|In shamanic thought, there is a spirit world where our ancestors, spirit guides, and deities live.
This spirit world is an actual, objective place, mapped and explored by many generations of shamans before us. The landmarks of this subterranean “dark” reality are remembered by the elders of the remaining intact indigenous traditions.
To work in partnership with the dark world of spirit is to work upstream, if you will, on the imbalances that manifest downstream as accidents, illnesses, droughts, floods, fires, mental suffering, or misfortune. The shaman conducts rituals and travels upstream to the unseen world to help restore balance to those of us living downstream in the daylight world.
In the West, most of our journeys are explorations in the canyon of the self, as most of us lack the inherited spirit guides (ongon) and the teachings that would help us navigate the external dark world of spirit.
In the canyon of the self, though, there are also guides, dangers, and healing powers. To explore this subterranean world is to discover what’s going on beneath the surface of our lives, get in touch with truths about ourselves and others, and gain clarity about our role in the larger world.
For sensitives and empaths navigating the turbulent waters of late-stage capitalism and climate collapse, exploration of the deep self is vital, healing work. But more is possible for us.
For the past several months, I have been studying with a Mongolian shaman to learn some of the traditional healing ways of her people.
Because I am not of Mongolian descent, I will never be a shaman of this lineage. Instead, I am asked to accept the wisdom of the ground that is my heritage and home, as are you.
I can practice 41-stone divination and the healing rituals I have learned from the Darkhad Mongolian lineage but the power to make these practices work is only available through the connections that I have forged with my own ancestors, helping spirits, and deities.
It all boils down to focusing on the basics of spiritual practice but in ways aligned with our own ancestry and culture, focusing upstream in our own lives if you will. To this end, I hope to offer a course and practice group in the fall for tending our own unique and universal connections with the spirit world.
For each effective ritual or batch of rashaan (shamanic holy water), for every accurate divination or vision, untold hours have to be spent in meditation, prayer, making offerings, and otherwise tending our relationships with the unseen world. And this is to say nothing of the requirement that we also show up reliably and well for our responsibilities in the visible world.
The shaman or spiritual practitioner dedicated to the restoration of balance in an imbalanced world practices walking in both worlds.
The way is not instant, easy, or even particularly glamorous, but with repeated action, effort, and love, we find one day that we are rooted in the dark world of spirit, anchored in a reality greater than the one that is presently passing away. Then, my friends, we will truly be of use to the world.
Thank you for being on the journey of a lifetime with me. I am grateful you are here.
Feel free to journey on whatever is most alive for you this week. I hope you can join us for Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle this Wednesday, August 3, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT.
Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation. All skill levels are welcome.