In ancient primitive cultures, at the occurrence of any event that upset the normal flow of the existence of a community, people turned to a special individual, equipped with special magical abilities, able to cure disease and predict the future: that is, the shaman, men, and sometimes women, with qualities of healers and mystics, able to help those who needed it.The shaman is a mystic who challenges the unknown and the mystery of existence, an extraordinary man who overcomes his inner difficulties and deep existential crisis, sometimes caused by his status itself, which often brings him to the verge of madness. Through paths of death and rebirth, in the search for truth through concrete experiences such as bioenergetic rites and ecstatic dancing, he becomes a new man, strong and balanced, magician and ascetic, able to bring comfort to himself and those around him, a visionary, a great connoisseur of the human soul.
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A common feature of the shamans is the spiritual journey, i.e. a journey of the soul that is actually different from the earthly one, which allows them to get in touch with abstract entities called allies: these often take appearance of both animals (guide-animals) or spiritual teachers, such as ancestors, mythological figures, as well as wise men.
The allies give the shaman the power and knowledge to heal himself, the others and the world around, and each of us can make the shamanic journey without the help of intermediaries and without having to undertake complex rituals.
Another prerogative of shamans is the ability to see, that is, to grasp directly the intensity that each individual possesses, so to perceive humans as luminous spheres and fields of energy: in every person it is possible to see clearly an intense bright area, usually behind the back, near the shoulder blades, called the assemblage point. Here there are massive amount of forces and it is here that takes place the transformation of energy into perceptible fundamentals, which the shaman will interpretate: during sleep the assemblage point moves, the greater the change the most unique are the dreams.
Shamans deepened and expanded the art of dreaming, that is the ability to voluntarily move the assemblage point, ensuring that all energy fields are seen as bright filaments in a state far more extreme than the normal level of knowledge.
This involves the possibility of access to energy fields other than those habitually exploited, and to interpret them in an unusual way to reach endless levels of awareness; in this state the sorcerer develops higher states of consciousness, agility and well-being. Once awake, it is possible to find what has been achieved through theart of dreaming using a variety of body movements called magical passes.
The tensegrity, a term that combines tension and integrity, is a discipline that developed inMexico and passed from shaman to shaman, and has been taught to men and women. This practice determines and displays therevised version of those magical passes mentioned above, deepened and broadened by Mexican shamanssince pre-Columbian times.
Though not being able to process theoretically what they intuitively perceived, the sorcerers realized that in the universe there is a large flow of energy, which is usually transformed into data and creates the world that we liveand know every day.
Primitive shamanism was and still is a magical-religious phenomenon that originated in the territories of north-central Asia, also practiced among the Arctic, Paleo-Siberian and Ural-Altaic peoples. Afterwards it spread,thanks to migration through the Bering Strait, across North and South America, as well as in many areas of South Asia, Eastern Europe and in Australia.
All its magical practices were based on the sacred ecstasy, a technique used to detect disease, treat it andpredict the future; in the shamanic tradition, voluntary alteration of the ordinary state of consciousness was the way to release the soul and let it travel in the Otherworld, in contact with the spirits. The experience of trance, asthe exclusive prerogative of the shaman, was the unequivocal expression of his status as elected, capable ofentering into sacred spheres inaccessible to the rest of the community.
By atrance induced by hallucinogens, dance and sound of drums, the shaman restores the balance between the inside and the outside, between man and universe; through the magic flight, the inner journey, he discovers thevibratory rhythm and the forms of the Infinite. The moment he comes across the void, the absolute andtranscendent, he realizes that there is no progress, nor knowledge nor goals to win, with a sense of vertigofloating in the sea of silence with no material limits; thus becoming the lords of sleep, immersed in the deepest depths and in the secrets of the psyche.
It is a path of awareness, self-healing and self renewal, where fear of death, mental disorder and chaos is defeated, where we become children once more, or animals in many different shapes gaining agility and bodyawareness, psychic power sand creativity.
There are many events that bring the shaman to achieve this state of ecstasy, and the dance plays perhaps the most important role: through the trance dance, he lets his body go to allow the life force that governs the universe to move and dance in him; this state is also achievable by ordinary people.
In the dance, with face and body painted, he is staging the mystery of his own identity, with the possibility to take on the most different aspects depending on his own personal characteristics, turning into an animal, anentity charged with energy, sensuality as well as spirituality; in ceremonies involving moments of contact andcure –a sort of initiation to the arts of curanderos– dance includes the act of touching, caressing the body parts that are sick and in tension.
In the tantric dance, inspired by the Hindu doctrines, one regresses to a primordial stage participating in a telepathic experience of love and coexistence, in pairs and united by a deep mental and bioenergetic contact.
Another often used therapeutic practice is the dream of dismemberment: lying on the ground, focusing on one’s own suffering, one gets strongly shoved in order to get separated from the pain, letting it die in the past where balance was lost and alienation begun; subsequently one is readmitted into the present with caresses andgentle massages, to be reborn more healthy and aware.
In the natural realm the shaman finds space and inspiration to live in harmony with the wild beasts, to collectplants that will help him in his journeys and silent meditation; he retires in the deep green of the forest to get fortified, to heal himself he errs in the deserts of the high mountains and hardens himself by plunging into icy waters, lets the breezy winds take him and consumes vegetarian meals, so once again he becomes primitive, instinctive and genuine. To protect himself from the demons he wears a shamanic costume, armor made ofenergy, a map of cosmic symbols and metaphysical routes; he is also an ethologist, a scholar of the world andof animal and plant habits. For the Siberian shamans the eagle is the animal–guide to ascend into heaven: thus, the apprentice magician must learn to be a bird to fly towards the sun; the condor is sacred as well, because itdevours the flesh of the sacrifice.
In Hokkaido, cold region of northern Japan, the Ainu shamans tusuguru learn from the bear of the boundlessforests a sacred and bioenergetic dance, while shamans in the Amazon imitate perfectly the song of parrots,whose feathers, associated with orchids, they adorn themselves with, in this way using the power of plantteachers. To awaken and heal, Yanomami Indian shamans and curanderos drink ayahuasca hallucinogen tea, an ancient beverage made from vine and leaves of a native plant, while their Amerindian equals use peyote,a small cactus with psychedelic effects; in the Asian region, visionaries and shamans smoke instead the pollen of Cannabis Sativa, that is hashish, and the latex of the fruit of Papaver Somniferum, that is opium; Siberiansorcerers eat the Amanita Muscaria, a mushroom with hallucinogen powers.
The shaman is an artist and a transformist, he knows the art of metamorphosis, invents psychodramas and celebrations to ward off social tensions, strengthening relations within the group and passing on the myths andstories of the clan; he is a magician who arrogates the ability to control weather events, ensures a good huntand a favorable harvest, a doctor who treats diseases of soul and body, as well as he is a psychologist and aseer, his eyes peering into the darkness to find the secrets of life.
Free and lonely, he is a philosopher in search of the truth without inhibitions and false modesty, and a politicianfighting bravely against the hypocrisy and violence of political and religious power that has not failed to burnwitches and shamans in order to reduce man to slavery…
The shamanic journey, art and science have always attracted the Westerners who for more than 500 years have lost those lifestyles and religion (re–ligare means bind, join together) that reunite the man to the forces of nature.
The ancient teachings of shamans never like today are so topical: this is a very difficult period and these special beings do not want to act in secret but share with others their knowledge, thus helping people in their daily lives,and bring health, strength and inner well-being. Their interest in participating actively in our lives has oftencreated resistance from the authorities: nowadays, the traditional Siberian shamanism in Russia persists in spite of the anti-religious and anti-shamanic repression made by the Stalinist regime, and collective ceremonies are still held, with the knowledge of the shamans to keep alive their role as guardians of tradition, their ability to take care of all those who seek help: using neuroses, rites of liberation and regeneration and other psychic phenomena, shamans explore and find the causes of human illness, giving us the opportunity to identify andapproach the sacred springs of pleasure and life.
It is clear, however, that modern shamanism is very different from the old archaic cult: the spirits that in the pastattended the shamans withdrew, being part of ancient and original cultures disappeared by now, turning in a primitive state of chrysalis, and gave way to new spirits.
These entities often control the shamans themselves, dominating them and directing them, not being able, however, to make in them changes and metamorphoses, effects which in the past have given the shamans theability to mediate between spirits and men, rescuing them in case of need, when the very survival of existence was at stake.
One of the biggest contemporary references, who knew how to combine regular studies with the deepening ofresearch and unique and exceptional experiences was Rolando Toro Araneda, Chilean researcher andacademic, ideologist and creator of Biodance: this innovative technique is a method of expression that, through music, movement and expressive communication, favors the well-being of each individual and of the community in which he lives. Toro, who has long taught courses on shamanism, accompanied his pupils in nature in searchof an ecological nest where regress to get in touch with the elements of the environment, ground, water, flowers and plants, where it was possible to “stimulate creativity, courage and sense of responsibility of the newshamans who, by rejecting all superstition and every bond, restore harmony and sensitivity in the world with the fragrance of their love, the delicacy of their magic touch and with the majesty of their visions.” Another key pointin the teaching of Toro was the research of the ancestors, which is essential to determine an ideal continuity between old and new; to accomplish this research it is necessary to remember those who have mostinfluenced our cultural and spiritual growth, then associate this person to an animal and finally dance as if we were the animal itself: at the end of the dance this totemic animal will be our guardian angel.
Shamans have always attracted the interest of every kind of person, proof is that poets like Rimbaud and HenryMiller, anthropologists such as Claude Levy-Strauss, explorers of human consciousness and bioenergetics asJung, Groddeck and Reich, and even artists and actors such as Picasso, Grotowski and Julian Beck have always been attracted and fascinated by them.