Monday, January 11, 2010

Shamanic Circle

This weekend I had the pleasure to give an introduction lecture on Sacred Circle Tradition, Indigenous Dreaming and Shamanism to a group of individuals who are just starting to get interested in Shamanism. Most of these people were well read on the topic and although they were novices in the empirical world of Shamanism they were certainly intellectually ready to embark on a journey.

During the following two days after the circle, I wondered what that meant “being intellectually ready for a shamanic journey.” Not so long ago, when I started on the Shamanic path, my elders specifically asked that I learn to detach from expectations and let go of my intellectual knowledge of shamanic or Native Spirituality.

“You need to be able to be open to mystery and the unknown,” said EC “and you need to be ready to see even if it’s not where you expect shamanism to be.”

The mind can often be a hindrance when you’re embarking on a shamanic journey. My husband says that “in most people it’s the over analyzing that needs to stop or be disciplined.” GP agreed but added “thoughts are important and so are reflections but if we’re trying to control the world around us and within that’s where we loose our connection to the dream time.” There’s so much to consider when you’re looking to prepare for a spiritual experience or a shamanic journey.

“Should people who are curious actually step into a shamanic circle?” I wondered.
How much should we know about something before we make a step to connect to others on the path and approach teachers, to learn?

When it comes to my story it seemed to be about destiny more than about conscious choices. I remember following events and people because it felt right to do so. The first time I heard about Shamanism was at a drum circle in the 1980’s. A Mohawk man led the group and spoke about First Nation rights; Governmental laws against Native Spirituality; and how to connect to Mother Earth with a heart beat. He approached me at the end and asked if “my grand-mother had told me yet that I was Iroquois.” PC was a Medicine Man and along with being able to foretell the future he was also a great musician. By watching him I was able to heal some old wounds and understand that I could be like everyone else and be different too. Today, I understand that PC, ML and lots of other characters on the path were guides and teachers who helped me prepare for my shamanic journey. I don’t think I was fully ready until I was able to let go of old baggage and old programs as well. It took years.

I think that it’s important to realize that when individuals go to shamanic circles they are not necessarily looking to walk the path or even to “be prepared for it”; lots are just searching for information. In the 21st century we’re programmed to “educate ourselves above and beyond anything else.” I often think it’s an important step in a process, in whatever we do. If we study the Medicine Wheel, we learn very quickly that “questing for knowledge” is the second life element and that without it – we can’t reach beyond the eastern door. Yet, what does it mean to look for knowledge and when is it “too much knowledge?” When is it important to let go to experience? How do we define knowledge in the Western World? And how do we define knowledge in Sacred Circle Tradition?

In Sacred Circle Tradition knowledge isn’t so much about the intellect as it is about the senses, the instinct, and the intuition. Knowledge is knowing… So much about Shamanism is about knowing where you need to be; knowing what your role is; knowing what has to be done; knowing what you are dealing with; knowing how to act and react etc… Shamanism tests us deeply and beyond intellectual abilities. It’s good to know what others are doing and are sharing but in the end, it will be about standing strong in our own story. We’re certainly not taught this kind of knowledge in our Western Society.

It was clear to me after the group this weekend that I enjoyed being in the presence of inspired and enthusiastic people. I like hearing that people have been searching to be part of groups like mine and that they are looking for teachings like the ones we give in our circles. It’s not every day that you meet people who give importance to the presence of Spirit, the Ancestors, and the influence of cosmological and natural laws. Sometimes you wish everyone believed in the paranormal, the world of mystery, and the power of the dreamtime. I like spending time teaching, connecting and listening to the stories of individuals who aren’t quite certain it’s ok to be aware of ants crawling on plants or dreaming of the decease. I realized this weekend that was is normal to some can be somewhat bizarre to others. Sharing and finding common ground between these distant points is special and good.

P.S. The picture was taken this summer at the Great Gathering Workshop in Kingston.


Faithfully-Loving-Raven said...

Thank you Lisa.

Michelle said...

I find there is more and more interst in this middle ground people who once would not bat an eye at sychronicity are noticeing it and saying hmm I wonder what that means? I shake my head and smile. I am happy to find those enthusastic people even if they are not on a Shamanic path they have taught me about feeling and being positive and being open...

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Thank you for your comments. They certainly give food for thought.