I wrote this because I’m pleasantly surprised at the interest that my home community is taking in shamanism. Not only is this exciting for me, but I’m hearing amazing new stories as well! It came up though, that not everyone who has had experience with shamanism knows that it is first and most importantly – a personal healing practice. It must be and it can be. I hope this little article serves someone well.
Briefly, What is Shamanism
Involving altered states of consciousness, shamanism is purposeful and intentional technique, together with Earth-based lifestyle and skilled perception, in pursuit of Hollow Bone.
In the same way that a child first traces a known alphabetical font before developing their very own writing style, tried and true shamanic technique is taught for the purpose of effective communication with and reverence for benevolent spirits and elements of Earth (to which some might refer as aspects of Self.) Not only does a shamanic practitioner learn to initiate communication clearly, they must also develop shamanic perception in order to clearly decode receptive communication.
It is the result of partnership between the practitioner and the spirits that ultimately leads to healing. To allow healing truth to flow, the practitioner sets aside their own beliefs which can include “good” or “bad” beliefs about self, origin, purpose, god-figures, and about other people. Also set aside are assumptions which can include what might or should happen, what is a “righteous” cause and what is not. This setting aside often leads to a clearing out – as in clearing out a hollow conduit. Clearing out our beliefs to make room for truth is known as the pursuit of Hollow Bone, and this is what greatly differentiates shamanism from other practices. Healing needs to travel through the Hollow Bone, which the practitioner becomes, and being a Hollow Bone is a matter of continuous maintenance rather than a one and done deal.
It’s not a path that everyone will choose. What many people still don’t know however, is that personal shamanism for one’s own healing is a thing, and it comes with the same criteria as it does for a practitioner by vocation – for good reason. Without an experiential understanding of what Hollow Bone means for oneself, healing cannot reach others through a hollow bone – because it’s clogged!
The Studio Example
Imagine a studio (or community place) with people sitting around on the floor for a teaching about shamanism. A woman walks in, and she wants to learn shamanism. The teacher, who calls herself Shamaness Debbie, immediately approaches the woman to inform her that no matter what she does, she cannot “be” a shaman too. The shamaness wants the woman to confess that she clearly understands this before she begins learning. Shamaness Debbie proceeds to tell her about her own ancestry and how shamanism and techniques have been passed down in her family line. She tells the woman that only she can be “the shaman” and heal people because of her bloodline and that anything she will learn at the studio can’t be used in her (the woman’s) own practice. Well, the woman doesn’t have a practice. She doesn’t even know what “the practice” means. She just read about Hollow Bone in a book about shamanism and wanted to learn more. Because of what she read though, she gets a creep-factor feeling and realizes that the studio probably isn’t the place to pursue Hollow Bone with others. She leaves the place, disappointed.
Later that day, a man walks into the studio after reading the All Welcome to Learn About Shamanism sign. He sees several regulars sitting on the floor and listening while Shamaness Debbie is already talking. The group waves for him to sit down with them. But what the man hears during the teaching is that the United States is suffering, and that it is the fault of Republicans. The whole meeting is about doing shamanic-work to change the minds of Republicans. But the man, incidentally a Republican, not only feels ostracized and unwelcome, but he did not get a beginner’s lesson on what he had read about the pursuit of Hollow Bone in reputable books. What he experienced was false advertisement, another group with a political agenda, and plain disappointment.
Boundaries vs. Obstacles
Boundaries can orient us as they would for one who is blind and is tapping or feeling their way around a new room – or as they would for any type of explorer. Obstacles often delay or keep us from reaching the boundaries which are intended to aid in our orientation.
Shamaness Debbie chose to cling to the idea that a political party is an obstacle, rather than seeking her own healing in regard to her perception about an entire people-group. Healing is in the truth that obstacles are created by gunk in the bone – gunk that Debbie chose to keep and to grow. She also proceeded to teach others to cling to the gunk in their bones too. Together, they created more of an obstacle (a delay) for Gerry, who was left with a bad idea about shamanism and the continued anxiety about how he fits in the world. He was hoping to find his true self and his orientation in what he feels is a confusing and troubled world. Where he hoped to be received because of the All Are Welcome sign, he found false advertisement and more despair.
Obstacles, and We’re All Shamaness Debbie, but We’re Also Not
Shamaness Debbie didn’t wake up that morning and think to herself, Gee, how can I contribute to despair today? We all function as obstacles from time to time. It’s part of life and learning, and it’s okay. Sometimes, it even redirects a person to go in the right direction or to the right place (for them).
But, she did choose to cling to the idea that her bloodline and also her methods are superior to anyone else’s. (What havoc supremacy wreaks.) In truth, shamanism is everyone’s birthright. And, the “right method” is unique to each person because of the intimate relationship between the helping spirits (or aspects of self) and the practitioner.
Delusional about her own status as well as about the perceived threat of losing her status, she confronted each person that came to her establishment in search of healing knowledge. Those who accepted such behavior from her grew more gunk in their own bones. Instead of becoming willing to heal themselves and perhaps others in community (regardless of political association), they built imaginary enemies in their minds and contributed to the great illusion of separation, in the belief of which is the cause of illness.
All is well though. In truth, they’re all well and can know this for themselves. Knowing is a process which can begin the minute they realize that their beliefs are promoting separation and not unity. Broken bones and hairline fractures -or- healthy bones in one piece… It’s not hard to know which represents healing and which represents destruction.
Titles, if not used just to be found by those looking for a service, are just sounds that come from our mouths. But shamanism doesn’t differentiate the mouths that make the sounds. The woman who left the studio seemed to have known this – that healing via shamanism should be her right to practice in some kind of way, and that it doesn’t “belong” to one person or bloodline.
Still, Shamaness Debbie is not a bad person. She’s quite typical, really. She represents all of us because we have free will, and we make choices. Sometimes, we even think about our choices. Having choices means that we all can choose self-honesty and to purposely look for what clogs our bones – what contributes to illusions on a personal level. From there, we can choose to work at cleaning that stuff out and then exploring the vastness of our current boundary – our next level or phase of our existence.
It’s not a choice that everyone will make. Shamanic practitioners (dire-hard, spiritual truth types) are people who make the choice to do exactly this with Hollow Bone pursuit. But even if one doesn’t adhere to a shamanic path, self-honesty and the expression of it, and clearly defining one’s own current, self-healing intentions can get them onto a path of real growth. And, as demonstrated in “the studio,” that can help all of us!
Disclaimer: This is not about anyone, and I’ve never met a Shamaness Debbie. lol
Spiritual Practitioner, Blogger, Creator