Friday, January 13, 2012

Eclecticism and Being a Shaman First

I am a serious seeker of spiritual and religious truth. As mentioned in the FAQ, I have strayed onto multiple different paths in the process; in each case I dedicated myself fully to the path in order to show it proper respect. It was in this way that I developed a background as witch and medium as well as shaman. My mistake, which I deeply regret now, is that I forgot to put my true calling first.

When one develops a relationship with the spirits, one cannot simply abandon it without consequence. This goes ten times over for those on the shamanic path. It's not just that they will miss you or miss your offerings and the work you did together; simply abandoning them is very disrespectful. You will likely get smacked in some way unless you had a very, very good reason for leaving. I had what I thought was a good reason: the desire to be part of a spiritual community instead of working largely alone. Now I realize that I was in large part merely lonely and looking for validation. Still, had I, for example, joined a coven while still maintaining my shamanic practice, that would have been fine. But instead I abandoned the one for the other. That was foolish and brought me a great deal of trouble.

On the other hand, shamanic journeying can lead one to some very strange places, and it is not unusual to run into a spirit from an entirely different tradition than you are used to working with while out journeying. That spirit may be unused to being approached shamanically, and may insist that you approach them in a way more appropriate to the traditions they are used to. Which may lead you to some parallel practice. The key, if you find yourself working in two different traditions, is to remember to put your shamanic practice first, while still respecting the requirements set forth by the Divinities in your non-shamanic practice.

For example, I am currently practicing exclusively in a shamanic vein, with the spirits who prefer to be approached in such a way; no Pagan pantheons, Orixa or Lwa. However, as I grow stronger spiritually I find myself encountering those spirits and beings which I met while practicing as a witch and medium. Some of these spirits are very strong and very insistent; for example within a week of my reunion with two African tradition spirits I found myself being pushed hard in that direction, stumbling on a Hoodoo group, meeting a Vodouisant who is moving into the area, and having my partner, who works intensively with Bawon and the Ghede, have an intense sort of spiritual awakening. I know that these spirits want me to serve them as well--and I will, but I am a shaman first and they will need to learn to share me.

What does it mean to be a shaman first? It is a matter of priorities, rather than trying to warp other traditions to fit the shamanic mold. For example, when I work with the shamanic spirits I do not call Exu or Legba to open the door for me, but if I worked with an African spirit I certainly would. When I take up with non shamanic spirits they will have their own altar section, their own sacred items and artwork, and their own rituals. The shamanic spirits, especially my Guardian, get priority when it comes to projects and offerings as well.

I will be interested to know, when I finally have my reading, which African power it is that the reader will discover owns my head. There is a spirit vaguely connected to New World animistic traditions in Vodou, but that strikes me as a bit of a poor fit at best. I will have to wait and see what they say. Whoever this Divinity is, however, I really hope that they like animals, because there are going to be a lot of them hanging around!



    Bawon apparently has a bone to pick with me, and if we go by my dreams so does Frida, and sometimes there are so many things pulling me I don't know which practice to maintain. But I always end up maintaining the Shamanic practice first. You're absolutely right; sometimes they need to learn to share.

    I have also seen some strange shit in journey, no mistake about that. I don't know if you get this too, but if I become too busy with school, etc and don't have my "me" time the feeling of disconnection eats me from the inside-out. I become progressively angry and then Sedna ends up making me spill water and liquid all over myself and cut myself in stupid ways until I realize I'm being a stupid human again and neglecting shit.

    My point is, I respect the hell out of you for this post.

  2. Bawon has a bone to pick with everybody. :D I love him and his family, no mistake, but they'll take over completely if you're not (respectfully) firm with them!

    The other thing is that you're not dividing your love; just your time. The shamanic powers may get more times than anyone, but it doesn't mean that the others have to be neglected. But then again, I am at my happiest and most fulfilled when serving spiritually, so...any excuse? ^_^