First off I wanted to tell you I love your writing. It is really refreshing and blunt. I hope you can be that same way with me and my issues. I was an addict for ten years and I am just now three years clean realizing why I used. I am sensitive and feel called to be a Shaman. I denied my calling and didn’t know how to deal with everything. I feel this strong calling to be a Shaman but all of the stuff around me seems focused on money. Most of it seems like bullshit as well. I am white and don’t feel called to be a Native American or to be part of another culture. How do I follow my calling and become a Shaman? How do I not fall prey to the heaps of bullshit out there and the people who just want to take my money? Lots of questions I realize but I don’t know what to do. Thanks for any thoughts
Dear baby shaman-
Thanks for the compliment- and I will be blunt with you. You are right- there is a lot of B.S. and misinformation out there, people who just want to take your money, and “fake” shamans who have no idea what they are talking about. It took me a long time to wake up to the fact that most of the shamanic workshop circuit and books out there are basically just another illusion, so kudos on realizing it so soon.
A few thoughts about your note… first off, I am assuming that you would pay money as long as it was the appropriate amount to a teacher that could actually be of benefit to you. They are out there, and they need to make a living. There is a current new-age thought out there that spiritual teachings should be free, or should be by donation, and if you do not ascribe to the certain brand of thinking you are not a “real” teacher. Most of this thinking is a result of new-age spiritual bypass- where people separate the physical from the spiritual. They have not grown past this understanding and split. I believe that teachers, no matter if they are teaching young shamans or elementary school should be paid appropriately. So we will set the matter of money aside assuming that you are able to find a right and ethical teacher… because a real teacher will charge an appropriate amount or even undercharge for what you will receive from them. It is the bloated organizations and vacation mentality workshops that charge more than they are worth. If you feel that money is the primary concern of a teacher it is a good indication to find another one. But certainly pay someone for their time and expertise. I can tell you from experience it takes a lot of time and energy to put together a decent workshop or educational experience.
Now, let us get on to the bullshit. There is a huge amount of false information, message boards and facebook groups full of beginners who have little idea what they are talking about, teachers who have not dealt with their own issues, have ego issues, or do not have any spiritual power, and books and other information that will tell you that you have to be, do, think, and act a certain way to be a shaman. Beyond the ability to traverse the worlds and some common attributes (such as near-death experiences and other shamanic calling symptoms) that designate that yes, you are a spiritual healer, it is up to you to find your individual path as a spiritual healer. There is no one path. So, basically don’t drink the Kool-aid. If any book, person, or spirit tells you that their way is the only way, it is B.S. If anyone tells you that a Shaman is a specific race or from a specific cultural background don’t believe them. There are Spiritual Healers of all sorts across the globe and throughout history (the term Shaman is from the Tungus/Siberians but let us expand the word Shaman to mean Spiritual Healer). There are even white middle class shamans from Ohio, such as yourself.
Unfortunately what happens when someone such as yourself has a calling to become a Shaman they often get caught up in what other people think and the organizations that are out there construct your spiritual reality. You begin to see the spiritual worlds as having only three layers, as having specific archetypes, and begin to believe their mythologies about “good” and “bad”. You then participate in this illusion instead of realizing what your spiritual path is, what your spirits tell you…You become immersed in spiritual materialism with students who may or may not have a spiritual calling.
Most of these classes are for people that cannot traverse between different realities- they need to be told what to think and believe and have their spiritual reality constructed for them. They will then participate in this illusion, constructing angels, deities, and spiritual support out of displaced aspects of themselves. Most people interested in shamanic workshops are not called and do not see beyond the illusion and B.S. This makes up most of the new-age or “core” shamanic community.
We live in a modern society of spiritual materialism- where anyone thinks they can be a shaman. Anyone who has been truly called knows that this is not true. Some people are called, some have natural abilities, talents, and powers as a spiritual healer. Unfortunately since being a shaman or a spiritual healer is a relatively rare thing most of the material, workshops, and teachers are catered towards aspirational shamans rather than actual shamans. The difference is that you, baby shaman, are unskilled at this point. You have the power and the abilities- you need to the tools to be who you are, to protect yourself, and to educate yourself about what is going on.
An important thing to know is that experiencing some of these workshops is beneficial. You can tell what you do not want from seeing and participating in them. In Acupuncture school I had a particularly bad intern I had to follow. The supervisor made a comment to me one day that “now I will know what I do not want to do and who I do not want to be.” This thought has allowed for me to experience people, places, and events that show me who I do not want to be. And this helps me grow.
But there are good teachers out there. Strong teachers, who can help you through and help you become who you want to be. I am of the opinion that until we reach a certain point that we need physical teachers, we need mentors in physical form. They help us become grounded, teach us skills, and are able to call us out when we are in a state of illusion. And at the beginning (and middle, and near the end) we are in a state of illusion. We self-create, we congratulate, we get stuck in weird spiritual states… if we are on a spiritual path we will get lost, confused, and stuck. We need physical teachers, catalysts to help guide us to come out of these states, to give us tools to traverse our path, and to help us to discover who we really are and our own individual path. Once we discover our individual spiritual path, build relationships with our own non-self-created spirits we can rely less on teachers. Any teacher that moves out of “catalyst” mode into telling you what to think, feel, or be is a good signifier of a teacher that is not right for you. But teachers are always wonderful- as you become more skilled good physical teachers become incredibly difficult to find. But they are out there.
So what else to do? You feel called to become a Shaman. If you are, we have discussed how you simply need to research, read, explore, and find a physical teacher. Even in the fakest and most ego-filled book or teacher there is insight. It is up to you to take that insight and let that inform you. Simply leave the rest. If you are truly called to be a Shaman there are already spirit teachers (as in non-physical teachers) around you. This sounds cheesy or too simple (we have a huge tendency to complicate things in this world) but simply state out loud:
I am ready to become a Shaman. I am ready to learn. I am ready to follow my path. I am ready for my spiritual teachers to appear. I am ready for my physical and non-physical teachers to appear.
Whatever of these varieties feels right to you go forward with. It sounds so simple but it really works. Look for signs, synchronicities, and messages that show you the way. If you are called to be a shaman you can learn basic skills like journeying or communicating with guides from a wide variety of sources- even the most basic workshop or teacher can give you these skills. You will not have to look very far. Take these skills and make them your own. Spend time each day communicating and establishing a relationship with your spiritual teachers.
Beyond this advice, start simply. Spend time out in nature. Learn about your own ancestors. Often we are strongest in our spiritual capabilities by learning about how our own ancestors approached spiritual healing. You may need to look deeper for this than someone who comes from a culture that places emphasis on spiritual healers and healing, but you can find it.
Begin to meditate if you have not already. This is important. Simply spend quiet time in nature or contemplation or find a meditation book or style that calls you to it. Do it every day- even if it is for a short period of time. This will give you the ability to work through your own issues so you can help others and allow you to eventually develop skills to communicate with your spiritual support/guides in a profound way.
I hope that helps you on your path baby shaman. Just with this simple advice, a good book or perhaps a beginning workshop you can learn basic tools to proceed in a powerful way. When you learn to access your own spiritual power, your own spiritual path, and come into contact with the spiritual forces that surround you (meditation, nature and your guides) you will no longer be a baby shaman. At that point you may be able to find a real, appropriate, and non-B.S. teacher to guide you. Good luck
Mary Shutan L.Ac, CST-D, CZB, ABT offers Spiritual Healing services, readings, services and programs for people undergoing Spiritual Awakening issues, including Shamanic callings and awakenings, as well as for people dealing with psychic abilities. You may contact her to set up a consultation for an appointment or go here for information on readings.