Spontaneously Arising Shamanism

 

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In Nepal, they have a term to describe aspects of shamanism that do not involve human teachers, they call this self generated or spontaneously arising shamanism. I have observed this certainly to be the case on my own journey and in the way my shamanic tools came to me.

One day, whilst reading a book by the late Mongolian/American shaman, Sarangerel, I discovered that one of the traditional grades of shaman is, a shaman with three drums and an altar. I found this quite astonishing as that is exactly the position I found myself at; spirits had guided me through dreams and visions to make three quite different drums and I did indeed have an altar. I had no real memory of consciously deciding to make an altar, it had indeed seemingly arisen spontaneously without intention or conscious effort on my part. It came about because I was being gifted so many spiritual objects that I needed a place to put them. A friend had given me some expensive whiskey, that came in a wooden box, lined with blue silk. The box seemed perfect to store my objects as it was also portable and I could bring it anywhere. I soon found myself using it as a handy altar, I could take what I needed out and set it up wherever I wanted. Upon further reading of Sarangerel I discovered that the Buryat shaman’s altar not only takes the form of a portable wooden box but that it is often lined with blue silk!

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On my altar there are gifts from humans such as the knife and jingle cones, forged and gifted to me by a shamanic blacksmith, and the little Zuni bear, from my wife. There is also the piece of shed skin from a living female Komodo dragon, given to me unasked for by her keeper in Bali. Then, from nature, there is a stone with three lines on it, representing for me the Three Worlds of shamanism and a porcupine quill(used for spiritual protection in Mongolia) that I found on a beach in Sri Lanka. There is the impossibly beautiful and delicate shell of a wild bird egg(probably crow) and a pair of antlers brought to me by my dog. One is on the altar, the other became the beater of my drum. Within the drum there is also the wing of a buzzard. I found it dead on the road, its poor body was destroyed but the wings were perfect. Of the feathers, the tiny one is from a jay and the wing is from a small bird, which is how I sometimes see souls. The first striped feather is from a green woodpecker, this bird reminds me of a shaman, banging away on the tree trunk like a drum. The second one is from an owl and the last is from a crow but a specific type. I know this because when I found it, I sat and meditated with it. The spirit of the bird entered the back of my head and screeched its name, Rooook! This, is spontaneously arising shamanism.

Following the Reindeer

This week has been quite intense spiritually. First, someone asked to see me for some shamanism. Before sleeping, I asked to be given some guidance on this and dreamed I was collecting jay feathers. The next morning on my walk, I found a beautiful jay feather and also a large crow feather under the oak where I meditate. The next night I dreamed I was gathering up huge amounts of crow feathers and I was shown two trees. The one on the right was full of crows and into the one on the left were flying orbs of pure white light, like bird-sized comets; a tree of Crows and a tree of Souls.

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The following night I dreamed of hugging a tree in which were hanging all my shamanic paraphernalia, like in this picture.

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Then, a young Irish traveller boy came and said to me, what do you know about the Nenets? I knew absolutely nothing about them but awoke with the word in my head and looked it up straight away. I was amazed to discover, that the Nenets are an indigenous people in Arctic Russia whose main subsistence comes from hunting and reindeer herding. They have a shamanistic and anamistic belief system which stresses respect for the land and its resources. The Nenet shaman is called a Tadibya and they acknowledge three different kinds.

  • Vidutana, strong shamans standing in contact with the upper world
  • Yanyani tadebya, shamans belonging to the earth
  • Sambana shamans, shamans able to receive messages from dead people and to perform other rutuals concerning the dead.

Two of my drums are made from reindeer and so I feel a strong resonance with the Nenets.

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This personal connection is reinforced by the Forest Nenets shamanic use of amanita muscaria. This plant spirit has been one of my most valuable teachers and in the same way that ayahuasca shamans sing icaros, the Nenet shamans have special Fly Agaric songs.

 

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In my dream/visions the following night, my late mother-in law came, I know she is a protective presence as she transformed into a giant white cobra, rising high up into the air above me, at the same time a raptor with white feathers flew around us.

Then, I became aware of a multitude of shamans, they transformed into what I can only describe as a Sri Yantra of interconnecting reindeer horns expanding and contracting infinitely and simultaneously. I knew that these were my shamanic ancestors stretching back in time thousands of years, projecting the same into the future and that I was in the center of all this. The greatest respect an honour to the Nenets, the Sami and all traditional peoples who, despite the odds, are still following the reindeer.

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The God in the Grasshopper

Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures know no fear. Those who see all creatures in themselves and themselves in all creatures know no grief. How can the multiplicity of life, delude the one who sees its unity. The Isha Upanishad

Although the presence of such spectacular spirit animals as anacondas and bears, cobras and tigers was wonderful, some of my most beautiful experiences were with the smaller beings like molluscs and insects. At one point I had a succession of dreams. In the first I was standing in a room with a large window. The window was covered in bees. I opened the window to let the bees out, there was a beautiful garden outside.

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Once the bees had gone, I could see a single small snail stuck to the window. In another dream I was cycling across a bridge. I stopped and saw a lake, lush vegetation and swans. Something on the ground caught my eye so I bent and picked it up. I found I was holding a tiny statue of a snail. The snail is hermaphrodite, symbolising the union of opposites, its shell a microcosmic spiraling reflection of the universe.

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When I was very young my mother would read me stories and one of my favourites was about a little snail. The little snail lives in the rhubarb patch and is warned by his mummy not to wander off alone but of course he heads off on an adventure and gets lost. Eventually he discovers the snail trail he has left and finds his way back. This is the wonderful metaphor of how we ourselves discover our spiritual way home after being lost. Despite hearing this story over and over again, my five-year old mind never failed to be gripped by the tension of the narrative and the joy of the little snails return home. Perhaps it is like this for the Oneness, pure joy, as slowly but surely, we spiritual snails find our way home to the divine rhubarb patch.

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This period concluded with a great dream-vision. I was in an old stone building and in front of me was a huge gothic archway. Through the arch I could see a beautiful garden. Hanging from the sky, framed in the exact centre of the arch was a single strand of spider silk. I watched as a green grasshopper flew down from the left and landed on it.

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At this point I was looking at the grasshopper from the side. The grasshopper then turned to face me and spread out its arms. It grew to fill the whole space of the arch and morphed into a fractal grasshopper, each side mirroring the other exactly. The fractal patterns were gorgeous, in various stunning shades of green. It had fingers that extended into long green tendrils that connected to everything in the garden and the universe beyond. It stayed like this, looking at me for a few moments before blowing away in the wind on the strand of spider silk. I felt the connection of everything in nature, that it was the same thing looking out of every eye. The God in the Grasshopper, my mind was blown. (from A Shamanic Kundalini Awakening)

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