Pagan Blog Project – Independence

imageI was brought up by my parents to be independent, something that I’m sure gave them pause for thought at times especially when we were working through my ‘teenager years’. It has however stood me in good stead in my life as a shamanic healer.

To simplify it enormously Shamanism is basically divided into two camps: those who are indigenous shaman or who have lived, worked and trained with those who are indigenous and those who have trained in core shamanism as taught by Michael Harner.

There is though a third way which is that of the independent shaman for want of a better phrase, those like me who have been taught by their own guides, guides in spirit form rather than human form.

Almost all of my training and teaching has come directly from them from the moment I met my first guide who I now know to be a past life ancestor, and then my spirit helpers to today. I have at times taken a workshop with another shamanic healer as it is nice to have human company at times and have also taken a longer course to fill in some of the gaps, things like psycopomp, which is the helping of lost souls cross over, which I had been avoiding doing, for example. My shamanic path as a whole though has not been guided by another human but solely by my spirit guides.

At first this bothered me as one of the first questions I get asked is ‘who did you train with?’ For a while I fudged around this but now I simply say ‘my guides trained me’.

This is a very independent path and not an easy one as in general people like to be able to label you, to know exactly where you have come from and how. There is also a lot of disagreement within the shamanic community over whether anyone who is not indigenous ie of tribal or native descent, which I would say is most of us, can actually work with shamanism. Sometimes the term ‘Plastic Shaman’ is used.

I did once, some time ago now, look at training with a Native American shaman as I felt that my own skills were less for just the reasons that those who would call me a plastic shaman might give but when I was told by the shaman that I had to accept that none of what I did had any value I realised that it was just as valued as anything any human might give me as I had received it directly from my own spirit allies. Why should it be any less?

Now I would ask ask how it is better to be trained by a human, who presumably somewhere along the line was taught by another human, than to train with your own guides and ancestors in spirit form, those who have walked this path before, who are there with you every step of the way, guiding you, supporting you, aiding you.

I am proud of my independent path, of the way I have been taught and guided. I am also though, delighted to find that I am more and more discovering others who have found a shamanic path in the same way as I and are also now being open about it.

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2 thoughts on “Pagan Blog Project – Independence

  1. There is an apocryphal Tibetan Bhuddist story on the subject where a teacher demands his would-be students deny all their previous teachers. Only one refuses, saying he would not have found his way to this teacher without his previous ones. The next day, the teacher declares that student the only honest worthy supplicant, agrees to teach him, and sends the rest on their way.
    Integrating ones own ancestors into ones daily life and work is a huge and essential part of shamanism regardless of culture. The idea that you can take on a belief system that excludes your ancestors is a weird and recent foible of western civilization. Unfortunately, being an indigenous person by birth doesn’t necessarily make a person wise. ANY teacher who seriously tells you that you must throw away everything you learned before you met them is not worth the time of day regardless of their race or creed.

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