Drum Spirit by SoulfireArtworks. Originally posted at No Unsacred Place.
Hey, you! I’ve got a question for you! (And by “you”, I mean anyone reading this blog, whether regularly or sporadically or just by chance.) So I’ve been writing in this space for six years now. (Y…
My blog, Therioshamanism, is turning six years old this week! And I have a question that I’d love feedback on from all my readers, if you would, please :)
Hey, folks! Want a copy of the animism anthology it only took me five years to finish up? (Thank grad school in part for eating my life during that time.) Anyway, “Engaging the Spirit World” is now available from Immanion Press/Megalithica Books, and has a variety of essays on shamanism, totemism, and other animistic practices—more details over here on my website! (And yes, you can get a signed copy from me :)
This world is truly fucked up in a lot of ways.
There. I said it. Even with my optimism about the world, and human potential, and the resiliency of nature in general, there are still some things in this place that are heart-rendingly, disgustingly, infuriatingly screwed all beyond belief. I think we all have different opinions about what falls under that heading, but we can mostly agree on things like war and people dying needlessly, children being abused and then in turn abusing animals and later on other humans (including their own children), the extinction of species that didn’t have to die, and possibly the overuse of the Papyrus font in everything pagan. (Okay, maybe that last offense is in a league of its own.)
And I know that this fucked-upedness makes it tempting to run away and never come back. People want to live off the grid, not just to be eco friendly (even though a well-planned city can be more sustainable) but to get away from other humans except for a select few they deem “okay”. I’ve heard people talk about how humans as a species should just die out and the world would be better without us, emphasizing only the worst our species has done, and contemplating drowning the baby in the bathwater. This includes some deeply spiritual people I know who are quite connected to the nonhuman natural world. I’m constantly amazed by how many ways people can justify misanthropy.
I feel that frustration, too.
If you’ve been reading this blog over the years, you’ll notice that one of the themes I keep coming back to is Therioshamanism as a (neo)shamanic creation based on my own social and cultural background. The dominant non-indigenous culture in the US doesn’t have a clear shamanic figure, though I feel there are professions and roles here that can be analogous. On the one hand, American (neo)shamans may face accusations and feelings of illegitimacy, as though our lack of roots makes anything we do insufficient. And yet at the same time, there’s a great opportunity for creativity and flow in making something that is new and suited for the setting we found ourselves born into. I feel it is a fine balance between acknowledging how other cultures have formed their own shamanisms and related practices over hundreds or thousands of years, and making something that is uniquely ours instead of just wholesale copying. There’s a lot of trial and error, to be sure, and at times I really respect my fellow practitioners who are similarly trying to create something with no single existing cultural framework.
One of the themes that comes up as a topic of discussion is that of the ordeal. I have met people who claim that you must have an ordeal in a traditional manner–either a life-threatening physical illness, or a severe mental illness/breakdown–and that it absolutely can’t be a positive or constructive experience whatsoever. Nor, they say, is it something that you can openly seek out; it has to crash down on your head and ruin everything. Supposedly all these things separate the wannabes from the hard-core practitioners. I have a gentler approach. Not every ordeal a person goes through is a shamanic one; as attributed to John Watson/Ian MacLaren, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle“. What I think distinguishes a shamanic ordeal, at least in part, is whether it directly contributes to one’s work as a (neo)shaman. It may still be a great challenge with a significant risk of failure, but it can be something you willingly choose to enter into as a furthering of your path and development. In this, it doesn’t always have to be the initiatory ordeal; ordeals can also be ongoing challenges.
So I *think* I have my schedule all plotted out for PantheaCon I have one more book signing to schedule once I get there (PCon’s official signing table) but here’s the rest as it stands:
Friday 3:30pm - 5pm - Bioregional Totemism (on working with the totems of your local area)
Saturday noon-1pm - book signing at Llewellyn’s table
Saturday 1:30pm - 3pm - Immanion publishing panel (“A Publisher’s Embodiment of Co-operation, Tolerance, and Love”)
Sunday 9am - 10:30am - Llewellyn publishing panel (“Publishing Panel hosted by Llewellyn Worldwide”)
Sunday 3:30pm - 4:30pm - Book release party for “New Paths to Animal Totems” at the Pagan Alliance Hospitality! Look for posters around the convention :)
Monday 11:00am - 12:30pm - White Girl Shamanism (a bit about my own efforts in creating a (neo)shamanism from my very not-indigenous background, and how those of us from non-indigenous background can create traditions for our own cultural milieus)
If you want to find out more about what’s happening at PCon, here’s the Program Guide: https://pantheacon.com/wordpress/at-pantheacon/whats-happening/program-guide/
Alright, since I had such a good turnout for my first set of free video workshops this past weekend, I’ve got another pair queued up! This time I’ll be talking about skin spirits and working with animal parts in spirituality and art. As before, there’ll be two time slots to choose from:
Friday, January 18, 2013, 7:00pm Pacific Standard Time
Saturday, January 19, 2013, 11:00am Pacific Standard Time
Here’s a time converter you can use to determine what 7pm/11am PST would be at your time zone. You don’t need to sign up anywhere, just make sure you have a Livestream account and show up! And, again, I’ll upload versions to my YouTube channel. Also, I’ll be doing some practice runs to make sure that I get all the technical bugs worked out, to include making damned sure I can find the chat this time :P
Here’s some of what I’ll cover:
In the last few years there has been an increase in interest working with hides, bones, and other animal parts in both art and spirituality. My work with skin spirits and their sacred remains has become one of my most asked-about topics as a result, and now you can have the opportunity to find out more directly from me in this free online workshop! Plus you’ll have the chance to ask me questions via chat related to both the art and spirit of my work for the past 15 years.
Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover:
—What are skin spirits, and how do I work with them, and why are the hides and bones known as “sacred remains”?
—How can I respectfully work with animal parts in art or spirituality, and what rituals can I use?
—Where can I find animal parts to work with, and how do I decide what to do with them?
—What are other considerations, such as legalities, ethical guidelines, and safety?
—How can I physically and spiritually take care of the animal parts that I have, and what artistic options are available to me beyond traditional taxidermy?
Newcomers and more experienced folk are all welcome. Because of the sensitivity of this topic, the chat and questions will be moderated. And, again, I’m offering this workshop free of charge! If you’d like to support my work financially, feel free to check out my books at http://www.thegreenwolf.com/books.html or my ritual tools and other artwork at http://thegreenwolf.etsy.com