20 Nov 2012
I have great respect for both these authors, Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova, because they do not just “talk the talk”, they actually “walk the walk”. They do not belong to any “New age” or “Love and light” movement; they state upfront that walking a spiritual path takes immense commitment and sacrifices. I could not agree more!
What I like about this book is that it provides accessible information and suitable activities for people who are new to the Nordic Tradition. Paying close attention to the land, trees, animals, ancestors, weather spirits and so forth is a good idea, no matter what form of shamanism calls you.
Kaldera and Krasskova write from the heart and from personal experience. They also share the challenges and risks. Just this makes a refreshing change from the stream of books available where everything can (supposedly) be solved with a mix of visualization and positive thinking. I teach my own students (of shamanism and sacred art) to stay clear of any form of spirituality that does not address shadow material or require profound commitment and facing our deepest fears.
Kaldera and Krasskova admit that their work is Reconstructionist – and that is the only way it can be with Norse shamanism because the material that has been passed on to us (from Neolithic AND later times) is fragmented and comes with heavy overlays of other influences, especially from centuries of Christianity as the dominant religion of Northern Europe.
They have organised the book by colour: The Green World, The Red World, The White World etc. This works fine as long as you realise that this is in one way a standard way of viewing things in Norse shamanism – it is their own invention!
For me there are two main issues with this book:
The first is that the authors make a distinction between “shamans” and “shamanic practitioners” that follows no larger convention I am aware of. I understand the qualities they describe and the processes involved but I still take issue with their definition. People reading their book may not realise that a very large number of other practitioners of shamanism use those same words with very different connotations.
However, the most serious thing is that the authors choose to describe themselves as “ordeal masters” and for me that is beyond the pale. Shamans (wherever they are, what ever path calls them) DO face ordeals (initiations). There is no doubt about that. However, all high quality shamanic work is done in partnership with spirit where we hollow out and make space for powers greater than ourselves to work through us. Ultimately this is a deeply humbling process . In my “early days” of training I was taught by several teachers that the word “shaman” is bestowed by others on an individual (same as, say, the word ‘hero’ is) and it is in very poor taste to go around calling yourself a shaman or (perhaps even worse!) “ordeal master”. Shamanism as a spiritual path requires us to do daily work to keep our ego in check . I teach my own students this as one of the most basic principles of this work.
In my opinion Raven’s finest piece of writing (but I have not read everything he has published) is this on-line article:
The tone is more humble, more sober and “academic” (meaning research-based) if you like. It came to my attention after I met Bow Woman and Alder Man in the forest in Sweden and the information was very timely, very welcome. I made the following art film about the teachings of these two Sami deities.
To sum things up: I DO recommend this book because of the wealth of material it offers and yes, for its brutal honesty and commitment. Just be aware that the authors are writing from a very personal lens of perception – and that there other lenses, equally valid to my mind (and I am teacher of Norse Shamanism myself) out there.
About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016. She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.
For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages
FORNSED IN SWEDEN
2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM
YEAR OF CEREMONY