Showing posts with label Shamanism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shamanism. Show all posts

Shamanism Today

Why is shamanism, in all of its forms, becoming more popular? What is the reason behind this now? 

In a nutshell, we may say that humans have an inherent desire to grow into ‘all that we can become,' and that we have reached a point when a shift in awareness and a change in our way of life are unavoidable if we are to continue to progress – or even live – as a species. 

  • Over the past two millennia, our efforts have shifted to a greater emphasis on material reality, economic progress, consumerism, and scientifically oriented mental development. 
  • This has resulted in materially prosperous civilizations while neglecting our inner and spiritual growth. We've lost touch with the Earth, our souls, and the holy both inside and beyond, and we've lost our sense of greater meaning and purpose. 

The shamanic archetype, that deep knowing pattern inside us, reminds us of how it felt to be focused on soul and spirit, immersed in a community, and feeling ourselves as a vital component of life. 

It serves as a reminder of what we must return to on our human journey in order to become balanced and complete. 

We have reached a point in human evolution where many of us are beginning to recognize that our materialistic worldviews, societal economic structures, and one-sided development have resulted in a slew of ecological, economic, social, and political issues, as well as, most importantly, "soulless" societies. 

We paid a far greater price than can be described in any framework described by mere words. 

  • Environmental catastrophe, animal extinction, the destruction and uprooting of virtually all indigenous civilizations across the globe, slavery's brutality, religious crusades, horrific global wars, and more all tell their own stories.
  • Even our much-lauded economic growth has now resulted in unprecedented wealth disparity, with 1% of the world's population owning 48% of the world's wealth.  
  • We pay a hefty price even in affluent nations where we enjoy a large part of the produced riches. We've hit new highs in terms of so-called "mental illnesses," with depression and anxiety disorders leading the way, followed by loneliness and isolation. 
  • The strain to be 'well adjusted' in a culture that denies one's soul is taking its toll. 

I find it unsurprising that soul suffering, which has long been ignored at best and denied at worst in contemporary society, is now showing up in the consulting rooms of medical practitioners, therapists, and psychiatrists in the form of psychosomatic pains, diffuse emotional disturbances, hopelessness, disenchantment, and energy depletion as a result of psychosomatic pains, diffuse emotional disturbances, hopelessness, disenchantment, and depletion of energy. 

  • We would not exist as a society if we did not study and feed the mind, according to Jung. He saw, as do many others now, that we would lose our souls in the process. 
  • When we engage in shamanism, we learn that there is no such thing as ‘wholeness,' no good human growth, no ultimate pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment without nurturing our souls, extending our awareness, and seeing ourselves as an integral part of the whole. 

The shamanic archetype is stirring inside the human psyche because it symbolizes what we've lost: 

  • Our connection to the Earth, nature, our soul, and the holy. 
  • It embodies all our disjointed mind yearns for. 
  • It is a symbol of mystery, enchantment, and community. 
  • It symbolizes our desire to break through our brains' restricting cognitive and ego boundaries, to change our states and allow our awareness soar, so that we may experience the holy in all of its awe-inspiring forms. 
  • It symbolizes the human desire to move beyond the mundane and into the realm of the miraculous. 
  • It symbolizes our ability to create our own reality via our imagination. 

As you read these words, the shamanic soul inside you' has already woken and is requesting time and space to grow in order for your journey to unfold. It's time to get started.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Modern Shamanism - A Living Practice

Since the initial wave of Western interest pushed shamanism to the fore, it has seen a massive rebirth as well as many modifications. 

It has drawn innumerable spiritual searchers as well as increasing attention – and acceptance – from anthropologists, medical practitioners, psychologists, physicists, biologists, and therapists as it has grown more urban, global, and digitally linked. 

Many westerners started to bring back what they had learnt from indigenous shamans, mostly in South America, and practice shamanism themselves in the 1970s and 1980s, conducting courses and workshops and establishing schools, centers, and foundations. 

We now have a second generation of shamanic instructors all across the Western world thanks to these institutions. 

  • Traditional shamans and teachers from Mexico and South America began to travel to the United States and Europe to spread their teachings, while Hopi, Lakota, and Navajo elders and teachers sent increasingly urgent ecological messages to the world, attracting seekers and inspiring foundations, schools, and courses in the United States and Europe. 
  • In the 1990s, publications like Luisah Teish's Carnival of the Spirit, which exposed the world to the Yoruba sacred traditions, and Malidoma Somé's writings on the Dagara people brought African shamanism to the fore.  
  • Shamanism from the Far East, Tibet, and Nepal, which includes fascinating Buddhist components, has made its way into mainstream modern shamanism in the past 20 years or so. 
  • Australian Aboriginal instructors may now be found on social media and at conferences, while shamans and their teachings have grown more widely available in Mongolia and Siberia. 

Parallel to this, many Western shamanic practitioners and instructors have been bringing groups of seekers to study from traditional shamans in different areas of the globe, while traditional shamans have been opening their doors to a growing number of individuals. 

  • This has now nearly reached the level of mass tourism, particularly in Mexico, the Amazon, and the Andes. 
  • We are now witnessing shamanism being incorporated into different movements and fields in diverse ways, adding to the mind-boggling variety. 
  • Shamanic cosmology has been integrated into the awareness movement. 
  • Ethnomedicine is becoming more popular throughout the globe. Shamanic ideas of human consciousness have been integrated into strands of transpersonal psychology. 
  • The Earth-based components have been widely embraced by the ecology movement. 
  • The modern world's interconnectedness is mirrored in contemporary shamanism's mixes and combinations, the intertwining of the ancient and the new. 

Contemporary shamanism's characteristics 

Because modern shamanism is such a mixed bag, it's difficult to describe it exactly, but we may compare it to traditional shamanism and learn about the parallels and contrasts, as most literature does. 

  • Western shamanic practitioners and instructors are not shamans in the classic sense (I prefer the word "shamanic practitioner" instead). 
  • They are neither descended from shaman lineages, nor have they undergone the deep initiation rituals and lengthy training periods that traditional shamans have through. 
  • They aren't part of traditional indigenous groups, therefore their work isn't grounded in "location and custom." 

Western shamanic methods are more focused on the growth and healing of the individual, in accordance with the shift away from groups and toward the individual. 

Despite this, much of the ancient shamanic methods' worldview, goals, and instruments are shared by modern shamanic approaches. 

  • They strive for completeness in the same way as traditional shamans do, concentrating on the integration of the mind/body with the soul/spirit and the entire person with the larger field of spirit. 
  • They also labor for the community, but in a broader sense or by establishing communities with a particular purpose, such as the numerous circles that exist locally across the Western world. 
  • They also use altered states to create a portal between realms, expand our awareness, and help us comprehend our own nature, all while returning us to a soul-centered way of existence that is linked to Earth, spirit, and the holy. 
  • In terms of working with spirits and spirit allies, as well as the usage of a wide variety of tools established within traditional shamanism, contemporary shamanism is similar to traditional shamanism. 
  • It incorporates myths, tales, and archetypal symbols, as well as trance dancing, vision quests, wilderness camps, lucid dreaming, natural hallucinogens, different energy healing methods, medicine wheel teachings, and other techniques. 

Traditional shamans and contemporary shamanic practitioners and instructors both recognize that the teachings ultimately originate from spirit. 

  • Even if they are competent in their trade, excellent practitioners will always work with the aid of spirit, and effective teaching will enhance the student's spirit connection. 
  • We can use the vast knowledge that is increasingly being passed on to us by traditional shamans for our own healing and development, as long as we understand that shamanism is about spirit, soul, Earth, connection, consciousness, and community. 
  • The teachings and practices developed over millennia belong to us all, as they are derived from Earth and spirit, and we can use the vast knowledge that is increasingly being passed on to us by traditional shamans for our own healing and development. 
  • Contemporary shamanism is about discovering our own methods of integrating those important, timeless, and universal lessons into our life. 

Our lives grow more enchanted, meaningful, purposeful, and genuine when we engage in shamanic practices, and we assume our proper positions as positive co-creators in the evolving flow of life, linked to and in harmony with spirit – and our own spirit.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Shamanic Traditions

Shamanism in its traditional form is a global phenomenon. Accounts from the past Our understanding of shamanism in indigenous societies is limited, but we do have reports from early European visitors to many areas of the globe, as well as current academic research. 

  • Recently, reports from shamans descending from traditional lineages from all over the globe have surfaced. 
  • Early European encounters with tribal shamans, which began in the 16th century, are significant records because they have shaped public perceptions of shamanism for generations, and continue to do so to some degree now. 
  • The Europeans were terrified by the euphoric rites, magical ceremonies, strange healing techniques, foreign chants, masks and ceremonial attire, drumming, trance dances, and weird visions. 
  • They associated shamanic activities with witchcraft and consorting with the devil, reflecting that dread as well as the Christian theological beliefs of the period. 
  • Later, during the Age of Enlightenment, most Europeans condemned shamans of being either tricksters and charlatans or psychotics and schizophrenics, in line with the new "logical thinking." 

It took a long time for the western perception of shamans to shift. 

Between 1930 and 1950, anthropologists, ethnologists, psychologists, and biologists started on a more intensive study of the surviving indigenous civilizations across the globe, learning their languages, interviewing shamans, and documenting their own studies. 

  • For example, in 1932, John Neihardt published the now-famous life story of Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux medicine man, revealing him as a great visionary, healer, and leader, and in 1949, Claude Lévi-Strauss, a renowned French anthropologist, compared shamans to psychoanalysts, emphasizing their vast knowledge of the human mind and finally putting to rest the notion that they were insane.\
  • Most significant, anthropological studies revealed that, despite cultural variations, all shamans claimed to converse with spirits for the sake of their society. 

Shamanism, however, did not get the recognition it deserved until the second part of the twentieth century: 

  • Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, published in 1951 and still a major reference work today, provided a synthesis of cross-cultural research while dispelling many misconceptions and prejudices, and coined the term "masters of ecstasy" to describe shamans' altered states and soul flights to other worlds. 

While Eliade's book sparked professional interest, it was Carlos Castaneda's 1969 book The Teachings of Don Juan: 

  • A Yaqui Way of Knowledge that sparked unprecedented public interest and inspired Western spiritual seekers and researchers to live with indigenous peoples, "study" shamans, and participate in (mostly plant-induced) ceremonies and quests. 
  • Shamans functioned as psycho-spiritual and physical healers, ritualists, mythologists, mediums, and visionaries, utilizing their talents for the benefit of their tribes, according to later accounts, and were pioneers in investigating the human mind's broader potential. 

Traditional shamanism's characteristics 

These and other research have revealed that traditional shamans throughout the globe share similar cosmologies, working methods, and traits, while not being a culturally homogeneous group. 

  • Traditional shamanism is a global method for expanding awareness, connecting with energy other realms, and working with such forces for the good of a community and its members' health and peace. Shamans are therefore regarded as world-bridges and guardians of the group's spiritual, psychological, and ecological balance, as well as the individual members'. 
  • Shamans in indigenous cultures rely on nature, the spirit realms, and their tribes for survival. Indigenous traditional shamans, who either come from a bloodline or are "selected by spirit," are known for their dependency. 
  • Their initiation is lengthy and severe, and they often go through a time of change accompanied by a life-threatening mental or physical sickness, which leads to death and rebirth experiences in highly altered states of consciousness. 
  • Shamans had – and continue to have – a wide understanding of the natural and spiritual realms, which they use in their work as healers, visionaries, divinatory practitioners, ritualists and ceremonialists, mythologists, mediums, dreamers, psychics, psychopomps, artists, manifestors, and instructors. 
  • They utilize a variety of talents and methods to ‘fly' to the spirit realms, operate within them, and connect the worlds. 
  • Smoke and herbs, rituals and ceremony, power tools and clothing, trance dance and trance movements, merging with and shapeshifting into nature spirits and animal spirits, close connections with ancestral spirits and spirit allies, ingestion of hallucinogenic sacred plants, and the vibrations of drum rhythms, sounds, and voices are all examples of these.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

What Is Shamanism?

Shamanism is the world's oldest spiritual discipline and practice. 

It is a dynamic tradition, like all organically formed systems: 

  • It has assumed a variety of shapes in many civilizations at various periods. It is, nevertheless, a universal route, with striking parallels throughout the world and across time. 
  • The Americas, Russia, Africa, Asia, the Far East, and China, as well as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, all have remnants of shamanism. 
  • In Spain and France, we have cave paintings that are 30–40,000 years old. 
  • In Australia's outback, we have cave paintings dating back approximately 28,000 years. 
  • The rock art of Niger, Africa, goes back 30,000 years, while a female shaman skeleton discovered in Israel is about 12,000 years old. 
  • Our understanding of shamanism is further enriched by ancient myths, tales, and traditional rituals. 
  • The creation tales of the Americas, Australia, and Africa, as well as the rituals, symbols, and beliefs of Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism, all include strong aspects of shamanic spirituality. 

The old spiritual path's continuity has been interrupted, fractured, and repressed many times, mostly by invaders, missionaries, and political actions, but it has never been completely eliminated. 

Shaman lineages have maintained the practice alive over the centuries in isolated places; 

In other parts of the globe, it has been driven underground, only to resurface when repressing forces have withdrawn or relaxed their hold. 

  • This may be seen in South America, particularly in the Amazon and the High Andes, where shamanism thrives despite Spanish conquerors and missionaries' efforts to eradicate it. 
  • Similarly, despite colonial and ecclesiastical attempts, tribal shamanic traditions were never completely eliminated in Africa and Australia. 
  • The rebirth of North American indigenous traditions, as well as the robust post-Soviet comeback of shamanism in Siberia and Mongolia, which I saw with awe on a recent trip, demonstrate the long-term viability of this old spiritual discipline. 
  • Most sources claim that the term "shaman" comes from the Evenki language of the Tungus tribe of Siberia, since it is closely similar to their word "saman," which means "one who knows" or "one who is aroused, moved, or elevated." 

Even if they have various titles in different cultures, such as medicine man or woman in North America and Canada, healer in Africa, or kupua in Hawaii, the gender-neutral word "shaman" is now used in general for individuals who are engaged in the practice.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Shamanism and Dreams

Dreams, to be precise, ought to make us grateful for their blessings. Dreams are each a beautiful night, the Sun and the Moon metamorphized, and also those texts, calls, and emails creeping back into our Soul if we do not follow the road of wisdom. 

Let us set the books down, invite the ego to slow down (in its desperate attempt to intellectualize any experience), and learn how shamans deal with visions. The ego has divided us from the realm of dreaming in Western cultures, thereby dividing us from an integral aspect of our own reality. This isn't the case anywhere. 

Dreams are a big part of daily life in South American communities that have kept their conventional modes of life. When children first learn to communicate, they continue to work for their visions, which becomes a way of life for them. People gather in a circle and tell stories of their nighttime experiences. Whatever the message is, it tells you what to do during the day. Let us abandon our jobs if the dream instructs us to do so! 

However, if Westerners behaved in this manner, those around them would believe they were nuts for taking "a simple dream" so seriously. 

We must, though, survive with the knowledge of our dreams. Limiting our behavior to a series of closed boundaries, on the other hand, stops the mystical and imaginative universe inside us from touching our lives. Perhaps leaving a job where you feel suffocated and bored will allow you to uncover a secret talent or potential that you were previously unaware of. Let us travel if the dream says so! We will sail as we grasp the natural rules of a divine dream. Our potential is boundless. 

The anthropologists' question to the shaman, "Can you fly like an eagle?" is out of place for him because, in non-ordinary experience, of course he can! 

Everybody can recall wanting to leap out of the window or off the balcony and fly when they were a small child. However, when we attempted to run, we were injured. 

Yet we kept believing in our visions and we trusted them more than we trusted ourselves. On the inside, there is a sense of oneness and magic that tells one that everything is possible. Children understand this better than adults because they are already mindful of and focused on their life force. They want to believe in the magic of the world they live in, as well as the imaginative life force that motivates them. Let us be serious about our wishes. 

If we have a feeling that we are soaring, let us construct a flying ceremony, dress up as a condor, head to the mountains, and learn to fly symbolically. 

However, if we believe it is unlikely, we would not leap out of fear of falling. To comprehend our visions, we must set aside our egos and conditioning in order to approach the dream's truth. People who have the courage to fly and leap do so in a non-physical dimension. Dreams will serve as a reminder of our journey to wholeness in this universe. Any component of a dream is a part of ourselves. We are similar in spirit to the heart of ourselves if we dream of an animal or some aspect of Nature. 

Let us pay attention to Nature's influence and decipher the messages in our dreams. In the realm of dreaming, the four elements – earth (East), fire (West), water (North), and air (South) – reflect the four directions of the mesa or wheel of medicine. They provide us with the keys to deal with. 

I recommend working with Dreams rather than merely interpreting them. If, for example, one has a dream about the fear of altering a part of one's life that involves air and the wind blowing in the direction of South, one can learn to let go of feelings because air is the factor of transition. 

Remember that the snake is the symbolic animal for the way South, which aids the rise of the life force (kundalini). A dream will also instruct us to consume those foods in order to benefit our bodies on a physical basis. This is due to the importance of working for the body. When we are mad, for example, our body expresses this emotion. 

However, keep in mind that this state of being is only transient, since the body and its cells are continually changing in response to our level of consciousness. 

Often keep in mind that as the mental and metaphysical bodies change, the physical body must and can change as well. And "evil" dreams still have a positive message for us. They imply that we're working on something really dear to our hearts. 

For instance, a woman told me about a brief dream she had. In her dream, she was lying on the ground when she was stung by a scorpion above her navel. She assured me that this bite had left her with no emotion or physical pain. The scorpion represents the way East for the shaman, the one dealing with the bond between the body and the world, and it was a messenger of the earth in the dream. 

The scorpion's poison is a potent medication, and this woman required one to purify her body, especially her blocked energy zones in the solar plexus, stomach, and heart. 

Another example: if you have a dream that you are being pursued by a tiger, the shaman will interpret this as the tiger having a very valuable message for you that needs to be interpreted right away. And don't run backwards! Let us not be afraid! 

Let us make friends with the tiger and converse with it. Let us visit the dream and learn how to communicate with it in its own language. The longer we engage with dreams, the more we appreciate their complexity, the more they remind us at different levels of our understanding of their beauty, and the more they assist us in becoming mindful of the insight and experience that we all possess. 

We may use a variety of resources to help us remember and deal through our dreams. Consider the following example: 

  • 1. Have a pen and a journal by your bed so you can write down your thoughts as soon as you wake up. Remembering one's visions is a way of honoring them and giving them tangible form. People often delay this action until later, only to forget about it and lack the time to complete it. Finding the time to write down any thoughts about the dream will help us remember its vitality at first. It would then manifest itself in the form of images, emotions, and sensations. 
  • 2. Use a tape recorder to capture the dream orally. 
  • 3. Make a drawing or painting in your fantasy. 
  • 4. Dance or make fluid moves in response to the dream's force. 
  • 5. To make you recall your wishes, drink a glass of water. That is, drink part of the bottle before going to bed and the other when you wake up. This grounds the dream in the body, which can struggle to recall information when it is exhausted, preoccupied, or recovering from the previous day. 
  • 6. Before going to bed, avoid watching tv. After a long day of work, we return home exhausted and switch on the tv, which disrupts the brain's routines. It disrupts the pituitary gland's activity (which aids in the development of our sense of magic) and halts the normal flow of dreams. 
  • 7. Prior to going to bed, take care of yourself. In a stress-free, relaxing manner, ritualize the transition from everyday activities to sleep. 
  • 8. Before going to bed, avoid having a lengthy conversation about an issue and refrain from anxious feelings. The mind must be at ease. 
  • 9. Read a holy book, inspiring sentences, or religious scriptures to relax into a state of sleep. 
  • 10. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep rather than an extension of your busy everyday routines, unfinished jobs, and/or life in general. 

It's a good idea to make an altar by your bed with simple and beautiful things. Include any good objects, images, or other elements you choose to bring into your dreams.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Also, be sure to check out our section on Religion.

Totem Animals of Shamanism

Creatures, as well as all trees, shamanic rocks, tradition, cliffs, and other elements of shamanism – play a vital role in the community's well-being in Huachuma elements of shamanism. 

Each living aspect of nature, I believe, has a spirit and, as such, should be valued as a spiritual companion. Animals are far more than mere terrestrial beings that are often referred to as "domestic companions." 

They are a fundamental "connection" in the physical sense, assisting mankind in deciphering Nature's mysteries and returning to their basic position of wholeness in and with the Universe. 

Furthermore, since all facets of the natural world must be recorded in our DNA at different points of humanity's evolution, I agree that all aspects of the natural world must be registered in our DNA. 

As a result, we will watch animals in the wild, listen to their calls, and learn a lot about them, including the physical benefits of certain medicinal plants, soothing ingredients, and therapeutic workouts. Totem species are animals that have a particular meaning about them. Their job is to assist us in a variety of circumstances that, in typical cultures, could mean life or death, or that, in the contemporary world, could help us reconnect with our more instinctual self. 

Totem animals are animals that represent each region of the earth. 

The Spirit of the Kangaroo may be used by Australian Aborigines to lead them through their Dreamtime. 

On their long sea travels, Polynesians could have the spirit of the Whale as a reference. When doing Pipe Ceremonies, North American Indians may have an Eagle as their totem. If they tread gently down their spiritual journey, people with wisdom watch the influence and behaviour of all these creatures to better appreciate their harmonious position as one of Nature's children, and therefore their effect on the earth. 

The Eagle in the Pipe Ceremony, for example, will assist an individual or a group in approaching a situation from a perspective other than that of the ego. It will soar to great heights in the sky (the sky reflecting the Higher Self) and sail away from tensions and personal complexities, transcending mundane and confined circumstances that could be creating discord in the individual or group. It sees life from an entirely different angle (for example, it can see the larger picture without being distracted by small details). 

Totem creatures, as spiritual companions and protectors, will convey very valuable personal messages to us. 

They have the ability to draw attention to areas of our lives where there is a disparity. Let us use domestic animals as an example since most of us in the Western world are familiar with them. A cat, for example, may kiss a portion of our body or a dog may stay unusually close to us for an extended period of time. 

What the animals are doing, whether we realize it or not, is actually shamanic: they are assisting us in removing toxic energy from our bodies. We may be shocked to learn later that we have arthritis in the same spot where the cat licked us, or where the dog stuck next to a part of our body that is now injured. 

These animals sensed an imbalance until it became apparent. They removed the toxic energy from our bodies as spiritual partners, allowing us to easily regain equilibrium. We can help ourselves before the imbalances appear if we can understand what they, our animal totems, are saying to us.

Elements in Nature and Totem Animals Rather than merely becoming conscious of the unnatural universe in which most of us in the modern world exist.

It might be more necessary to become aware of our totem animals and all of the forces of nature that come to us, either physically or in visions, in order to keep in contact with Mother Earth and live in peace with her. 

The Ayahuascero families with whom I lived in the Amazon were inextricably linked to the forest and all of its species. The Jaguar is a totem animal for the Ayahuasceros, which means that its spirit assists the group on both a physical and metaphysical basis. The shaman sings an icaro, his "song of influence," and calls to the Spirit of the Jaguar, requesting it to be present in the mesa shamanic ritual (see the chapter "The Four Direction and the Mesa"). 

He converses with the Jaguar as if he were conversing with a mate. He recognises the animal's personality and becomes one with him as a result of this contact. In reality, the terms for shaman and jaguar are synonymous in many Amazonian languages. The shaman can walk effortlessly on the ground and in the water thanks to the power and determination of the jaguar, whose soul is not different from his own. 

This animal's piercing eyes allow him to see in the dark, climb trees, observe the energy of the land, water, and sky, and be more easily in touch with the natural world. Members of the group will participate in this rite if they see the shaman embarking on a long journey into the forest. 

They regard him as a jaguar. As the ritual progresses, they continue to ask him questions that will allow the group to see the world in a new light by gaining the animal's vision, strength, and mental abilities. The group members can discover better ways of collecting food, capturing fish, and discovering special areas where they can collect valuable items by having their totem animal, the Jaguar, as a guide and companion (such as gold, medicinal plants, seeds, remedies etc). We wouldn't dream to have such a close bond with a jaguar as the Ayahuasceros because we don't dwell in the South American rainforest or jungle. 

However, we often see or feel the spirits and/or powers of animals, trees, rocks, rivers, and other objects in our dreams. 

A child might dream of a tiger, for example. This indicates that he is dreaming of a part of himself that wants to be honored (possibly the part of himself that is scared of growing up alone, away from his parents and the security he has known). 

Sometimes, the boy in his dream is terrified of this aspect of himself, and instead of loving the tiger and the pleasure of growing up, he runs away from it. He is sticky and sweating when he wakes up, and he tells his parents about his dream feverishly, seeking consolation from them. His parents, who have been raised to assume that the tiger does not exist, and the boy, who trusts his parents implicitly, do not know that the tiger reflects his own fears about which he is attempting to come to grips, and he believes his parents when they say he has just had a "bad dream"... even though he also investigates to see if there is no tiger lurking under his bed! 

The child's psyche, which has not accepted the tiger, has now been conditioned to be separate from this aspect of his deepest Being, and this programming has become a personality trait. Under the influence of humanity, the tiger under the bed fades out, and through maturity, the sense of alienation and loneliness has been strengthened. This child is attempting to flee from the shaman, with whom he is acquainted. The shaman experiences Totality rather than isolation. 

To take things a step further, an adult who once dreamed of being pursued by a tiger will continue to confront photographs or items depicting tigers or other members of the cat family, with each encounter providing a chance to overcome his childhood fears. He could work as an archaeologist and be intrigued by the cats that guarded the pyramids (places of initiation and transformation) in ancient Egypt, or he could become a veterinarian, nature photographer, or zookeeper, or simply cultivate a hobby of collecting cats (books, stamps, porcelain, etc). If this scenario occurred in a shamanic society, the shaman may suggest a ritual to help the adult understand and acknowledge the guiding force behind his behavior. 

The person is encouraged to develop a more full friendship with the tiger during the ceremony. He would then be able to let go of certain situations that have kept him from realizing his childhood dream of owning a tiger over the years. He might realize that he had to choose between confidence (love) and fear in his dream. 

Returning to fear now will mean going down the path of escape, which at this point leads nowhere. In the other hand, if he acknowledges the tiger as a valuable mate, a totem animal, and wishes to trust and respect, to welcome and become one with the tiger, he will learn to trust that Life nourishes us all the time and belongs to all of us with bravery and strength. The tiger can instill trust in him in any situation that causes him panic. 

With such questions, the shaman's activity in the Amazonian forest is a phase of transition towards Unity and Totality. This, I think, has been forgotten in the West for a long time. 

The shaman's transition is driven by Nature's majestic unity, which includes its birds, trees, cliffs, and rocks, so Nature will make us realize that our inner life cannot be kept in the darkness of isolation on a continuous basis. Nature, in turn, offers all of the answers we need if we can recognize them as such.

Over everything, life is derived from a close friendship with Mother Nature and the Cosmos. 

Totem animals and other natural elements are there as divine companions to assist us in reuniting the fragmented parts of ourselves. Similarly, metaphysical work will assist others in reclaiming their lost link to the Universe. And if we do not live in the Amazonian wilderness, we need even more totem animals and natural elements to help us in our "urban jungle." Our bodies, our inner selves, need a connection to and a harmony with Life's instinctual rhythms. Nature's influence can therefore be evoked by engaging in a direct interaction with all of its facets. Seeing a bird in the sky encourages our body, mind, and spirit to take flight. Since our cells have remembered this room of liberation, we will fly in our dreams. It's important to remember that when we fly, we're reconnecting with our natural sense of independence and our place in the Universe, not just a conceptual relationship with a bird or some other part of nature. In truth, all elements of nature work together to create a harmonious cosmos; otherwise, everything will fall apart. 

Nature will remind us of its rules in a positive or negative way when a part of our self is distracted by anxiety and imbalance. For eg, we may fantasies about a blazing sun and a sky so devoid of clouds that our planet becomes a barren wasteland. The desert represents our lack of connection to the outside world, or we can freely embrace sunshine into our bodies, minds, and feelings, allowing our Spirit to shine like the Sun. In the need to dominate Nature, humanity has lost the basic fact that being one with the animals, trees, and mountains allows us to accept a significant part of ourselves.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Also, be sure to check out our section on Religion.

Shamanic Taoism - Meditating on Nature's Forces

The pakua can be used to concentrate energy during meditation.

The pakua produces a whirlwind, allowing the practitioner to gather, condense, and collect chi. This energy vortex can be used to construct not only a close bond between ourselves, but also a harmonious relationship with all of nature's powers, which are portrayed by the pakua's eight sides. 

This is accomplished by the Fusion practice, which gathers and condenses the abundant energy that consumes us into something that the body can use and absorb.

Forming four pakuas is the first step:

1. Front (or navel) pakua: One and a half inches inside the navel, below the navel.

2. Back pakua: One and a half inches in from the Door of Life, at the back of the body immediately opposite the navel between Lumbar 2 and 3.

3. The junction of a mentally drawn line running vertically downward from the left armpit and a line extending horizontally on the left side from the level of the navel and the Door of Life on the left side of the body. This intersection point is approximately one and a half inches away from the pakua.

4. Right pakua: On the right side of the body, approximately one and a half inches in, at the junction of a visualised vertical line drawn down from the right armpit and a horizontal line drawn from the level of the navel and the Door of Life.

These pakuas receive energy, which is then blended and transformed. The cauldron is then formed at the center of the body, between the four pakuas, as a self-center of being or power.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

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Shamanic Taoism - Nature's Eight Immortals


The eight immortals represent the universe's eight powers outside the visible.

Each of the eight immortals, which represent natural powers, is aligned with a specific geographical path, season, color, earth, species, organ, and so on. We'll start in the southeast with Han Hsien-Ku and work our way counterclockwise around the pakua, listing the characteristics of each of the eight immortals.

The eight immortals represent the universe's eight powers. The directions associated with each of the powers in this configuration of the trigrams correspond to the normal compass-point directions seen on every map, with north at the top and south at the bottom. For a more in-depth look at each of the eight immortals, we'll stick to this plan.


Characteristics of Han Hsien-Ku

Purple is the color of choice (green)

Sun (wind) (force) (force) (force) (force) (force) (force) (

The number four (4)

The season is late spring.

Yin has a lot of energy (-)

The year is 800 CE.

Pluto is a planet.

Sensitivity is a mental trait.

Mountain is another name for it. Sage is a kind of sage

Nervous System

Quality: Increasing

Air is the element (wood)

Generating Movement

Magic is a symbol. Flute (flute)

Adrenal Gland

Sprouting seed

Pull-down in Tai Chi

Penetration/following in the I Ching

Southeast is the direction.

Kindness, forgiveness, graciousness, and friendliness are good emotions.

Jealousy, resentment, jealousy, and rage are negative emotions.

Chi is a word that means "to warm up."

Tendon nourishes

Buffalo is a kind of animal.

Determination is a positive attitude.

Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin

Gallbladder is a form of gallbladder.

Tears are made.

Climate: Wet

Function: Making a decision

Green Dragon Spirit

Sense: Observation (eyes)


In the eighth century CE, Han Hsien-Ku (Han Xiang Zi) was born (see fig. 4.2). He was the nephew of Han Yu, the famous Tang poet and scholar. He learned and qualified for the state civil exams, but he chose not to take them, much to his uncle's chagrin. He was a bright but rambunctious boy who despised the world's pomp and arrogance.

Despite being expelled from a Buddhist temple for being disrespectful and mischievous, he enjoyed silence and anonymity. When he was only a youth, fellow Immortal Lu Tung-Pin introduced him into the secrets of Taoism, and he soon became immersed in the art of internal alchemy. He delved into the mysteries of heaven and perfected the five energy phases (elements).

The divine knot on his robe represents his achievement in fusing the yin and yang forces into one original force.

Han Hsien-Ku (Han Hsien-Ku) is a Taiwan

Lu Tung-Pin once took him up to the legendary World Tree's vantage point to show him the cosmos. Han Hsien-Ku was killed after he fell from the tree, but he soon revived. He was impoverished, but he was unconcerned about it because he was enamored of the Tao. He was able to accomplish amazing feats and predict the future. He made wine without grapes and flowers bloomed in the dead of winter. He mysteriously grew a bunch of rose peonies one winter, with verses written in gold on each petal foretelling his uncle's fate.

He is often portrayed with a floral bouquet. He holds a flute and does the Six Healing Sounds on it. He is depicted riding a buffalo, a legendary creature that represents the Taoist goddess Hsi Wang Mu, queen of the west.


Light green in color

Chen (thunder) (+) Force

The number three (3)

Early spring is the season

Great Yang's energy (-)

Year: 200 CE

Jupiter is a planet.

Emotional: Mental

Tendons are also known as the General System.

Growth: Quality

East is the direction.

Generosity, forgiveness, benevolence, and benignity are also good emotions.

Negative emotions include blame, aggression, remorse, and annoyance.

Chi means moist in Chinese.

Nerves are nourished.

Chimera is a kind of animal.

Decisiveness is an attitude.

Lao-tzu was my teacher.

Wood is an element (air)

Developing Movement

Feather fan as a symbol

Hypothalamus is a gland in the hypothalamus.

Sprouting seed

Tai Chi: Push and Pull

Intuition/action in the I Ching

Liver is a body organ.

Tears are made.

Warm climate

Controls are the function of this object.

Green Dragon Spirit

Sense: Observation (eyes)


Chuan Chung-Li (Fig. 4.3)

In the third century CE, Chuan Chung-Li (Quan Zong Li) was born (fig. 4.3). He was an army general (Marshall of the Empire) under the Han Dynasty. He quit government service and went to the mountains to become a wanderer and beggar after encountering an old man who told him about the Tao. The stone wall of his mountain home crumbled once when he was meditating, revealing a jade jar. Secret meditation notes on how to become invincible is hidden within the case. Following the orders, his chamber was filled with rainbow clouds and divine music one day. A crane appeared and took him into the realms of immortality on its back.

After that, he was free to roam the heavens on his own. During a severe drought, he converted copper and pewter into gold and silver, which he distributed to the needy, saving thousands of lives. After reminding Lu Tung-Pin of the emptiness of creation, he taught him the mysteries of Taoism and convinced him to join him in his blissful existence as a fellow immortal.

He is shown as lightly dressed and bearded. On the sides of his ears, his hair is gathered in two coils. A fan is his mark, which he uses to reincarnate and resurrect the spirits of the dead. He has frequently appeared on Earth as a messenger to Heaven despite being over 1,800 years old. He's riding a chimaera, a legendary being associated with Hsi Wang Mu, the Taoist goddess of life.


Kuo-chiu Tsao Identifying Features

Blue is the predominant colour (brown, associated with yellow and the center)

Fairness, transparency, peace, and recognition are constructive emotions.

Lesser energy Yang Yang Yang Yang Yang Yang Yang Yang Yang (-)

1100 years ago

Uranus is a planet in the Solar System.

Chi is a balancing force.

Flesh Nourishes

Spirit Animal equine

Stabilizing mentality

Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin

Spleen is a digestive organ.

Saliva is a product of the salivary glands.

Mild climate

Balances-integrates is the function of this object.

Yellow Phoenix is a being.

Taste is a sense (mouth)


Northeast is the direction.

Ken (mountain) (+) Force

The number eight (8)

Early autumn is the season (Indian summer)

Worry, fear, false sympathy, and diversion are examples of negative emotions.

Clarity in mind

Mountain Hermit is his nickname.

Lymphatic system

Equalize the quality

Earth is the element.

Centering: Movement

Castanets is the symbol for Castanets.

Castanets, Castanets, Castanets, Castanets, Cast

Ripening Seeds

Shoulder attack in Tai Chi

Stopping/Stillness in the I Ching

Tsao Kuo-Chiu (Cao Guo Jio) is one of two royal brothers (fig. 4.4). During the eleventh century CE, their sister was a Sung empress. He was so afraid of his murderous and hedonistic brother that he gave away all of his riches to the poor and fled to the mountains in search of the Tao.

He dressed himself in wild plants and lived as a hermit in the mountains.

He eventually harmonised his mind, body, and spirit to the point that he could effortlessly turn into the Tao.

Kuo-Chiu Tsao

He encountered two of the eight immortals, Chung-Li and Lu Tung-Pin, one day while wandering around his mountain world. “What are you doing?” Lu Tung-Pin inquired. “I am cultivating the Tao and learning the Way,” he answered. Kuo-Chiu looked to Heaven when asked where the Tao was. He pointed to his heart when asked where Heaven was. “The heart is Heaven, and Heaven is the Tao,” Chuan Chung-Li beams. You did, in fact, discover the truth and the path. You're aware of the origins of things.” They asked him to join them on their adventures as immortals.

His icon is the castanets, which he uses to inspire meditation and journeying across the world by playing them in a calming and stimulating pattern. He's riding a horse whose spirit may have assisted him in discovering the Tao's mysteries and attaining immortality. He is said to still be alive on this planet.


Kuo-Lao Chang Kuo-Lao Chang Kuo-Lao Chang Ku Identifying Features

Black in colour (blue)

(+) Kan (water) force

The number one (1)

Winter is the season.

Fear, shock, tension, worry, doubt, and anxiety are all negative emotions.

Chi: To chill

Bones are a good source of nutrition.

Spirit Animal equine

Willpower is an attitude.

Lao-tzu was my teacher.

Kidneys are a type of organ.

North is the direction.

Positive emotions include gentleness, stillness, alertness, and appreciation.

Greater Yin in terms of energy (-)

The year is 800 CE.

Mercury is a planet.

Mental: Unpredictability

Mountain is another name for it. Hermitage

Arrangement: Absorbing Element: Water Urinary Quality

Gathering: Movement

Urine is made.

The weather is chilly.

Ambitions is a feature.

Blue Turtle is the spirit of

Sense: Auditory (ears)


Phoenix Feather as a Symbol

Adrenal Gland

Dormant seed

Tai Chi: Defend yourself

I Ching: Danger/passion

Kuo-Lao Chang 

In the eighth century CE, Chang Kuo-Lao (Zang Guo Lao) was born (fig. 4.5). He claimed to have served as a grand minister to the mythical Emperor Yao (2357–2255 BCE) in a former life. When he mastered the mysteries of immortality and became "the Original Vapor," he was an elderly mountain hermit. He had a magnificent horse that could transport him thousands of miles in a matter of seconds. He used to ride backwards a lot. He would topple the horse, fold it like a piece of paper, and store it in his pocket until he arrived at his destination. He'd pull it out and moisten it with water to transform it back into a horse until he was able to ride again.

Many Tang emperors welcomed him to court, but he refused much of the time. He amused one emperor by disguising himself and drinking poisons.

The emperor conferred the title of "Master of Understanding the Mystery" upon him, as well as a high rank and his daughter in marriage. Chang Kuo-Lao turned down both offers; but, when he got another, he accepted it.

While receiving an imperial order, he lied down and died. He was buried in a coffin, but it was later discovered to be hollow when his disciples opened it. He was frequently seen alive after that.

His emblem is a wand-filled funnel or a "Phoenix feather," which he uses to predict luck and misfortunes. He is credited for assisting souls in reincarnation. His portrait can still be seen in the bedrooms of many in China who are seeking to start a family.


Tsai-Ho Lan Lan Tsai-Ho Lan Tsai-Ho Identifying Features

Silver grey in colour (gold)

Chien (heaven) (+) Force

The number six (6)

Season: Late autumn

Yang is the most powerful energy (-)

The year is 300 CE.

Neptune is a planet in the Solar System.

Intuition is a mental concept.

Often known as: Respiratory Minstrel System

Condensing quality

Metal is a metal element (ether)

Compressing movement

Flower Basket as a Symbol

Thyroid gland

Falling Seeds

Single whipping in Tai Chi

Strength/creativity, according to the I Ching.

Northwest is the direction.

Righteousness, dignity, order, and substantiality are good emotions.

Depression, loss, gloom, dejection, and down are destructive emotions.

Chi is a Chinese word that means "cooling."

Skin is nourished.

Elephant is a kind of animal.

Vitality is an attitude.

Lao-tzu was my teacher.

Colon is a kind of colon.

Mucus is made.

The weather is nice.

Stabilizes the situation.

White Tiger's Spirit

Smell is a sense (nose)


Lan Tsai-Ho (Lan Cai He) was born under the Tang Dynasty, and at the age of sixteen, he became the first male immortal (see fig. 4.6). He was a performer who, like some ancient shamans, dressed and looked like a woman. He was a beggar and a street performer who gave his money to the sick.

He marched about with one bare foot, still jumping and singing, and was surrounded by people that thought he was crazy. He wrote and sang songs that questioned life, its ephemeral pleasures, and its inexorable and pointless reincarnations. In the night, he'd sleep soundly in the snow, steam emerging from his body, a sure indication that he'd perfected internal alchemy techniques. He was always seen buying wine for everybody in taverns.

Lan Tsai-Ho

After singing and entertaining in a pub one evening, he climbed aboard a crane that had descended among the strains of a heavenly chorus.

In front of a stunned audience, the crane gracefully lifted this "Holy Fool" into the sky. A bowl of flowers, herbs, and branches from trees synonymous with longevity, such as the chrysanthemum, peach blossom, fir, and bamboo, serves as his emblem. He rides an elephant, which is a sign of intelligence, courage, and prudence.


Tung-Pin Lu Identifying Features

Metallic white in colour

Tui (lake) (+) force

The number seven (7)

Early Winter is the season.

Lesser Yin Energy (-)

The year is 800 CE.

Venus is a planet.

Intuition is a mental concept.

Wise Sage is a term used to describe anyone who is wise.

Respiratory Quality: Condensing System

Metal is a metal element (ether)

Contracting movement

Symbol: Sword of the Whisk

Pineal Gland

Falling Seeds

Roll back in Tai Chi.

I Ching: Attraction/joy

West is the direction.

Courage, righteousness, appropriateness, and boldness are optimistic emotions.

Sadness, loss, dejection, and sadness are negative emotions.

Chi: the process of drying

Skin is nourished.

Tiger is a kind of animal.

Vitality is an attitude.

Hsi Wang Wu, Hsi Wang Wu, Hsi Wang Wu, Hsi

Lungs are a kind of organ.

Mucus is made.

Dry climate

Strengthens the body

White Tiger's Spirit

Smell is a sense (nose)


 Tung-Pin Lu

Lu Tung-Pin (Lu Dong Bin), also known as Ancestor Lu or Lu Yan, is a magnificently wise hero who lives on Stork Peak (fig. 4.7). He was born in the eighth century CE and is still living, according to legend. He was a Confucian philosopher who converted to Taoism after being introduced by fellow immortal Chuan Chung-Li into the mysteries of internal alchemy. He's riding a tiger, who represents the divine force that flows from the Taoist goddess Hsi Wang Mu, who rules the west. Lu Ting-Pin wears a horsehair whisk, which represents his desire to climb and walk on clouds. He is often shown with a magic sword with two edges (“demon slaying”) strapped to his back. A dragon gave him this sword of magical abilities. It enables him to take refuge in the heavens and become invisible to evil spirits. The three Thrusting Channels used in internal alchemy are symbolized by his three-part beard. He has the ability to fly thousands of miles in an instant and was known to scour China for people with good hearts, especially those who sacrificed their security and well-being to support those in need. When he came across those people, he would use his mystical abilities to assist them in becoming Taoist immortals.

When he caught the wealthy and wealthy oppressing the weak and vulnerable, he used the excuse to humiliate and execute them. The Chinese people have always adored and revered this legendary figure known as "Ancestor Lu." He lived 400 years on Earth and reappears on a regular basis.

He can be reached through mediums or direct contact during meditation or shaman journeying.


Hsien-Ku Ho Hsien-Ku Ho Hsien-Ku Identifying Features

Pink is a colour (yellow, which is associated with the center)

Good emotions include: openness, compassion, assurance, and certainty.

Worry, fear, uneasiness, and anguish are negative emotions.

Chi is a balancing force.

Muscles are nourished.

Female is her name. System of Asceticism: Digestive system

Neutralize the quality

Earth is the element.

Centering: Movement

Lotus blossom as a symbol

Parathyroid gland

Ripening Seeds

Shoulder attack in Tai Chi

Receptivity/docility, according to the I Ching.

Southwest is the direction

Kun (earth) (+) is a powerful force.

The number two (2)

Late summer is the season

The greatest source of energy is Yin is a Chinese character (-)

700 years ago (CE)

Saturn is a planet.

Deer is a mental animal.

Stabilizing mentality

Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin, Tung-Pin

Pancreas is a kind of organ.

Saliva is a product of the salivary glands.

Mild climate

Balances is the function of this object.

Yellow is the spirit colour. Phoenix is a city in Arizona.

Taste is a sense (mouth)

Who's that sound?


Ho Hsien-Ku (He Xian Gu) was born in the seventh century CE and is still alive today, at the age of over 1,400. (fig. 4.8). After meeting fellow immortal Lu Tung-Pin, who taught her internal alchemy and gave her a precious rare peach of immortality, she became an immortal at the age of fourteen. She was able to travel in her spirit body shortly after consuming the peach to pay tribute to Hsi Wang Mu, the great Taoist goddess of immortality. The goddess took her off to Ho Hsien-new Ku's home, the gardens of infinite space. She was able to stop menstruating and save her life-force vitality as a result. She also developed the capacity to feed herself solely from the sweet heavenly dew and the ever-present chi. She spent her childhood fortune-telling and travelling and floating from mountain peak to mountain peak collecting herbs and food for her mother and the sick. She even travelled to the mountains on a regular basis to meet other female immortals.

Hsien-Ku Ho 

She rose to prominence and was called to the empress of China to introduce herself. She disobeyed the royal order and rose to Heaven in broad daylight, vanishing from Earth. She was also seen floating on a rainbow cloud over the temple of Ma Ku, a renowned female Taoist adept, a few years later. Ho Hsien-Ku continues to appear to the righteous, innocent, and poor who are in desperate need of divine help.

She is depicted holding a magical lotus blossom, which represents her strength and innocence and is the flower of openheartedness and spiritual genius. She is astride a deer, which is a sign of endless energy and immortality.


Tieh-Kuai Li Tieh-Kuai Li Tieh-Kua Identifying Features

Red is the predominant colour.

Li (fire) (+) is a force.

The number nine (9)

Summer is the season.

Greater Yang's energy (-)

Year: 200 CE

Mars is the name of the planet.

Heating is referred to as Chi.

Blood cells are nourished.

Chimera is a kind of animal.

Prosperity is the attitude.

Hsi Wang Mu, Hsi Wang Mu, Hsi Wang Mu, Hsi

Heart Direction: South Organ: Heart

Good emotions include joy, affection, respect, pleasure, honour, and patience.

Hatred, impatience, desire, envy, and cruelty are negative emotions.

Mental: Ingenuity

Lame is a term used to describe someone who isn't very bright. System of the Beggars: Exciting Vascular Quality

Fire is the element.

Expansion in movement

Sweat is generated.

The weather is hot.

Function: energizes

Spirit Color: Red Bird of prey

Sensibility: (tongue)


Symbol: A crutch made of iron.

Thymus gland

Blooming seed

Tai Chi: Protect Yourself

Attention/awareness is a theme in the I Ching.

Tieh-Kuai Li Tieh-Kuai Li Tieh-Kua

During the Han Dynasty, Li Tieh-Kuai (Li Tie Guai) or "Iron Crutch Li" (fig. 4.9) was born (second century CE). He spent forty years in the mountains, committed to yoga to the point of forgetting to feed or sleep. According to tradition, he was directly exposed to Taoist practices by the great Taoist sage Laotzu. According to legend, he learned the art of immortality from the Taoist goddess Hsi Wang Mu, queen of the west.

He was once a handsome and well-built man of imposing height, but he was depicted as a lame and hideous beggar. Since his spirit body visited Lao-tzu, he underwent a transformation. He asked his student to keep an eye on his physical body for seven days, preventing it from being destroyed by birds, insects, and other spirits. If his student did not return within seven days, he ordered him to burn his corpse. The student discovered that his own mother was dead after just six days, so he burned Li's body and went to his mother's bedside. On the seventh day, Li returned and expressed his desire to join his body. He entered the corpse of a lame beggar who had just died, seeing that his body had been killed. He transformed the beggar's bamboo staff into an iron crutch and a magic staff by blowing water on it.

The staff and gourd are his symbols (a symbol of the universe). He will transmute matter with the staff and invent remedies and potions from his gourd after mastering the five phases of energy and effectively merging yin and yang into the one original energy.

You may also want to read more about Shamanism here.

Also, be sure to check out our section on Religion.