There is a river we in the West have been separated from for some time. It is the place where we discovered our souls tangibly, as a part of the greater waters of life. For thousands, if not tens of thousands of years our ancestors relied on the gifts of this river to support them in dealing with almost every aspect of their lives, from the most mundane tasks, to the care of every soul in their tribes.
This river flowed through each culture differently, changing the way they lived, shapeshifting into traditions that reflected the land, their ancestors, and their own unique experiences. Today its hard to say that everybody finds the river in the same way, that the water tastes the same to each of us, still we all have ancestors who have sat beside each other, drinking there.
We modern people stumble to the waters edge by chance. We go there in dreams, on fortunate drug trips, when we slip between living and dying, when our hearts are open, our minds are quiet and the Earth reaches out to us. Most of us remember its there, feel a longing, just on the edge of memory. As children, we played at its edges.
By most accounts our ability to find the river, to know how to drink from its waters was trained out of us, forcibly, generation after generation under threat of death. We can still see evidence of this soul crushing oppression, as Michael Harner is fond of reminding us: “fifty years ago you’d be shot on sight in Siberia for possession of a Shaman’s drum.” Our own Burning Times were not so long ago, its not hard to see that access to the spirits and the very consciousness of the Earth was part of what we tried to erase from our own peoples.
Not everyone is destined to perform shamanic healing, but almost all of us can contact the helping spirits, feel them close to us and be nourished by their wisdom and strength. We used to know their familiarity in our bones, feel the presence of our ancestors, the helping animal spirits, the spirits of the land as if we could kiss them all before drifting off to sleep at night. Some we feared, many we adored. Their presence was the fragrance of our world.
We need their wisdom now, we need the intimacy of their company now. We all face challenges in our lives, I think we all know that many challenges, perhaps some too great to overcome, await our society. We will need every particle of love, support and wisdom we can find. This guidance is just as available to us now as it has been for eons.
If you’re interested in participating in restoring this sacred, natural and vital practice to our culture, please consider joining me or another teacher in re-learning how to journey to the helping spirits. They’re always waiting for the chance to share with us all the wisdom and healing we can hold, and we need you.
I’ll be teaching The Way of the Shaman at the end of March in Seaside CA. Follow this link to learn more and sign up: http://biz166.inmotionhosting.com/~alchem21/p/workshops.html
For more information on the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and their workshops: http://shamanism.org