Fearing misinterpretation, misunderstanding and misuse, through the humor-deprived, fun-deficient (trolling and concern-trolling) literalism, dogmatism and fanaticism rapidly rising nowadays, grasping over the Internet for outraged sole-control and soul-control, I've all but stopped writing and speaking about my ever-shiftng understanding of shamanic ways. Besides, over the years, I and several of our circle have grown to appreciate the demystifying wisdom of unwritten--even unspoken--transmission.
So, gradually, page by page, as I find them, I'm simplifying previously posted descriptions of teachings and practices.
Gazing outward, I see uncountable dead leaves clinging. How many will freeze up there?
But I've begun posting briefer shamanic-shifts on the circle-church's FB Page
Update, 2/5/17 : I've simplified this post too!
This mission now, continuing:
|Callings happen every day. Is responding harmlessly always tricky?|
Religious believing might be hardwired into human nature, according to
some neuroscientists, alongside related notions, such as immortality
and various methods of surviving physical death. But, looking back on history and watching current events for years, I long ago began fearing that spiritual leaders, organizations and dogmas underlie at least half of everyone's and the world's troubles. And so, I suppose, humanity would do well to evolve beyond believing, as soon as possible.
Yet, since early childhood, my brain has kept insisted that I am "called" as a soul to ongoing prayer, even though I stopped believing in supernatural agencies of any kind, imminent or eminent. Shamanic experiences persist anyway; whether this is a neurological quirk or not, I keep practicing because it's fun for me.
But throughout pre-history and history, I've learned, shamanic experiences have tended to evolve into warring religions--some huge, many local--most rife with strife over oppressive complications. I've long wondered if that process could be bypassed; perhaps shamanic ways could satisfy a human brain's predisposition towards spirituality, without generating hierarchies and tyrannies.
Still, I've noticed over the years, even the small circles and larger groups I joined temporarily quickly developed leaders, followers and dogmas, even while their evolving teachings were suggesting--even insisting--otherwise. Hidden agendas thrived. Power plays undermined. Fun deteriorated.
Now, instead of ordinary circles (but not "anti-" because I acknowledge everyone's experience is different and I the motto "live and let live" inspires me), I envision a worldwide rainbow of loose, interconnecting, overlapping flexible circles of individualistic shamanizers, acting informally and unofficially at their various locations and distances, each in their singular, innovative ways, generating a cycling dancing coil of shapeshifting constellations of purposeful prayer-shifting: aiming to transform life for the better gradually, mysteriously (well, OK...possibly...
but certainly doing no harm) through every one's inner guidance (imaginary, psychological, genetically predisposed or neurologically hardwired...or whatever), intentionally shifting reality beneficially from behind everyday situations.
Brief ad hoc meetings might happen, when beneficial, but mostly within cyber- and non-ordinary realities.
Update before a long-delayed posting--that Birch has budding leaves by now:
I'm researching new blogging platforms, re-writing many of Companions Circle's old webpages (for eventual publication on pages here) and traveling frequently to assist some elder members as needed, so I'm less and less available for sessions or ceremonies (or even consultations by phone or email), but the ongoing prayer-shifting mission with the widespread circle continues through cyber- and non-ordinary realities. Now, without further ado...Post it and quest on!
This ministry today:
I receive emails through the contact form requesting shamanizing or counseling over challenges and troubles. Then, I pass the reality-shift requests to several shamanic companions who journey or dream or meditate (or whatever they are inner-guided to do, each their own ways, as we activate our widespread, ongoing circle).
Then usually, care-fully, often taking a while at it, I email the best answers and suggestions I can gather as an advisory consultation, disclaiming (informally through vocabulary and phrasing) that the reply is my opinion only, probably in disagreement with many other practitioners' and cannot take the place of appropriate licensed professionals' interventions and one's own wiser inner-guidance. (The disclaimers posted in the footers of the church's websites that apply to all interactions state it boringly, formally.) Of course, I realize I cannot know if the questioner has inquired in earnest, or for a college project or as a prank.
Because I and this circle live by modern, ever-emerging understandings of shamanic ways and original, innovative, ever-adapting practices, our approach(es) seem atheistic and out of sync with other contemporary practitioners' responses, I'm told often enough. None of our circle--those known to one another, so far, I mean--really fits into organized atheism
or lives as any defined type
or even universist
or even hylozoist
Longstanding favorite mottoes among us are: "Don't believe, be LIVE!" and "Wonder on, for wonders never cease."
Anyway, avoiding excessive defining, allowing mystery, entertaining chaos, seeking paradox and keeping fun variously, we aim to shift self and ALL for the better behind the "seems" of everyday Earth, too.
Internet connecting--still present, but:
For a long while, my and the church-circle's social media feeds have posted mostly links and occasional quotes, always connected to shamanism somehow, in my view, but often barely tangentially (and way down deep between the deeper lines that span between even deeper lines). Only rarely do I add cryptic commenting. Often, for me, science discoveries, technological innovations and odd news point to shamanic themes or induce consciousness-shifting wonder.
"Question and quest on" is an overall theme. The social networking "holding pattern" began in cringing reaction to a trend I continue to struggle to find clever terms for, and haltingly (temporarily) call: "the deadpanly pandemic" or the "irony-deficient (chronic over-reacting) dis-ease"
(but whatever it is, it's continuing to go viral Net-wide).
So the social accounts went on retreat a while ago, then continued to clam-up on purpose, to avoid providing even scraps of more sustenance for hateful thoughts and raging emotions. This stance may change during 2014, I dream. Perhaps soon (or later) I'll resume personal posts. Our quietly courageous helper clam may be joined, for more boisterous fun, by...a louder fearless ally, still shrouded in snow, ice and mystery today.
|English: Tridacna giant clam in Komodo National Park Français : Un bénitier (Tridacna sp.). Photo prise dans le Parc National de Komodo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Shamanic ways -- the ways of shamans through the ages and onward, or the shamanisms of the universe (an ever-expanding field of fields, WAY beyond any "ism") -- can guide around dreadful spiritual pitfalls or worsen them and make many more, with unfortunate to deadly results.
Companions Circle is open to any who study and live shamanic ways, but has long recommended "being your own shaman" and living as a "shamanic shift center" (each your own ways) where and when you happen to be and live amid the situations and events that arise day by day and call out for new shamanzing as healing or helping. Our contemporary, emerging, widespread yet small-scale church-without-walls, recommends studying many religious traditions (as well as science, technology, philosophy, art and more) and adapting or innovating teachings -- without copying, imitating, co-opting, appropriating, claiming, or stealing -- then testing and changing practices (as safely as possible, given life's weirdness) through ongoing experience.
As a matter of course, I and several others keep spiritual leaders (by any term or title), especially the self-proclaimed multi-million-dollar-making sorts
, at a safe (faraway) distance.
Recently when CNN reported the freeing of this "New Age guru"
who facilitated three ardently enthused followers' deaths in Sedona, Arizona in October 2009, I noticed a link to the new non-profit organization Seek Safely and their Promise
not to mislead while practicing and teaching complementary and alternative self-help methods. This short yet comprehensive document was sent to 150 famous self-help and motivational teachers, authors, and speakers (who have reaped significant profits from the industry) with an invitation to sign and participate in memory of Kirby Brown and two others who died during James Arthur Ray's dangerous "Spiritual Warrior" workshop-ordeal.
Though Companions Circle-Shamanic Shift Center is too small-scale and unknown to have received a special invitation from Seek Safely, I noticed the PDF download-link on their website and quickly, happily signed on with this worthy cause because the words, meaning and mission behind The Promise resonate harmoniously. I opine this heartfelt, grief-transforming effort could help prevent some painful harm and sudden deaths from abuse (careless or intentional) of spiritual power.
|English: Taken by Andrew Patton, July 2007. This picture is of a dust devil in Ramadi, Iraq. It has been slightly photo edited (brightness & contrast, and shadow & highlight parameters) in order better bring out the dust devil in the picture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Beliefs can imprison when organized and alternative religions and spiritual circles lapse into cult-ishness, and imagination can free -- then run amok
. Spiritual programs and practices can sweep clean a messed-up place gradually or instantly.
But, as Jesus
cautioned (along with other ordinary or mythic spiritual teachers and shamans, in other words), freshly swept inner spaces often stand wide open, allowing trickier dust devils
to blow in and take over.
Folks who sound bogged down by diverse exotic "alternative" notions -- or extreme new-age
-if-i-cation or "goofy scary beliefs" (I haven't found the right words yet, and don't really expect to...) -- email or call requesting shamanic fixes more often than others inquire about finding shamanizing alternatives to conventional, organized religions
. But I am usually guided by spirit to offer debunking -- of quasi-pseudoscience, almost-cults and even blatant spiritual abuse
and journey anew.
Don't enshrine dust devils at home (the soul), for in universal life these tricky spirals are stirred up to activate wondering then dissipate harmlessly, not bedevil folks.
Recently a church-circle member emailed me this article that (in my opinion) aptly and cannily describes, but -- way too sarcastically, almost hatefully -- overstates the goofiness
trends I see contemporary shamanic ways veering into and marooning within, all too often. Anyone who can read this piece (not counting the comments) and laugh (and I recommend reading it and following the links to other sites as a reference) instead of (or at least before) taking offense or generating outrage might "grok" deeply my current bemused consternation as a shamanizer-debunker of much I once delighted and reveled in.
Though I have often temporarily, purposefully embraced wild imagining and invited weird-weirder-weirdest tricksters in "for tea or coffee but NOT me" (beings, patterns, systems...more), then sent these troubled, troubling "troubadors" packing after a fun visit (with blessings for happier recycling in universal life as ongoing shamanic prayer-shifting), I have come to understand this entertaining, educational, experimental spiritual play isn't safe for all (or even for many).
Do so many really seek and/or aspire to become (or worse, fancy themselves already) real-deal spiritual authorities? Question and quest on, I suggest enthusiastically and hopefully.
IMHO: Shamans must do their bests to live immune to gurus
and beliefs of all kinds, traditional to new-age to whatever-sort. And (mere) practitioners (like me) would do well to find effective inoculations, lest consultations lead self and others further astray.
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