Saturday, August 19, 2006
Pretending to be.......
The fantasy that you can be a shaman appears to be nearly of epidemic proportions inside western cultures. It seems based on the following theme:
Let us kill all the indians, then we can use their drums and songs and feathers and then we will be the indians.
Pretending to be something is not a new dimension in western culture.
The fantasy that you can be a shaman unfortunately appears to be nearly of epidemic proportions inside western cultures.
For example, here on Pantelleria, the island at one time was incredibly rich in obsidian. Even today much of the island is composed of an ore blend of obsidian and basaltic stone...not so flashy as the pure obsidian. Answer...pretend. The only local man who is an artist here imports obsidian from Mexico and sells it as Obsidian of Pantelleria....because it is on Pantelleria I guess, he feels he is not saying anything incorrect and is quick to remind you that this good Mexican obsidian is very much like the obsidian found in the past on Pantelleria...etc. The dumb ass people who buy this obsidian from Mexico from Pantelleria have, like all of us the power to be informed about the nature and composition of this earth. By knowing nothing they allow the man of Pantelleria to pretend.
In American Indian culture the same rules holds true. To see some modern man or woman pretending to be a shaman is like buying a bowl of rice and reselling it as tiny white crystals. In other words, this behavior of modern people pretending to be shamans is (1)impossible, (2)a sham, (3) delusional but accepted behavior by an unknowing public. Good intentions, when they are in fact destructive and delusional, are not good intention....they are a mistake at best and mental illness at the other end of what is possible.
Movies: After I saw “Apocalypse Now”; a movie about the adventures of one Special Forces Army Captain; for over a year I met so many men who told me they were “captains in the special forces”...for example.
Recent studies in “false confessions” to crimes has revealed some intensely interesting ideas about the suggestability of people. There is a whole personality configuration that lends itself to acting out perceived vs real information.
The cultures which actually contain Shamanism produced the urge by some within the culture to “help” the people. The strong and focused ability to try and help other people is the purpose of this line of work.... to help other people.
It is almost impossible for a modern western male to attain this state of awareness and service. I would make reference to and study a book called :Soma by R Gordon Wassen, which is arguably the most definitive examination of how, what, where shamans really exist....other than in the fantasies of modern men. The power of a shaman is held in balance by the obligation of service, helping other people is essential. Power holds itself in balance this way...art least sacred power does.
we all live together on a tiny blue island in what we casually refer to as the universe. Upon this sacred earth the diversity and abundance of knowledge and experience appears to be limitless.
Automationism, the industrial schedule of commerce which really rules the rhythm of modern western people’s lives.....this is a formidable force under which Shamanic consciousness is impossible.
Shamanism requires life and death awareness few western minds can grasp. The knowledge of suffering and pain (the underworld) overwhelms and destroys most good candiadtes for this work inside tribal culture. Not so with modern people who read a few (very questionable) books, beat on a drum they bought in a “shamans supply store” and they are ready to be “the chosen” to take away suffering and pain.
What may be at the heart of this problem is the modern person’s hunger to feel “chosen”...the one special “star” apart from the others. In a good shamanic indian society everyone works together and there is no “chosen one”. In my culture we had a great society of shamans. If someone was very sick, we might call on 44 shamans to look into this suffering. This “please let be be Jesus” illusion seems to be at the heart of all this pretending to be shamans. This desire is essentially an underworld condition of Christianity and not shamanism at all.
(This is the first in a series of commentaries on shamanism)
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