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, May 21, 2013

"In Medicine Words"

[phrase from dg nanouk okpik]

            You drive into a meaning made of trees.
            Or not exactly trees.  It is a sense
            Of running through and under without let,
            Of glimpse and dapple.  A life all trace and skim
            The car has vanished out of.  A fanned nape
            Sensitive to the millionth of a flicker.
[Bold mine,  from Seamus Heaney, “The Road At Frosses,” in Simon Rae [Ed.], The Orange Dove Of Fiji

In woodland, gaze into a tree.  Any tree.
But…not exactly.

Open tree to a larger name, simple, eased as if you were opening a meadow gate, not intellectual—
“Plant,” or to “flora,”
And the, still eased, open “Plant” to “aliveness,”
And a sensate flood of joy washes in.

Even in the slightest breeze, the quiver of leaves.
Profound, detailed sensitivity dancing all about you—“ the millionth of a flicker” everywhere

“Tree” could have been different.
Tree might have evolved to be hardened. Crustose, like lichens, walled, stump-like.
But tree is an open channel, another form of rivering:
Starlight into mass and upswelling hydrology and mineral and aliveness.

And even more is offered in this aliveness overflowing the bowl—
Insects and the prayers/songs/canticles of birds and microbial life and on and on.

And what are these birds?
“Bird” swelling to “Fauna” swelling to “aliveness.”  

The commonplace name of everything contains a wide-open medicine word.

A shamanic quality.

It is not old, but rather enduring and unending eternal.

In each event and in each common word is a medicine word if we are up to it, if we are really post-industrial and post-modern and reaching toward our human potential.

In older days, living amongst trees and wild grasses,
Perhaps your aunty, swirling the iron skillet on the fire sees sparks
And remarks that somewhere there must be a war,
Old skillet and fire and spark had something to say. [p. 98]

Or to optimize the potato crop, the children might have been admonished
To release parts of themselves, [p. 6]

On in personal names [not “I’m number 1 type of names” or names picked off a popular list, but rather naming related richly to aliveness and sometimes self-depreciating or incident–related because self was not central]: Fred Bloodclot Red, Weasel Heart, Louise Stabs-in-the-Back, Bumblebee . [pp. 82, 84, 98]
[From Ray A. Young Bear, The Invisible Musician]

And so in sensing, perhaps allow yourself to transform concepts/thinking into “medicine words” and see what miracles might appear in that which seems known, overworked, and banal.  And most intriguing, perhaps find your life in it.

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