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    A Shamanic View

    Spiritual Tools I have a store that sells ritual tools. I have a lot of conversations around ritual tools. Which kinds are “right” for this ritual, what is “best” for this practice? How to pick them? How to consecrate them? Does one even need to? For the kitchen witch, the athame that was in the kitchen drawer (and perhaps will be again) might be just fine. For someone wanting to do high ceremonial magic, something fancier might make more sense. But I don’t want to go on about tools. That’s not really my point. Perhaps a better discussion example would be tarot decks. Every now and then someone will talk…

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    A Shamanic View

    A Shamanic View: “But You Can’t be a Shaman, Because…” A book I was reading earlier this week brought up a point I’ve been thinking about since. The author talked about people raising the argument, “how can you learn to be a shaman? Don’t you have to go to some remote tribe, apprentice to some elder for a long time and then have some horrific initiatory experience?” Certainly, that’s probably the indigenous experience. The student might have been raised by the tribe shaman (who might have been known by one of many different titles). The student might have apprenticed for many years. The apprentice would probably have started by doing…

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    A Shamanic View

    A Shamanic View: Cultural Misappropriation One thing that has come up a couple times in our local pagan discussion group is cultural misappropriation. Usually when this comes up in the media it’s about stealing fashion or culture.  But what about when it’s spiritual or religious? I think the usual rule tends to be, “ask ten pagans and you’ll get twelve answers.” I’ve already said some things about appropriating the title ‘shaman.’ This time I want to talk about rituals, ceremonies, healing or divination techniques, and so on. One example to start with would be the sweat lodge. This made headlines a few years back when people died in one that…

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    A Shamanic View

    Rites of Passage and Social Acknowledgment Our family stays up to keep an all-night vigil for the longest night of the year at the Winter Solstice. We drum in the sunrise and then have a breakfast feast. Our children tried their best to stay up all night with us. Inevitably they crashed, one on the floor and one voluntarily taking to bed. But they were both too tired to get up and join us at sunrise. Next year we’ll have to remind them that they’ll have to go to sleep sooner if they want to participate in the morning. But I think what it came down to it they were…

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    A Shamanic View

    Living With the Seasons   Fall has started. There are plenty of articles about how people celebrate the change of seasons, but I want to say a little about living according to the seasons.   Ancient people had little choice but change their lifestyles to fit the seasons. But we can spend all the time inside with plenty of light, so shortening days don’t have to affect us.   But the world around us goes through all kinds of changes. We’re all familiar with animals preparing for winter, storing food and fat, some hibernating. And just as the animal spirits have their lessons to teach us, their medicine, so do…

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    A Shamanic View

    Surviving Chaos The past couple of months have been rather chaotic. My family and I moved from a house in Illinois to an apartment in Colorado. I’m relocating my shamanic practice and my wife and I are opening a shop together. The move was complicated and while boxes were designated as shop versus apartment, several ended up in the wrong place. There are still a number of things we haven’t found. It would be easy to go on and on about the things that are contributing to the chaos in our lives, but I think everyone can relate well enough. Aren’t most of us surrounded by more than our share…

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    A Shamanic View

    The Zombie Apocalypse? For a while now I’ve been noticing a concentration on the apocalypse in the media; particularly the Zombie Apocalypse. Even the government has been putting out information on how to survive the zombie apocalypse.  After all, if you’re ready for that, you should be ready for most any other emergency or disaster, right? I can’t help but wonder why we seem culturally obsessed with the end of society. What does this say about us as a people? Have we collectively given up hope in being able to make big changes for the better without some massive disaster forcing us to? And why zombies? Are we, as a…

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    A Shamanic View

    Kids (Especially) Need to Believe Children start off with an innate belief in magic. They see the things that their parents have generally forgotten how to see. Children look at the world with wonder in their eyes, and they see wonder everywhere. Nature is alive and magical to them. As we grow up, we tend to stop believing in “childish” things. We take a more and more rationalistic view of our world, and our society encourages us to do so. As we grow older we become more jaded to beauty and wonder, and we too often lose the ability to see those things at all. Our world stops being alive,…

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    A Shamanic View

    Signs of the Times?   Incidence of mental illness is rising. More and more people are developing allergies, whether food or environmental. So many kids have lists of foods they can’t eat. More and more people are being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, autism spectrum disorders… Is anyone truly healthy anymore?   So why is this? Are these new disorders, or are we only recently diagnosing them? What about all the “functional” disorders–the ones doctors can’t explain or find causes for, but can agree that the symptoms are real?   From a shamanic point of view, all of these are symptoms of soul or power loss. We all have a…

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    A Shamanic View

    Spiritual Defense In my shamanic practice one question I get frequently revolves around spiritual defense. Some are asking how to keep “bad” or “evil” spirits away. Some want protection from negative energy. Some suspect or fear spiritual or energetic attacks being directed at them. From a shamanic perspective, this is not about projecting any kind of force field or armor or shielding. Shamanically speaking, the things we focus on we give power to. The more you dwell on the things you want protection from, the more vulnerable to them you become. Trying to project a defense just reinforces the need for it. Consider how you might protect yourself from being…