"Positive Living with Your Inner Shaman" - February 2010

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In this month's E-zine...

* Drum Therapy
* 3 Die in Sweatlodge Purification Ritual [Update]
* The Human/Wild Animal relationship - Documentary
* The True Origins and Meaning of "Shaman"
* Shamanic Ecstasy
* The Anthropology of Religion, Magic & Witchcraft
* Battling Inner Demons!
* Indigenous Shamanism in a Postmodern Age
* Scientists Explore the World of Shamanic Visions


Drum Therapy
Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Tuva to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health. Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self. Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer's patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities. READ MORE
Drum Medicine MP3s/CDs/DVDs
Join a Drumming Circle

3 Die in Sweatlodge Purification Ritual
"New Age" guru, James Arthur Ray, author of "Harmonic Wealth" and well known for his appearance in the movie "The Secret" [about the "Law of Attraction"] was arrested this month and charged today with three counts of manslaughter. Three people died and 18 were Hospitalised after an extreme Sweatlodge practise [part of a "Spiritual Warrior Retreat"] he organised in Arizona in October 2009.

Ray's 'positive self-belief' mantra to his followers was...

"You were born into greatness, and you've been conditioned into mediocrity... Go out and create the universe you deserve!" He believes that we all have the power to determine our fate because the energy we receive from the universe is equal to the energy we put into it. In other words, if we want money or a fulfilling love life, or a new necklace, all we have to do is envision those things and they will come to pass. [see www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/22/james-ray-sweat-lodge-death]

Ray's 'superhuman fantasy' sold very well [participants paid 10,000 USD each to take part in the "Spiritual Warrior Retreat"] and has been echoed by other "New Age" gurus e.g. the "Total Package" formula of Anthony Palmer and the "Unlimited Power" mindset of Anthony Robbins. This God-like ideology is not a shamanic concept - the shamanic path embraces the spiritual qualities of humility and "Finding our place in the great scheme of things".

"Sweatlodge" is a spiritual purification practice which has been around for thousands of years. Though mostly associated with the Native American and Canadian First Nations tribes, it was also practised in the Middle East over 2 thousand years ago. MORE INFO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweatlodge

UPDATE on the sweatlodge deaths: Ray was subsequently convicted of 'Negligent Homicide' and imprisoned. There was also a successful lawsuit by victims followed by payment of a sum in compensation.


The Human/Wild Animal relationship - Online Documentary
One of our local shamanism group urged me to watch this amazing documentary online, because of the "First Nation" indigenous shamanic dimension that comes into it. I was really glad that I did a powerful true story raising tricky but important issues about our relationship to nature. The scenery and photography is stunning, I would really recommend giving it a view! DETAILS: Cambridge Healing & Holistic Group


The True Origins and Meaning of "Shaman"
Dimitry Ermakov, author of "Bo and Bon: Ancient Shamanic Traditions of Siberia and Tibet in Their Relation to the Teachings of a Central Asian Buddha" [Check out this book's amazing cover image!] writes...
"The word 'shaman' has a very precise meaning; it is a Russian corruption of the Tungus-Evenki word šaman, an adjective used to designate the priest of their religion. Many scholars have tried to lend the Tungus word šaman additional meanings such as 'one who is excited, moved or raised', 'inner heat' or to trace it to other languages saying that it is derived from Chinese "sha men", Pali: "samana" or Sanskrit: "sramana", meaning 'listener' and used to designate a Buddhist monk or wandering Buddhist preacher. These suggestions find no support in Tungus language or culture, and the last one is obviously completely off the mark as Tungus shamans have nothing whatsoever to do with practices and teachings of Buddhism. To clarify all this confusion I contacted the Russian scholar and Doctor of Philology, the leading specialist in Tungus language and culture at the Institute of Linguistic Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, A.A. Burykin, who kindly sent me the following reply:

"The word "šaman" has only one meaning in the Tungus language group: it just means 'shaman', the priest. Some trace it to the verb sa-,'to know' but this is highly unlikely because this verb has a long vowel while šaman has a short one. As for me, this Tungus word should be compared with the Nenets word "sambana", a designation of one category of Nenets shamans. These sambana shamans shamanize to the Underworld in a similar way to the shamans of Tungus who, basically do mainly that."

Ermakov first travelled to Siberia in 1990 and secretly met with both Buddhists and Bo/Utgan. Gaining their trust thanks to his openness and certain psychic abilities, he was soon welcomed into the circle of Bo and Utgan and invited to participate in a ritual pilgrimage to many holy sites and, in time, to become an initiated Bo himself. It is this rare position of trust together with personal experience of the Bo Murgel rituals which brings his book to life, letting the reader glimpse a real vision of true shamanism in Siberia.

His growing fascination with Bo Murgel led to an exploration of the ancient myths associated with Siberian shamanism, and Bo and Bön contains tales - for example, the Bo Murgel creation myth - which have never before been published in English. These myths and legends deepen our appreciation of the Bo and Utgan's understanding of concepts such as cosmology, the Underworld, the soul and the afterlife, all of which we discuss in Bo and Bön. It is the understanding of these essential matters which shapes the Bo and Utgan's approach to healing and magic, so by studying these concepts we gain insight into the 'theory' behind the powers of the Buryatian Bo and Utgan.

Practical techniques of divination, healing and magic are also explored and explained, and the reader is taken through the stages of initiation, with the origin and significance of each ritual object and garment clearly explained. The presentations are illustrated with striking photos, excerpts from the author's diary and interviews with the Bo and Utgan.

SEE ALSO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaman

Shamanic Ecstasy
"Shamanic ecstasy is the real "Old Time Religion," of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder... is no religion at all!" [Jonathan Ott]. As Stanley Cribner says, “Shamanism is too good to be a religion…..it’s spiritual technology!” READ MORE: www.shamania.com/shamanism.asp

The Anthropology of Religion, Magic & Witchcraft
Why has religion always played such a big part in human history, what do we get out of it? To what extent is it a mirror in which our own human nature is reflected? Insightful overviews of all the world's major religions and spiritual paths: www.as.ua.edu/ant/Faculty/murphy/419/419www.htm

No doubt you readers of this E-zine are already aware of this transformational wisdom...

"If we do things the way we are already doing them, we will get the results we are already getting!"
i.e. healing means WALKING THE PATH OF CHANGE i.e. letting go of some old, familiar, comfortable, but weakly effective energetic pattern and taking on an initially alien, and possibly scary, energy pattern, as in the poem "Demon" by "Margaret Harris"...

I hunted for my demon
down the corridors of time.
I fought fierce battles with him
as did Beowulf* long ago.
I sought him in the caverns
where a wounded monster hides
and found him in a chasm:
a deadly stricken foe.

Only now he was quite shrunken,
a tiny craven thing.
I took a club to kill him
but I could not raise my arm.
So I picked him up and sheltered him
and held him to my breast
and promised I would care for him
and would not do him harm.

So now we walk together
where once we used to fight
and quietness reigns in corridors
which once knew only fear.
My anger is dissolving
in the warmth of growing love
and my demon is a changeling
to whom I give my care.

NOTE: *Beowulf was the hero of an Old English epic poem of the "Dark Ages". He battled three formidable foes: Grendel, who had been attacking fellow warriors, Grendel's mother and a dragon.


Indigenous Shamanism in a Postmodern Age
"Shamanism in a Postmodern Age" by Mihaly Hoppal
A quarter of a century after the studies in Shamanism in Siberia (Dioszegi-Hoppál 1978) were written, the emergence of a trend that could be called post-modern shamanism can now be seen. The author of this article had the opportunity to observe a number of forms of this post-traditional shamanism. In the following the main types of Eurasian shamanism today are presented on the basis of experiences gained in the field.

See also "Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path" by Evelyn C. Rysdyk...
Modern shamanic living brings the hunter-gatherer spirit back into your life, allowing expression and creativity to shine through the daily schedule. This work shows how to get in touch with the creative fires of your shamanic self, with instructions for using meditation, movement and sound. My favourite quote in this book is "They [the shamans] see their lives, not as a series of steps towards a goal, but as a process that is endless and flowing. There are no guarantees of prizes at the end of the trail; there is only the magic of the path itself!"

Scientists Explore the World of Shamanic Visions
Jeremy Narby, anthropologist with Swiss NGO Nouvelle Planète, and author of "The Cosmic Serpent,
DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
"In 1999, three molecular biologists travelled to the Peruvian Amazon to see whether they could obtain bio-molecular information in the visions they had in sessions orchestrated by an indigenous shaman. They had no previous experience of ayahuasca shamanism or of the Amazon, though they did have an interest in alternative healing traditions and shamanism. Their age ranged from the late-30s to mid-60s. One worked as a scientist in an American genomics company. Another was a professor at a French University and a member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). The third taught in a Swiss University and was a director of a research laboratory..."

~ Sunflower Health ~
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