Secrets of Shamanism
José Stevens, Ph.D. & Lena Stevens
Tapping The Spirit Power Within You
Throughout history, shamans have possessed the power to journey deep within themselves to tap the universal source of information and wisdom. Bypassing the stumbling blocks of the outer world, they perfected techniques of communication with the world of the spirit in order to find answers to pressing questions, foretell the future, and achieve profound understanding.
In " Secrets of Shamanism," psychologist José Stevens and his wife Lena Stevens demonstrate how the ancient techniques of shamanism can be adapted to the needs and concerns of the modern world. Through a series of simple exercises, lessons and rituals, they will teach you how to identify and communicate with your inner spiritual guides—and how to achieve professional success, psychological enlightenment and personal fulfillment.
It was an opportunity of a lifetime, an offer seemingly just out of reach. For years Shawna had wished for the anthropologist's dream; an assignment to Lima, Peru, jumping off place for the Andes. Crisp snow clad mountains, winding dirt roads up dizzy heights, llamas, shamans, and a trail of clues to the mystery of human habitation in the Americas gripped her imagination. But the obstacles seemed almost insurmountable. Slaving over a maze of reports from her last assignment in the Yukon territory, Shawna was not even remotely ready to go. She was also flat broke, having spent her meager savings recently on a rebuilt engine for her near-dead Land Rover. Shawna spent sweaty hours in the July heat of Los Angeles calculating the costs, pouring over the calendar, and figuring-in any possible assets she could turn into cash. Neither the figures nor the dates on the calendar added up.
In frustration, Shawna threw her pencil across the room where it bounced and spun into her favorite cottonwood drum, a gift from her grandfather in New Mexico. He wasn't really her grandfather but she called him that. Old Bill was everybody's grandfather. Shawna had spent a few summers with the ancient Apache and now she suddenly recalled something he had taught her. "When your heart is sad and you have lost your path, go inside for help. When your heart speaks its truth, you cannot know failure." Suddenly Shawna relaxed. How could she be so foolish as to give up her dream because of a few calculations.
Swiftly crossing the room she picked up the drum. Sitting quietly for a time she began to sing a little song Old Bill had taught her, accompanied by a light drumbeat. "Falcon I am calling, Falcon I am calling, Come and be with me...." Closing her eyes Shawna could see the ebony of the falcon's wing feathers as he flashed by her. "Falcon," she whispered, "I could use a little help. I want to go to Lima but as you can see I am stymied. Any suggestions?" The image of the falcon appeared to look her straight in the eye and say without opening his beak, "Melanie, call Melanie. You will go, you will go." Then he vanished across an imaginary horizon.
Shawna rubbed her eyes. Melanie? The only Melanie she knew was a former employer from pre-graduate school days; a prim, exacting woman who Shawna had always found somewhat hard to please. Melanie also possessed power, money and influence where it counts. It started to dawn on Shawna.
The following morning found Shawna on the phone with Melanie. "Ah, Hello, I'm Shawna Michaelson, I used to work for you and.....! Shawna was amazed. Not only did Melanie remember her but she also showed a genuine enthusiasm for Shawna's Peruvian plans. They agreed to meet the very next day.
"I can't believe you called me," Melanie exclaimed. "What good fortune. I've been hoping to start a foundation for scholars but had no focus as yet. Now I've got something to start with. How much will you be needing?" Shawna's mouth fell open. "I, I, I don't know, five thousand dollars will go a long way in Peru." "Good," stated Melanie, "lets make it six for good measure. That's a good beginning for this year's endowment."
Excited beyond measure, Shawna rushed to her car. "Now, how am I going to get rid of that paperwork?" she thought. Then she caught herself. "Falcon's working on it. I'm not going to fail. I'm going to Peru."
On the way home Shawna stopped to fill the aging Land Rover with gas. "Hi Shawna", a familiar voice called. It was her supervisor, Larry Jackson, from the Yukon. Stunned, Shawna just stared. Larry laughed, "You look like you've seen a ghost. Do I look that bad? I'm in town for some lectures at U.C.L.A. and was going to call you. I want Terry, that doctoral student, to finish those reports you're working on. It will be good practice for him and give you a break. What do you think?"
Larry wasn't expecting the big bear hug Shawna gave him. She mumbled thanks and hustled home to get her affairs in order. " Lets see, passport, shots, cold weather clothes.....THANK YOU FALCON! MY FRIEND. This assignment is starting out right!"
Shamanic advising is an ancient and powerful form of information retrieval and inner consultation that can be adapted by anyone for use in the context of the modern world. Shamanism itself is a time-honored cross-cultural quest for knowledge and personal power that predates all known religions, psychologies, and philosophies. It a set of techniques developed over ages that allows individuals to learn consciously to bridge the apparent chasm between the physical world and the realms of imagination and vision. The great advantage of this form of guidance is that it requires no outside tools, no expenditures, and very little time investment. In fact, you might be tempted to overlook it because it does not fit into what we think of as a traditional path to success, whether personal or professional.
The shaman relies on inner powers to support his or her conclusions about a situation rather than on material concerns as is often the case today. The only price you have to pay to use this form of consultation is that shamanism asks you to let go of your conventional belief systems about reality.
While shamans have no fixed dogma or religion, they all believe in the universal web of power that supports all life. According to shamanism, all elements of the environment are alive and all have their source of power in the spirit world. Rocks, plants, animals, clouds, and wind are charged with life and must be paid due respect for the maintenance of harmony and health. Shamans consider all life forms to be interconnected, and mutually supportive balance among them is essential for humankind's survival. Our job is to understand this balance and to live in harmony with it, always taking nature into consideration in every endeavor. The web of power in nature is the lifegiver and the source of all successful activity.
Shamans access vital survival information and knowledge through what is known as a spirit journey. As shamans put it, they travel within their imaginations to contact the spirit world or the world of the spirit self: They contact the universal source of all information by "flying" deeply within themselves. If they do this while focusing on a question or matter of concern, their ecstatic journey will provide an answer, allowing them to bypass the stumbling blocks of the material world and rely on a broader vision.
Yat squatted by the water's edge lifting handfuls of the cool drink to his lips. Although his thirst was quenched the water did nothing to ease the ache of hunger he and his scouts had felt these past five wintry days. If they did not find his brother's village soon they would surely starve. They made a hasty camp by the snowy riverbed and bundled in skins by the fire. Yat knew it was time to call for assistance. Drawing forth his drum he began a steady spirit song honoring his totem spirit the kangaroo rat. With eyes closed he soon saw kangaroo rat flying in the air nearby. "Oh, rat, my friend I have a special request. We cannot find my brother's village and we have run out of food. Can you help us find it?" Rat continued to hover for a moment and remained silent. Then with a flourish rat produced a large branch with a fork in it. He pointed to the left fork and in a flash was gone. Yat was puzzled. He pondered the vision and after a time began to laugh loudly. In the morning he led his companions up the stream. Shortly the river forked into two smaller streams. Immediately he followed the lefthand one and before long the village was in sight. Yat once again gave thanks to kangaroo rat.
For shamans, imagination is more than cerebral activity, rather, imagination is an actual vehicle that carries them to unknown realms. Thoughts and feelings are forms of energy that go to specific locations in the web of power, not simply mental activity as most of us have been taught to believe.
Shamans fill a diverse and fascinating set of roles including sacred artist, poet, musician, mediator, ceremonialist, dancer, and singer. Four principle specialties of shamans are: healing; accessing new or lost knowledge; developing power; and prophesying or foretelling. Although most shamans have a knowledge of all these areas, they also tend to focus on one in order to master it. For example curanderos or healers specialize in learning about the power of medicinal plants and herbs for the healing of infirmities. Other shamans develop the ability to forecast the weather, locate good opportunities, and warn of potential hazards. Still others become power brokers, masters of suspending the laws of gravity or space and time. Whatever their specialty, they are the medicine men and women of their communities and are found all over the world from North and South America, to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The shaman's power as visionary, seer, and healer has been traced to Siberia, India, and Tibet. Similar techniques have been utilized everywhere by shamans since Paleolithic times even though they were separated by vast oceans and continents.
In this book we will touch on all four principle areas of shamanic activity because they are all integral to developing your power and becoming a successful human being in your own right. In addition we will provide you with exercises that draw from the shaman's artistic skills. Unless you can develop the artist within you, you will not be able to enjoy the shamanic approach.