I then started reading Carlos Castaneda. My eyes opened. Other books followed. Below is a list of books that most affected me. They are not in order of importance as they all touched my heart in some way.
Michael Harner's "The Way of the Shaman"It was good to read books, but for the most part, they only spoke about other people’s paths. I still needed confirmation that the shamanic path was “right” for me. A dear friend of mine, also a shamanist, would challenge me by saying, “reading books is fine, but what are YOU doing?”
Anything by Tom Brown, such as "The Tracker"
Doug Boyd's "Rolling Thunder"
Anything by Alberto Villoldo and Erick Jendresen, such as "The Four Winds"
Bradford Keeney's "Shaking Out the Spirits"
Shirley Nicholson's "Shamanism"
Stephen Larsen, ‘The Shaman’s Doorway: Opening Imagination to Power and Myth”
I needed confirmation. This confirmation came in many ways. Perhaps the most powerful was a dream I had. This was my dream.
I was tasked to speak to pagans and Christians about prophecy and healing. These are normally two diametric groups. I very much wanted for both to hear me, so I came up with a plan. In my heart I knew there was a message common to both. They just had to hear it in their "jargon" to receive the message. So, before I brought them together II took each group aside separately. I told them, “I will be talking about prophecy and healing. I want you to hear my words. Listen to them as if I were speaking your language.” I then brought the groups together. The only thing I remember from that part of the dream is that I was standing on a picnic table underneath an park-type shelter. I was walking around the picnic table, delivering the message to these two diverse groups. Each seemed to be listening in that moment of harmony.
When I awoke I saw in the dream what being a shaman may include. There is more, but the two directions shared that night were prophecy and healing. So, a shaman (or one on the shamanic path) could be drawn to being a prophet or healer. "What is a prophet?" I asked myself. The answer was that a prophet is one that shares their heart through the vehicles of divination, governance, or even just a smile and kind word. The prophet, in the spirit of heart connection, seeks to guide or facilitate instead of ruling and dominating. It is almost a necessity to be a prophet in order to be a good healer. I was drawn to both.
The other exercise I did was to "poll" the internet, seeing what people thought a shaman was. There were many. I’ll perhaps post this document as a separate blog. Even though there was diversity, or perhaps because of the diversity, the internet entries indeed spoke to my heart. I included the following as my “contribution”:
The shaman lives in the unity of the worldMy path as a shamanist, one who follows the shamanic path, was sealed. From there I took the Michael Harner introduction class (good stuff!). At that time I was also facilitating monthly shamanic classes at the Greenville SC Barnes and Noble. The purpose of the class was to share what I had learned, revealing the breadth and spiritual philosophies of the shamanic path. I also presented at other teaching venues. I wrote articles on shamanism. Many can be found on my LJ blog. The more I facilitated, presented and wrote, the more it was confirmed the shamanic path was for me. My shamanic beliefs informed and instructed my holistic work as a massage therapy student. At the same school I met and worked with my current shamanic teacher.
The shaman serves the unity of the world
And why was the shamanic path for me? What did I learn from all the reading, dreams, classes, writing and facilitating? Why wasn’t I pulled into the neopagan world, for it too had attractions for me? The answer is both simple and complex. Being a shamanist speaks to my soul. It brings an order to my world. The shamanic path bridges and connects many apparently diverse realms. The shamanist is connected to all, part of all, and is called to the service of all. The "magick" of others is merely normal shamanic "reality" waiting to be realized. The path of shamanism is simple. Collect knowledge, embrace experience, and nurture wisdom. Live in the unity of the world. Use the available tools to serve your tribe, and by extension, serve the unity of the world.