This is going to be a short blog today because I'm near the end of a book that I am writing, only a couple of chapters to go, and I really want to get it finished.
I was thinking about revelation this morning. Most of christianity thinks that revelation ended with Christ and that no more revelation is needed. A few churches give lip service to the idea of continuous revelation but rarely seem to practice it, either on an organizational or personal level. While shamanism is usually viewed as a tool that could conceivable fit into any belief system it can also be viewed as a spiritual path, and that is how I tend to view it. Why? Because it's a path of personal revelation.
As shamans we believe, no, we know, that communication with helping spirits, and you can call them whatever you want, is possible. You might call the helping spirits power animals, or spirit guides, or guardian spirit, or guardian angel. It doesn't really matter, they are spirit entities who are concerned about us and want to help us. Some "shamans" with a background in psychology have tried to sanitize the helping spirits by calling them part of the Jungian collective unconsciousness (1). The shamans that I know and that taught me in Andes knew that the helping spirits were/are real, and so do I. The good news is that this means that personal revelation, the very best kind of revelation, is possible and, I think, necessary.
You can illuminate your self-determined path with personal revelation. Your path is yours, no one can chose it for you, no one else can walk it for you, you must be the light-bearing trailblazer of your path. However, helping spirits can help you light the way and shamanic journeys are the best way that I know to find that light and to keep it burning.
(1) Some time in the future I might write about what I see as the new-age, touchy-feely, soft-and-fluffy, let's all sing Kumbaya approach to shamanism that would have you hold your hand over your heart center and feel the spirit within corruption of honest, in-your-face, hard-core shamanism that my teachers practiced in the Andes. But I'm too happy today to get pissed at those who would water down shamanism and turn it into yet another approach to talk therapy. Oh well, now you know how I feel.
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.