by Peggy Andreas This is the third in a series of articles about Tribal Paths. The first is Path of the Sacred Warrior and the second is Path of the Sacred Clown. Both were recently published in this newsletter. The Path of the Sacred Warrior heals the Spirit. The Path of the Sacred Clown heals the Soul. And the Path of the Shaman heals the Body. The Body? Haven’t most of us been conditioned to believe that the Body is somehow inferior to the Spirit, to the Soul? America’s Elders—the Native Americans—have always taught that the Body, our personal connection of substance and spirit, is sacred. An ancient song of the Salish Women’s Society runs:
Who cannot love her Self cannot love anybody. Who is ashamed of her body is ashamed of all life. Who finds dirt and filth in her body is lost. Who cannot respect the gifts given even before birth Can never respect anything fully.1A Shaman’s Path begins with her/his own Body and involves the generation, control, storage, channeling, exchange, and release of energy. Principles recently “discovered” by modern scientists have been known to Shamans since ancient times, for example: Entrainment (“If two rhythms are nearly the same and their sources are in close proximity, they will always lock up, fall into synchrony.”)2; E=mc² (the interchangability of energy and matter); and Wave/Particle Theory (Energy can travel in either waves or particles). A Shaman perceives her/his Body as a luminous cluster, a sacred act, a whirling act of power and beauty. Exploring her/his Body, the shaman becomes a specialist in vibration, harmony, and balance. Curious to bridge other dimensions, her/his awareness reaches out like a lightning rod. When that awareness is illuminated, her own Body grounds the energy and releases it into the Earth so that it does no harm. Some scientific principles have not yet caught up with shamanistic knowledge, for instances, the principle of Gravity. A modern-day Shaman puts it this way, “The earth is calling to you. It has something for you. This great creature upon which we live wishes to give you its energy to empower your life.” Westerners shun this gift. They call it GRAVITY and think it’s a force that wants to pull us down to the center of the earth. Instead, be like a tree, sinking roots down into the earth’s magnetism. Reach out with your branches and leaves for light and air from above!”3 The image of a tree is a great model for Shamans. A Tree is a very efficient energy-being. It uses every bit of energy and wastes none. The wood of a tree is a conductor of energy from both below and above; and as such, is often used by the Shaman to conduct her awareness upon journeys of discovery. A drum, made from hide stretched over wood, becomes “the shaman’s steed.” Gourds, rattles, and other rhythmic devices can also be used as energy conductors. The Shaman tunes into the rhythm and rides it to other worlds! Then the rhythm brings the Shaman back to this, her beloved Earth. “Like a living tree, the shaman is rooted deep within the earth, reaching and growing into spirit.”4 Shamans heal themselves (and serve as a healing catalyst for others) in three main ways:
- Removing blockages in the energy flow;
- Balancing and centering; and
- Attunement and harmony.
- Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron, 1981, Press Gang Publishers, Vancouver, BC, p. 62.
- Planet Drum by Mickey Hart and Frederic Lieberman, 1991, HarperCollins Publishers, NY, p. 17.
- Movements of Magic by Bob Klein, 1984, Newcastle Publishing, CA, pg. 8.
- In the Shadow of the Shaman by Amber Wolfe, 1989, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, p. xiii.
- The Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen, 1986, Beacon Press, Boston, MS, p. 207-8.
- Ibid., p. 257.
- Shamanic Voices by Joan Halifax, 1979, E.P. Dutton, N.Y., p.3.
- Ruth Inge-Heinze, in Shapeshifters: Shamanic Women in Contemporary Society, 1987, Viking Penguin Inc., N.Y., p. 62.
- Leilah Tiesh in Shapeshifters, p. 36.
- Agnes Whistling Elk in Flight of the Seventh Moon by Lynn V. Andrews, 1984, Harper & Row, San Francisco, p. 130-131.
- Channeled from my Spirit Teacher, “Butterfly Woman”.
- Birth of a Modern Shaman by Cynthia Bend and Tayja Wiger, 1987, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, p. 8.
- The Shaman: Patterns of Siberian and Ojibway Healing by John A. Grim, 1983, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, p. 121-125.
- Bend and Wiger, p. 6.
- Agnes Whistling Elk, in Flight of the Seventh Moon, p. 156.