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, April 3, 2012


Copyright Lance Kinseth, Seeing In The Dark: Two Crows, 11"x14, 2012

I go down into the gaps in the world:

Across many years of returns,
I would go down into a gap alongside an obscure river.
There, I was drawn to the wide faces of sandstone cliffs.
After some passing of time, peering between fine grains,
I found myself ambling in compressed, lush forests,
Long before any of my kind had appeared in this Earthstream.
But still, I felt at home and comforted.
You and I were present there even before we had taken form.
We were forthcoming.

To give you a small taste
Perhaps you well allow me to try to convey some small glints from one such return:

Gazing into those sandstones then,
My shoulders gradually stilled and became two hillocks.
And that which had likely called me there on one occasion arrived:

My stillness was checked by a thunderous storm gathering over this gap.
Sky began to reach down and engulf me,
And in it I found a ladder of rain and began to climb.
My body filled with songs of lightning.
In my age, such sentences sound impossible or metaphorical
Or even grandiose and illusory,
But I am a child of this landscape.
I bow in humility and apologize for not having better words for it.

As the storm passed, I ascended out of the gap with a sense of completion.
The admonishments that were sung to me were received.
And yet, how to describe this comprehensive, integrated before-of-words?

Crow appeared overhead and then spiraled in arabesques down over the river.
I was not watching crow.
My eyes were the vista of hills and river and crow.
I was strung to crow.
The tail of wind that crow rode swept in across my tongue into my heart.
My heart swept into my hands.
My fingers became soft black wing tips, literally.
My fingers still do this,
Even in this quantum, post-industrialized cybernetic age.
My fingers still do this despite so much having been lost from us.
It is an obligation for at least some to act in such a way,
To allow our fingers to lead us where our thinking seems incapable of going.

In a very real way, it is remarkable that we have come to presume that we can no longer
act in such a manner or that it such actions are irrelevant.

Going down into the gaps,
Into hollows alongside rivers and even into tiny cracks in stone and wood,
It is a reach into no time at all, into a timeless eternal that continues to design us
And gradually leave us behind as our ancestry did to become you and I.

Penultimate home is something elastic,
As much coming and going as arrival
And so very much more than we have allowed ourselves to begin to imagine.
Having left home to go down into the gaps,
Only brings us more deeply homeward.
Ultimate home is a cosmic abyss in which we fly like an arrow
Never hitting a mark and stopping, deeply lost yet inseparable.

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