Shamanism and Ecstasy
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|"Shamanic ecstasy is the real 'Old Time Religion,' of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder... is no religion at all!"|
|Shamanism is one of the oldest spiritual paths
on Earth. It offers a way for people to wake up to their potential, and begin to explore
their spiritual relationship with the universe, with other forms of life, and with each
other. Shamanism is a way in which humanity has sought a connection to the world of
healing, maintaining balance and harmony in society and with the individual and keeping
our connection with Mother Earth and All Creation.
The work of Y Tylwyth Teg is to help people connect their inner and outer worlds, to heal old wounds within, to become able to bring dreams from the world of spirit into matter and thus enjoy a creative and fruitful life and dance the dance of joy and to become a part of the solution instead of part of the problem of human life on Earth.
A Shaman walks with one foot in this world and one foot in the spirit world. Our outer world may be different, but our human inner landscape has the same components as always. Our outer health and wholeness is an expression of our inner health and holiness. We are here to bring spirit into matter and matter to spirit.
Many prophecies have been made about this period as a time of great change when the world as we know it will end and a new world will be born. We can see the invitability of these changes in the state of things around us - the pollution of the air, the water, toxic waste buried in the earth and sea, nucler radition leaks, demolition of the rainforests, reduction of the protective ozone layer, extreme weather patterns and so on.
At a deep level each one of us knows it cannot go on, yet we do not know how to turn the tide. Now the teachings of Welsh/Celtic Shamans who for thousands of years lived successfully in harmony and balance with the earth, the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom, are available to help.
While a Shaman may exhibit magickal powers such as control over fire, wind or magical flight or as a healer, more than anything else, Shamanism is a technique of ecstasy. The distinguishing feature of Shamanism is its emphasis on a ecstatic trance state in which the soul of the Shaman leaves the body and ascends to the heavens or descends into the underworld. The Shaman makes use of spirit helpers, with whom he or she communicates, while retaining control over his or her own consciousness. Either women or men may become Shamans.
Traditional Shamans have developed techniques for lucid dreaming and what is today called the out-of-the-body experience. Along with these techniques, the near-death-experience has played a significant role in Shamanic practice and initiation for thousands of years.
This ability to consciously move beyond the physical body is the particular specialty of the traditional Shaman. These journeys of Soul may take the Shaman into the nether realms, higher levels of existence or to parallel physical worlds or other regions of this world. Shamanic Flight, is in most instances, an experience not of an inner imaginary landscape, but is reported to be the Shamans flight beyond the limitations of the physical body.
From the Greek 'ekstasis', ecstasy literally means to be placed outside, or to be placed. This is a state of exaltation in which a person stands outside of his or herself. Ecstasy may range from the seizure of the body by a spirit or the seizure of a person by the divine, to the magical transformation or flight of consciousness.
There are three types of Ecstasy:
Shamanic ecstasy is aroused by the rising of the soul of the Shaman into the heavens or its sinking into the underworld. These states of ecstatic exaltation usually occur after strenuous training and initiation, and often under dangerous and distressing circumstances. The resulting contact by the Shaman with the higher or lower regions and their inhabitants, and also with nature spirits, enables him or her to accomplish such tasks as accompanying the soul of a deceased into its proper place in the next world, affecting the well-being of the sick and conveying the story of their inner travels upon their return to mundane awareness.
The statements of the Shaman are in contrast with those who claim prophetic and mystical ecstasy. The prophet literally speaks for God, while the mystic reports an overwhelming divine presence. In mysticism, the direct knowledge or experience of the divine reality, is discernible in two ways: emotional and intuitive. It is not unusual for more than one form of ecstasy to be present in an individual's experience. However, there are three perceptive levels of ecstasy.
While the physical response is always present, the emotional response may or may not be significant when intuition is the principal means of ecstatic perception. Beyond the intuitive state there is a fourth condition in which a holistic perception exceeds mental and emotional limitations and understanding.
These ecstatic experiences of the Shaman go far beyond a feeling or perception of the sacred. They involve the Shaman directly and actively in transcendent realities and lower realms of being. These experiences may occur in either the dream state, the awakened state, or both. Dreams, and in particular, lucid dreams, often play a significant role in the life of a Shaman or Shamanic student.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A SHAMAN?
The Call to be a Faerie Shaman is often related to a near death experience by the person. Among the traditional examples are being struck by lightening, a fall from a height, a serious life-threatening illness or lucid dream experiences in which the candidate dies or has some organs consumed and replaced and is thus reborn. Survival of these initial inner and outer brushes with death provides the Shaman with personal experiences which strengthen his or her ability to work effectively with others. Having experienced something, a Shaman is more likely to understand what must be done to correct a condition or situation.
Although some have wondered if the experience of Shamanic ecstasy or flight makes a person a Faerie Shaman, we would say no. A Faerie Shaman is more than someone with an experience. First, years of training under an experienced teacher are required before one becomes a traditional Faerie Shaman. Second, a Faerie Shaman is not just an initiate who has received inner and outer training, but is a master of Shamanic journeying and techniques of Shamanic ecstasy. Finally, a Shaman is a link or bridge between this world and the next. This is a sacred trust and a service to the Craft community. Sometimes a community that a Shaman serves is rather small such as a Coven. In other instances it may be an entire tradition.
One becomes a Faerie Shaman by one of three methods:
This latter method is less frequent and traditionally such a Shaman is considered less powerful than one selected by one of the two preceding methods.
In any respect, the Faerie Shaman is not recognized as legitimate without having undergone two types of training:
This course of instruction, given by the spirits and the master Shamans is equivalent to an initiation. It is also possible for the entire process to take place in the dream state or in ecstatic experience. Thus, there is more to becoming a Faerie Shaman than a single experience. It requires training, perseverance and service.
BISEXUALITY AND SHAMANISM
Shamans frequently encounter bisexual beings and spirit guides in their initiation journeys. They play a key role in the drastic reorganization of categories that shatters the shaman's old perceptions of reality and opens him or her to the multiple dimensions of existence. Along these same lines, gender ambiguity frequently characterizes many shamans themselves who were gay or lesbian. Homosexuality and androgyny create a liminal status that helps to legitimize the shaman as an interpreter and go-between on both social and spiritual levels.
If sexuality is considered on a scale with homosexuality at one end and heterosexuality at the other end, where both extremes prefer one gender to the exclusion of the other, then all the scale in between, is bisexuality of one degree or another, and in the center is pure bisexuality, which is actually a rare thing indeed; very few people can honestly say that they at no time prefer one gender over the other, even allowing for shifts in that preference.
Heterosexuals think bisexuals are promiscuous to the point of ridiculousness, sexually attracted to anyone who draws breath. Gays think bisexuals are halfway out of the closet, denying their gay-ness, either passing through a phase or simply passing. In a way, the latter is the more brutal set of misconceptions. Heterosexuals tend to stereotype bisexuals; gays often seek to deny them their very identity by denying the validity, or even the existence, of their preference.
There is another option, one that the faerie shamans of the Celts -- and the peoples they served -- would likely have embraced: recognizing the spiritual and personal gifts that life in the craft gives bisexuals, and honoring their ability as go-betweens in many worlds.
As a walker between the worlds, a shaman is at home in places betwixt and between, regions that are neither this nor that, concepts that resonate strongly with Celtic sensibilities.
Shamanism, forces a radical change in the shaman's view of reality. Reality itself is called into question, or more accurately, the definition of words like reality and unreality are questioned. This is the first set of opposed pairs that the shaman is forced by his or her own experience to put on a continuum rather than on opposite sides of an arbitrary line. Real and unreal become relative terms, their relativity measured by how much borderland lies between.
See our recommended Shamanism and related links.
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Author: Originally by Taliesin einion Vawr, Revised by Celtic Church of Dynion Mwyn, Inc.
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Revised: 29 Mar 2010 15:06:05 -0500
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