Shamanic activism and self-

The shamanic path is about connection, being a conduit, responsibility and service through the help of spirit helpers (or teachers, “power animals”, guides) for others: be it community, family, Mother Earth and all that dwells above and below her. The side effect, if one walks this path, is understanding and development of self.

My teachers in this reality laid this out fairly clearly to me. In Tuva, a group of European shamanic practitioners arrived and were being taken around to sacred mountains and springs, meeting shamans in the city and countryside. These shamanic practitioners had backgrounds as therapists, researchers, anthropologist, media editors and publishers, teachers at universities, practitioners of Buddhism – just to give some more background. My role was to just accompany and act as a liaison / help arrange / do cultural “interpretation” between Tuvans and them. On one such occasion one of them asked what techniques, or for example, journeys does he (the shaman they were visiting) do for himself to develop himself.

Discussion ensued. First, what was a journey. Second, develop self meant…?

The shaman answered: 

“we don’t do things for ourselves. Shaman gift is to serve. My family (extended family too) takes care of me. We take care of the sacred places by blessing and purifying, singing our algyshtaar. Then they take care of us if all goes well. 

When something is wrong, then we have to do more work (ritual for land, spring, mountain, sacred trees and places, herds, cars, people, objects…). People don’t go to shamans who are not strong (as in spirit connection/making ceremony and rituals that change something). People know who they are (those shamans). I do not do work on myself. The spirits work on me. I take care of my people and land”.

In the following days and months something became more clear to me: this path is not pursuing self-development – nor enlightenment. Not directly. It is not psychological, although psychology fields of understanding are used to interpret the shamanic path / world view or turn it into something else without recognition of the interconnectedness of Spirit World and this reality.

I do not know of any other way to explain this at this moment. And when I dwell on this shaman’s words there is much food to digest.

So amongst all this climate talk – I think of just garbage, pollution of air, land, water, raping the earth and women for more and more, consumerism, and much more and ask myself: What am I doing to impede the connection between myself/family/community and caring for Mother Earth? What can I do to help? What, in my actions that I live right now, need to be changed so that I may better honour this world that I am living in at the moment? How can I receive power 

What do my spirit helpers have to say on this? 

If someone is fumbling along on this path (I think we are all fumbling along) then do we not have a responsibility of honouring the still living indigenous peoples and their knowledge? Do we not have a responsibility to ask from our own Spirit helpers those questions and live as best as we can accordingly?

I hear a small teasing voice saying: “yeah, the christians have their holy spirit and angels and cherubs and devil which tell them things – and they are very different than what I would consider living and being in this place”. I cannot answer that except to say sad, grief. Compassion I want – yet it is the place that I stumble: judaeo-christian bible-quoting, them vs us folk. 

That is a side-effect of doing shamanic healing work for others: I became aware that it is my shadow, one of my traumas, one of those conflicting (ristiriitäinen) aspects that I have no answer too. Just trying to be compassionate – and sometimes miserably failing at it. 

I cannot and will not accept that those walking on a shamanic path / animistic / pagan path want their neighbourhood, village, city, town, state, commune, county, country, continent, world to be a dumping and extraction ground and do nothing. In order to walk this path – or any animistic path – the Land is Sacred. All life is sacred, There is a giving and taking for it to continue – yet the taking is taking and has taken its toll. 

Honouring even the taking (either we agree with that taking or not and I was thinking of meat industry at this moment of writing) if we are using that something (wood for energy, cement, water, whatever!) we took needs to be recognised and thankfulness for it and asking for forgiveness even – but only if we truly mean it.

If the one of the roots is “green technology and industry” is this not another form of abuse? Use of waste for materials and new packaging requires continued consummation. Beeswax wraps require more work for bees because the wax gets stolen from their hives for our consumerism and waste. There are difficult decisions for activists!

I return to my questions to self and to my spirits: 

  • What am I doing to impede the connection between myself/family/community and caring for Mother Earth? 
  • What can I do to help? 
  • What, in my actions that I live right now, need to be changed so that I may better honour this world (the whole earth or maybe it is country or state or commune or community or village…) that I am living in at the moment? 
  • How can I receive help from others or step-up and out on this entire issue?
  • How can I serve? 

If others made the same journey – with their Spirit helpers/guides – what answers would come forth? In short simple sentences or phrases? Maybe it involves a ceremony or ritual. However it definitely contains physical action (picking up, keeping wallet in pocket and not buying, quitting something, assisting in a group, marching, writing, singing, etc etc).

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