Shamanism is the oldest spiritual path known to humanity and although we live in a different kind of society than our ancestors, it is in our roots and within our Consciousness. Shamanism is above all a perspective on reality, a way to perceive and interact with everything in Creation.
Shamanism is about helping us to heal the effects of past traumas, to live in an inner state of balance and harmony and to develop the best in ourselves no matter what comes our way.
For the shaman, the physical reality is not the only reality. The physical universe is just a dimension among many other dimensions. As vast as it might seem, it is like a drop of water in the ocean of existence. The shaman is the one able to dive deep into this ocean and come back to bring healing and knowledge to the people.
In the modern society people have a very powerful identification with the mental space and the access to non-ordinary states of Consciousness, to mystic experiences, has been narrowed-down since the prevalence of rationalism in our life. However, the shamanic traditions survived and were re-discovered in the 20th century, paradoxically, by scientists.
In the shamanic perspective the human dimension is the interference space between the ‘upper’ spiritual dimensions and ‘lower’, denser dimensions. Shamanism doesn’t recognize only the higher spiritual dimension, the Divine, but also all other forms, the spirit of animals, plants and places. The shaman perceives the presence of the spirit in all planes of existence and communicates with these planes.
Modern psychology uses the term ‘trance’ to refer to the extended state of perception in which the shaman has access to different dimensions of reality. In traditional shamanism the shaman travels from one reality to another: he leaves from ‘here’ in order to get ’there’. He cannot be in multiple realities in the same time. In this sense, the traditional shamanism is an expression of duality, of a Creation that has separate levels.
In traditional shamanism:
The shaman makes the connection with the spirit world
The shaman perceives dimensions that are invisible to other people and has the knowledge and the experience of navigating those dimensions
His tool is the shamanic journey, he ‘travels’ from a dimension to another
The human dimension is a space of interference between the subtle spiritual dimensions and the lower, denser ones.
Shamanism is a practical approach, the scope being healing, guidance or anything with a finality in the physical reality
The shamanic journey can be made by the shaman alone or together with the client
The shaman is in the same time healer, priest, magician, teacher and guide
The shaman sees the Spirit in everything
The identification with the physical linear dimension is so strong that is necessary sometimes to use different methods to open the veil between dimensions. One of the most powerful tools used in shamanism is the sacred plants.
Sacred plants are great old teachers. Humanity has been using them for thousands of years. Many traditions used native plants for the purposes of gaining knowledge and perform healings. Sacred plants are a bridge between the seen and the unseen, between the physical and the non-physical dimensions.
They trigger expanded states of consciousness in which one becomes much more aware of his connection to the Source. Sacred plants have the power to expand Consciousness through the spiritual experiences they produce. Living an expanded state of consciousness is in itself a transforming experience that can change your life and bring healing.
The horizontal dimension, the physical plane, is only a small part of the reality. The rest is ‘unconscious’ because the humanity confuses Awareness with Rationality. The existence is not rational in the linear sense, it has its own multidimensional, spherical logic, incomprehensible by the linear mind. The shamanic techniques open the gates to the unknown, to the multidimensional spaces, but in the absence of a mature spiritual understanding the explorer experiences his or her own fears and identifications. The person having the journey remains anchored in his or her own thinking during the experience.
Sacred plants are great tools but when working with them is very important the sacrality of the experience, the integrity of the intention, the guidance that is received and the state of Consciousness of the explorer.
The fusion between shamanism and transpersonal psychology
Transpersonal psychology looks beyond the framework of classical psychology, to the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience. Transpersonal psychology was born through an experiential approach, explorers of consciousness like Stanislav Grof, Ken Wilber or Ervin Laszlo being among the most important contributors to this field that redefined and reconfigured the cartography of the psyche.
Anyone committed on the journey of self-discovery and search of the Truth can access expanded states of Consciousness, like the biographical, collective or archetypal levels. The methods are numerous: breathwork, sacred plants, technology, spiritual hypnosis or advanced meditation techniques. All methods request to be present in your body and to have a focused mind. The attitude regarding this exploration is also very important.
By accessing an expanded state of Consciousness one’s Perception of reality is changed. One becomes aware of dimensions of reality that are not perceived in a so-called ‘normal’ day-to-day state.
The most important aspect here is that the shamanic experience, the expansion of Perception, is accessible now to anyone and is perfectly repeatable. The structure of Consciousness is navigable as long as is done with an experimented guide or with a clear understanding of the meta-structure of the psyche. In the same time, the more people explore and perceive the extended reality, the more the collective transformation and evolution of humanity is amplified.
Using a shamanic approach without having an understanding of the human psyche keeps the explorer in the magical level (see Ken Wilber’s Spiral of Consciousness), in a dualistic paradigm where the reality is divided between good and evil, right and wrong. On the other hand, having a rational psychological approach without the experiential part keeps us in the linear mental dimension with no access to the spiritual dimension and no awareness of such. And the complete identification with the mental space is the source of illness, depression, addiction and lack of life’s purpose, so common in the modern society.
In the life’s journey, we are travellers looking for the way Home. Shamanism has the vehicle to get Home, and transpersonal psychology has the map.
Transpersonal psychology describes the structure of the psyche. It gives us the map. But the map is not the territory. And here is where shamanism comes into play. Because it provides us the vehicle to explore the territory. Both the map and the vehicle are needed for your journey. If you have the map but you don’t have the vehicle, you cannot start your journey. You cannot even begin it. You will remain where you are. And you will not grow. The only thing you can do is to start imagine that you are on a journey. But this is not real. It is only your imagination. It is a Fantasy Land. And this is exactly where a map without a vehicle can take you: to your own Fantasy Land.
One the other hand, traditional shamanism gives us the vehicle but it does not give us the map. If you have a vehicle, we can move, but without a map we cannot reach the destination. Without a map you don’t know where you are in your journey. You are lost. You don’t understand what is happening and why is happening. Your journey is a journey of confusion. You move in circles, going on the same paths over and over again. You might think you reached the destination but you actually arrived somewhere else.
Both the map and the vehicle are equally necessary for the traveller to find the way Home.
TIntegral Shamanism brings together ancient shamanism and transpersonal psychology. It bring together many polarities: the old and the new, tradition and modernity, practice and theory. It is a marriage between the Mind and the Heart.
I will call shamanic all methods that help us access an increased state of Awareness. They might use sacred plants or breathing techniques, but all these methods have something in common: they are experiential techniques. They are all about experimenting different states of Consciousness.
The classic shamanic perspective and the transpersonal psychology perspective integrate perfectly in the Spherical Paradigm of reality. This Spherical Paradigm is the space where the sacred marriage between the two perspectives takes place.
The Spherical Paradigm
The shamanic instruments of exploration are great, but the traditional shamanic perspective in which man is separate of ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ dimensions is outdated. The ancestral shamanic paradigm is now integrated in a new concept, specific to our times. Now we have the Awareness that we create every experience. That we transform and transmute any content of Consciousness. That we operate every change and every healing. We are in the center and all dimensions are around us. We don’t need to travel to other dimensions, but to extend our Perception, to become Aware. The paradox is that this integration annihilates the shamanic paradigm that is used as a tool of creating the new –integral- paradigm.
This is the vision of an Integral reality, in which Man and Divine are expressions of the same experience, the only difference between the two being the Awareness.
Actually the main difference between classical shamanism and the new integral paradigm is the Awareness that we create every experience and everything is an aspect of Consciousness.
You are in all dimensions in the same time. The Divine is here, in the physical reality, through you. And you feed back into the subtle spiritual dimensions with your energy and your vibration. It is an In and Out process. This means you have Responsibility for the vibration that you radiate out.
We will discover together that ‘upper and lower’, ‘inner and outer’ are dimensions in our psyche, that we are Creators in each space of -the singular -Consciousness. The world as we see it, the density, the matter, the world of forms, is our own creation. We live within ourselves. All that surrounds us IS us. We discover that everywhere in the vast territories of Consciousness we are at Home. This is the new paradigm of an awakened humanity.
You will discover that you were never separated from the Divine. You only thought you were and you experimented Reality as such.
You are the creator of our own life experience, the Divinity in manifestation. The Creation is expanding through you.
The Opened Heart
When you are healed, you are whole, you are centered. The center point, the zero point, is the Heart. The Opened Heart. The marriage between the shamanism and transpersonal psychology brings the two paradigms together, and the center of this union is the Opened Heart. When the Heart opens you have access to more subtle planes of existence. The Heart is the door to a Field, a vibration, in which all your identifications are dissolved. In that Field you are completely transparent. You don’t resonate with an energy unless you want to. You don’t fight any energy, because fighting means tensions and pain. You move with grace, you dance through the Existence.
For the Heart to open all four bodies – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – need to be clean and in perfect alignment. Only when all four bodies are in balance the Heart door unlocks and the Light of Divinity shines through.
The consequences of this shift in paradigm are incalculable. In the center of reality is us, our presence, our choices and our gestures. We are in a permanent act of creation of reality. The only question here is how Aware we are of this Creation.
The role of the shaman in the Integral Shamanism paradigm
A true shaman, a master, creates the space in which everyone can discover the truth about himself or herself. The shaman offers himself as a guide, supporting the explorer towards awakening. The shaman is holding the space for others by containing the whole reality – of the group -in his own Consciousness and perceiving the observed object as himself. When the distance between the object and the subject disappears we are stepping out of duality. When the attention is in the center, the attention becomes diffuse, spherical, and we can perceive other dimensions without focusing you attention ‘out there’ on the object of our observation. The shaman contains in his Consciousness the subject and the reality around him. He feels everything in his body and lets the reality resonate in his body. In this spherical state of awareness the shaman is in a state of perception without identification and resonance with the clients, in a total non-judgemental state.
To summarise, Integral Shamanism
Is an experiential way of self-transformation, self-healing and self-knowledge through expanded states of Consciousness experiences and their integration into the linear dimension.
It is the marriage between traditional shamanism and transpersonal psychology. Shamanism gives us the vehicle for the exploration of expanded state of Consciousness. The tools the explorer can use to expend his Awareness. Transpersonal psychology gives us the structure of the psyche, the map for the exploration, as a base of understanding for the linear mind. Both are equally necessary for the explorer to find the way Home.
Integral shamanism involves a transformation of Consciousness, of how we perceive the world and ourselves. The more we are Aware of deeper dimensions of our being and our reality, the identity that we assume is wider.
It doesn’t search for answers and visions outside, but inside.
It requires to assume completely the reality, to take responsibility on it, as a prerequisite for the life changing. In the new integral paradigm we have the Awareness that we create every experience and everything is an aspect of our Consciousness.
It requires not only to experience different levels of being, but also to integrate those revelations in everyday life.
It doesn’t mean to run from the world, but rather to assume the center of this –physical -dimension.
It doesn’t mean a fracture of the Divine from the human, but the fact there are both aspects of the same creative experience.Share