Neoshamanism vs Shamanism


Artist Charles Frizzell

Shamanism is the oldest recorded spiritual practice there is. It is a way of life for Indiginous culture people the world over, from Europe, to Asia, to North and South America, Australia… It is an ancient path of spirituality that sees the Divinity in all living things. The word itself is believed to have its origins from the Tungus people of Siberia. True Shamanism is about the existence of and interaction with the supernatural. It accepts and embraces the concepts of benevolent and malignant spirits, the spirits of the elements, animals, and the Earth itself,  the reality of co-existing planes and dimensions, and of alternate realities. In this ancient practice, a Shaman is seen as an intermediary, a priest, a walker between the worlds, trained from childhood through dreams, visions, a near death experience or illness, and oral traditions handed down by a mentor through an apprenticeship that may take years. The training is extensive, and includes learning the ways of plants, stones, helper spirits, protocols for leaving one’s body, speaking with the spirits of the dead, exorcisms, dealing with demonic entities, as well as healing the souls of the living. Soul injury through trauma is seen as the root cause of diseases. Ancient Shamanism accepts the existence of the light and of the dark, good and evil. Whether we are looking at Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Celtic Shamanism, all of these Indiginous culture traditions have much in common when it comes to understanding Earth magic and the supernatural.

This brings me to Neoshamanism. Neoshamanism is a construct of the New Age movement. It has become popular over the last two decades. It is based on cultural appropriation, which is an ongoing form of genocide. It has no connection at all to true shamanism. It is the weakest imitation of it. Anthropologists, archeologists, and others attempted to study and catalog some of the beliefs of these cultures, without an in-depth training or apprenticeship in any one of them, assuming that they are all the same. They aren’t. They then began to write about “Shamanism”, adding their own beliefs while deleting others that didn’t match their limited understanding of the supernatural. Native Americans and First Nation People have no respect for these New Age Neoshamans, referring to them as “Plastic Shamans”. They see them as frauds, fakes, and con artists, appropriating Native Sacred ceremonies like the Sweat Lodge, the Vision Quest, and others, for financial gain. Thousands of dollars are charged for ceremonies that Native people do not charge money for. This type of exploitation of Sacred ceremonies resulted in the deaths of three people in Arizona a few years ago, conducted by a self-proclaimed “Shaman”. Workshops, books, and lectures are conducted by people who are not psychics or mediums, ( which all true Shamans are), and who have no actual experience with the supernatural. None. (The word Shaman does not even exist in any language spoken by the Native American tribes in the U.S. )

A true Shaman is born a Psychic or Medium, capable of achieving a deep altered state of consciousness AT WILL. One should be able to enter the trance at will, journey between dimensions safely, determine the trauma causing an illness, address it, and have the training and tools needed to deal with malignant and harmful entities if necessary. The idea that this psychic ability is teachable to a large group of people SIMULTANEOUSLY would be laughable if it wasn’t dangerous. No Indiginous culture teacher would take on 30,40, or 50 apprentices at one time, guiding them into the Void, while keeping them anchored and shielded from harmful entities. By removing important key beliefs about the nature of magic, power, and the supernatural, including the existence of evil,  these Neoshamans have  taken bits and pieces of many different traditions, blended them into a more glamorous package, and marketed them as shamanism. What is tragic is that no one benefits by this, and Indiginous culture people are further victimized, their traditions not only stolen, but completely misrepresented.

A Taoist Master is allowed to take 5 disciples or apprentices in their lifetime. Not hundreds. Five. No Indiginous culture person takes dozens of apprentices, it would not be possible, there is simply too much to teach. The teacher accepts an apprentice with great respect for where that soul is on their journey. The teacher and apprentice share a bond of trust and love. How that bond would be duplicated in a classroom of 50 souls, all at different levels of consciousness, with different levels of psychic ability, from the beginner to the advanced, is beyond me. The narcissism of an individual that believes themselves capable of shepherding a number of people safely through the Void at one time defies description. This culture of instant gratification, short cuts, and appropriation creates the perfect storm when it comes to Neoshamanism.

A person who needs any kind of a crutch to alter their consciousness, who cannot achieve the trance state without a hallucinogenic drug, is not a real Shaman, no matter what they may believe. It is not possible to force the opening of psychic abilities with drugs. Having drug-related visions does not make someone a psychic. Clubbing the left brain into insensibility through substances to achieve the trance is both dangerous and unnecessary. On the other hand, you can’t teach what you don’t know, so if you can’t achieve the trance state naturally, how are you going to teach anyone else to do it? You can’t. Shamanism is about Earth Magic. Some of the plants used to achieve an altered state are said to have a type of “medicine” or “magic”. Riding the plant into a dream-like state and having “visions” induced by the plant can certainly provide one with an interesting experience, especially if you have no way of achieving that experience on your own. But these experiences, like dreams, should not be confused with the actual psychic and supernatural abilities a real Shaman has, to enter the Void and arrive at a specific destination and achieve a specific outcome. Disabling the mind through the usage of LSD, Peyote, Ayahuasca, Mescaline, or any other hallucinogens limits some levels of awareness that are essential for certain types of shamanic work. One would certainly not attempt an exorcism of a demonic entity, the cutting of luminous fibers, or undertake protection work on anyone’s behalf, while in that kind of compromised state. Far better to learn how to suspend the left brain organically, and cultivate one’s relationship to the heart, which is the portal to the Void, and the portal to the Divinity within. No drug builds the relationship to the heart, which is the seat of the Divine Spark.

True Shamanism is the path of the Mystic. It is a path of love and humility, of our oneness with All That Is. It restores our direct experience of Earth Mother, while also opening us up to our own magic and our own gifts. Shamanism is a spiritual path anyone can walk, in safety and in beauty. But just as anyone can practice Taoism, yet not be considered a Taoist priest, trained in all of the rites and rituals of that priesthood, Shamanism as a spiritual practice does not make one a Shaman, a medium or psychic trained in all of the rites and rituals that define that. Neoshamanism blurs these boundaries, encouraging the egos of New Age followers, whose egos may not need more encouragement.

Given the popularity of Neoshamanism, and some of the dangers inherent in it, it seemed timely to delve more fully into this. Do not be confused by the two of them, as I said, they are not related in any way. This is why I took the title of “Shaman” out of my bio a while ago, I do not wish to be associated with Neoshamanism or the New Age movement. All of my teachings and material comes directly from Source, and is not appropriated from Native cultures, which I deeply honor and respect. I hope this explanation clarifies the differences between the two paths,  and contributes to keeping people safe. Blessings, Judith

** Art by Charles Frizzell **


The Elements: Earth

As the Sun moves to leave the Fire sign Leo, and enter the Earth sign Virgo, it’s a good time to understand and work with the Earth Element. In Chinese medicine, the Earth element is comprised of the Stomach ( Yang Earth) and the Spleen ( Yin Earth) meridians. These organs have to do with taking in food and digesting it. On an emotional level, the Earth Element is about sympathy, empathy, boundaries, and mindfulness. The Spleen is seen as the home of the Yi, the intellect. When the Spleen is strong, we have the ability to focus, to concentrate, and learn. When the Spleen is weakened, these abilities are challenged.. The Earth Element is seen as the matrix through which we enter the planet. It has to do with the mother, and issues related to how we were nurtured. It asks the question “What nurtures or nourishes me”? ( For those that are interested in Chinese dietetics, the foods that strengthen the Spleen are the orange root vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, turnips, pumpkin, all of the squashes, sweet potatoes, yams. The foods that weaken the Spleen include sugar and very cold or frozen foods, like ice cream. ) Chinese Herbal Medicine uses herbs to strengthen the Earth Element, based on individual diagnosis.

Astrologically, the Earth Element signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Virgo is often described as the perfectionist. Virgos do tend to be very detail oriented. They are also wonderful nurturers. Practical and hard working, they take a lot in stride, not getting rattled by much. They make loyal and wonderful friends. Virgos tend to love animals and nature. Their perfectionism is often aimed at themselves, they expect more from themselves than they do from anyone else. Learning to relax and rest is important for them. Discipline, practicality, and commen sense are all Earth Element qualities.

When the Earth Element is strong in a person, setting boundaries and being comfortable saying no is easy. Empathy and the capacity for sympathy flows spontaneously. When the Earth Element has become weakened, we can either have over-empathy, ( codependency) or no empathy at all. ( Narcissism). We can feel “spacey” or ungrounded. We can have difficulty setting and sustaining healthy boundaries. We can more easily become enmeshed with others, or lose ourselves to the needs of others. The Earth Element is about our ego construct, our social and family interactions, and our relationship to the world. It is the lens we look at life through, how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. It is where we ground ourselves. It is a part of the Root Chakra. Knowing how to nurture the self and how to have clear boundaries is essential for each of us.

The stones that strengthen the Earth Element are powerful ones. The Garnets, Almandine Garnet and Spessartine Garnet, are used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the Spleen, teaching us how to receive and how to nurture the self. Almandine Garnet bridges the Root Chakra with the Heart Chakra, increasing our sense of self-love, while helping us to feel safe. Smokey Quartz is a fabulous Earth Element stone. It helps us to be grounded and protected. Smokey Quartz is the Empath of the stone kingdom. It becomes smokey by absorbing radiation from the earth into itself, over millions of years. It continues to do this in our homes, absorbing EMF’s and radiation into itself, shielding and protecting our bodies. ( Keeping a piece of Smokey Quartz near the computer is a good idea.)  It is a must-have stone for Empaths, because we absorb the emotions and feelings of all living things into ourselves, similar to the way Smokey Quartz absorbs radiation. Smokey Quartz, more than any other stone, teaches us how to ground that absorbed energy, and how to discharge it safely. I have more Smokey Quartz Crystals surrounding me than I do any other type of Crystal. ( And I have a lot of Crystals. Trust me. ) There is no other Crystal that can do for us what Smokey Quartz does. Golden Calcite is another Earth Element stone. Calcite is wonderful for enhancing focus and concentration. It’s good for writers, students, people who have to work for prolonged periods of time on mentally challenging projects. Natural Citrine is a powerful Earth Element stone. Citrine is one of the few stones that never needs to be cleared, since it does not absorb negative energy. It balances all seven Chakras, and is espescially strong in healing the Solar Plexus Chakra, restoring our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Some Essential Oils that vibrate to the Earth Element are Vetiver, Oakmoss, Coriander, Carraway Seed, and Patchouli. Diffusing any of these will help support and strengthen the Spleen. ( People have asked me many times where I buy my essential oils. I use SunRose Aromatics in Maine. It is owned by Rosanne Tartaro, an aromatherapist who has been in the business for decades. She imports and uses only the highest grade essential oils, and was recommended to our aromatherapy class by Dr. Yuen. Enough said. I am crazy about the diffuser blend called ” The Rings of Saturn”. It’s my favorite. It has Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Grapefruit, and Blood Orange. Delicious fragrance, and perfect for strengthening the Earth Element. Let me say here thaI I buy only therapeutic grade high quality oils for use in my formulas,  from companies that I trust, and that are recognized by a national board of aromatherapists. Other reputable companies are Tisserand Essential Oils, and Original Swiss Aromatics. )

The Earth Element is the foundational element within each of us. It represents the Third Dimension, this temporal world we have incarnated into. Building it, embracing it, and strengthening our connection to it helps us to find peace and joy. Earth Mother is a loving, nurturing being. The things that build a stronger connection within us, from our hearts to hers, help us to manifest our hearts desires, and to come home to our authentic selves. May this perspective on the Earth Element support all who read it. Blessings, Judith

Smokey Quartz

Smokey Quartz

*** SunRose aromatics 207-342-2046 ***

The Peace of Wild Things

Sometimes, when I watch the news, or in my work, and I see bad people doing bad things with absolutely no consequences, my heart cries out for justice. When that justice is denied me, and all of us, when I realize that those people are going to stroll on through life with no accountability for the harm they have caused, I need to find a way to get back on my center again. Sometimes, being fierce, being a warrior, being an advocate for those that have been abused, being a Sacred Witness, leaves me with a feeling of helpless anger inside that has nowhere to go, and is not good for me. Understanding Karma just isn’t enough, during those moments. Acceptance that there is nothing I can do other than to send light and prayers to those that are suffering is hard.

I asked the Universe for help, for a way to find peace, and this poem was put right in front of me. I have always found myself in nature, I have always been able to become whole again, no matter what, after being with the Earth, the animals, the wind, the water, and the Stars. I can take that step back, away from the culture of separation, the culture of egos and pain, and breathe. It was good to come across this poem again after so many years. I hope it does for others what it did for me. Thank you, Wendell Berry. This poem is a balm for my heart. We all need the peace of wild things. Thank you for reminding me where to look.  Blessings, Judith image