Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

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Initiation, Fear and the Shamanic Path

I have a big event coming up that will tap into my fears and insecurities. The material below is posted in the spirit of informing both myself and others. I wrote this previously on MySpace in response to a person who was having a difficult life and sought the shamanic path as an avenue for healing. My advice was that the shamanic path held promise for the mending of body and soul, but the process was not an easy one.

Fears are selfish. Fears originate from disconnection from the universe. If we accepted that everything was connected, had purpose, and was spiritual, there would be no fear in the horrific or awe in the wondrous. There would only be acceptance of our place. The light of this acceptance is the light that dispels the darkness of grudges and addictions. The same light dispels the fear of the future, for all is seen as having a time and place. Fears rearrange the universe. The new fear based arrangement may have little resemblance to what is really there. It is naturally unsettling to think we have a map of a town, and find that nothing is where it should be. Our sanity is doubted, and the resulting distrust of the map - our sense of unity with the universe – shuts us down as we run in smaller and smaller circles. Eventually fear convinces us that the small circles of our lives are reality, and we are lost.

The ever restricting bindings of fears are illusionary. They have only the substance that we give them. They are only what we put intention into. They are the magic that we are creating now. They are the destructive magic that predominates our lives. How do we change this? What lessons does the shaman have that can guide us? The shamans of old embarked on harsh initiations that forced the recognition of the illusion. Through pain and deprivation the phantom shadows were dispelled. The shamans were forced to give up supporting the fears if the shaman was to survive the initiation. The shaman would fail, indeed, perhaps lose their lives, if they hung onto the fears. All of their strength was needed in the moment of the initiation in its apparent cruelty and hardship. Just as the fires of the melting pot separated the dross from the pure metals, the suffering of the shaman’s initiation removed the fears of the past and future. Only the purity of the moment remained.

Traditionally the shaman must "attain to intimacy with the supernatural by visions of death". The old must die so the new can be reborn. The shaman must cure himself of the initiatory suffering, and only afterward can the shaman cure the other members of the community. Guides, spirits, allies, power animals, and other helpers are gained as the shaman puts their own ego aside and says "I need to be healed". The healing comes from the world beyond, the very world that the shaman will later walk as a participant and partner with the forces that lay there.

Initiatory suffering is also a path for the modern shaman. Pleasant experiences make life delightful, but there is no change. This is not the shamanic path. Painful experiences lead to growth. This growth occurs through understanding. Understanding through awareness of pain will allow the modern shaman to break the attachment that causes the pain. Focused observation reaps the rewards of suffering. This breaking is not a separation, but instead it is the ceasing of the grasping of illusions the modern shaman must evoke and pursue.
Tags: initiation, shaman

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