Core Shamanism

By Viola Woolcott

Core Shamanism is a group of beliefs as well as practises from all over the world, across continent, race and language, by all people seeking guidance and protection of Creator, Spirit, All that Is.

Core Shamanism was developed during the research done by Dr. Michael Harner. He recognised that the general approaches may vary, but that the overall key elements had something in common and by synthesising these elements anyone could use them without using any culture’s sacred rituals.

Core Shamanism does not hold a fixed belief system, but focuses on the practise of shamanic journeying as well as indigenous shamanism on an individual basis.

One similarity is the specific traditional practice of rapid drumming (approx 220 beats per minute), to reach the shamanic state of consciousness to communicate with power animals as well as the spirit world. When the shaman goes into this state of consciousness the drums are played steadily in the background so that the shaman can concentrate and focus into ascending deeper into that world. The drumming is also part of the ceremonial ritual dances.

The people who practice Core Shamanism call themselves shamanic practitioner rather than shamans as they are showing respect for the indigenous people. They are very careful to stay away from cultural imperialism.

The dominant mode of practice of shamanism in most of the West is Core Shamanism.

Soul Loss Fragmented Self

By Viola Woolcott

The Soul (vital essence) can leave the body when someone suffers physical or psychological trauma. It finds a safe place in other realms of non-ordinary realities and goes into hiding. This is a healthy mechanism for protection, helping someone to ‘survive’ without having to experience the full impact of the trauma. In some cases the fragmented parts will return on their own, but sometimes mending the fragmented self needs assistance by shamanic practises for the life force it contains to find their way back.

There are various reasons as well as traumas that may cause soul loss. Some examples are abuse, severe accidents, death of a loved one, witness of destruction, surgery as well as break up of a significant relationship.

Soul loss can also manifest itself in a number of ways. Some examples may be addiction, physical as well as chronic illness, bad health repeats itself, inability to focus and concentrate, grief that doesn’t heal, depression, a feeling of being ‘spaced out’ and not really here, frustration, a feeling of fear, disassociation or lack of connection to the emotional body.

Another way of experiencing soul loss is shock, where the individuals soul has not returned or has not fully re-entered the body.

You can also loose your soul by giving it to someone or by someone stealing it from you. It is very common and happens when a person holds part of another persons soul captive and that person cannot escape, which may happen intentionally or may happen unintentionally. Both souls are wrapped up within each other and both parties suffer the impact on each other. But only the main soul is influenced by the foreign presence and his mental, physical and emotional health suffers. The Shaman works in a respectful manner for both souls to ‘disentangle’ them.

A classical example for the body protecting itself, is when the body goes into a coma. This is the most extreme situation of soul loss, where the soul is pending between realities. More of the soul has left the body, and as it is in a great deal of pain or the soul emphasising necessity to re-consider its situation, a coma provides that needed time.

Conventional medicines very rarely address that loss of soul is a very common phenomenon. Using ancient shamanic soul retrieval, soul loss can be healed with dramatic success.

Many of us, if not everyone of us have gone through the experience of soul loss and the life force it contains. I certainly have!

Chants Icaros And Sacred Music Shamans Of Peru

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

The Shamans of Peru – Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music – This unique set of recordings documents a collection of ceremonial chants and Ayahuasca icaros on CD.

Tracks 1-3 San Pedro ceremony held in Puruchucu, at the head of the Rimac valley. The ruins of this sacred site or huaca date back to pre-Inca times and have been accurately reconstructed. Setting the scene for the ceremony, three musicians play replicas of pre-Hispanic instruments. Alonso del Rio says: ‘while keeping to their original tuning, we have explored the instruments musical possibilities to give an idea of what the music could have been like in pre-Colombian times. The melodies came to us through the ancestral memory evoked through medicinal plants like San Pedro and Ayahuasca’. Instruments: the ceramic notch flutes of the Chincha civilization, Nazca panpipes or ‘antaras’ with their special tuning similar to Oriental scales, and Nazca drums.

The Mesa Nortena is a particular ceremonial tradition best conserved in the region of ‘Las Huaringas’, high and remote sacred lakes in the northern Department of Piura. There are probably only a few good maestros who continue this ancient tradition in Peru today. The rest simply work with the externalities of the mesa, while giving their clients minimal doses of the visionary San Pedro cactus. Originally more importance was given to the medicine, which must be in the organism of the participants as well as the maestro for the power to flow. The mesa then served to intensify the power of the plant.

An altered state is needed to enter the symbolic world of the objects on the mesa (the word refers to the altar as well as the ceremony itself). The abundance of macerated plants, perfumes and smells employed in the mesa function to move the feelings associated with one’s memories. At a deep level, sensations are translated into vibrations, which the medicine brings to consciousness so that associated hurt and pain can be ‘re-membered’ again and a new attitude can emerge.

The singado, or absorption of macerated tobacco juice through the nostrils involves another power medicine, which is used to intensify the San Pedro at regular intervals. The instruction from the maestro to pour up the left or right nostril reflects the notion of duality found in shamanic disciplines all over the world: masculine and feminine, hot and cold, upper world and earth, expansion and contraction, flowing and stagnant. Illness arises from one of these polarities loosing equilibrium. The word singado comes from the Quechua word singa meaning nose and is perhaps an Andean notion of Pranayama!

Also audible in the following two mesas 4- 5 are the clicking of chontas, or black bamboo sticks used for cleansing people’s auras and the spraying from the maestro and assistants’ mouths, of perfumes and plant macerations over the participants.

The tendency to commercialise a tradition is inherent in urbanization and seeing things for their utility and business. For example mesas are sometimes held so that lawyers win legal battles. Piles of documents are laid on the mesa so that the power works on them and they win their case. In this way a shamanic ceremony is degraded to folklore. We can try to reconstruct the original tradition to how it was in pre-Colombian times and remove the images of Sarita Colonia and the other saints, crucifixes, photos etc., which have accumulated throughout the centuries and evolved the mesa into the mestizo tradition which survives today. Left behind are the ancient stones, magic plant brews and the enchanted waters of the lakes of Las Huaringas, being the original elements, which have survived underneath.

Track 4 Mesa with Alejandro Sanchez. Maestro Sanchez lives in Comas, a distant suburb of Lima, which began in the 1960s as a shanty town. It is surrounded by impressive parched stony desert hills. The maestro’s house is at the end of a road near the cemetery and overlooks this immense settlement from where he draws his clients. Sanchez was born in Sondorillo near the legendary sacred lakes of Las Huaringas. At age 11, while still at school, he seemed to have perceptions and to be able foresee things accurately. His astonished teachers thought he was having hallucinations and called for maestro Florentin Garcia. Later Alejandro became his apprentice and learned from him the secrets of plants.

The strangeness of these ceremonies can be seen as part of the ‘trappings’ of rituals in general. Strangeness serves to trick the rational mind so that it will not interfere with the subtle processes taking place in the subconscious. When we are fully awake, things can indeed seem strange…‘people are strange, when you’re a stranger…’ as the song by The Doors goes. A part of healing is recovering the lost gift of perception, the feeling of being alive again.

Track 5 Mesa with Leopoldo Vilela who was also born near the celebrated Las Huaringas in Radiopampa, an extremely cold place at 3,500 meters altitude. He was 90 years old and in very good health at the time of this mesa which was also held in the ruins of Puruchucu. At three years old he was sent outside to look for herbs for his mother who was suffering from a stomach ache; there he knew he would become a curandero. He used to watch his father who was clairvoyant and assisted people in his community to find their animals when they were lost. He used tarot cards and looked into bottles of aguardiente (firewater) with grains of corn of different colours at the bottom.

Don Leopoldo improvises sessions for groups and individuals, which may continue for hours. These are full of idiosyncrasy, and characterized by warmth, dedication and playfulness, which is quite touching at times. The seemingly endless sequence of bottles of tastes and smells and other procedures are often extremely weird while his inadvertent remarks and caresses on his guitar (of his own manufacture) often provoke smiles and laughter in all present.

Human beings have an instinctive awareness of other people’s conscious states of mind. When another person, a shaman, is authentic and spontaneously creative in the moment, this has the power to focus the mind, stopping it from verbalizing and rationalizing. A sense of pure wonder is evoked.

Track 6 Closing calls. The conch shells or pututus, still used in Andean communities today, are handed down from the Incas who obtained them from the Caribbean. They are used for convening meetings and ceremonies.

Tracks 7-9 Shipibo icaros of Mateus Castro, a shaman living outside Pucullpa in Yarinacocha. The arts of the Shipibo, especially textile designs, are closely related to ayahuasca icaros. The words of the chants are symbolic stories telling of the ability of nature to heal itself. For example the crystalline waters from a stream wash the unwell person, while coloured flowers attract the hummingbirds whose delicate wings fan healing energies etc. You might see such things in your visions but the essence which cures you is perhaps more likely to be the understanding of what is happening in your life, allowing inner feelings to unblock so that bitterness and anger con change to ecstasy and love. To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself.

Tracks 10-16 Dona Cotrina Valles was born in Agua Blanca, Department of San Martin. She apprenticed herself to a maestro in 1979 and later came to live in Iquitos with her husband. Today she lives alone with her children. It is very unusual for a woman to be a shaman in urban situations although they do exist amongst indigenous peoples. Amongst other limiting beliefs, it is thought that women break taboos as they are unable to take dieting seriously because of demands from their husbands and that when they go shopping in the market they will have contact with menstruating women or people who are mal dormida, (ie. a person who has been making love all night).

The diet is a vexed question in the city as the temptations of rich spicy food as well as sex are greater than in the rainforest. As all shamans will tell you, Dona too, says that sex is bad. The ‘mother plant’ loves you and if you make love to another person, you are being unfaithful to her. For this reason it is often said that Ayahuasca is jealous, and if you do not respect her, she makes you ill instead of healing you. You will also not be able to see any visions. The ill effects from not respecting the diet are called cutipa and range from a sense of trauma and stress to skin problems.

Dona’s chants are sung in Spanish and Quechua, as also are the chants of Javier Arevalo, which follow. Both Dona and Javier are mestizo shamans, that is to say their ancestors moved to the Amazon from the Andes, rather than being indigenous to the Amazon as the Shipibo are. The melodies of mestizo icaros have an Andean structure and are sung partly in Quechua, a language of the Andes.

Track 17 Despacho to Pachamama in the ruins of Pisaq. A despacho is an offering to the Earth Goddess, Pachamama, which nurtures all life on earth. The ceremony symbolizes the reciprocity of nature and speaks back to her saying ‘we understand the message and we have the same attitude’. The word despacho was mistakenly translated into Spanish after the Conquest as pago, meaning payment, to imply a satanic pact with dark forces.

As each participant made their contribution to the despacho convened by the Shamaness Doris Rivera Lenz ‘La Gringa’, Kike Pinto, played pre-Colombian instruments. The first piece is a Harawi from the Department of Cusco played on a quena, or notch flute, made from the wing bone of a condor. This little melody has been handed down from Inca times, thanks to its incorporation into Catholic mass in Colonial times. The second piece is a Haylli from San Pedro de Castas, Department of Lima, played on a ch’iriqway, or antara (panpipes), made from condor feathers. The melody also has pre-Hispanic roots and has survived in a form played on the chirisuya, kind of oboe, of probable Moorish origin. This track is ended with some calls on the putu, or conch shell.

Kike Pinto is a lifetime musician and researcher of traditional Andean music. He has recorded several CDs and is curator of his own Museum of Andean Music in Hatunrumiyoq, Cusco.

Tracks 18-26 Javier Arevalo comes from Nuevo Progreso, a community of 50 families on the Rio Napo. Many generations of his family before him were shamans and already at 17 years old he knew this was his future. However when he was 20 his father died from a virote (poisoned dart in the spiritual world), sent by a jealous and malicious brujo (sorcerer) in his community. Soon after he began his two-year retreat in the rainforest with his maestro grandfather, dieting many plants, later to become his ‘doctors’. During his time in the wilderness he realised that it was better to leave God to punish the brujo who killed his father, and he decided to be a healer not a sorcerer.

There are several different kinds of icaros, at the beginning of the session. Their purpose is to provoke the mareacion or effects, and, in the words of Javier, ‘to render the mind susceptible for visions to penetrate, then the curtains can open for the start of the theatre’. Other Icaros call the spirit of Ayahuasca to open visions ‘as though exposing the optic nerve to light’. Alternatively, if the visions are too strong, the same spirit can be made to fly away in order to bring the person back to normality. There are icaros for calling the ‘doctors’, or plant spirits, for healing, while other icaros call animal spirits, which protect and rid patients of spells. Healing icaros may be for specific conditions like manchare, which a child may suffer when it gets a fright. The spirit of a child is not so fixed in its body as that of an adult, therefore a small fall can easily cause it to fly. Manchare is a common reason for taking children to ayahuasca sessions.

Tracks 18 Llamada de mareacion in which the spirits of various healing plants are called, here the huacapurana, a tall tree with hard wood, whose bark is used for arthritis. Huacapurana is also used as an arcana, or spirit to protect the body. Also the remocaspi whose bark is used to reduce fever and cure malaria.

More info on the CD:
The Shamans of Peru – Ceremonial Chants, Icaros and Music

Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

Soul Retrieval

By Viola Woolcott

Soul Retrieval originated in ancient shamanic practices. It is bringing back the part of the fragmented soul and the life force it contains.

Soul retrieval is not a therapy, but can be a therapeutic process.

Once the shaman decides that your soul can be retrieved, he will look for signs of the life force, this happens when the shaman looks into the eyes, the windows of the soul.

The Shaman creates a sacred space, one where you feel safe, surrounded by love and where you feel protected from interference from the outside world. During the ceremony he uses drumming to go into a trance like state, to travel into the past, down the tunnel to the lower world. There he connects with his power animal and maybe some other helpers and they travel together into alternate realities to find the part of the soul of the person that is missing to invite it to come back. Usually the soul fragment is in a state of stress and may not want to come back as it doesn’t believe that it is save until the shaman proves that it is safe to do so. Bringing back the fragmented part creates an energy change which may take up to two weeks for integration.

Things always get worse before they are getting better and it is a good sign that deep healing is taking place, when uncomfortable emotions and deep routed memories come to the surface after bringing back the fragmented soul parts.

Demons

Submitted by Bob Makransky

In our society the stigma attached to believing in demons is quite strong. Anyone who admits to believing in demons is considered crazy or stupid, or perhaps evil, and is no longer taken seriously. However, our society’s view of this issue is incorrect. Becoming a magician requires facing up to this truth and dealing with it, not sweeping it under the rug. Magicians have to deal with how things really are and not worry about what other people might think or say about them. To our society, any discussion of demons is absurd. To a magician, the problem of demons is the most pressing issue facing the human race; and our addressing, or failing to address, this issue will decide our future, or lack of future, as a species.*

The trouble with all of the false stereotypes of black magic and demons in the popular media, particularly that these things don’t exist, is that they prevent us from understanding what is really going on. As many fundamentalist Christians rightly believe, demons are everywhere. In fact, they run the whole shebang.

When we talk about demons, we’re not talking about Transylvania. We’re talking about trouble right here in River City. Demons are pretty much all over the place, and they run our society. The government, corporations, media, academia, churches (especially the churches!) – indeed, all of our precious institutions – are of the demons, by the demons, and for the demons. The movie The Matrix is actually a pretty good picture of what our society is really like, but with demons rather than machines behind the scenes pulling the strings. Like germs, demons are everywhere. Therefore, they are not something to be frightened of or worried about. In fact, the people who are the most freaked out by demons, such as Inquisitors and witch hunters, are usually the most demon-possessed themselves. Likewise, the people who are the most uptight about black magic are usually the ones who are doing the most black magic themselves. Most demon-possessed people, like most black magicians, consider themselves to be upstanding, righteous, pious citizens.

Demons are blandishing everybody – even those not specifically possessed – all the time. Most of your thoughts of how marvelous and wonderful you are; and how misunderstood you are; and how the people who don’t appreciate you will be sorry some day; as well as most of your sexual and glory fantasies – not to mention angry and fearful thoughts – are just demons directing your thinking. Those kinds of thoughts aren’t “your” thoughts at all. They are just thoughts which demons implant in your mind. It’s when you start paying attention to where “your” thoughts and feelings are really coming from that you begin to understand the meaning of the Magical Almanac Statement of Purpose: that all you really are is a clearinghouse for a myriad of angels, demons, miscellaneous spirits, thought forms, and importance coverings clamoring for “your” moment-to-moment attention.

However many, if not most, of the people in our society – including practically all of our leaders in all areas – are out-and-out demon-possessed. That’s how they got to be so successful. Indeed, it’s quite possible that you may be demon-possessed. I was possessed for the first 40 years of my life, until my spirit guides pointed that fact out to me and explained to me how to cast them out. It’s no big deal, really, either to be possessed or to cast demons out. This will be explained later.

Here’s a fictional example which illustrates how people unconsciously call demons in to possess them in moments of great self-pity, taken from John O’Hara’s novel Appointment in Samarra. Notice how Julian English’s wife calls in a demon of her own in response to Julian’s demon:

“He did. What’s the use of trying to fool myself? I know he did. I know he did and no matter what excuses I make or how much I try to tell myself that he didn’t, I’ll only come back to the same thing: He did. I know he did. And what for? For a dirty little thrill with a woman who – oh, I thought he’d got all that out of his system. Didn’t he have enough of that before he married me? … Ah, Julian, you stupid, hateful, mean, low, contemptible little son of a bitch that I hate! You do this to me, and know that you do this to me! Know it! Did it on purpose! … You big charmer, you. You irresistible great big boy, turning on the charm like the water in the tub; turning on the charm like the water in the tub; turning on the charm turning on the charr-arm, turning on the charm like the water in the tub. I hope you die.

“I hope you die because you have killed something fine in me, suh. Ah hope you die. Yes-suh, Ah hope you die. You have killed something mighty fine in me, English, old boy, old kid, old boy. What Ah mean is, did you kill something fine in me or did you kill something fine.” This example is a good illustration of the way in which people call in demons to possess them when they feel especially vulnerable and in need of drastic protection. In most cases the appeal to demons is unconscious. Once demons are called in, whether consciously or not, they don’t leave unless they are deliberately exorcised.

* * *

What are demons like? They’re like us humans, but are far more intelligent and cunning, and also slimier. If you’ve ever met a psychopath face-to-face, then you know the type; but more so. Totally self-centered and sleazy. Demons are also really touchy, uptight, and self-important. They hate being ignored, and absolutely freak out at being laughed at. The demons which I have met face-to-face, in dreaming, appeared like normal people, but there was something very slimy about them. That is how I knew who they were.

Most of my encounters with demons were oblique. I could feel their presence because I would start getting angry for no reason. This is because I’m an angry person: a fearful person they would make fearful, a lustful person they would make lustful, and so on. Demons survive by generating and feeding off of our self-pity. Demons are basically everywhere.

For example, when we are driving and another driver cuts in right ahead of us and we beep the horn in anger, that’s in fact an exchange between that guy’s demons and our own. Some psychopaths such as Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Ted Bundy, got their dazzling, hypnotizing charm from the demons, which possessed them. Other psychopaths like Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein were bestial thugs. What demons often give their hosts is an extraordinary cunning and a feel for the jugular. They sense precisely how far they can go and what they can get away with; and they have no scruples whatsoever about destroying anyone or anything that gets in their way.

Not all demon-possessed people become world leaders, of course (although many, if not most, world leaders are demon-possessed … else they wouldn’t have succeeded in our demonic society); and not all are psychopathic. Many people who are depressed, repressed, angry and irritable all the time, constantly ill, addicted to drugs. or sex or whatever, self-destructive generally, are possessed by demons.

You can stand in a supermarket and watch the demon-possessed people go by: the harried mother pulling her kid in tow as she shops, yelling at the kid and yanking his arm out of its socket to drag him away from the things which normal curiosity leads him to explore; the old geezer with a perpetual scowl, pushing his shopping cart aggressively with an “out of my way, buddy!” expression on his face; the care-worn, overburdened, downtrodden people dragging themselves up and down the aisles.

It’s not too hard to tell if people are demon-possessed when they get old. When they are still young, there’s usually enough of the original person left there so that you can’t see the demons as readily (except in certain revealing moments now and then). As the people get older, however, the demons eat up more and more of their souls and their joy. If, as people age, they get lighter and more joyous, then they’re not demon-possessed. On the other hand if they get more uptight, nastier, depressed, or more self-pitying as they age, then they probably are demon-possessed. This is why it’s so hard to deal with those old people – you’re not dealing with the person anymore, just with a demon that subsists by sucking other people’s energy (having burned out most of its host’s energy).

Demons are not evil. They’re doing what they have to do in order to eat, just like the rest of us. There is no evil per se in the universe. If you want to call the necessity of killing and devouring other beings in order to survive evil, then the one you’ve got to blame for this is the One who made that rule in the first place. That was not Satan. Demons have to eat just like everybody else. What demons eat is what we call feelings, especially uptight feelings. Demons survive by generating and feeding off of our self-pity. To demons, we humans are self-pity machines programmed by them to produce the most delectable demon delicacies with our constant moaning and groaning; and our thinking we’re so great.

What makes being a demon, or messing around with demons, evil is that there’s no real joy or happiness in it. The way they feed themselves, and the way we feed ourselves under their influence, is uptight and ugly. It’s a big rush of self-importance, and then lots of pain. Then another big rush of self-importance, and then lots of pain. It’s a spiral of self-importance and pain. It’s not very peaceful or pleasant. But it can’t properly be characterized as evil per se. It’s an extremely popular lifestyle for humans as well as demons.

It’s called society.

* * *

Prior to the invention of agriculture after the last ice age, about 12, 000 years ago, humans were more or less like any other apes. They were more intelligent than most other animals, but not particularly smart. My guides have told me that if we could meet one of our ancestors from that period, we would consider it an animal. There’s no level upon which we modern humans would consider those ancestors to be human beings.

It was an alliance that the human race forged with the race of demons during the Late Upper Paleolithic – early Mesolithic era that made us modern humans the thinking, rational animals we are today. It was at that time that trapping, fishing, and hunting with dogs were invented – ensnaring game instead of hunting it directly. Then agriculture was invented – raising animals and plants instead of gathering them directly. Demons channeled new technologies to the human race through individuals who were inventors and innovators.

They still do.

These indirect techniques for getting food necessitated a greater sense of planning for the future than direct hunting / gathering had required. The new social order demanded a new type of consciousness: perception and cognition tied to linear time. Planning for the future is what creates the future. Until the demons taught us about the future, all human beings had to work with was the now moment.

Linear time is the matrix of our separated, lower self. Our human ancestors, like infants, didn’t have anywhere near as much sense of separatedness as we do. They were not as individuated as we are today. They lived in a more timeless, dream-like frame of mind; a sense of belonging to the universe. Their mental process wasn’t a matter of constant thinking, but rather of direct knowing what their ancestors, spirits, and the earth were telling them. They felt themselves to be part of an ongoing, natural process in the same way that we feel ourselves to be part of our society. Because they were not as separated as we are today, they felt less Angst than we do, because they had no future to worry about.

If the future didn’t exist, would we care about it? It’s precisely our caring and worrying about the future that conjures up its existence. We care about the future, it’s important to us, because we believe there’s glory for us somewhere in our future. We fantasize that someday we will win the lottery, or find our true soul-mate, or become famous, or go to heaven when we die. These sorts of expectations are what trap us into striving towards a future, which never arrives. The other side of that coin is our past, the things that we are ashamed of and are trying to forget about (and would never reveal to another person). We all are taught to hate ourselves and then to hide that self-hatred away. This striving towards a future and slinking away from a past is what creates the illusion that there is such a thing as a future and a past. When striving ends, so too does linear time.

Another way of saying this is: our sense of linear time is the product of our linear thinking. If we stop thinking so much about the future and past and return our attention to the now moment, like ancient humans and infants did, then the past and future lose much of their meaning. They are just not as important, so they are not as there; things are too now.

Our higher selves are timeless. Higher self – what William Butler Yeats termed “Mask” – is eternal: it is our touch with the Spirit. Higher self has to be squelched down into the straitjacket of linear time in order to create our uptight, niggling little lower self – what Yeats termed “Will. We learned how to create a sense of linear time – a separated, lower self that is caught in a loop of constant self-reflection, of seeking glory and hiding shame – from our demon masters. Over the past millennia the demons have taught us everything that we modern humans consider human. That is to say, our civilization – all of our thinking – is demonic in origin. The qualities that we modern humans believe elevate us above the realm of animals are essentially demonic qualities.

Demons taught us humans how to think because thinking requires concentrated effort. This effort, or being uptight – hiding shame from the past and seeking glory in the future – allows demons to suck human energy.

This is why adults are usually more uptight than little children, who aren’t yet in a mode of constant thinking. We adults are completely accustomed to thinking every second all day long. We don’t realize how much we have to squelch ourselves and our true feelings down in order to maintain this inner dialogue. This constant thinking, particularly when it’s worried, or angry, or jealous thinking, provides fodder for the demons who surround us.

In other words, the invention of agriculture wasn’t so much a matter of humans beginning to farm plants and animals for food as it was demons beginning to farm humans for food. Now, after millennia of inbreeding us, the demons have us right where they want us. Earlier generations of humans were hardy, robust, and self-reliant, which is hard fare for demons to digest. We moderns with our undisciplined, self-indulgent, decadent lifestyles have become a toothsome delight for the demons who suck us. We are fat and complacent, with no minds or wills of our own. We readily believe all the lies our government, church, media, and “science” tell us. This makes us easy to herd around and lead to the slaughter.

Our demon masters, who were overjoyed when humans invented agriculture and became a semblance of them, are presently ecstatic that humans have adopted an urban society wholly disconnected from nature. We are turning the green, loving earth into a hell world. At least, when most humans were doing agriculture, they were still attached to the earth’s love and the rhythms of the universe. Now, urban society has cut humans off completely from the earth’s love. When does anyone even look at a tree anymore except through a speeding windshield or a television screen? And the food – the Soylent Green – which people today eat from supermarkets, … Welcome to hell, folks! You don’t have to wait until you die. Hell is right here, right now. The worst part of it is that most people have been trained to call this heaven. And the demons are eating it up. Eating us up.

There was nothing wrong with us humans having associated ourselves with demons for the past few millennia. We learned a lot from them. We learned how to think, for starters. Now it’s time we humans went our own way and followed our own star, because continuing to serve our demon masters will just lead to our own destruction as a species.

When humans allied themselves with demons they made some sort of very unpleasant denouement inevitable; and it is our generation, which will have to pay the piper, and see what we can salvage from the rubble. A magician must remain undaunted even when single-handedly confronting all of the demons in the universe.

Because you are.

* * *

I’ve cast demons out of people and also out of buildings they were inhabiting. I don’t like doing this, though, because it scares me. When the demons are cut loose they dive into the nearest host they can grab onto. The time I cast demons out of a building where black magicians had lived previously, I followed my spirits’ advice and lit a censer with copal incense. Then I circled the building repeating an appeal to the demons to leave: “You are not wanted here any more, you’ll be a lot happier in another place where you are more appreciated. In the name of the nine Mayan gods (my patron spirits) I cast you out!” I tried to muster confidence, which I didn’t actually feel for the “I cast you out!” part. Then at each corner of the building I set off a chain of firecrackers, since demons have highly refined sensibilities and dislike clamor. After the firecrackers went off at the first corner I could sense something coming loose. By the last corner I sensed they were completely loose.

I then left, but as I walked away I started talking nervously to my assistant about the ritual we had just performed, “Hey, that really worked, didn’t it?” At that instant I sensed something diving into me, which really freaked me out. I started jumping up and down to shake whatever it was out of me, and at the same time I forced myself to think about something else, to blank my mind. Ever since then I try to avoid casting out demons. When it is absolutely unavoidable I do it in a place where I am protected, a nearby cave that is a Mayan holy place. I certainly don’t advise casting demons out of other people unless you’ve got spirit helpers in whom you have the utmost faith, such as Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha, backing you up.

I’m of the opinion that people should cast out their own demons. They called them in, and they should take the responsibility for casting them out themselves. The exception to this would be in the cases of children or people who are too crazy to do it for themselves.

Sometimes people ask me, “I think my parent (or spouse or loved one) might be demon-possessed. Is there anything I can do to cast it out?” My usual answer is negative. Demons won’t leave if the host doesn’t want them to leave, or they’ll immediately return if cast out. In our society most people don’t even believe in the existence of demons, much less seriously entertain the possibility that they themselves could be possessed. Moreover, most people, especially old people, have become comfortable with their demons. They’re afraid to have to start living their own lives and making their own decisions again. It’s easier just to be uptight and miserable and wallow in self-pity. Bit-by-bit they surrender all their joy to their demons, until in the end the demons are all that’s left, except for the pain.

I once counseled a friend of mine who was in an extremely dysfunctional marriage, “I think you’re demon-possessed. Even though I know you don’t believe in demons, just for the hell of it why don’t you go to the holy Mayan cave, light a candle, and ask the spirit of the place ‘If, on the off chance, I am indeed possessed by demons, please cast them out.’” She did this and reported later that the moment she said those words her candle flickered even though there was no wind, and a pain – like an ice pick – shot through her head. What happened next in her life was that she split up with her husband.

My interpretation of this is that without the demon’s protection she was too vulnerable to handle the Punch and Judy show she was involved in, so she terminated the relationship. In other words, just casting out demons that may possess you doesn’t automatically make you any happier. It just makes it possible for you to become happier. But there’s no way to get even to square one until you clear the demons out of the way.

Luckily it’s pretty easy to cast demons out of yourself. All that’s required is the desire to do so, and the firm decision to get rid of them. If you are suffering from a chronic or incurable disease, ** or are battling against some form of addiction, then casting out demons is the first step in self-healing. It’s the first step in self-healing for most of us, since so many of us are demon-possessed. Until you get rid of any demons that may be possessing you and reassert control over your own intent, all your spiritual endeavors are just whistling in the wind.

To cast out demons, go to whatever place you are accustomed to pray at. Power spots or power trees are good places to do this, especially if you have faith in the power of the place or tree to brace your spirit. Light a candle and ask the deity to whom you usually pray that, if there happens to be a maleficent influence in your life, to please cast it out! You must make this prayer in a true spirit of decisiveness and determination. If you pray in a spirit of doubt or hesitation, the demon will use your vacillation to defeat your prayer. Mars planetary hours are good hours to take decisive, irrevocable action; to stand up for yourself; but this is merely a help, not a necessity.

Demons are always trying to convince you that you are doing everything possible to make yourself happy. All the while they undermine your efforts. A wishy-washy prayer to cast out a demon may make you believe that you’ve accomplished something, but the demon will weasel past it. Demons have to be cast out in a mood of unbending intent and decision. That’s all that’s required – unbending intent to cast the demon out. Jumping up and down and shaking your body vigorously is another way to cast them out. This is also a good way to get rid of bad moods or the bad vibes other people lay on you as well. Some people defecate or vomit demons out.

How will you know whether your exorcism worked? Successful exorcisms are often accompanied by sensations of something that was inside you leaving. There may be some kind of whoosh of something flying out of you and away. But this isn’t always true. One way you’ll know is that in the next few days you’ll feel lighter, more hopeful and optimistic. Your friends will notice the difference too: they’ll remark on how much better you look or feel.

If there’s any doubt, though, you can always repeat the exorcism. Just make sure to do it in a mood of decisiveness and determination. That’s all, it’s not difficult. And don’t worry too much about this whole demon thing: if your heart is pure, they won’t bother you any.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac)

Spirit World

By Viola Woolcott

The habitation of spirits is the spirit world. The spirit world is composed of various kinds of spheres, planes, or levels, which seem to be merging into each other with different levels of vibrational energy, the lowest being in the first sphere. Physical surroundings as well as the amount of light all vary depending on the sphere. Time or space do not exist in the spirit world as they have no need for it.

All living things, including plants were created as spirits. They have existed long before physical creation and their souls consist of a spirit body united with a physical body.

The spirit world is all around and always with us. It is a world of energy and higher vibration. Spirits are on a much higher vibration, that is why it makes it so hard to see them unless we are able to tune in to their vibration.

Due to the lower vibrations on the earth plane, spirits feel our world as loud, slow and heavy.

The spirit world is not a physical place, but for the spirits that are present there it is very real, just like the earth plane is real to us, and the spirit people see our earth plane as the non-reality.

Shamans are guided by their spirit guides to the mysterious, transcendent reality beyond the material world, where they are lead to different dimensions of time and space. By passing through such a portal, the shaman gains his contact with his ancestors who reside there. He communicates with the spirits having his spirit guide in the form of a totem animal by his side. This is how he acquires wisdom as well as knowledge which will serve his tribe or those who came to him to ask for help from the world beyond death.

Healing Power Of The Drum Circle

By Michael Drake, Sacred Hoop Magazine, Spring 2003, Issue 40

Indigenous cultures have been practicing community percussion for thousands of years. Now people all over the world are taking up drumming in astounding numbers. At a grass roots level, small community drum circles are springing up. While some drum circles are content to jam and make a lot of rhythmic noise, others prefer to explore shamanic drumming.

Shamanic drumming is a time-honoured method of healing and helping others. Shamanic drum circles provide the opportunity for people of like mind to unite for the attainment of a shared objective. There is power in drumming alone, but that power recombines and multiplies on many simultaneous levels in a group of drummers. The drums draw individual energies together, unifying them into a consolidated force. Synchronized drumming is the most effective, so individuals should alternate the responsibility of setting the tempo and leading the group. The basic steps that I describe here I have found most effective.

1: Form a Circle
Simply join together, forming a circle. By creating a circle, you are structuring an energy pattern that will contain, focus, and amplify the power generated by drumming.

2: Cleanse the Space
Next, you should smudge the space and all participants. Smudging cleanses the mind and environment in preparation for spiritual or inner work. The sacred smoke dispels any stagnant or unwanted energy and opens the energy channels of your body. Sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are traditionally used for smudging, but any dried herb is acceptable. Light the herbs in a fire-resistant receptacle and then blow out the flames. Then use a feather or your hands to draw the smoke over your heart, throat, and face to purify the body, mind, and spirit. Next, smudge your drum by passing it through the smoke. The drummers can then smudge themselves and their drums by passing a smudge bowl clockwise around the circle. Conclude the smudging by thanking the plant whose body made the cleansing possible.

3: Call to the Directions
At this point, you may wish to invoke the powers of the Four Directions. This is an ancient shamanic rite practiced cross-culturally to access and honor the powers of creation. The facilitator can lead the group in this process. I like to have the participants stand and face each Direction in unison. Rotate clockwise, facing first the East, then South, then West, then North, inviting each Direction to participate and assist in the ceremony. If you wish, you can include Father Sky above and Mother Earth below as the Fifth and Sixth Directions.

4: Form Your Intent
Having invoked the Four Directions, it is important to form the group’s collective intention—what you desire or expect to accomplish. Intent is a kind of decision making that directs the focus of our attention. It is through our attention that we influence and direct the aspects of our experience and the world around us.

5: Prayer Round
The next step is to commence the first or prayer round of drumming. All participants should focus their attention on the group intention or goal during this round of drumming. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to set the tempo. A steady, metronome-like pattern with precisely regular intervals, at around three beats per second, is the most effective. This rapid ‘eagle-beat’ creates the sensation of inner movement, which, if you allow it, will carry you along. It is projective in nature and carries your intention, prayers, and awareness into the spirit world that underlies and sustains our physical reality.

6: Finding Unison
The time-frame for this varies from ceremony to ceremony. It is best to trust your intuition in this process. When leading a group, I move the beater around the drumhead until I find the sweet spot and my drum begins to sing and hum. Eventually, I can hear the sound of my drum moving around the circle, resonating through each person’s drum. The drums begin to sing in unison and the experience is indescribable. I sense that each person is connected to the spirit world. I try to hold this energy dynamic for as long as possible. This climactic phase eventually wanes and the drums start doing their own thing again. This is usually the point where I signal the end of the first round of drumming with four thundering beats.

7: Healing Round

Once the group intention has been introduced, commence the second or healing round by drumming the pulsating lub-dub, lub-dub of a heartbeat rhythm. Stroke a steady heartbeat rhythm at around two beats per second. This magnetic pulse draws power from the spirit world into the drum circle. Each participant should clear his or her mind of everything. You must surrender all attachment to the desired outcome to achieve success. It is best to close your eyes and focus on the sound of the drums. Let the drums do the healing. The drums will shape available energy into a powerful vortex that will spiral out into the fibers of Mother Earth’s web. When you feel the power ebbing, signal the end of the healing round with four booming beats.

8: Giving Thanks
Commence the final or thank you round of drumming with the even cadence of the eagle-beat. Sustain a tempo of three beats per second for one to five minutes. Participants should give thanks for the needs met and the needs they are asking to be met.

9: Closing the Circle
Finally, signal the end of the drumming with four resounding beats. It is important to conclude the drumming circle by rotating counter clockwise, thanking each of the Directions for their participation and assistance. This counter clockwise movement will close the energy vortex and signal that the sacred time of focus is ended.

I have found these basic steps to be very effective in a myriad of situations. Feel free, however, to adapt them to serve your own needs. Rhythm is a very personal thing. Experiment with different tempos and rhythms. My intention is to provide a foundation upon which the reader can then build.

Biography:
Michael Drake is a nationally recognized writer, rhythmist, and shamanist. He is the author of The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming and I Ching: The Tao of Drumming. Michael’s journey into rhythm began under the tutelage of Mongolian shaman Jade Wah’oo Grigori. For the past 15 years he has been facilitating drum circles and workshops nationwide. To learn more, visit Michael’s web site at: TalkingDrumPub

The Shaman’s Path The Adventure Of Self Discovery

Submitted by Howard Charing

There is considerable discussion and opinion on what a shaman is. The word itself is rooted in the word šaman from the Tungus people in central Asia. Definitions vary greatly in modern society. Do these ancient ways of viewing the world have any relevance for people in modern society?

“Creation consists of the emanations of the Eagle. There are forty eight distinct emanations of the Eagle, of which humans through our ordinary perception can perceive two of them.”

Don Juan – the Yaqui Indian and teacher of Carlos Castaneda.

There is a lot of discussion and opinion on what a shaman is. The word itself is rooted in the word šaman from the Tungus people in central Asia. Definitions vary greatly in modern society, this varies from people who enjoy trancing out to music at dances and ‘tribal’ gatherings calling themselves shamans to a very precise definition as per Mercia Eliade who in his book Shamanism – Archaic techniques of ecstasy specifically defines the term shaman as distinct from medicine man, sorcerer, healer, diviner, magician, herbalist and so on. Eliade’s specific differentiation is that the shaman who may be and practice all of the above is defined as, “the shaman specialises in a trance during which his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld”. This definition is sometimes employed in a strict sense, and appears to me to be limiting in scope. To me a shaman means more than that definition.

To quote Joan Halifax from her book Shamanic Voices; “The shaman, a mystical, priestly, and political figure emerging during the Upper Palaeolithic period and perhaps going back to Neanderthal times, can be described not only as a specialist in the human soul but also as a generalist whose sacred and social functions can cover an extraordinarily wide range of activities. Shamans are healers, seers, and visionaries who have mastered death. They are in communication with the world of gods and spirits. Their bodies can be left behind while they fly to unearthly realms. They are poets and singers. They dance and create works of art. They are not only spiritual leaders but also the judges and politicians, sacred and secular. They are familiar with cosmic as well as physical geography; they know the ways of plants and animals, and the elements. They are psychologists, entertainers, and food finders. Above all, however shamans are technicians of the sacred and masters of ecstasy.”

Leo Rutherford in his book The Shamanic Path Workbook also sees a shaman from an inclusive and holistic perspective. He defines a shaman as “someone who has fully walked the path of transformation and chosen to become a healer, helper, seer, prophet, in service to the people”.

The most important and consistent point in all the above views is the emphasis on community, whether healing, divining, or prophesising, it is done in service to others. Shamanism is not shamanism if done in isolation.

Contemporary Shamanism

Shamanism has always been a way for living as humans in relationship to all things on our planet Earth. Some thousands of years ago at the dawn of human civilisation a quantum change happened to this way of being. It was not the introduction of religion but something far more powerful, the shift from a hunter gathering and ad-hoc horticultural society to agriculture. This change had enormous consequences. From being in relation to all things; we became the ‘managers’ of the living world. The ways of animal husbandry, crop rotation and irrigation of fields led to permanent settlements, the human tribes no longer had to follow the migration of the animals and foraging for plants, we could have it all in one place! The early civilisations started, from where the social and religious structures, systems, and worldviews (many of which we still experience today) came into existence.

The ancients knew and experienced that there is an energy normally invisible, which connects all that exists, and they lived with the knowledge of this energy and how to use it. This concept of the inter-relationship and understanding that man is a part of nature, not separate to it, a part of the connecting energy has been expressed in many ways and in many cultures but unfortunately not in ours. As Chief Seattle said in 1855 in his address to the American Congress.

“What befalls the Earth befalls all the sons of the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.”

The separation in Western society from the natural world with it’s accompanying myth of man having “dominion over all living things”, has led to spiritual disconnection from the universal energy field. At some level we are aware of this, and many are experiencing a heart-led desire to reconnect to the universal field of energy and consciousness which we are part of.

Many people are being drawn to spiritual paths such as shamanism as one of the ways to meet this deeply felt desire, to heal the pain of separation, and rejoice in the ecstatic beauty and possibilities of simply being alive on this rich and beautiful planet.

Shamanism contains time tested healing practices, ceremony and teachings to support people in this re-balancing of themselves. These practices are fundamentally healing, not only for the physical body but also for our inner sense of being and our soul. However the challenge is to build a bridge between the ancient wisdom and practices in such a way as to be useful, effective and meaningful to the modern Western individual.

One of the most significant separations between modern Western approaches and the shamanic approach is one of perspective i.e. between energy and physicality. From the shamanic perspective you could say that we (and everything else) are fields of energy, and the actuality that we experience as the physical world is but the description of our physical senses rather than being an absolute inherent fact. In some respects quantum physics is now pointing in the same direction, as have the ancient shamans for forty thousand years.

In shamanic Healing we work with energy. Another word for this energy is life-force, soul, or the ‘vital nature’, and in shamanism there are many traditional ways of healing working with soul or life-force. It comes to fundamental questions and challenges to what is reality. This fundamental conception is so vast, that it seems that it can only be described in terms of metaphor.

“Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size”.
~ Albert Einstein ~

The Path of the Shaman

The distillation of shamanism in the 21st century is the recognition that we and our god (whom we have made in our image) are not separate from creation, but discrete aware elements in a vast unending timeless ocean of consciousness and energy, and that we are all connected to each other, simply because we are each other.

All the traditional and indigenous shamans that I have encountered share one unifying characteristic, they will do whatever is required to help a person into health and well-being by catalysing in one way or another that persons inner belief system, to guide change in that persons reality so that they come to feel and ‘know’ that they will get well. This is just as important as the ‘real’ and tangible medicine work. They know that we are greater than we have been led to believe we are, and can influence and co-create our ‘reality’. Creative visualisation and other practices to influence the unfolding of our lives are not new-age, they are very much ‘old-age’ and belong to all of us. If we go back in our ancestral lineage, you would find that we all came from shamanic cultures, it is our birthright.

One of the beautiful aspects of shamanism is that it is a true spiritual democracy; there are no priests, no hierarchy. We all have the same rights of access to the universal field of love, life-force and consciousness because that’s where we are at. We have just forgotten it.

Howard G. Sharing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

History Of Shamanism

By Viola Woolcott

Shamanism is deeply connected to nature as well as the abundance of our Earth’s teachings. It is the oldest form in which humanity has sought connection with creation. It is the oldest way of healing the individual, dating back as far as to the Stone Age.

Aspects of shamanism were encountered in later, organised religions, generally in their mystic and symbolic practices. Greek paganism was influenced by shamanism, as reflected in the stories of Tantalus, Prometheus, Medea, Calypso among others, as well as in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and other mysteries. Some of the shamanic practices of the Greek religion were later adopted into the Roman religion.

There is a strong shamanistic influence in the Bön religion of central Asia, and in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism became popular with shamanic peoples such as the Tibetans, Mongols and Manchu beginning with the eighth century. Forms of shamanistic ritual combined with Tibetan Buddhism became institutionalised as the state religion under the Chinese Yuan dynasty and Qing dynasty. One common element of shamanism and Buddhism is the attainment of spiritual realisation, at times mediated by entheogenic (psychedelic) substances.

The shamanic practices of many cultures were virtually wiped out with the spread of Christianity.

In Europe, starting around 400 CE, the Christian church was instrumental in the collapse of the Greek and Roman religions. Temples were systematically destroyed and key ceremonies were outlawed. Beginning with the middle ages and continuing into the Renaissance, remnants of European shamanism were wiped out by campaigns against witches. These campaigns were often orchestrated by the Catholic Inquisition.

The repression of shamanism continued as Christian influence spread with Spanish colonisation. In the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Catholic priests followed in the footsteps of the Conquistadors and were instrumental in the destruction of the local traditions, denouncing practitioners as “devil worshippers” and having them executed.

In North America, the English Puritans conducted periodic campaigns against individuals perceived as witches. More recently, attacks on shamanic practitioners have been carried out at the hands of Christian missionaries to third world countries. As recently as the nineteen seventies, historic petroglyphs (prehistoric rock drawing) were being defaced by missionaries in the Amazon.

It has been postulated that modern state campaigns against the use of psychedelic substances are the offshoot of previous religious campaigns against shamanism. Today, shamanism, once universal, survives primarily among indigenous peoples. Shamanic practice continues today in the tundra’s, jungles, deserts, and other rural areas, and also in cities, towns, suburbs and shantytowns all over the world. This is especially widespread in Africa as well as South America, where “mestizo shamanism” ( combined ancestry) is widespread.

Many recent efforts have been made trying to link shamanic practice and knowledge with Western, scientific beliefs. Anthropologist Jeremy Narby has proposed that shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level, working with DNA and viruses that they see as the twin serpents or malicious “darts”. The holomovement theory proposed by David Bohm is often seen as an approach to create a scientific foundation for concepts such as parallel worlds and alternative ways to traverse time and space.

Three Worlds Non Ordinary Reality

By Viola Woolcott

We live in a world of duality. A world of the seen as well as the unseen. Many traditions talk of three worlds. The lower world, the middle world and the upper world. The Shaman sees these worlds as connection to the world tree. As a bridge that connects these three worlds. It is on this tree that the spirits pass from one world to the other.

From both traditional societies as well as in modern shamanic circles, the world tree is a common image of the connection between things in shamanic experiences. The shaman being a cosmic traveller ‘walks’ between these worlds, reads the signs as well as the visions he has which are offered to him in this waking twilight. With all of its beauty and danger, it is an introduction to the ancient ways of walking between the worlds.

The world tree represents power and courage and it forms the completed parts of the shamanic universe. It is also is the centre of the world, but paradoxically – paradoxes are rife in shamanism – the centre of the world is also anywhere and everywhere. This line of thinking allows shamans to know the tree situated outside his door is the world tree. It is used in the initiation ceremonies linking the world of humanity with the world of the spirits. Shamanic rituals and performances frequently feature world trees symbolically. In these rituals the shaman or medicine man performs in an altered state of consciousness, his feet in both realities, therefore the symbolic object becomes the world tree and where the ritual is taking place become the centre of the world.

The three worlds are equally important. None is above the other.

Maybe you like to read these related links:
Lower World, Realm of Ancestors and Spirits
Middle World, Parallel Non-Ordinary Version of our World
Upper World, Real of Gods and Teachers