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Thread: So... who's a shamanist?

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    Jr. Member DyslexicPagan's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    Well, I'm a Hedgewitch, and that has some shamanistic influences, but no, don't call myself a Shaman. Although once upon a time, for a brief period, I called myself Shamanic Witch. But Hedgewitch works best for me. I haven't specifically studied Shamanism by itself, but I just haven't found any books that I feel are legit. I'm always super iffy about em, because I just don't know any good authors on the subject. So if yall have any suggestions, that'd be wonderful.

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    Loud Mouth Heka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juniper View Post
    I call myself an altomesayoq and I primarily focus on Peruvian shamanism techniques and teachings but mix in other cultures and influences here and there. I studied under a teacher, off and on, since I was thirteen until I was twenty five. Off and on because she lives on the other side of the country and so there was traveling involved...but we met while we still lived in the same state.
    Ive always wondered about that term. How did you get into it?
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    It's amazing who pops out of the woodwork when you give us our own board

    Myself, I don't often use the terms 'shamanist' or 'shamanic practitioner', but they do technically apply. I actually don't really name that part of my practice... it's just there, under-running everything else. I operate within a Northern cultural context, and my ideas about the soul, the fylgja and faring forth (journeying) are generally tied up within that context but also extend well beyond it. I primarily do Innerworlds work... which is a term coined by an old friend of mine to describe all the shamanic stuff we do in our own inner landscape rather than in the external Otherworlds. I have done some Otherworlds journeys, but thus far am restricted to only a few locations.

    Over the years it has seemed to me that a large part of what neo-pagan shamanists are doing nowdays is Innerworlds work, but no one had really named it before, except for unnecessarily derogatory terms like 'personal Disney ride'. I also believe this is part of the divide between classic shamanists and core-shamanists... that our terminology does not allow for these differences in practice, and so many classic shamanists and shamans feel that they are somehow doing a more pure or a better form of shamanism while core shamanists are just pretenders, which is not entirely true.

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    Cannibal Rights Activist Ophidia's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    Over the years it has seemed to me that a large part of what neo-pagan shamanists are doing nowdays is Innerworlds work, but no one had really named it before, except for unnecessarily derogatory terms like 'personal Disney ride'. I also believe this is part of the divide between classic shamanists and core-shamanists... that our terminology does not allow for these differences in practice, and so many classic shamanists and shamans feel that they are somehow doing a more pure or a better form of shamanism while core shamanists are just pretenders, which is not entirely true.
    It took me a long time to stop hating myself. I always felt like I should deny the part of me that wanted to communicate with the land and its energy, or avoid ASCs because of cultural misappropriation & disrespect... and because I couldn't ever tell anyone that the land talked to me because they would assume I was an interloper & didn't belong.

    Eventually, though, the land & the spirits won out. If the spirits accept me, if they approach me, if they accept my offerings, it doesn't matter what other humans think as long as I'm not being an ass or directly misrepresenting who and what I am to bilk tourists.

    And once I started investigating more archaeology & anthropology it became apparent that every one has had some form of shamanic technology in their past, and that it isn't just cultural or ethnic. It's genetic. It's in the human DNA to seek the numinous and Otherworldly. Why else would all our brains (or at least the brains of us who are responsive and so inclined) respond to the same methods to achieve contact with the spiritual?
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophidia View Post
    It took me a long time to stop hating myself. I always felt like I should deny the part of me that wanted to communicate with the land and its energy, or avoid ASCs because of cultural misappropriation & disrespect... and because I couldn't ever tell anyone that the land talked to me because they would assume I was an interloper & didn't belong.

    Eventually, though, the land & the spirits won out. If the spirits accept me, if they approach me, if they accept my offerings, it doesn't matter what other humans think as long as I'm not being an ass or directly misrepresenting who and what I am to bilk tourists.

    And once I started investigating more archaeology & anthropology it became apparent that every one has had some form of shamanic technology in their past, and that it isn't just cultural or ethnic. It's genetic. It's in the human DNA to seek the numinous and Otherworldly. Why else would all our brains (or at least the brains of us who are responsive and so inclined) respond to the same methods to achieve contact with the spiritual?
    I tend to agree, which is why, even though I'm technically a classic shamanist, I am not anti-core-shamanism. It's also why I don't run in neo-shamanist circles anymore... the community at large is often snarky and elitist, and I just don't like that. I've seen and spoken to self-identified classic shamanists who are committing blatant cultural appropriation, as well as core shamanists who are ostractised but incredibly respectful and spiritual in their practice.

    It's also why I split hairs when I talk about Otherworlds work, Innerworlds work and Thisworld work. Because from what I've seen, people squabble needlessly over 'your journey isn't a real journey' or 'you're not really in the Otherworlds' or 'you're not really a shamanist because you follow Michael Harner'. Well at the end of the day, we are ALL influenced by Harner and his devotees, simply because he was one of the anthropologists who bought shamanism to the rest of the world. And we are ALL committing a level of cultural appropriation from an extant culture by using the term 'shaman' and it's modern derivative 'shamanism'. And the majority of us who work within a cultural context were not BORN into that cultural context, which means that we are appropriating or reconstructing something that we were not originally immersed. So where does that leave the community? Squabbling with each other over who is or isn't legitimate, all the while committing hypocrisy and elitism while hemorrhaging people who don't want to be involved in the pettiness.

    My terminology is an attempt to avoid that, and to reconcile classic and core shamanism into something that is not about 'I have cultural context and you don't' but about what we are actually DOING with our practices. But I still get people squabbling and getting defensive or elitist. I don't use the term myself, but I'm a 'classic shamanist' who works primarily in the Innerworlds or Thisworld. I do very little Otherworlds work, and I hold many of the same opinions about who should or shouldn't be doing Otherworlds work that many elitist neo-shamanists do. I just recognise that Innerworlds and Thisworld work is just as important and spiritual, if not more so, than Otherworlds work.

    - - - Updated - - -

    An afterthought... I don't believe that the land and landvaettir belong to anyone, even to indigenous peoples. Yes, indigenous peoples were on that land first, but I don't actually believe that gives them sole rights to work with the land. It bothers me that many of us who work with landvaettir and with animal spirits are automatically lumped into the interloper and/or culturally appropriative camp, when we have a practice that is completely divorced from any indigenous cultural context or terminology. I don't use the term 'totem' because it's appropriative and it didn't even originally describe what we use it for now... but I still feel like there is this perception that being a shamanist who works with animal guides and physical animal parts is considered a 'Native American' thing. It's not.

    Cultural appropriation matters to me, which is why I'm very careful about the terminology that I use and the research that I do. But the reality is that many shamanic techniques and elements are common to multiple cultures. It is possible for someone to work with land spirits and animal spirits, and to hold a 'sense of place' sacred, without appropriating from the indigenous cultures who just happened to have similar opinions.

  6. #16
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    An afterthought... I don't believe that the land and landvaettir belong to anyone, even to indigenous peoples. Yes, indigenous peoples were on that land first, but I don't actually believe that gives them sole rights to work with the land. It bothers me that many of us who work with landvaettir and with animal spirits are automatically lumped into the interloper and/or culturally appropriative camp, when we have a practice that is completely divorced from any indigenous cultural context or terminology. I don't use the term 'totem' because it's appropriative and it didn't even originally describe what we use it for now... but I still feel like there is this perception that being a shamanist who works with animal guides and physical animal parts is considered a 'Native American' thing. It's not.

    Cultural appropriation matters to me, which is why I'm very careful about the terminology that I use and the research that I do. But the reality is that many shamanic techniques and elements are common to multiple cultures. It is possible for someone to work with land spirits and animal spirits, and to hold a 'sense of place' sacred, without appropriating from the indigenous cultures who just happened to have similar opinions.
    I was gonna address this, but I think I'm totally gonna make this its own topic...
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    Copper Member Ula's Avatar
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    Re: So... who's a shamanist?

    I wouldn't call myself a shaman as there are roles they fill I would never do as I don't have the skill but I have started working in a compass, mask work and working with my animal fetch as part of both my religion and witchcraft. My focus at this point has been calling on my ancestors and engaging with them.

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