There can be so many moments of joyful community but there can also be drama or no connection at all. And being a solitary practitioner can feel too isolated without fellowship, input, inspiration from like-minded seekers. Many traditions of Wicca and witchcraft solely emphasize the fertility aspect of practice, the Wheel of the Year, and work with the Lord and Lady. Could there be a way to walk among the wise ones from other realms instead of only requesting their presence and supervision?
You must be logged in to post a comment. Skip to content. According to Wood, the healing possiblities of shamanic work are a natural extension of the skills and practices already cultivated by witches. Witches are naturally open and in tune with the energy of the universe. Shamanic work takes it several steps further by allowing the individual to discover and enhance their interaction with the unseen world through shifting consciousness at will and by inviting in spiritual guides, helpers, and tools.
It is a path of personal power where the witch is invited to heal himself, then heal the world. The Shamanic Witch is a treasure trove of journey narratives, ritual outlines, and exercises to make connections to your own power animal, power song, inner goddess or god. She emphasizes that shamanism is a practice, not a belief structure. He and his teachers use the term core Shamanism to describe the set of skills and techniques that anyone in any culture can use to explore trance states.
At about the same time, psychologists became interested in the shamanic trance states, seeing these altered states of consciousness as a way to study human behavior.
Psychologists began using trance states along with hypnosis to assist people in overcoming a myriad of emotional problems, history, and challenges. This dovetailed with the New Age movement's interest in self-improvement and self-actualization, and the movement used hypnosis and altered states for self-improvement and spiritual awakenings.
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Shamanism and shamanic techniques have made their mark on the pagan community as well, particularly in the United States. In the study of American paganism, Never Again the Burning Times: Paganism Revived , author and pagan practitioner Loretta Orion states that American Wicca has evolved from its British Witchcraft roots through the influence of four factors: 1 ritual style developed from large outdoor gatherings; 2 the presence of workshops on shamanic techniques; 3 the concept of the earth as a living, conscious, Divine being; and, 4 the presence of a psychotherapy model and its application to political activism.
This idea is echoed by Karen E. Goeller writes of the differences between the Craft and Shamanism, saying:. Another essential difference between the Craft and Shamanism, at least in modern times, deals with the nature of the spiritual experience. Craft rituals are true celebratory rites, ripe with laughter, joy, positive feelings, and positive energy.
Most work done by witches in recent years, ritually speaking, has been on the positive side in an attempt to balance the perceived negatives pouring in from the rest of society. Shamanism takes a somewhat narrower and darker view. Much of Shamanism deals with death and the experience thus takes on a heavier, darker tone. In another essay, editor Chas Clifton writes that a witch commented to him that [i]t seems that shamans do much more of their work on the other planes, while the Craft works more on this plane.
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We tend to call our Guardians, Watchers, and Deities to our circle, rather than to wander out to meet them. In the decade or so since the collection of essays was published, both Wicca and Shamanism have merged closer together in balance and focus. For many practitioners of the Craft, Wicca is not a happy-go-lucky spiritual path that celebrates only things associated with the lighter side of spirituality.
Throughout the pagan world, Wicca has gained an underserved reputation for being shallow, or what pagan communities often term fluffy-bunny, when, in actuality, the spiritual path of Wicca has stepped boldly forward to face death, mental illness, and disease, as well as the joyful celebration of life.
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Wiccans recognize that life is not Tra-la-la, we all love the Goddess, and is a religion that travels through the realms of magic in service of the Gods and one another. This is precisely what Shamanism does as well. When a witch calls the guardians and spirits into the circle, a partnership develops where the spirits work with the witch to create sacred space, an act very similar to a shaman working with spirit allies to heal or find information.
In the last decade, the practices of Witchcraft and the practices of Shamanism have moved closer together, with each augmenting and enhancing the other. Witchcraft brings, in part, the belief and the religion, while Shamanism brings the skill and the practice. Throughout the world and throughout time, societies have had members of their social structures who are healers, medicine men, and spiritual leaders. These healers, who are either men or women, enter a trance state, where, assisted by spirit guides, they travel other realities in search of answers to questions, for healing, for power, and for understanding.
Michael Harner wrote in The Way of the Shaman , that the shaman is a man or a woman who enters an altered state of consciousness at will to contact and utilize an ordinary hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons. The shaman has at least one and usually more spirit assistants and guides at his personal service. The term shaman is derived from the language of the Tungus people of Siberia; their saman means one who is excited, moved, and raised. Roger Walsh writes in The Spirit of Shamanism that the term shaman has been widely adopted to refer to specific groups of healers in diverse cultures who have sometimes been called medicine men, witch doctors, sorcerers, wizards, magicians or seers.
Walsh goes on to define Shamanism as a family of traditions whose practitioners focus on voluntarily entering altered states of consciousness in which they experience themselves or their spirit s , traveling to other realms at will, and interacting with other entities in order to serve their communities.
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The definitions of Shamanism focus on the method, not the beliefs. Shamanism is not seen as a religion, but as a social, religious, and spiritual tradition. Although the techniques are not considered a religion, shamans integrate these skills with their own religious beliefs. What distinguishes shamans from other religious and spiritual mediators is the shaman's interaction with spirits, especially their ability to control their own states of consciousness.
Most frequently these altered states are referred to as ecstatic states, in that the shaman employs techniques of ecstasy. To those of us living in the modern world, the state of ecstasy is most often aligned with sexual intercourse and sexual feeling. Indeed, sexual pleasure is one example of ecstasy and ecstatic state. A good working definition of ecstasy for the modern practitioner is the concept of moving out of one's normal state of consciousness and entering into a state of heightened feeling.
These states of ecstasy can include experiences of soul flight, where the state is experienced as the soul leaving the body. They can also include traveling into a hidden aspect of reality. Michael Harner explains that in Shamanism, the maintenance of one's personal power is fundamental to well-being. What distinguishes this aspect of Shamanism from sorcery is that the shaman works on personal power as service to others, while a sorcerer works to gain power solely for self and for gain.
The shamanic life is one of training and discipline, where training comes both from the inner and outer worlds. The authentic shamanic experience is the authentic personal experience. There are no standard experiences, maps, or guides. As the shaman journeys and learns, the shaman grows in power and understanding. As witches, we have an advantage when learning Shamanism. The training in meditation and the movement of energy in ritual and spell work give the witch knowledge of how the energy of the Universe works.
The witch already sees herself as the tool through which energy flows and is directed. In addition, the witch usually has an understanding of one or more divination techniques and is accustomed to the idea that wisdom comes from a variety of places both within and outside of the self. The witch knows that insight comes from within, from the symbolism present in the natural world, and from other worlds.
The Shamanic Witch Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Earth and Other Realms - 9781578634309
To the drumbeat, we enter the realm of the shamanic practitioner. Firelight dances and casts shadows on the walls of our hearts as we reach deep within ourselves to move outward into the realms of spirit and mystery. At first the worlds are unfamiliar, but with practice we are able to move into the flow of power and energy and the worlds of the shaman become familiar territory.
As we grow in strength and wisdom, we seek to go further and deeper into the mystery. The witch's idea that all time and place is fluid fits with the concept of the shaman walking across the worlds, accessing inner landscapes and other worlds to find wisdom. Both the shaman and the witch understand that all life is connected and what one creature does affect all others. Moreover, the worlds that meld together are the worlds of the physical and the spiritual. In Shamanism, there is an understanding that there is an ordinary reality and a nonordinary reality, to use terms coined by Carlos Castaneda.
Then nonordinary reality is the world that is hidden and cannot be viewed or sensed by our physical senses. This reality is known by different names by different cultures; the Void, the parallel universe, the Otherworld, and the Dreamtime are all names for the cosmos that intersects with our earth world, or ordinary reality. None of these realities is better than the other; these are terms to distinguish how the realities are perceived, sensed, and understood. There are levels of nonordinary reality, just as there are levels within our own ordinary reality.
These are not hierarchical levels, but rather terms of reference based on our experiences and understanding of shamanic journeywork. Typically the experiences of shamans fall into these categories, but often individual experiences will vary; while there are three levels in this concept of the cosmos, it is really a multidimensional Universe with many facets and many different landscapes. The shaman journeys to and around each of these worlds. The Upper World is the place of spirit guides, teachers, and the Wise Ones, i.
The Shamanic Witch: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Earth and Other Realms by Gail Wood
It is the place of learning on all levels using the mind, the heart, and the soul. This world is not usually considered Heaven in the sense that practitioners of mainstream religions conceive of it as a reward for earthly good behavior. The Upper World is not directly above our heads in the cosmos, but above our heads in the other realms that intersect with our reality.
The Lower World is the place of animal helpers, guardian spirits, and power animals. It is the place of instinctual learning, imaginative feeling, and broad thinking. Even though it is also called the Underworld, it is not conceived as a place of eternal damnation or exclusively the land of the dead.
The Lower World is located beneath our feet in those parallel places that overlap our reality. The Middle World is this world, our reality, and even though it is referred to as ordinary reality, there are many mysteries and hidden treasures to be explored through shamanic journeywork.
Also inhabiting this world are the Elementals, and other spirits that serve as helpers or guardians to the creatures, plants, and minerals inhabiting the Middle World. The intersecting worlds in the Middle World create a multidimensional interweaving of life. The Axis Mundi, often called the World Tree, is the energy that links these three worlds together. The roots of the Tree extend deep into the Lower World and the branches reach far into the Upper World. The Tree puts out leaves and bears fruit in the Middle World.
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