Shamanism is a dimension of human experience that can be found in every culture in any age. It can be observed in a variety of forms, ranging from a fundamental spontaneous experience, derivative culturally shared practices, or as veiled motifs of spiritual, medical, artistic, scientific, and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Paradoxically, as shamanism becomes more culturally shared, it may become less authentic—less culturally challenging—and degenerative. Provoked by an experience of everyday life as a sort of “half-truth,” shamanism is a method that focuses on the erroneous belief in a separation of human life from nature. Shamanism focuses specifically on remaining alert to the creatural dimensions of human life that can be overridden by cultural, socio-psychological dimensions of everyday life.

Shamanism is an expression of an enduring wild state to remain alert to the changing conditions of existence and integrate into the natural world that continues to design and express human life across the long run.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shamanism And Modern Life: An 8/2007 Overview

Copyright Lance Kinseth, Blue Fire II: Shaman's Journey, 20"x24, 2002

MANY PRACTICES AND BELIEFS can be associated with shamanism to the degree that the term “shamanism” becomes nearly meaningless.  Like “spirit” and “soul” and “being-ness,” “shamanism” has become an inclusive, encompassing term rather than a distinguishing term, and sort of a "pop" term.  That is likely because it touches many aspects of human life, especially those naturalist aspects for which we continue to hunger and to connect with, involving aspects of modern life that go unrecognized as having anything to do with “primitive” shamanism.

Shaman’s Grace argues that there is a dimension of human experience that occurs in every society in every era that involves attending to an enduring wild state, wherein human life continues to be primarily creatural rather than cultural or social or psychological.  From the emergence of human life [species sapiensto the most post-industrial cybernetic moment, shamanism has proffered a way to "see in the dark"—a way to touch something deep inside us, which is rock-firm reality, that listens to the changing conditions of existence while we are half-awake in our everyday.  Seemingly primitive and superstitious, shamanism is a core yet effusive aspect of modern medicine, art, psychotherapy, and science.  But to most of the modern world, shamanism describes practices found in Third World developing nations and Fourth World indigenous societies that are superstitious and manipulative.  And to a very real extent, that is true.  They are not stuck in the primal as much as "modern," but utilizing the resources that are available to them.

Shaman’s Grace focuses on an enduring fundamental experience that is quickly co-opted into derivative forms, both explicit traditional and hidden modern expressions, that reinforce culture, that are manipulative and superstitious, rather than that challenge culture.  

This more “fundamental [un-co-opted] shamanism” is increasingly of value in a now peopled Earth with no vast frontiers.  This is co-opting of fundamental experience is common to all experience, including our most rational scientific measures, but is especially present in addressing “spiritual” experience.   Religions continually undergo "reformation," and so science, and our most practical, everyday routines.  Now, each decade--not each century--is radically altered.   

Shaman’s Grace describes a fundamental enduring human response that is present in any society in any era that is distinguished from the popular association of shamanism as a derivative indigenous practice of contacting spirits and strengthening self.  Its methods are the conscious expression of an enduring wild state that aspires to align us with the vast conditions of existence that have designed us, and that continue to design us.

 In this fundamental shamanism, all experiences that optimize human life are envisioned to be, astonishingly, a creatural process—rather than a psychological or cultural process.  And shamanism focuses on the central human characteristic of imagination.  Every second of human life involves a stream of imagination.  Imagination uses momentary experiences to aspire to access billions-years-old experiences that are contained within our eloquent physiological-eco design.  Like scientific inquiry, this fundamental shamanism requires a self-critical approach, with the expectation that layers of cultural bias must be looked for, rather a trust that one’s "shamanic experiences" are somehow exempt from scrutiny, and automatically authentic.  We are anthropocentric, presuming that we have come into the Earth and will leave it in death, and in this sense, we—in our most post-industrial, cybernetic essence--remain “primitive” or perhaps “ignorant,” or perhaps—more-accurately—neonatal [more accurate: neotenic], in our development as a species.  We are "nasty" in our sense of import, killing both the human and the natural world.  For all of our modernity, we remain so very, very young in the history of the Earth, as well as fragile.  We have barely appeared in geo-time, and are at risk of disappearing far to fast.

Shamanism is a method far more than a belief system, a practice of using deep imagination to touch the imaginal—something profoundly deep and authentic rather than something imaginary, in the sense of being fantasy or wished-for-to integrate with the natural process of the Earth and cosmos.

No comments:

Post a Comment