A person taking on the path of the shamanist will find themselves naturally drawn to serve somebody. Let's call this somebody the shamanist's tribe. The tribe can be an organized group of people or the tribe can be a random person needing help. The root of this call to service is that the shamanic path is one that is both personal and global. Deity stands at the side of the shamanist. Deity is both served and discovered by ministering to others. A shamanist's life is enriched and healed by their walk with deity. The tribe of the shamanist benefits from their association.
How can service be performed by the shamanist? This question of service a common one for those who are called to a spiritual path and is not unique to the shamanist experience. Every person or religious group must decide who they will serve. I have two general two models for this. These are "strongly serving a few people" or "lightly serving many people" models. The dynamic plays out in this way:
"Serving Few Greatly" PersonNeither service approach is more correct, but one will tend to be predominate in the shamanist's place of service. There can be friction between the two service approaches. Each tribe will consciously or unconsciously ask for the shamanist to either serve the few greatly or serve the many lightly. The choice of who to serve can color the shamanist's view of the polar group dynamic, making them less capable of meeting the other polarity's needs.
They see themselves as honest, stalwart guardians/stewards of smaller group of people. They see themselves as extremely passionate caretakers of those around them. The amount of attention that can be given to specific people is substantial, providing for maximum impact and growth. Those who criticize do it from a place of not understanding. In the extreme view of this model, the "serving many lightly" people are seen as scattered, uncaring, lazy, untrustworthy, unfocused, and so on.
"Serving Many Lightly" Person
They see themselves as compassionate, open-minded, dedicated, and sharing. With a larger group served, the person's resources of time, effort and material are split in multiple directions. Many are touched in some way, with the "whole" benefiting from the efforts. Those who criticize do it from a place of not understanding. In the extreme view of this model, the "serving few greatly" people are seen as xenophobic, insular, close minded, mean-spirited, aggressive, and so on.
Here is the tricky part of the shamanist's life. The shamanic path calls for the recognition of universal connectiveness. This is a fancy way of saying, "we are one". This is balanced against a tribe, larger or small, being the worldly vehicle for being of service to the oneness. IMO, deity does not really care who we serve. No matter what individual groups may say, there is no one road map to (re)connecting with deity. There are multiple signs in the immense spiritual room that say, "form a line here". In my estimation deity's most simple command is, "serve somebody and don't forget yourself". The shamanist will serve either the large or small group dynamic and there will be repercussions for it.
What are the repercussions of honorable serving many or few? Those working from the polar perspective will find it difficult to understand the motivations and actions of the shamanist. Allegiance to one can be seen as resistance to the other. This is unfortunate and largely unintentional on everyone's part. We human beings are motivated and driven by group dynamics. The negative reactions of others are understandble in the scope of human emotions, with the shamanist held to remaining honorable to both themselves and their tribe.
Life has its contracts. There are agreements made between energies. The shamanist makes such an agreement with a tribe when a commitment is made to operate within that tribe and serve it to the best of the shamanist’s abilities. Tribes have different requirements on the operational level. Remaining in integrity, the shamanist is held to respect and follow the rules of the tribe as long as they are in that tribe. Tribal membership does not have to be permanent. In fact, the fact that a shamanist is not fully recognized as a Shaman gives them a certain freedom in moving to the place where they should be.
The shamanist is a human being embarking on journey of understanding and connection. People will move in and out of the shamanist’s life. The shamanist will reach out and serve these people in some way, seeing the attention to the people, the tribe of the moment, as a touchstone to deity. Some people will not understand the service because the mode – many or few – will not fit their own experiences. This is OK and human. I believe that the shamanist has one best reaction. The shamanist is called to worship the larger expanse of reality, bear witness and service to their fellow human beings, and act from honor when grappling with the human expressions of tribe. It is in this place of balance and humility that the shamanist will persist in the right thing, serving who they will, and reaching out to the world as a true shamanist.