Shamanistic Excercises

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Shamanistic Excercises

Post by Aadaria-Ioanna on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:23 pm

Shamantistic Excercises.

A minor note: This is based on RL Shamanism. Not the in game lore. So this is for inspirational purposes and ideas.

Our sense of vision tends to be the major route by which we perceive what is going on around us. We are continually bombarded to a vast array of visual images from our environment, and even when we close our eyes, can visualize a world just as rich in detail and events. We rely on sight so much that as soon as we lose this sense, our others are automatically magnified. The first point to stress about sight is that there is much around us that we don’t notice. Try out the following exercises:

Walking a Route

This involves taking a route that you are used to walking, so much so that you don’t tend to notice the details of things along the route. This time, try to be intensely aware of all the details of things around you, and later, write down everything that you noticed. A group variant on this exercise is to move a group of people from one area to another, and ask them to note down everything they noticed about the intervening space.

Kim’s Game

This consists of placing several objects on a tray, looking at them for a minute or so, and then covering them with a cloth. See how many objects you can recall in 30 seconds. Try this with both familiar and unfamiliar objects.

Color Census

Take a day (or even a week) and pick a color. Try to be aware of how that color appears in your surroundings, and how, if at all, it affects your moods, thoughts and perhaps, those of people around you. Exercises such as these bring home the realization that, very often, we are lazy when it comes to really seeing what goes on around us. We tend to tune out more information than we actually allow ourselves to notice, and we often don’t notice subtle changes in our environment. Yet it is these subtle clues which are often most important in our magical development.

Color Meditation

The aim of this exercise is to stimulate the ability to visualize. Imagine sounds, smells, tastes and even touch as though they were Colors, and try and let these colors flood the field of your inner eye.


It can be interesting (and fun) to discover new ways of looking at other people. A group exercise that we tried out during the Shamanic Development Course was for everyone in the group to study each other for a few minutes, and to assign each person an animal, plant and color which they felt was appropriate to that person. Each person then read out their list in turn. Occasionally, people’s attributions were remarkably similar for the same person. It’s possible to use this exercise as the basis of a discussion on how people’s attributions relate to the four cardinal elements and other symbolic associations.

From looking at other people we pick up a vast range of signals and clues, many of which are ‘colored’ by our own habits, beliefs and attitudes. A way to highlight this is to sit in a public place and watch people passing by. Look at someone for a few seconds, and then see if you can make up a story about what you imagine their lives to be like, based on your first glimpse of them. You may be surprised to find how much detail you can infer about someone from only a quick glance. Paying attention to others, and being able to cast aside your own attitudes is an important skill to develop if you wish to practice.


We are continually bombarded by sounds from all directions, from the ceaseless flow of industrial and electronic noise, to the slow thump of our heartbeats and the rush of blood through our veins. We tend to spend more time deliberately not listening, screening information out, than we do actually paying attention to what is going on. Our brains learn to distinguish between noises that are ‘significant’ and those which do not threaten us. There are plenty of reports for example, of soldiers who could sleep through an artillery barrage, but be wakened up by the sound of someone sliding back a rifle bolt a few feet away.

Active Listening

Try sitting in a room which has a steady, repetitive noise in the background, such as a clock ticking. If you are occupied with something else, you will eventually find that the noise slips below the level of your awareness. It can be interesting to try this exercise on a daily basis, until you can maintain awareness of background noise, without losing awareness of it, or for that matter, fiercely concentrating upon it. Listening is very important when we come to dealing with other people. Very often we give the appearance of listening to others, but in actuality we are only waiting for them to finish so we can get on with what we want to say next. catching yourself doing this can be a valuable lesson.

Humming Meditation

This is a group exercise which begins with everyone sitting in a circle, eyes closed. Each member of the group begins to hum, and there is no rhythm to be kept to; each person can hum at their own pitch, and rest when they like. It should be done for at least 15 minutes, and then the results discussed.

Sound Concentration

The simple repetition of a word or phrase is one of the simplest and most effective ways of entering a state of one-pointedness. All that you have to do is sit in a comfortable position and repeat, verbally then silently, a word or phrase that you have chosen. After a while you will lose awareness of doing so, and it can seem that it is no longer you that repeats the sound, but that it repeats itself through you.

Feeling Music

One way of enhancing our ability to listen is to use music, either in a group or solo setting. A very simple exercise is to any relaxation technique and then listen to a piece of taped music. The idea is to try and feel the music across your body, and see if any images, or even smells, well up in your mind.

Last edited by Aadaria-Ioanna on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

A grain of sand leaves an invisible trace upon the face of a rock, a million grains of sand and thousands of years reduce a mountain to nothing. So shall every good deed count towards the Greater Good.

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Re: Shamanistic Excercises

Post by Aadaria-Ioanna on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:24 pm


Our sense of smell is probably the least understood, and most undervalued of our senses. It is often difficult to describe a particular smell, unless we resort to comparing it with others. Smells are all around us, yet unless a fragrance is particularly sweet or pungent, most of them remain below the level of our conscious awareness. Many smells ass unnoticed, unless we make a conscious effort to pay attention to them. Yet smells have a remarkably powerful evocative effect upon us. The merest whiff of an odor can stir in us desire, hunger, and thirst or bring to mind a past event. Smells are a hotline to memory. Most hospitals nowadays have “Coma Kits” a range of powerful synthetic smells, ranging from freshly-cut grass to cigar smoke, which are used to try and awaken accident victims from deep comas. It is worth just going out of your way to notice smells, and to pay close attention to how they might influence your behavior. It is also interesting to pay attention to your own body odor, which is still something of a taboo in our sterile-conscious society. Sweat changes its odor from time to time, and this is often related to diet and general health. We communicate a great deal of subliminal information to each other in the form of pheromones (external chemical messengers). It is possible for people, as well as animals, to pick up messages of fear, pain, pleasure, and a variety of illnesses. The aura that some people seem to have about them - causing fear or peace in others, may be due to the pheromones they are giving off. People who are grieving the loss of a partner often report that they smell the unique odor of their lost lover, and feel through this, a comforting presence. Similarly, many spirits make their presence known in such manners.


Shamanic magic involves the exploration of ‘inner’ space, via visualization, trance and dreaming. Equally important, however, is our sense of the space which is around us; the immediate environment, and that bubble which we feel to be our personal territory. The degree of closeness which we allow another person near us is generally indicative of the degree of intimacy which we share with them. People tend to have very different feelings as to what constitutes their ‘personal space’, and it is important, when working with others, to acknowledge and be sensitive to this. This was brought home to me very clearly a few years ago, whilst standing in the lobby of a youth hostel in Cairo. I was standing watching some Arabs trying to make conversation with a group of American tourists. The Arabs walked up to the tourists and stood very close to them. The Americans clearly found this uncomfortable, even threatening, and backed away. This continued for a few minutes until both groups broke away, muttering angrily to each other. The problem was, of course, that the two groups had very different standards of how much space to give each other. Awareness of peoples’ space needs is important when it comes to healing, and it’s important to know when to keep your distance, and when to move closer to someone. This very much depends on honing your ability to observe, empathize with, and intuitively assess others.

People who are very nervous or anxious tend to curl up so that their body extends into as little space as possible. The more confident we are, the more we use our body to extend our own space. Our everyday perception of space is that it separates and insulates us from objects and other people. This is a perceptual ‘trap’ which we can grow out from, by experiencing space in different ways.

Blind Walks
A simple way of exploring our surroundings in a different way is to do so blindfolded, being led around by a partner. Try it for a few minutes and then swap over. Try it again, but this time attempt to sense what is in front of you, as though the space around you was an organ of perception. It can be very interesting to explore attitudes to personal space in a group, particularly how people feel when their space is ignored, infringed or disrupted. By examining and understanding our perception of space, we can learn how to manipulate it. As a solo exercise, try and observe yourself in different situations, from stillness to movement, and how you relate to the space around you. We can learn to feel that the space around us is a medium, or an organ of communication through which we can send ripples or waves.


Speech is the main form of communication that we use. we are all capable of making a wide range of noises with which to express ourselves, but it is easy to undervalue the power of our voices. The voice is an important carrier of power, from sacred chants to working songs, prayer to battle chants - all have a powerful effect on us. As the word ‘en-chant-ment’ suggests, the voice has long been associated with magical effects. Songs, chants, invocations, prayers and even nursery rhymes can be found in all cultures as ways of raising power, especially when combined with dance and music.

Use of the Voice
The way in which we use our voices is a powerful way of projecting our personalities. The way in which we deliver speech in a given situation can reveal many things (both to ourselves and others) about our feelings. To use speech effectively we must be:
(i) Confident
(ii) Aware of others
(iii) Relaxed
(iv) Clear in our thoughts
(v) Aware of how speech affects a situation.

With practice and experience, we can learn to use our voices so that we can carry emotions and feelings to others, ranging from stirring people to enthusiasm and action, to lulling gently into relaxation using soft words and tones.

Group Chants

Group Chants are one of the most effective ways of raising power, and can range from the simple “We are at one with the infinite Sun, forever, forever, forever” to the more complex “Darksome Night and Shining Moon” chant. whatever the ideas the chant expresses, a rhythm is soon built up, which carries everyone along with it.

The Spinning Mantra

In a normal group chant, each member of the group repeats the whole verse. In the ‘Spinning Mantra’ however, one person intones the first line, a second, the second line, and so on. One note is used throughout, with the same syllables stressed on each line (for example, the second and fourth syllables on each line). A variant on this chant is to begin with the group sitting in a circle, then have each person stand up one by one, and begin to wander around, stopping in front of each other and keeping the chant going.


For this exercise, find a partner and choose a theme for a conversation. No recognizable words can be used, and the aim is to try and develop expression using tone and inflection to convey messages. You will find it useful to explore the different ways in which you can use your voice. Using a tape recorder to give yourself an instant replay is useful. Most people seem to start out using songs, chants, and invocations that have been written by someone else, but eventually, once you have built your confidence up, you can move to using words which come spontaneously to mind. Only sheer practice will do this for you, but the voice is one of our most powerful projective tools for propelling ourselves, and others, into trance.


Our sense of touch - being able to feel pressure, heat, and texture, is something that we tend to take for granted. We only realize how much we rely on it, when it is lost to some part of the body. Touch is important in both survival and communication, particularly intimate communication. Speech is more of a social means of communication, whereas touch is much more intimate & personal. A single touch can carry more meaning than a thousand words. When gentle words and touch are combined, they can transport us to others worlds – in relaxation, sleep, visions, or the illumined darkness of lovers. Enhancing the sensitivity of our awareness of touch is very useful, since it often becomes the dominant sense in healing, propelling others into trance, and psychically examining objects and places. It is well known that when we lose our vision, our sensitivity to tactile impressions is greatly increased, so a good starting point is to work in darkness, or blindfolded.

Blind Explorations

A beginning group exercise is to have people pair off and sit facing each other. Both then close their eyes, and one person gently explores the others hands using their fingers - allowing impressions & images to arise in their minds. If people feel comfortable in doing this, then faces can be explored as well. Another useful exercise is to examine objects (both familiar and unfamiliar) in darkness, or to try and assemble interlocking puzzles.

Seeing through the Skin

It is possible to see using your hands. Many healers develop this ability, and it involves placing your hand at a point on the clients’ body and letting impressions well up in your mind. It is not unusual to see trauma or pain as a knotted bolus or jagged spike, which can then be removed. Possibly the hardest part is learning to relax so that your mind opens up to the fleeting sensory impressions. At first it feels like guessing, but practice will develop your confidence.

Color Sensing

Cut out squares of colored paper, and have someone else arrange them on a table so that you do not know the sequence, and then have them devise some sort of covering over the table, under which you can slip your hands. Try and feel with your hands for the color of the paper - call out the color you feel, and see if the square you pull out is that color. This exercise may take a good deal of practice, as you have to learn to sense the different feelings in your hands, and learn to associate them with particular colors.

Sensitizing the Hands

This exercise is used as a warm-up before working with your hands, for example in healing, massage, or working with crystals. Begin by rubbing your hands together briskly, and then feeling an energy field between them, like a ball. try stretching and compressing the ball, and bringing your hands further apart until you can no longer feel it. This helps you to focus your awareness into your hands. Using touch is not only a matter of sensitivity, but also knowing how, when, and where to touch someone. Some people like to be touched, while others do not, and only by allowing yourself to become sensitive to others, will you be able to judge how to act in a particular situation. One of the best ways to learn to develop this sense is with a lover. in the post-coital afterglow, all the senses are magnified, as is one’s sensitivity and empathy. By exploring touch in this most intimate of settings, we can learn how to develop the sense, and use it in other situations.


It is well known that the shaman encompasses many different roles - such as that of trickster, sacred clown, healer, mediator and sorcerer. it is one thing to know of these different facets, but quite another to actually assume them in a practical situation. This requires not only confidence, insight and empathy, but also some kind of acquired skill in knowing how to present and project yourself in different roles. One of the basic ways of approaching this is to look at Status Shifts. We move through status shifts all the time, and tend not to be too aware of this, unless we move into a situation where the apparent difference in status is quite marked, such as in teacher-pupil, healer-client, speaker-audience interactions. Status is concerned with how we present ourselves in a given situation; our stance, tone of voice, words we use, eye contact and gestures. someone who is attempting to raise their status in a situation tends to raise their voice, attempt to catch people’s eye, make witty remarks and generally boost their position. A great deal depends on what you say, and the way in which you say it. Here’s an example:

A: What are you reading?
B: Weaving the Web.
A: Oh yes. I’ve read it. It’s not bad for a beginner’s book.
Here, A is using the subject matter to raise his status in relation to
B. If A wanted to lower his status, the conversation could go like this:
A: What are you reading?
B: Weaving the Web
A: Really? I’ve always wanted to read that.

These sorts of transactions go on all the time. . A further complication is that not only do we go through continuous status shifts, but we tend to ascribe status onto other people in accordance with our expectations. As a therapy student studying medicine, I often walked around hospital corridors in a white coat. I was often mistaken for a doctor, both by visitors and other staff, and accorded high status as a consequence. I just found this embarrassing, but a friend who had more confidence, took to wandering round with a couple of thick books in his pockets, and a name tag that he had acquired somewhere. People automatically thought he was a doctor, given his dress and air of complete assurance, and never thought to ask him why he was in a particular place - which was often somewhere which was out of bounds to students. Conversely, some people go out of their way to disguise or reject the high status that others project upon them.


The ability to enter trance states is a prerequisite of most magical systems, particularly Shamanism. A good deal of a shaman’s training is concerned with cultivating the ability to enter trance states and control them, for it is in such states, that much of the shaman’s power resides. There are many routes into trance, and indeed, there are many different shades of trance. The aim of this series is to discuss some trance states, where possible giving practical techniques for entering them. At this point it may be appropriate to make a disclaimer - some routes into trance are dangerous - so if you try anything out, the responsibility is yours alone.

What is Trance?

A good question, that. We tend to have very fixed ideas about what constitutes a trance state - we tend to think of someone who is passive, eyes closed & limp, or oblivious to their surroundings. We tend to think of hypnotized people as quiet scent & awaiting instructions. Two incidents come to mind at this point. The first was many years ago, sitting in a circle watching a “sensitive” woman enter trance. It started normally enough, but she began to thrash about and scream - no one knew quite what to do, and some members of the group tried to restrain her in various ways. As it turned out, in her trance, the woman was struggling against a demon, and the attempted ministrations of the onlookers were hindering her performance. In the second incident, I found myself in a similar position.

After participating in a completely botched-up ritual, I wished to leave the place where I was staying, but didn’t fancy wandering the streets at 3: am in the morning. So, finding a quiet room, I performed a shape-shifting exercise (I’ll go into the details of this in a while) and entered a fairly deep trance. Eventually, some of the people present decided that I was under “astral attack by demons” and forcibly brought me back -not a very pleasant experience, as you can imagine. The moral of these tales is that we tend to have very definite ideas about what people “do” in trance states, and when something happens outside this framework, it is easy to do the wrong thing. We tend to think of trance states as very definite & different to ‘normal’ consciousness. But ‘normal’ consciousness is very difficult to track down. We move in and out of different shades of trance all the time, from daydreams to the total absorption that occurs whilst performing any energetic physical activity – and both daydreaming and physical exertion are routes into Shamanic trance. A problem that we acquire from our culture is that we tend to be very ‘head-oriented’ in our experience - caught up with the continual commentary of the inner dialogue, and the words & images of the Hyper real. Our sense of being a stable personality is maintained by transactions, both real and imaginary, with others.

Move somewhere isolated and the self becomes more malleable- another classical shamanic gambit for entering trance states. The personality we acquire sets the limits on what we can, and cannot do. Often, by entering trance states, whether intentionally or not, we can perform feats or tasks that are normally outside our normal repertoire. If the self-referential awareness is frozen by shock, or distracted, the body seems to take over, moving us out of the way of danger. We like to think of ourselves as being ‘in control’ of our bodies. This is in itself a problem, as ‘letting go’ and becoming disinhibited (especially in a group setting) is very difficult for some of us - letting it all hang out is generally frowned upon.

In other cultures, however, disinhibit ion is sanctioned and is the mark of a successful event. Entering trance is not always a pleasant experience, particularly trance states involving possession. The feeling that something else is using your limbs, & that your voice is not your own, is very odd. The natural tendency, especially for Westerners, is to resist the experience, even when the incoming spirit is a beneficent one.

Often, people who are possessed have no memory or awareness of what happened to them. Shamans often resort to drugs, exertion or ritual to temporarily blot out the personality, making possession easier.

Dancing Gazing
Gyrating Fasting
Drumming Sleep Deprivation
Singing Sensory Deprivation

Chanting Sensory Overload

A grain of sand leaves an invisible trace upon the face of a rock, a million grains of sand and thousands of years reduce a mountain to nothing. So shall every good deed count towards the Greater Good.

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Re: Shamanistic Excercises

Post by Aadaria-Ioanna on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:24 pm

Hyperventilating Emotional Arousal
Pleasure Pain

Choose any of the above routes - pursued relentlessly enough, with determination and practice, you can use any of them to enter trance states. Shamanic group rituals are well-orchestrated uses of many of the above options. Only by repeatedly pushing yourself over the edge will you learn to override the tendency to jerk out of trance when you feel your control slipping. But the trance itself is the means, rather than the end - this should be some objective, such as entry into one of the inner worlds, possession by a spirit, or acts of will.

Drugs to enter trance is, of course, an important part of shamanic activity, but I’ll go into that another time.

Why enter Trance states?
Here are some good reasons:

1) Knowledge (i.e. that which cannot be gained in other ways) - this ranges from asking auntie Freda what’s it like on the other side, to asking a specific question about herbs to a particular healing spirit. This can sometimes involve journeying to particular parts of the inner worlds to consult with a particular

2) Enhancement of Abilities Possession by a war-god enhances martial prowess, or temporary authority over other spirits. For example, I had a client who had a recurring throat problem. I examined her in a light ‘vision’ trance and saw a toad-like creature that had swelled itself up and lodged in her throat. No way was it going to come out willingly. My allies advised me (again in trance) that the only entity the spirit would take notice of was an even bigger toad, so we performed a healing ceremony during which I became possessed by a toad-spirit, in order to interact with the one in my clients’ throat.

3) Communal Ecstasy The shaman provides a very important task for tribe or community - mediating between the everyday world and the larger-than-life world of myth and communal lore. The shaman becomes, or allows others to become involved in sacred mythic participation. The shaman acts as the guide – navigating the secret paths of the community’s’ cosmology. Fortunately, some mythic images & processes, such as the Underworld Journey (again, I’ll deal with this one another time) are fairly universal. Others however, become ‘lost’ as people forget or garble the routes into experiencing/understanding them. We rely so much on ‘secondhand daylight’ - reading & watching other people’s experience, that the oral transmission of knowledge is comparatively rare.

The first coven I was involved with set an good standard - whenever the priestess wanted to impart to me the ‘feel’ of magic, we would go out into the open - whether it was a park, moon-lit street or by the sea shore. Direct, physical experience, especially when accompanied by a guide who isn’t into fucking you over, is better than sitting indoors reading a book any day! Anyhow, I digress.

4) Connectivity This is concerned with making connections - finding links between different ideas and subjects; making a creative leap that brings on a flood of new ideas & enthusiasm. I often enter a trance state to overcome writer’s block – letting fragments of conversation, poetry or images slip across my inner eye. Something will well up from the inside, and ideas & connections leap up like iron filings onto a magnet.

5) Demonstration of Ability In our culture. Apprentice shamans however, are sometimes required to enter trance states as a demonstration of their prowess. It is quite common for spirits to test you by placing you under extreme psychic pressure, so that the experience becomes a compressed version of the underworld initiation. Some spirits, demons, & deities will do their best to drive you bananas, only yielding their wisdom when you have proved yourself equal to the task. The spirits of psychotropic are particularly prone to that kind of behavior, but I’ll save that for another time. There are other good reasons for entering trance but I’ve forgotten them, so I’ll move on.

You can’t become a shaman in your bedsit, in isolation from anyone else, although periods of deliberate isolation are necessary from time to time. Also, there aren’t many instructors in shamanism hanging about (not unless you commit yourself to an endless round of weekend workshops), so you will have to learn from everyone and everything. It’s important to learn to recognize the onset of changes in awareness, and explore all possible routes into trance. Learn to trust your own senses and your intuition, rather than the internal dialogue or what you think you “ought” to do.


Much instruction can be gained via dreaming. Prospective shamans may even be identified by virtue of the content of their dreams, and it is not unusual for people to meet their guides in dreams. We tend to think of dreams as a very personal aspect of our experience, so it is sometimes disconcerting when someone that we know appears in our dreams. In dreams, historical time is abolished, and distance is no object. We may witness events from the past, future, or alternative presents. Despite appearances, much of our dream content is controlled by external agencies. If you study something hard or long enough, you will have dreams related to that. It can be far more rewarding to develop a personal dream-language, or avoid any rigid system of interpretation. I tend to find that prolonged magical activity of any sort will mold the contents of your dreams accordingly.

Dreams are a useful starting point for entering the inner worlds. It can be useful to induce prophetic dreams, or meetings with spirits so that you can discuss a particular problem. A friend of mine who makes incense and perfumes reports that she occasionally dreams of a unique smell, which on waking, she can then analyse and manufacture.

If you’re going to get into dream-life seriously then it’s essential to keep a dream diary. Writing down your dreams helps you remember them, and is indispensable when you start to evolve your own dream-language. Here’s some practical exercises:

1) Dream Control
The easiest way to begin this is to choose something that you want to dream about, and visualize it until you fall asleep. A mantric sigil is also useful, for example:


Knock out all repeating letters & compress




Constant repetition of this ‘mantra’ before sleep will eventually empty the mind of the associated intent, and it will stimulate the Deep Mind (i.e. the subconscious) to throw up the appropriate images in dream.

2) Group Dreams

Here, a group of people can attempt to dream of being present, in each other’s company in a real or imaginary place that all concerned are familiar with. Again, visualization and mantra are useful in attempting this. The first step is to achieve a common perception of the dream, and then, later on, the group can perform willed acts.

3) Lucid Dreams

Lucid dreams are characterized by the fact that in a lucid dream, you are aware that you are dreaming! Lucid dreams are also much easier to remember, and you are more able to act with intentionality, rather than just being a passive participant in the dreams’ events. One way of inducing lucid dreams is to strive to see your hands in your dreams, the ‘shock’ of which will allow you to enter the lucid state.


This is a very common exercise - taking on the form of an animal to gain (temporarily), an ability or quality associated with it. Some sports psychologists tell athletes to pick a particular animal and visualize themselves as it during warm-up exercises - which is more or less what the shaman does, except that the shaman is more likely to use animal skins, masks, drugs, postural and vocal mimicking as aids.

Shape-shifting is also used for inner world exploration, both in trance vision and dreams. You could start, for example, by casting your vision forth in the form of a cat to stalk the city streets at night, and work from everyday animals and pets, towards mythological and bizarre composite entities. A friend once cured herself of a spider phobia by deliberately cultivating the spider as her power animal, using the very fear and revulsion (emotional arousal) to propel her into trance. Visualization alone is the weakest route into shape-shifting. As a general rule, it seems that the more intensely physical the method of trance induction, the more intense the level of trance - and hence the more ‘real’ the experience.

Inner world Exploration

The center of the shaman’s cosmology is the axis mundi - the pole, ladder, or world-tree, which is the shaman’s access point to the different inner worlds of the mythic cosmology. The Deep Mind is very receptive to suggestion (after all, that’s how we learn), and can clothe itself in any kind of images.

One option for the shaman is to allow the client to enter a trance, then act as a guide as they move through their inner world, using empathy and open-ended questioning. I find this preferable to other options as it allows the client to arrive at their own solution, at the same time drawing on their own power from- within to heal themselves. It seems, at times, that all that is being done is that one is creating the ‘space’ where someone can learn to heal themselves. The alternative is to take the problem into your own inner world and ask an ally about it.

Shamanic magic often involves pain, disarrangement of the senses, delusions, hallucinations and states bordering on obsession and personality disintegration. It’s a lot of fun, really.

A grain of sand leaves an invisible trace upon the face of a rock, a million grains of sand and thousands of years reduce a mountain to nothing. So shall every good deed count towards the Greater Good.

Posts : 835
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Re: Shamanistic Excercises

Post by Aadaria-Ioanna on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:24 pm


There’s no way that you can seriously approach the practice of shamanism without at some point, looking at the role played by chemical aids - drugs. It is a common misconception that drug induced states are somehow not as valid as states of awareness achieved by other means, and that drugs are somehow less ‘spiritual’. This attitude is particularly narrow, and shamans in different cultures and epochs have snorted, eaten, rubbed into their skin or stuffed up various orifices all manner of concoctions as aids to entering visionary trance.

Even if you don’t intend to take in anything stronger than water yourself, it still pays to know about various drugs used in our society - their effects and what, if anything you can do for someone who’s taken an overdose or is having a bad time with something. Sooner or later, someone will turn up on your doorstep who’s taken some drug that they can’t handle, and ask you to guide them through the bad trip or whatever. In this sort of situation it’s difficult to say “sorry I don’t approve of that sort of thing” and slam the door in their face. it’s useful to have at least a broad knowledge of the more common street and prescribed drugs. On another tack, you might well ask “what constitutes a drug anyway?” We know that caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are drugs, but they are generally sanctioned by society. You can have 20 pints of bitter and this is considered to be okay, but a puff on a joint ... that’s something else. In the present context, a ‘chemical aid’ is any substance that helps you enter a trance state, a definition which covers a lot of ground. take incense for example. It’s not usually thought of as a drug, but it’s certainly a chemical aid. Apart from the influence of smell, some incenses cause particular physiological effects.

Another common misconception about the role of drugs in trance is that all you have to do is to ingest the substance of your choice and passively ‘let it happen’. Well this is fine if you just want to have a good time, but during trance, your perception must be directed or focused. Shamans often train their apprentices by guiding them through the visions, and instructing them in how to appease the spirit of the particular substance. All drugs have their own spirits. So where do the spirits reside? In the substance, in us, or somewhere else? I like to think that they are emergent properties of our experience, invoked like virtual particles from the dance between the molecular configurations of the drug, and the shining webs of neurochemical patterns in the brain. The substance hits our system, and the spirit is ‘unbottled’. Some of them are friendly, while some of them will do their damnedness to kill you. Ride them out, and it is said that they can teach you much, but you must be very careful.
It’s very easy to slip up when dealing with any toxic substance, and there is also the legal angle to consider as well.


What is a shaman but someone who’s been there, and make it back again. The Underworld Journey, they call it. A deliberate descent into the labyrinth, with only the thinnest of threads to hold onto. It comes to us all, in one way or another. Some make it - some don’t, but it never stops. The summons keeps a calling you back. And Down.

This is a great cycle of transformation. It has peaks, plateaus and troughs - the movement of which you can learn to endure, and even welcome. Change is necessity - to live and adapt and grow. Sure it’s painful to feel madness gnawing at the back of your brain, but maybe caterpillars feel the same way about becoming pupae - driven by a cellular necessity into the unknown.

Our culture has left us largely unprepared for this process, branding it a form of madness, to be banished by bright needles & the smug self-satisfied psychologist who explains away our secret dreams, our desires for wildness. The summons is continually being blunted by those who would set limits on the imagination. ...”it’s not real, only imaginary”...”stop daydreaming”...”you’re an escapist”...yeah, right. We break from the lies, then break from ourselves, and shatter. Not once, but again and again. Not breakdown, but breakthrough... into where?

Doesn’t matter how long you stay down there - a week, a year, a day - you’ll be back. Might as well get used to the scenery. When the summons comes, you’ll know it. The journey may well take years. You’ll meet friends and allies, be challenged, and maybe crushed occasionally. Necessity can be a mean mother. Remember, never leave the boat - unless you’re going all the way. The trigger may be different each time - crisis, drugs, gnosis, a brush with death - these are the ways your allies open the doors for you - the risk is entering feet first. Death is, in fact, a critical factor. You must surrender yourself to death - lie back in her arms and she will most likely hand you back. If not, well better luck next time.

A helpful clue is to let go, when there’s nothing else you can do. Relinquish control. Imagine yourself hanging above a bottomless cliff, holding onto a branch. Take a deep breath, cross your fingers and let yourself plummet. If you’re going down, you have to go all the way. It’s hard sometimes for us to do this - to sit still and do nothing - but occasionally it’s the best option. Knowing when not to act is as useful as knowing when to act. You can only get this by paying attention to yourself & to what’s going on around you. We tend to live in a sea of words and symbols, but below our necks lies a good ally - the body.

There’s various titles for this process - ‘the Dark Night of the Soul’, ‘the Hump’, ‘the Apophis phase’, ‘Nigredo’, but it’s all the same. This is a time for testing. And you can’t take anything in with you - forget beliefs, dogmas, weapons, attachments. You’re on your own, kiddo.

What I’m talking about here is initiation. There’s a lot of bullshit talked about this term, like the prats I used to meet (not so many these days) who used to say “I’m not allowed to talk to you ‘because you’re not AN INITIATE.” Or, “Well we can’t give you the details of that ritual because you’re only a Neophyte” .

It is the awareness that you are at this point that is the key, and the recognition that you are entering a period of potential self-transformation. All the ritual stuff is unnecessary - though many people find ritual a useful (and fun!) way of dramatizing the inner/outer process. Sure, you can be initiated into the belief system of a particular group or cult, but the deepest level of initiation is into yourself. Someone else can act as a guide or helper, but they can’t do it for you.

To pass between the worlds usually involves some kind of catharsis; an upheaval, trial or test. The necessary disruption seems to be the ‘trigger’ for the plunge. This can happen as a result of your own developmental exercises, as a ‘coincidental’ event, or it can be induced by someone else. This last means is perhaps the most difficult and rewarding part of the role of initiator – knowing when to apply the light touch so that the awareness of the initiation cycle is triggered. Touch, and then let go - because once someone begins an active initiation, there’s not a lot else you can do. Except maybe listen, or not, depending on the necessities of the situation. Hopefully that person will do the same for you, one day.

In some ways, initiation is a feint at death. A lot of the attachments you previously held on to will most likely have to go out the window. It tends to lower your self-esteem, realizing what a stupid bugger you’ve been. It tends to give rise to the feeling of being an ‘outsider’, which, if clung to, can rapidly turn into feelings of being ‘one of the elect’, a ‘Magus’, or a ‘rebel’ - whatever pose seems the most attractive. The choice is yours alone - either stay there in the void, or reach out your hand to someone else. We see the initiation cycle in terms of the larger-than-life images of the Mythic world.

The techniques offered in this book are by no means definitive -
just a beginning. There’s much more to be said on this subject, but you will find other works to help you.

A grain of sand leaves an invisible trace upon the face of a rock, a million grains of sand and thousands of years reduce a mountain to nothing. So shall every good deed count towards the Greater Good.

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