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  • Neoshamanism

    On the poll thread for this forum, I advocated naming this forum "Neo-Shamanism." Unfortunately, I was a bit late on this request, and since no one has changed the name, I'm assuming they aren't going to. Still, I think the word is very important and should become part of the vocabulary of this sub-forum.

    We have already begun the process of beating a long-dead horse over the meaning and origins of shaman. Is it the practice of an individual or must it take place in the context of a tribe? Is it an ability or a position? Does it refer to the practices of a profession within the Tungi tribe or is universal? Does the word come from that tribe or some secret language? Can anyone be a shaman or must you be called? And this is only a sample of what we are and could be discussing. This doesn't even examine tribes where they have "good" shamans and "bad" shamans; herbal healers, magic healers, and spirit healers (which you would see in that order); whether witches the shamans of Europe (as Harner contends), or any number of things.

    As an alternative to this continued horse mutilation, I propose we come up with a commonly accepted definition of Neoshamanism for this group, and then continue to use it. That way, when someone new comes to the forum (and I'm really hoping our definition makes it as a sticky, titled something along the lines of "Please read before identifying as a shaman"), they can simply say "Hi, I'm SilverDarkWaterMoon, and I practice Neoshamanism." We all know what they mean, and we don't have to revisit the topic of "what is shamanism." After our current discussions have played out, we only have to refer the person back to the archives, and unless they have something really new to add, we're done.

    And I do want to make it clear I'm not trying to stifle discussion. If someone has something unique to add, I think they should. I'm merely trying to keep us from revisiting the same topic over and over, which will inhibit discussion rather than encourage it. Like a car stuck in the snow, we will be turning the wheels and going nowhere.

    This is my proposed definition of Neoshamanism:

    Neoshamanism ('Niə.ʊʒɑmوn) - a spiritual practice that draws from various tribal traditions around the world which make use of special person or persons set apart from the community to contact the spirit world for the community's benefit, as well as the self-described shamanic systems by modern day authors such as Michael Harner and Tom Cowan, to create a new, coherent system rooted in Western culture that allows practitioners to access the unseen world and perform actions for either their benefit or the benefit of another, especially healing, divination, soul retrieval, and binding an enemy.

    I think each part of that definition is important. One thing I like about it is I specifically avoided defining shamanism to avoid a circular debate. It merely defines one definition of shamanism which is popular among people who meet the above definition for practicing neoshamanism. It also defines it as something uniquely Western. Someone who practices shamanism that is rooted in, say, Yoruba culture, is definitely not practicing Neoshamanism. I believe it's also important to point out what the neoshaman does: enter the unseen world. This definition also allows the flexibility for the neoshaman to work individually or for the service of a community, an option not available with traditional shamanism. Lastly, this definition rules out European witchcraft, as witches are rooted in European culture and do not draw on the practices of tribal societies around the world.

    I also transliterated it into the International Phonetic Alphabet General English (IPA Ge) in case anyone has a question about how it's pronounced, especially ESL people). I hate when people pronounce Sh-ah-man, Sh-Aye-man
    CJ - Paths: Shamanism Forum Guide

    "Granny Weatherwax had never heard of psychiatry and would have had no truck with it even if she had. There are some arts too black even for a witch. [...] A psychiatrist, dealing with a man who fears he is being followed by a large and terrible monster, will endeavor to convince him that monsters don't exist. Granny Weatherwax would simply give him a chair to stand on and a very heavy stick."
    -Terry Pratchett

  • #2
    I am very new to this site and forum, but your proposed definition sounds fairly straightforward and concise. I'd chip in my two cents in support of this generalized idea of neo-shamanism. Why continue to go round and round over the semantics whenever a new person joins the forum?

    - Tip-toeing the raggedy edge of something magnificently dark but truly amazing...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Simply Puzzled View Post
      As an alternative to this continued horse mutilation, I propose we come up with a commonly accepted definition of Neoshamanism for this group, and then continue to use it. That way, when someone new comes to the forum (and I'm really hoping our definition makes it as a sticky, titled something along the lines of "Please read before identifying as a shaman"), they can simply say "Hi, I'm SilverDarkWaterMoon, and I practice Neoshamanism." We all know what they mean, and we don't have to revisit the topic of "what is shamanism." After our current discussions have played out, we only have to refer the person back to the archives, and unless they have something really new to add, we're done.

      And I do want to make it clear I'm not trying to stifle discussion. If someone has something unique to add, I think they should. I'm merely trying to keep us from revisiting the same topic over and over, which will inhibit discussion rather than encourage it. Like a car stuck in the snow, we will be turning the wheels and going nowhere.

      This is my proposed definition of Neoshamanism:

      Neoshamanism ('Ni?.???mوn) - a spiritual practice that draws from various tribal traditions around the world which make use of special person or persons set apart from the community to contact the spirit world for the community's benefit, as well as the self-described shamanic systems by modern day authors such as Michael Harner and Tom Cowan, to create a new, coherent system rooted in Western culture that allows practitioners to access the unseen world and perform actions for either their benefit or the benefit of another, especially healing, divination, soul retrieval, and binding an enemy.

      2nd the vote for stickiness!!

      I think this is clear and workable, but I wonder if people will reject the use of 'neo' as being not-speshul-enuf for their unique association with Spirit.
      Personally, I believe we're almost alllllllllllll 'neo' since none of us is 500+ years old and very few of us grew up in an extant culture which includes shamanism. Of course, I combine this belief in newness with a ReConstructionist Path so I'm just as speshul as the next nutter.
      *I am a mystic and work through Imbas rather than re-constructive archeology. Lore, history, and research are vital tools and permit us to validate and amplify communications we recieve. Disagreement and referencing of materials are also welcome benchmarks. What I say is not the 'Truth' but only my perception/opinion/belief and I am happy to give the same consideration to everyone else's point of view.*

      http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

      "everyone [is] entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." Stephen Colbert

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      • #4
        I think neoshaman(ism) as a term is fine I just don't think that it should replace Shaman. I see it as a qualify term much as Celtic or Eastern is. That's why I argued against using the term for the name of the subforum.
        The Sexy Heathen Babe

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        • #5
          As I am a Faery Shaman , practicing Faery Shamanism , I would
          have to suggest this could pose problems for others such as myself...

          Those of the Faery Tradition , do not practice from a cultural shamanism perspective...

          And it has nothing to do with a " special " name , or position...

          I just practice Faery Shamanism , not Faery Neo - Shamanism...

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          • #6
            past mastery

            What do U think past mastery should be classified as....accessing memories of skills mastered in a past life....say a shayman from 200 yrs ago....a Native American

            Interested in this post
            Enter Her World
            ~Jaqueline Frost touches the flowers~


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            • #7
              I am new on the Shamanic path, but even though I don't consider myself a Shaman (far from it actually), but I do believe my calling as a caller and healer, still puts me on the same path, but not Neo-Shamanism.

              However, I just say I am a Shamanic Pagan because I blend other things along with my Shamanic practices (which are starting out small, until I am able to practice more openly and more freely).

              I do believe there is a form of Shamanism that is Traditional in which one must either have a death/rebirth experience through sickness or some form of catastrophe in the life of the individual or training by a recognized Elder Shaman. However, those of us who are also called but not trained by a Shaman or having a full-blown death/rebirth experience should not be called "Neo-Shamans" but Shamans, it's just one is a more traditional Shaman and the other a Shaman by Spirit. Isn't it God who calls one to the path of Shaman? Aren't we all to be healers in every day life, to reconnect in unity with our brothers and sisters? If that's the case, then why call ourselves Neo-Shamans?

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              • #8
                keep in mind that a Traditional shaman has a specific definition where as shamanism doesn't require the practitioner to be a shaman himself. Using myself as an example, I have yet to have a near-death experience (despite that with every breath we draw closer to death anyway :P ) but I still practice Shamanism to the best of my ability. I travel the Otherworlds with my furry friends in search for answers; I connect to nature on an almost constant basis, etc.

                One doesn't need a label to do what he needs to do. Just do it
                "All good things are wild and free."
                - Henry David Thoreau


                :shift:

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                • #9
                  Shaman, shamanic in practice , shaman like , traditional shaman, new age shaman wtf ever - I only use the term shamanic because the over all description comes closest to describing my spiritual practices. Shamanic experiences themselves are difficult enough to put into words, trying to box folks in with presumptuous language makes the task less appealing than it already is. Let those who apply the term describe their own spiritual practices if they feel so inclined. I am glad they chose the title of the section simply "shamanism"

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                  • #10
                    I can understand the logic in this definition. However, it only confirms again, that I do not fit this definition. Coming from a Celtic/Native American/Yoruban/Congo perspective, and being duly initiated, each one of these cultures had their traditional "Shaman/Priest/ healer/witch doctor" persons that functioned for the community. I would be very intrigued in how successful you end up by positioning this from a "Western" perspective.....seeing as how these cultures typically did not have a Shaman type figure - per se.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by phathead View Post
                      I can understand the logic in this definition. However, it only confirms again, that I do not fit this definition. Coming from a Celtic/Native American/Yoruban/Congo perspective, and being duly initiated, each one of these cultures had their traditional "Shaman/Priest/ healer/witch doctor" persons that functioned for the community. I would be very intrigued in how successful you end up by positioning this from a "Western" perspective.....seeing as how these cultures typically did not have a Shaman type figure - per se.
                      No shamanic type figure in westernize societies???!!!!

                      I disagree completely – The christian church has shaman type figures they simply have a different spiritual references and use different terminology.

                      Using definition from the initial post, but eliminating all cultural specific reference the duties of a shaman read as below

                      Originally posted by modified from the initial post
                      Shaman -make use of special person or persons set apart from the community to contact the spirit world for the community's benefit,allows practitioners to access the unseen world and perform actions for either their benefit or the benefit of another, especially healing, divination, soul retrieval, and binding an enemy.
                      Hot damn the duties of a Baptist preacher or a catholic priest!!!! Allow me me translate some of this into christian talk

                      divination = prophesying {Numbers 12:6, Joel 2:28, Luke 1:67 }

                      Healing – healing {Isaiah 53:4-5, James 5:13-16}

                      soul retrieval – releasing from Purgatory,{2 Maccabees 12:46 , Matthew 5:26 ,Revelation 21:27 }

                      Binding an enemy – casting out of demons {Mark 16:17, Matthew 14:43-45}


                      Finally the spiritual gifts many do not even know exist within the christian body of teaching


                      1 Corinthians 12:4-30
                      **
                      There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
                      **
                      Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.*
                      The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.



                      Yepper the names have changed but the game remains the same = amazing! So even if all one does is equate westernized thinking with christian – there are still “shamanic duties” they even specialize.

                      I am using a single reference point The one I figured many would associate with “traditional” westernized thinking I am not even going into the various European pagan / pre-christian paths!

                      Please do not discount the spiritual teachings of various religions simply because you fail to recognize the meaning of the lingo. I was a christian for many years then became pagan and amazingly enough my "duties" to my spiritual community have changed very little - the reactions are also very much the same - people are people and I think we are more alike than many may feel comfortable admitting {myself included} .
                      Last edited by Umbress; July 3rd, 2011, 05:12 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Huh. So you're going to call Christians Shamans because you can see some commonalities? Seriously?
                        "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common:
                        instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views,
                        which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering."

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                        • #13
                          Oh yeah, That's right I forgot, Everything is in the bible!
                          I usually come from a more anthropological approach in these things, so yes, I would agree that there are examples of shaman type figures in western civilization....however, they are all pre-christian.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by phathead View Post
                            Oh yeah, That's right I forgot, Everything is in the bible!
                            I usually come from a more anthropological approach in these things, so yes, I would agree that there are examples of shaman type figures in western civilization....however, they are all pre-christian.
                            That's usually my position as well. If one looks to the lore, fables and tales there are many references or inferences to "Shamanic" type practices to be found. I personaly tend to think the European ancestry is so far removed and corrupted that most do not connect back to it so have looked to other aboroginal peoples in an attempt to regain what was lost. yet in the process more is being taken out of context and usage than allowing those of European descent to reach back to what their ancestry might have used.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by phathead View Post
                              Oh yeah, That's right I forgot, Everything is in the bible!
                              I usually come from a more anthropological approach in these things, so yes, I would agree that there are examples of shaman type figures in western civilization....however, they are all pre-christian.
                              What about the "Fools for Christ" of Orthodox Christianity. These are people who embrace madness (voluntarily or involuntarily) for Christ. They then typically wander about the place in ragged clothing, muttering to themselves while dispensing prophecies and healing. The Old Testament prophets certainly seem to have had some shamanic-appearing practices and experiences. And then there are the Pentecostals, snake-handlers and various other Christian sects which incorporate trance ("slain in the spirit"), glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and other shamanic practices into their work. (Follow that link and check out the video: I see several people getting possessed as surely as Vodouisants getting ridden at fetes).
                              kenazfilan @ gmail.com | 917-267-7469
                              the new orleans voodoo handbook (forthcoming)

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