In my last blog I wrote a little bit about the difference between pagani and hellene and more about being pagani in an urbani setting. That is, bring nature into our lives even when we live in urban settings. I think that those of us who live in urban settings need to make a more conscious effort to incorporate nature into our lives. In addition, because we may live in a concrete jungle rather than the Amazon jungle or even in a rural setting, finding ways to connect with nature is even more important for us.
Finding that connection with nature brings us the idea of being hellene, or in modern vernacular, being pagan. Those of us who proudly consider ourselves to be pagan don't follow one of the three book religions. Our spiritual lives lie far from orthodoxy. You too might be pagan or have pagan tendencies (oh no, not that) if, for example, you:
Shamanism isn't a religion if you believe Wikipedia which defines a religion as, "a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called 'an order of existence'". Just for fun, let's take that definition apart and see how shamanism stacks up.
Shamanism may not be a religion but it can be a spiritual path, one that brings you closer to Spirit and humanity. In fact, if you want to really practice shamanism then you have to do more than read about. You must develop your own personal relationship with Spirit. The best way to do that initially is through shamanic journeys to meet your power animals. They are representations of the divine, the energy of the divine directed towards us in a form and frequency that we can interact with and understand. The messages that you receive from your power animals are personal revelation. The heavens are open, we just have to learn to listen.
Find Spirit on your path.
Let's go back to Roman times. The urbani (urban dwellers) were the city folk and were the first to leave the old ways and adopt the new christian religion. The pagani were the rustic, rural, country folk. They held onto the old ways much, much longer. At the time, "pagani" didn't mean "pagan". The Romans used the word "Hellene" to differentiate the non-christian from the christian. It appears that medieval authors reading ancient Roman documents mistakenly believed that the word "pagani" referred to a religious sect and thereby gave it the corresponding, modern connotation.
So, are you an urban pagan, an urbani pagani? Are you an urbani pagani hellene? I'm proud to say that I am. What does it mean to be an urbani pagani? To me it means that I bring as much of the rural, or rustic life as I can into the modern, urban setting where I live. We plant a garden every year and, although it is still officially winter, I have already started to plan this year's garden. I have been thinking about what land I want to clear to make room for more garden and what I want to plant. This year I want to experiment with a potato tower and expand the medicinal herb garden.
What if you live in an apartment? We started our garden several years ago with 5 gallon buckets on the deck. Container gardens are a wonderful way to create a small urban garden. Many towns and cites offer community garden space for a small fee. Planting your garden as part of a community garden is a way to supplement the produce that you grow in a container garden.
Don't really want to garden but want to feel a little pagani? Get to a local park or nature trail and spend some time walking in nature. Check with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to see if they have build trails in your area. Find some like-minded people, get some hand drums, and start a drum circle in a local park.
Most people walk around either looking at their cel phone or the ground. Just take a look at people when you are out today. What are they looking at? When you go out look up. Look at the trees. Look and birds and become familiar with the birds and the seasons when they appear on their migratory route. Most people never look up at the night sky. You can download sky charts and follow the movement of the stars in the sky. For example, what season is it when the constellation Orion first appears in the sky and when does it sink below the horizon?(1)
Being an urbani pagani isn't just about getting in touch with nature. It also means that you get in touch with the spirits of the place. Nature is everywhere, even in patches of weeds next to a road, and everywhere we find nature, we find nature spirits. Start getting in touch with the spirits of nature, talk to them, leave them little gifts, build a faire house with your children and leave it outside under a tree, ask them permission when you harvest and thank them for caring for nature. Begin every day with an invocation to Mother Earth, Father Sky, the spirits of nature and your ancestors.
You are probably not the first person to live where you now live. Even if you live in a new home people lived there before on that same land. It have have been 100 years ago, or 10,000 years ago or longer. Get in touch with the spirits of your ancestors and the spirits of place. Ask for their help and guidance and thank them for their energy, strength and gifts.
Be creative and finds ways to be a pagani in an urbani setting. In my next blog I think that I'll write about being a hellene as well as an urbani pagani.
(1) Orion is visible in the Northern hemisphere from November to February. So when you first see Orion in the sky you should know that winter is approaching and when Orion sinks below the horizon you know that spring is on the way.
I wrote a little about the Rune in yesterday's blog. Today I'll give you a few hints about Rune casting. You may use Tarot spreads, like the Celtic Cross spread, if you wish. These spreads are complex and each position in the spread has a specific meaning. I don't use Tarot spreads for a couple of reasons. First, my teachers in Bolivia and Perú didn't cast coca leaves using a Tarot spread. And second, the Rune are much older (according to me) than Tarot spreads and I would rather stick with tradition. However, as I have written before, your path is yours, not mine so find what works for you.
My teachers in the Andes would select some coca leaves from a sack of leaves and cast them or let them fall on their mesa (altar). They let their Apus guide their fingers and didn't count out three or five leaves, they just took a few from the sack. The leaves told them a story and they would read the story from the position of the leaves, the pattern that they made on the altar cloth (aguayo) their relationship to each other, and even the shape and color of the leaves. I try to do the same.
When I have a question or someone asks me a question I meditate on the question for several minutes while moving the Rune stones around, mixing them, in their sack. I am right handed so I do this with my left hand, the hand that is wired to the less analytical and more creative side of my brain. I then select a few stones from the stack, hold them in my hand and again repeat the question and ask my Apus for guidance and then let them fall on the aguayo.
I don't move the stones after they fall, I leave them as they have arranged themselves on the cloth. Stones that are face down have meaning that is hidden so I don't touch them for now. I look at the stones that are close together, they are related. Stones that are reversed usually have the opposite meaning of their normal signification. Once I have read the stones then I turn the upside down stones over, and pay special attention to those that were touching or were very close to other stones to see if they tell a hidden story.
If you want a little structure in a reading then I suggest that you start with three Runes. Select the Runes without looking at them and place them on your Rune cloth. Again, don't turn them right side up if they are upside down and don't rotate them so that they are in their normal position. I did a three-rune cast before writing and asked, "Please show me Runes that readers would have fun reading." This is what I got:
I am really glad that I didn't ask a personal question because this is not a very happy spread. How do you read it? If you want, post your reading as a comment or sent it to me using the contact form. I'll comment on the readings in a couple of days. Not right now, because if you are serious about learning the Rune then I don't want to walk around in your mind with my dirty feet. You will learn more reading by yourself.
Last word of advice? The more you practice with the Rune the easier it will be to read them. Have fun!
I received several email requests on Thursday and Friday for more information about the Rune. Lisa Peschel's book, A Practical Guide to the Runes, is a good and inexpensive introduction. You should be able to pick a copy up for about $7. For those who want something now, I wrote the following yesterday and then got up early this morning and drew the Rune for the attached (it is also available on the Resources page). I didn't blog yesterday because my free time went into writing the attached guide.
If you have a local metaphysical store you can probably pick up a set of Rune there. I just checked and Amazon and Etsy both sell nice, stone sets for under $20, so that is another resource if you can't find a set locally.
If you are crafty then go for a walk and look for a nice ash or oak branch (please use a fallen branch or ask the tree permission before you harvest). Look for a branch that is about one inch in diameter, cut it into 24 rounds that are 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. You can leave the bark on the rounds or peal it off, up to you. Then paint, inscribe, wood burn, or carve the rune into the rounds. If you don't have any branches handy then take a trip to your local craft store and buy a one-inch diameter dowel or use Popsicle sticks. Popsicle sticks are nice when you are just starting out because you can use a permanent marker to draw the Rune and also write one or two key words on the stick. I don't varnish wooden Rune because I want to feel the energy of the tree and it seems to be blocked by polyurethane.
If you get your Rune today then tomorrow I'll write a short blog on a simple approach to casting the Rune . . . I'll do it even it if takes you a couple of days to get your Rune. I'll explain tomorrow why I don't write anything on the back of the Rune that I have made.
I recorded an invocation in Spanish for my new YouTube channel yesterday and in that introduction/invocation I described myself as en eclectic shaman. I don't come from a society where shamanism is part of our culture. That tradition was pretty much destroyed in Northern Europe where I have my geneological roots with the Christian invasion (1). Any way, the result is that shamanism isn't a tradition in my cultured and so I'm not a "traditional shaman".
Rather, I enjoy a form of shamanism that brings together the practices from diverse cultures. This combination of practices combines elements that work for me. They may not work the same for you so I encourage you to experiment and use what works. Shamanism is, after all, an experiential path. For example, no matter how many books about medicinal herbs you read or how many correspondence courses or workshops you attend you eventually have to get out into the field and communicate with the spirits of the weeds (I love weeds, they are just plants that grow where must people don't want them . . . I want them everywhere).
Here is another example. There are lots of tools that you can use for divination. You might use a pendulum, tarot cards, or ogham. If you are a curandero/shaman in the Andes then you would open your pachakuti mesa or despacho (bundle of sacred objects) and cast coca leaves on a q'ipina (Quechua, woven cloth). If you lived on the Altioplano outside of La Paz you might also melt a few ounces of zinc and drop the molten metal into a vessel of cold water and the read the formation that solidified when the melt rapidly cooled. The practice of molybdomanacy was/is also practiced in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. I don't mess with molten metal; its just too dangerous for me. If I started laying out my mesa in the park and casting coca leaves I would very quickly find myself in jail. I could mimic the practice by casting bay leaves, they about the same size, but to me bay leaves don't have the same energy, they are very weak in comparison to coca leaves. What to do?
I cast runes. The process is similar to that of casting coca leaves and I "read" the runes. The practice works for me and it comes from the land of some of my ancestors. The symbols on the rune stones resonate with me in a way the the images on tarot cards never have.
So, what does my eclectic practice include? Well part of it includes the following:
If you are feeling a little eclectic too then you might want to take a look at the blog series that I wrote on Core, Andean, Nordic, and Celtic shamanism. The links are to the first blog in each series.
Find the path and the tools that work best for you, and most of all, smile and enjoy your path because it's yours and no one else's.
(1) The last of the forced conversions of pagans in Northern Europe may have ended in 1386 when the King of Lithuania, LadislasJagiello, married Queen Jadwiga of Poland and received Catholic baptism. The two kingdoms were united under Christian rulers and the Teutonic Knights no longer had any justification for crusading against pagans there. Until then the twice-a-year crusades into Lithuania brought convert-or-die Christians into the flock.
Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real that you didn't want to wake up? Or, have you ever had a dream that was so real that when you woke up you weren't sure if your dream was reality and your waking state was just a dream? I have, and it happened again last night. So what do contemporary shamanas think about dreams? In this blog I want to quickly summarize my principles that relate to dreams and reality.
Dream on my friends, it is one of the best ways to communicate with spirit.
PS: I just opened YouTube channel and posted my first video. Please don't laugh if you watch it. It is a lot harder than I though that it would be to talk to a camera. I'm much more comfortable typing, but I'll get use to it. Here is a link to my new channel.
You most likely have read the story of the 70 year old woman in Arizona who died last week from an infection that was resistant to all 26 antibiotics approved for use in the United States. Unfortunately this is a growing problem and one that has the medical community more than a little concerned. For example, is it safe to perform any type of surgery if antibiotics no longer work?
Shamans in South America where I was trained are usually called curanderos or healers. A curandero cures. In North America we usually think of that healing as being psychological or spiritual using techniques like soul retrieval in conjunction with a shamanic journey . In South America the role of a curandero is much more expansive. Many have been trained in the use of herbs and they treat dis-ease from a more holistic perspective. Some may communicate with plant spirits to be led to the most appropriate curative but in the end they often use herbs to facilitate healing.
In addition to shamanism I also studied natural medicine and earned a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) degree, master herbalist certification, and certification in Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of the Indian subcontinent. When I read to the news about the death caused by a bacteria-resistant infection I decided to share a list of my top ten antibacterial herbs:
1. Garlic -- This is number one on my list because it is the best all-around antibacterial go-to herb. Studies have demonstrated that garlic is effective in the treatment of Tuberculosis, Shigell dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonos aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Streptococcus spp., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Protues merbilis, herpes simplex, influenza B, HIV and many others. Garlic make be taken fresh (as juice or as cloves), in capsules, as tincture, or in food. Start with small doses and gradually increase. Raw garlic may cause stomach upset and even induce vomiting, so be careful. Small, frequent doses are generally easier to take than large doses (1/4 to 1 teaspoon juice as needed). Capsules may be better tolerated and easier to take. Ample garlic in food is also helpful. Do not use garlic if you are taking blood thinning medication.
2. Echinacea -- Echinacea is probably the most well-know of the antibacterial herbs. It is active against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp., mycobacterium (tuberculosis), abnormal cells (direct application necessary). It has been recommend it for abnormal pap smears, strep throat, and very early onset of colds and flus. For strep throat and heading off colds and flus, I recommends the use of echinacea tincture, 30 drops (full dropper) each hour. I also fight off my colds with a steady stream of echinacea tea.
3. Juniper -- Juniper berries are another all purpose antibiotic herb. It is probably most well know for its antiseptic properties that disinfect the urinary tract to provide treatment and relief for conditions like urinary tract infections, urethritis, kidney stones, and bladder stones. Juniper also acts as a diuretic to help flush excess fluids from the body. Inhalation of juniper is used to treat bronchitis. It has also is high in natural insulin and therefore lowers blood sugar levels. Juniper can also be applied topically to treat skin ailments and conditions. It is used to treat conditions like acne, athlete's foot, warts, skin growths, cystitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
4. Grapefruit Seed Extract -- Worried about yeast infections? A Polish study published in 2001 found that a 33 percent grapefruit extract has a potent antifungal effect against Candida albicans strains taken from patients with candida symptoms. In addition, another published study demonstrated that grapfruit seed extract successfully treat urinary tract infections in both men and women. The authors of the study reported that, "These preliminary data thus suggest an antibacterial characteristic of dried or fresh grapefruit seeds (C. paradisi) when taken at a dosage of 5 to 6 seeds every 8 hours, that is comparable to that of proven antibacterial drugs."
5. Goldenseal -- Goldenseal was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat various health concerns including skin diseases, ulcer symptoms and gonorrhea. Today’s traditional uses of goldenseal have broadened to include the natural treatment and prevention of colds, respiratory tract infections, allergies, eye infections, digestive issues, canker sores, vaginitis, urinary tract infections and even cancer. Goldenseal contains berberine, which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat dysentery and infectious diarrhea. Berberine in goldenseal has shown antimicrobial activity against certain pathogens that cause bacterial diarrhea, including E. coli and V. cholera.
6. Wormwood -- Most don't think of wormwood as an antibacterial herb. After all it has traditionally been used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially roundworms and pinworms. However,it is the source of the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, which is the most powerful antimalarial on the market and a recent study published on PubMed states that it has , "promising anticancer properties".
7. Eucalyptus -- Eucalyptus has been used over the centuries for cosmetic and dental use, to ward off insects, and to treat a wide range of respiratory problems because of its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The antibacterial properties of Eucalyptus oil that have been used to treat the bacteria responsible for many respiratory infections
8. Aloe -- Aloe appears to be excellent at regulating the immune system (an immunomodulator). It can both stimulate the immune response for those with weakened immune systems either from exisiting conditions or post-illness fatigue. It can also calm the immune response, such as for hayfever where less immune reaction is beneficial.
9. Ginger -- Ginger root is most well known Ginger root as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion and is used for wind, colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor circulation, menstrual cramps, dyspepsia (bloating, heartburn, flatulence), indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as gas and stomach cramps. I have included it on this list because new research report presented at The American Association for Cancer Research conference in Phoenix. In the study, ginger actually suppressed cancer cells suggesting that the herb was able to fuel apoptosis or the death of the cancer cells. Ginger has been shown to work against skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer.
10. Turmeric -- If you like curry then you should love Turmeric, its the principal ingredient in curry. I saved the best for last because Turmeric is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and potentially reversing disease. In fact, I just found over 9,000 peer-reviewed published articles on PubMed that demonstrate the benefits of turmeric and one of its renowned healing compounds curcumin. Research shows that the benefits of turmeric exceed those of the following 10 drugs: anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants (Prozac), chemotherapy, anti-coagulants (Aspirin), pain killers, diabetes drugs (Metformin), arthritis medications, inflammatory bowel disease drugs, cholesterol drugs (Lipitor), and steroids. Best of all, Cancer Research UK reported that, "A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells."
My suggestion to you is that you learn more about herbal remedies and put an herbal first aid kit together. When spring first appears then join me in planting an herbal garden as well.
Peace my friends,
Munay is an interesting word in Quechua. As a verb it means to love, to want, and to desire. As a noun it means eternal, unconditional, or unreasoned love (1). The three ancient Inca laws are often stated as tukuy munayniyoc, tukuy llank'ayniyoc, and tukuy yachayniyoc (2). Notice that the first law includes the root word for love.
Tukuy munayniyoc means "Completeness or fullness comes (tukuy = completeness or fullness) as I love (munay = love, ni = first person singular verb-ending suffix, and yoc = is a possessive suffix that means that one has the property of or possesses something). So the first law might be translated as "I am complete as I am love." The second law was tukuy llan'ayniyoc, loosly translated implies that one finds completeness in work or service. Lank'ay, is work, labor, industriousness or the power of action and labor. And finally, tukuy yachayniyoc (the root yachay is wisdom or knowledge) implies that wisdom or self-knowledge comes from the applying the first two laws of love and service.
Note that in all three laws the possessive suffix yoc means that one possess the quality of the thing, and not just that one does the thing. In essences the first two laws don't say "Love and work" but rather "Be love and be service". There is a big difference between doing something and being that thing.
So, after that little Quechua lesson I hope that you have a better feel for what munay is. As shamanic practitioners we should practice munay or eternal, unconditional love. But for whom? In the title of this blog I wrote "All My Relations". When I wrote that I wasn't thinking about my immediate family or even my extended family, although they are my relations. I wasn't even just thinking of you. Even though we are all connected and that connection makes us related. I was thinking of everything that is.
I was thinking of my family, you, and all other humans, but also of the trees, rocks and streams. The flowers and the butterflies, and the squirrel that chattered above my head this evening as I sat under a tree in our front yard, all bundled up against the cold, as I played my Native American flute to "say" good night to Inti Tayta (Father Sun) and Inti Inti, the sun of suns or the sun behind the sun, the Divine Presence who sends life force energy through Inti Tayta to Pachamama (Mother Earth) to nurture all of nature.
So what does all this come down to? For me it means tukuy munayniyoc, tukuy llank'ayniyoc, that I find completeness and fullness by being love and being service. I hope that works for you too.
(1) Just as you can say "I love you" in Spanish with "Te amo" (I love you) and "Te quiero" (literally, I want you) so too in Quechua I love you is often expressed using munay as in Anchata Munaquiki (Very much I want or love you).
(2) I much prefer the ancient Inca law over the modern one which is ama llulla, ama qilla, ama suwa. (Don't lie, don't be lazy, don't steal.) The earlier law is positive rather than negative and in essence shows the path to wisdom or even enlightenment.
The start of a new year is a good time to clear the accumulated energy from the past year. I don't know about you, but this past year left me with a significant amount of old energy that needed to be cleaned away. Having spent a good part of the last ten days clearing my energy I now feel like I can start the new year feeling clean.
Energetic cleansing is a good practice any time you feel a little out of balance, and not something to do just once a year. We accumulate a lot of energy as we go through each day and not all of it is positive. Energy from our own thoughts, the events that we pass through, and from the people that surround us all affect our energetic state. Several different techniques have developed for energetic cleansing. A few of my favorite include scanning, dusting with hands or feathers, breaking and reforming energy patterns using sound (drums or rattles), purification, and energy absorption. Let's take a quick look at them.
Scanning is a good practice to engage in every evening before bed. Lie comfortably on your back, touch the tip of your tongue to the front of the roof of your mouth (1) behind your front teeth. Inhale deeply, filling your body with the breath, and then slowly exhale. Scan your body for areas of tension and then release the tension in those areas. Continue to inhale, filling your body with fresh energy and visualize white or golden light filling the tense areas of the body. When you exhale release any heavy energy and the tension and stress that accompanies it. Repeat this a couple of times and then, check-in with the body.
You can use your hands or feathers to dust negative or stagnant energy away from your body. Begin by shaking your your hands and then blow into them. Visualize or feel that your are filling your hands with white or golden light. Once this is done, start at the top of the head in a brushing like motion, cleaning the head, shoulders, each arm and hand, the torso front and back, legs and feet. Make sure to shake the hands to release any energy gathered when finished. Always start at the center your body (head, torso, etc.) and dust away from your torso and towards your extremities and then beyond your body.
This can also be done with a partner. Take turns dusting negative and stagnant energy away from each other. Whether you or doing this alone or with a partner always end by shaking any residual energy off your hands and away from your body.
Breaking and Reformatting Energy Patterns
Sound is a wonderful way to change energetic vibrations. You can shake a rattle around your body, much as you would do with dusting. The sound of the rattle breaks up the energetic patterns around your body and then, once the sound stops, new energy patterns that are more attune to your energy level form. It is a little harder to drum around your own body but again, if you are working with a partner, you can drum around each other, starting at the head and working down to the feet.
Chanting, singing, or playing instrumental music are other approaches to breaking up and reformatting energy. I keep a small Tibetan bowl in my office and strike it first thing in the morning when I enter my office and usually after every interaction with colleagues or students just to make sure that no negative energy settles in my office during the day.
The most frequently used tools for purification are water and smoke. Like many people I start my day with a shower. Although I like hot showers, especially in the winter, I end my showers looking up with by back to the shower head and I let cool water run down my body and carry any residual negative energy down the drain. This feels much like standing under a refreshing waterfall, which I visualize while in the shower. Falling water increases the negative ions in the space and that has both a purifying and energizing effect on the body.
Using sacred smoke to purify energy fields is another common approach. Many people burn the herb sage and pass the smoke of the smoldering sage around their energy field to purify it. Having been trained in the Andes I prefer to burn Palo Santo and let the sweet smoke of a smoldering stick waft around me (2).
Both crystals and eggs, yes common chicken eggs, are used as "sponges" to absorb negative energy. Select the "sponge" that you are going to use to absorb negative energy and then slowly pass it over your body. Again, if you wish you can do this with a partner, passing the "sponge" over each others' body. I prefer Black Tourmaline if I am going to use a crystal and have found that it is a very effective energy "sponge" for soaking up negative energy. Once you have used a crystal as a sponge it must be cleansed. Some people place the crystal in sunlight to cleanse and recharge it, others run cold, fresh water over the crystal, and some place the crystal in a bed of sea salt.
In the Andean regions a fresh chicken egg is used as a "sponge". The egg is passed over and around the body, brushing against the skin. This is called "pasando el huevo". An appropriate prayer is often said by the person passing the egg. The most common prayer that I have heard in Peru and Bolivia is "That the bad leave and the good enter." The egg is never, never, consumed after "passing" it. Rather it is broken open and is examined for dark or black splotches, indications of the absorption of negative energy, and then discarded.
I suggest that you pick the method that most resonates with you, give it a try for a while, note its affect and if you are pleased then continue to use it. You can move from one technique to another and eventually experience all of them. The key is to stay grounded and to keep you energetic field well organized and free of negative energy.
Peace my friends,
(1) In Traditional Chinese Medicine practices like QiGong we focus a lot of attention of the major energy meridians in the body. The main meridian starts at the tip of the tongue and travels down the front of the body, up around the back near the spine, up the back of the head, to the crown of the head and then down to the front of the roof of the mouth. By placing the tip of your tongue to the front of the roof of the mouth you complete the circuit.
(2) A number of sellers on Etsy sell palo santo and it appears that it is even available on Amazon.
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.