Do-it-yourself shamanism

Denise GuerringueShamanism

There are times when we are called to step forward, roll up our sleeves and take on the job of doing the important work ourselves. That might be because we are fostering our power, and need to learn where our boundaries truly lie. Or, perhaps we have grown a deep curiosity about understanding the “guts” of something, like the technology we blithely take for granted, and so take up learning about how to maintain our own cars, or upgrade our computers. Or maybe we want to place ourselves more firmly in the rhythm of our lives by, for example, growing a home garden so we can experience the circle of sustenance our food provides to us. Or maybe we are just moved by the grace and beauty of something important, and want to put ourselves into the center of that.

Guitar's inner beautyMy husband Jon recently had the opportunity to deepen his own connection with music by taking two weeks out of his busy life to attend the Whetstone School of Lutherie in Brattleboro, VT. He’s been a player of all kinds of musical instruments in his lifetime, from various wind instruments, to piano, to mandolin and guitar. His deep curiosity about what makes each musical instrument unique, his appreciation of the beauty of the result and the process, and his great enjoyment of working with wood, combined to inspire him to learn to build guitars on his own. In two weeks, he was able to transform a pile of various pieces of wood into a unique and beautiful instrument. In the doing, he has gained a deeper knowing about wood and music, and a greater understanding of his own power in both of those realms.

He thoroughly documented the building of his guitar with pictures, and I marveled to see the inner beauty of his guitar taking shape. Once complete, that beauty becomes part of the mystery of the guitar’s sound, because the surfaces and braces of the interior, hidden from the eye, are the bits and pieces of wood that craft the quality of the sound, and give the instrument its strength. I will be privileged to know, each time I hear that guitar, the internal beauty that is part of that result. Though Jon will continue to play and to treasure his other instruments, the knowledge of and intimacy with this guitar will help to make the music he creates on it more powerful

Shamanism can be a lot like Jon’s process of dreaming of and, finally, building a guitar. Often, we are driven to seek the help of a shamanic practitioner when life’s circumstances demand we call in spiritual help. In those cases, the practitioner undertakes the shamanic journey into the spiritual worlds to seek the aid of helping Spirits on behalf of the client. For some of us, the call goes even further than asking a practitioner to journey on our behalf. For some of us, the mystery, awe and beauty of shamanic practice calls us to step on that healing path ourselves. The truth is, the shamanic journey is every human being’s birthright: all humans are built to be able to undertake the journey in order to be in direct relationship with helping Spirits, ancestors, and other divine energies.

One important consideration: not everyone who learns about shamanism is destined to be a shaman or shamanic practitioner. Shamanic tools are a great support to help us live our individual lives more fully; for that reason alone, they are worth learning. You will choose the best application of your skills, in answer to the song of your soul’s purpose.

If it’s time for you to step into the wonder and mystery of a relationship with Spirit, or to commit to deepening your practice, consider signing up for a class this fall.