I am reading a book by Loren Cruden, Coyote’s Council Fire, that has helped me “find myself” as a shamanic practitioner in the United States. First I want to clarify that I do not see myself as a shaman but as a depth counselor who has been trained to incorporate shamanic techniques into my practice which is mostly focused on dreamwork and shadow-work with a Jungian approach. Shamans work with spirits, Jungians with archetypes. They aren’t the same thing and the work involves engaging slightly different realities. Having said that, I would like to return to Cruden.
The practice of shamanism is arguably the oldest profession in the world, more than likely older than prostitution. (Some 30,000 years at least.) But it can’t be practiced in a vacuum and it doesn’t thrive in a culture that doesn’t believe in spirits. People who dabble in shamanism often try to redefine it in terms that are compatible with a monotheistic or psychological worldview. This doesn’t make sense to me because shamanism is many times older than any religion and it behooves those of us who consider ourselves students of shamanism to be as authentic as possible in respect of shamanism’s timeless mysteries and values. Indeed, it is arguable that shamanism is the source of the great religions. The spirits (helpful and unhelpful) that come up in shamanism are ancestral and indigenous. Shamanism, like religion, is ubiquitous, but like religion, shamanism is also place-specific and its rituals and medicines and even its cosmology are originally local or regional.
Michael Harner’s Core Shamanism (See his book, The Way of the Shaman: A guide to power and healing) takes the local and indigenous out of shamanism for the benefit of a culture that has lost its own local (indigenous and communal) roots. A return to classic or indigenous shamanism would call for a coming home to a way of living that embraces a community and belongs to a place or region. Continue reading
I am a dream worker. I describe myself as a depth counselor. I use dreams as a way to look at issues from inside out. Jung referred to the “objective” psyche because it orients the work to a point outside of the self (small s) or ego. He called that “point”, that North Star, the Self. Another way of understanding the Self is to see it as the archetype of wholeness.
Recently I was working with a client and we were approaching the end of our hour and a half session and she asked, “What do you get out of this?” Certainly not a living. I charge on a sliding scale, and, in the case of those who have little or no income I offer free sessions to get started and after that I will accept a barter. So, what do I get out of this?
Well, I know it works and I know it helps.
I was just listening to a report on NPR of a research-scientist who formulated a pill for a debilitating illness. It was cheap to produce and, being a good soul, he made the pill available for $2 a dose. I think that is a good model for healers of every ilk. If the medicine is “good”, it needs to be available, period. Wellness and the well-being of the human race is my goal, not necessarily feathering my nest.
I am an intuitive and I have studied Jung for many years. I have made it my own. I am fluent in Jung (his principles, theories and techniques). It’s seeped into my make-up, not just intellectually but on the cellular level. (Going back to 1974.) I have read thousands of folktales and am familiar with mythology of various cultures, so I see how the archetypal themes in dreams relate to the larger story of being human. There are lots of ways into Jung’s world-view but what makes his psychology timeless and transcultural, and almost universal is the understanding of the role of archetypes in the evolution of human consciousness. This cannot be learned or taught, it has to be experienced. But it certainly helps to see how archetypes come up in religion, mythology, biology, fiction, the arts, poetry, visions and dreams.