaller components, learning the anatomy - the structures within - of what is being examined. -more-

Whilst scientific exploration is beginning to find some aspects of the metaphysical uncomfortably verifiable in controlled tests, I will purposely avoid full blown discussions of a scientific natuire; these are for the reader to research themselves if motivated to do so'  [links will be included where relevant].

A 'sister site', Quantum Temporal Dynamics discusses the 'other side' of the equations, examining in detail the foundational hypothetical concepts of the physics behind the universe.   Parallel concepts include conceptualisation of the mind, persistent observation, temporal distillation and a number of other principles upon which effective shamanic practice relies.  Links to appropriate sections will be included at strategic points throughout this text for follow up reading.

My writing is consciously styled in the conversational and/or narrative; the result of a decision to avoid producing either an approval seeking, hyper-explanatory or over-referenced and hard to read text. To this end, I will refer to myself in the first person, rather than an academic third person and footnote only references not already well know within context.  This is hopefully going to produce a much more honest and readable text.

My ultimate goal is that you remain interested and informed throughout our conversation, yet develop your own conclusions in the end.  My role is not to convince you, but to lay out my understanding and offer my thoughts for your consideration, maybe even provoking some further personal exploration.

This is ultimately a text only describing shamanic principles as I understand them.  I believe that people living in the industrialised world can become effective shamanic practitioners, but the training requires honouring the traditions of learning [reductionism/constructionism/innovation] which so distinguish our industrialised society. 

If this site serves as a launch point for your own discoveries in understanding, my goal is achieved.

 

    Introduction

It is to the industrialised, “modern” shamanic seeker that I speak from my heart and mind.  This is an account of the shamanic principles and practice which are those of my reality.  I can not and do not claim representation of every shamanic thought, feelings or perceptions other than my own.

An accomplished Amazonian shaman and a similarly capable Siberian Shaman might have very different perceptions of their roles, functions and techniques, even if the actual intent and function within specific functions and practices are nearly identical.

There is a propensity in our societies to value apparently ancient traditions above scientific understanding, lore above logic, tradition above science; almost a reverse discrimination like the, “noble savage”[1] concept that has infected thinking and writings for far too long.

Logic and physics have powerful and essential roles within industrialised shamanic learning and practice.  No discussion of shamanism (or any other topic) would be complete without taking into account what we now understand within our modern world's body of knowledge and complexity. I shall do my best to describe in detail the processes, as I understand them to be.

Whilst time honoured and tested rituals and wisdoms deserve to be heard and explored, they can not be the last word on the subject.  The world was known to be flat and the centre of the universe not that long ago; both concepts were facts beyond contestation (on pain of death) in their day,...  oops!  In late 2010, we 'discovered' that the size of a proton, known and clearly defined for years, was in fact,.. wrong!  It is a little smaller, but that throws QED (Quantum Electro Dynamics) into a spin to say the least.

People of all motivations have found and espoused ‘new traditions’ of shamanism, creating certificates and qualifications in shamanism and monetising what is an energetic [spiritual] practice for the benefit of all.  There is no international certification for a shaman, no qualification process etc.  With the apparent increase in shamanism’s popularity comes the increased potential for abuse and scamming, even if originally well intentioned.

The first thing you would probably find about one who is a shaman (and not a new-age, “Plastic Shaman”[2]) is that they are generally quite reluctant to use the term, ‘shaman’ to describe themselves - until fully recognised as such by their community and peers.  Most [if not all] traditional societies have their own titles for the people that perform the role/s recognised by the modern world as those of a shaman.

One nice thing I have noticed in many of the [non-religion based] shaman I have met is their essential reluctance to notoriety beyond their peers; the humble demeanour comes in recognition of being one who serves  of something far, far larger than themselves, and even their people.  Theirs’ is a response to a Calling; one of respect, observance and contemplation.

It is of the ideals of shamanism and shamanic practice that I will describe from here-on, NOT the "foul", the power-seeking, perverted practice of converting spiritual authority to political domination and societal governance.

[Ed.- We see examples from around the world just how ineffective and contractionist all theocracies inevitably become when power supplants principle.  Real democracy can only thrive when church and state are distinct and apart.]

To introduce you to the principles and practice of shamanism as it I know it, I must first take you on a tour of a number of somewhat independent concepts and philosophical journeys.  My feeling is that only with these points established within your mind, can I fairly ask you to understand the totality of what shamanism means in our modern world.

Science issues a dramatic and omnipresent challenge to its devotees; that of continual exploration and learning; a requirement to re-examine and challenge every piece of data known as fact.

To this ideal, I honour a personal hero, the late Professor Julius Sumner Miller who challenged all of my generation to ask, “Why is it so?”.  His enthusiasm for re-interpreting and challenging data, of not accepting anything as fact 'in absolute' made him, in many ways, a modern shaman; as well as the embodiment of a scientist.

I challenge all with an academic background to read and understand the sections differentiating knowledge and understanding; this differentiation is central to understanding, not just modern shamanic practice, but science and life too.

Many concepts and principles require detailed examination before launching into a discussion of the practice of shamanic arts.

You will come across a number of indented paragraphs in the following pages.  These are examples, illustrations and asides which will help contextualise, integrate their subject, or lead you to a resource for further exploration.  I will do my best to keep these clear and well labelled so as not to distract you from the main discussion.

Last of all, please enjoy our exploration, yours’ and mine.  This text is written to provoke thought (including my own), to challenge one to cease taking for granted that which is thought of as fact; to ask the explorer's question, "Why it is so?".

[1] A reverse form of discrimination which suggests that ‘savages’, people untouched by ‘modern’ influences, exist in an idealised and utopian manner free of avarice, greed and corruption,  all of which is then blamed upon ‘modern’ society. 

[2] Individuals attempting to pass themselves off as shamans, or other traditional spiritual leaders, but who may actually have no genuine connection to the traditions they claim to represent. Rather, "plastic shamans" are believed by their critics to use the mystique of these cultural traditions, and the legitimate curiosity of sincere seekers, for personal gain.  Those who purport to teach "Internationally recognised qualifications in Shamanism" are a prime example - there is NO such thing except by the mechanisms of those offering such qualifications.

 

 

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