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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Copyright Lance Kinseth, 2011

PERHAPS ON some occasion when we have some moments to give over, we decide to press a little further into landscape. 

Perhaps we bundle up and sit down into the landform, letting all of our senses be taken. 

Perhaps we stay up a little later and go out into the dark to gaze into the night sky that slo-turns worlds above us.

Perhaps we meander in some very common place, paying special attention to the small details—ants, pebbles, or to the eloquent rivering in the surface of leaves.

Perhaps we go further in our intention, and give up some food.  Perhaps we work muscles that we seldom use. 

Perhaps we lie down on our backs in wild grasses, walled by the tall culms. Disappearing, with the sky overhead opening up.  After a time, perhaps, grasshoppers begin to encircle us, and when we don’t move, the come down and bite us, and our sense of dominance is taken.

Perhaps we lie on our bellies on the front of a sandbar with eyes forward—level with the water—into the down streaming river that is coming toward us.   Our eyes dance with the flow of water and, in the summer, with the arabesques of swallows skimming the surface of the river.

Perhaps we amble about on the river’s edge, with eyes cast down into the cobble cast up by spring floods, looking for a particular stone—perhaps on this day, finding a blackened elk tooth—that seems to call out to us.

Perhaps we gaze into a small fire, its smoke shifting to wash over us as the wind shifts.

In these small things, we find our larger, enduring life, and perhaps sense that we have been spending too much of the currency of our time in routine on the fringe of the aliveness of the Earth.

And because of this, despite all the captivation of civility, perhaps we awaken and go farther, becoming shamanic:

Without nourishment
Listen to the wind, to the tree branches, to the birds.
Listen to the little herbs in the under story of the forest and to the ants.

Become a crow
Borrowing its wings and eyes.

Disrupt routine.
Have no explanation.
Apologize to plants.

Speak in the dark to animals.
Go to your heaven.
Sense the terror and wonder of being human.

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