How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

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Naudia Threng
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How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Naudia Threng »

So, I already know about the call and shaman sickness and all that. But I've also read that you can be called through a near death experience. And that leaves me with a few questions. Well, two:

If I've been in a situation like an ATV accident where I should have died, but came out almost unscathed, would that count as a call?

If I missed a call to shamanize because I was too young or just see the signs, could I be given the call multiple times? Because I've been in many near death situations where I survived for no reason. Like on Christmas one time, a piece of hall cracked the windshield on my moms car and she jerked the wheel, we slid on ice and knocked the siding off the bridge. But for some reason we stopped exactly on the edge.

I had originally decided that I wasn't called to shamanize, but choose to become a student of the path anyways. When recently discussing the former, my friend pointed out that had lots of near death experiences and survived for no logical reason. Any advice or knowledge would be greatly appreciated!

Xoxo
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by corvidus »

Hey there Azure Lily,

The fact that you've decided to pursue shamanism is enough. You don't need to look for anymore signs. The so-called 'shaman sickness' and 'the call' that you read about these days usually only happens to those people who ignore their intuition, and (conscioisly or subconsciously) subdue their spirit.

Keep practicing, and eventually you'll find someone to initiate you.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Heartsong »

corvidus wrote:Hey there Azure Lily,

The fact that you've decided to pursue shamanism is enough. You don't need to look for anymore signs. The so-called 'shaman sickness' and 'the call' that you read about these days usually only happens to those people who ignore their intuition, and (consciously or subconsciously) subdue their spirit.

Keep practicing, and eventually you'll find someone to initiate you.

I have to disagree with you here, corvidus, because I have found both the call and the 'shaman sickness' or near death experience, to be key components of what shapes a shaman. Just as not everyone is meant to be a healer, not everyone is meant to be a shaman. It's not a path for everyone, and these two factors are, in my opinion, the major reasons for that.

I believe that the near death experience is a very important component of shamanism. The very definition of shaman is an individual who has insight and knowledge of the world of spirits. They act as a bridge between the physical world and the world unseen, and it's the knowledge they gain by walking with one foot in both worlds that they are such profound physical and spiritual healers. And that's the key right there - physical and spiritual healers. A person can't heal what they don't understand; you have to know how the body works to treat an ailment. It's why doctors and nurses are trained. In turn, you have to know how the spirit works. And in my experience, the only way to do that is to have touched that world. You need to have been there. You need to be, in some respect, touched by death.

When a shaman enters a trance state, they are in a sense recreating that moment of death, that moment that, for a brief period of time, they were in both worlds. To achieve that takes a great deal of energy, which requires a great deal of time training to focus. There isn't a person alive, I don't believe, that can achieve it without a huge amount of practice and guidance, either by another shaman or the spirits themselves. For some people, it can be a path that is both extremely painful and isolating. Shamans are often asked to give up much in order to achieve and maintain their connection with the spirit world, including but not limited to personal possessions and relationships. You may have to go through rigorous physical hardships in order to train both body and mind to straddle both worlds. Think about it. For most people, the only way to even get that initial contact is by being so close to death that the thin separation between the two parts and you are both living and dead. And then, in order to make contact again, you must continually recreate that moment. Can you imagine how punishing that is, how traumatizing, not only to the body, but also to the soul?

So, no, I'm afraid that I can't agree that the desire to be a shaman is enough. To be a shaman, I believe that you have to possess an immense physical and spiritual fortitude. That can be gained, but it's not instant. We're talking YEARS. It's a constant, never ending battle for balance.

That being said, I don't want to sound like I'm discouraging people from pursuing this path. By all means, research it. Explore it, find out everything there is to know about it. Walk a few steps on the path and see where it takes you. Incorporate shamanic practices into your own if it feels right to you. But keep in mind that shamans are first and foremost a human bridge between the living and the dead. It is through their experiences in both worlds that they learn to heal both people and spirits.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Xiao Rong »

As I understand it, one important concept to the shamanic role is the "wounded healer". I have thought about this a lot as part of the Persephone archetype, which I've discussed before at length (she is in many ways a shaman, traveling between our world and the Underworld and serving as a guide to the dead). As Heartsong said, trauma is a central component of the shaman's path. But where some get swallowed up by the trauma, the shaman is one who derives wisdom from it, and uses it as a the source of her passion to heal others (for some, it's the knowledge of the worlds of the living and the dead -- on a more mundane level, it might be why people who have experienced trauma are often drawn towards counseling professions).

From healing her own wound, she gains intimate knowledge of how to heal others. While she is probably never fully the same, her wound becomes a part of her identity and a strength. And healing her own wound is usually a lifelong process, lest the shaman identify too strongly with the healer archetype and develop an inflated ego, or else wind up projecting her own wound onto others and trying to relive her own trauma instead of helping her patients. To me, it seems to me to be a very delicate path (not only straddling two worlds, but also straddling the line between selfishness and selflessness) that requires constant humility and growth.

This is why I suspect that shamanism is one area in which youth is not an advantage. It's a path that requires a lot of life experience, and also a lot of introversion and self-understanding. If you feel a call to shamanize, I think that is first and foremost a call to examine the self and to learn and grow. Most of the wisest people I know aren't Pagan and don't know much about spirit guides and the like; they are simply the ones who have seen and been through a lot and reflected deeply on their experiences.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by corvidus »

Hey Heartsong, Xiao Rong. I agree with the both of you, that not everyone is meant to be a shaman and that self-reflection and humility are necessary qualities to possess in the pursuit of Wisdom.

But I know from experience, that the conscious or unconscious pursuit of something is sometimes necessary for initiation to occur. We don't always know what we're looking for. And in the great work, I doubt anyone does. The important thing, to which I was trying to express myself in my first post, is to remain open to its influence rather than continually looking for signs of its presence -- because it's already with us.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Sakura Blossom »

Corvidus,

When replying to posts or creating your own; make sure that you stress that these are your personal feelings. Your most recent post here talks as if it's the 100% truth in the matter. Your experiences do not equate to fact for everyone. While they might hold truth to you, others will have differing opinions as you've seen here. It is imperative that you make sure you use language such as "I personally feel that this is already with us" or "Based on my experiences, my own opinion is...". It's very important to remain respectful of the idea that others have differing beliefs.

Thank you,

Sakura
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by corvidus »

Sakura Blossom wrote:Your most recent post here talks as if it's the 100% truth in the matter. Your experiences do not equate to fact for everyone.
Hey Sakura, I mean no disrespect, but why isn't truth found through experience? And why shouldn't I be confident in the things I've experienced?

I agree with the idea that my 'opinions' aren't fact. But I'm not talking about 'opinion'. I'm talking about things that radically changed my worldview after having experienced them.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Sakura Blossom »

corvidus wrote:
Sakura Blossom wrote:Your most recent post here talks as if it's the 100% truth in the matter. Your experiences do not equate to fact for everyone.
Hey sakura, I mean no disrespect, but why isn't truth found through experience? And why shouldn't I be confident in the things I've experienced?

I agree with the idea that my 'opinions' aren't fact. But I'm not talking about 'opinion'. I'm talking about things that radically changed my worldview after having experienced them.
I am by no means saying that it doesn't mean anything to you. What I was saying is that it's important to express that it's something that is fact for you but not for others. What might be a truth for you that you found through experience may not be for another. There is no reason not to be confident in what you know for yourself - and I was never saying otherwise. We have a lot of members here who are just starting out and we want them to keep an open mind about everything they read on this site. There are many different ways to experience something.

It's great to learn from your own experiences but they are your own lessons; no one else's.

As my reply to you said, it might not equate that way for others. Your experiences are your own and it's great to share them with others but to make sure that others understand this is your personal view. That was all I was saying.

But I don't want to detract from the topic here, so I will leave it as it is.

Thank you,

Sakura
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by corvidus »

Thanks for the explanation Sakura. I'll try to keep it in mind.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

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Azure Lily's question made me think of Mary Gilliland Wong. She's the author of Nun: A Memoir. I read the book years ago, and also watched the television movie adaptation. I believe the book is available on Amazon. It may also be available at local libraries. It tells the real life story of a teenaged girl who felt called to religious life.

I think it's wise to keep in mind, that a calling isn't always permanent. It may be something that leads to another calling. I like to say that things are written in pencil, not in stone.

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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Vesca »

Xiao Rong wrote:From healing her own wound, she gains intimate knowledge of how to heal others. While she is probably never fully the same, her wound becomes a part of her identity and a strength. And healing her own wound is usually a lifelong process, lest the shaman identify too strongly with the healer archetype and develop an inflated ego, or else wind up projecting her own wound onto others and trying to relive her own trauma instead of helping her patients. To me, it seems to me to be a very delicate path (not only straddling two worlds, but also straddling the line between selfishness and selflessness) that requires constant humility and growth.
I couldn't really put this better myself, but it's this trauma that sears away a part of who the individual once was and makes them turn outward for their life purpose rather than inward. Simply having a near-death-experience isn't akin to being "called," there needs to be that spiritual death of the person that once was and the rebirth of someone new.

In older traditions, shamans who were called may never have experienced a near-death situation. Many simply endured something psychological, emotional and it was still that moment of death and rebirth. Which is why you'll sometimes read about shamans carrying out a death-rebirth reenactment in front of their tribe to show the rest of the family that they were no longer the same person and that they had been reborn as someone else with a different life purpose.

It's not a pride thing, it's not generally something someone can study and prep for (because you never know if or when that moment of utter devastation will happen). And after that fall, that person is never the same again and they will always carry those psychological (and sometimes physical) scars with them.

There really is no mistaking that moment for anything but what it is.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by SnowCat »

Epiphanies can be experienced in many ways. NDE can certainly be an epiphany. I don't really recommend it though.

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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

Post by Naudia Threng »

Well I definitely had an epiphany when I decided to explore other spiritual paths.
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Re: How do I know if I've been called to shamanize?

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Keep exploring. If you are genuinely called to shamanize, it will become apparent.

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