Nature and Spirit
Finding our place in a cosmos
Solitude in nature has always been part of shamanic practice. Shamans recognize nature’s proximity to spirit. The veil between worlds is thin in the woods, the mountains and the desert. Sitting quietly by a waterfall while being fully present can begin to open the door into the world of spirit.
Native Americans would fast and pray alone in nature, seeking visions that would guide them through life. They called this ceremony the vision quest. Other cultures worldwide have used a similar method.
Icelandic sagas describe how the old Norse people would sit alone in nature to seek guidance, often from the ancestors. Song or spoken prayer could be the key that unlocked an ancestral otherworld. They called this practice udesidning, literally ‘outdoors sitting’. It was usually a solo practice involving meditation outdoors for the purpose of divining information, both to understand the past and to learn the future. The word udesidning is now used to denote vision seeking in contemporary Danish shamanic course descriptions. Odin’s hanging in a tree for nine days ‘to acquire the occult knowledge of runes’, as described by Eliade in ‘Shamanism’, also suggest an extreme form of initiatory vision quest.
‘You must go out alone into the wild places’
The anthropologist Holger Kalweit writes that for the Navajo Indians ‘healing is a harmonization of the psyche’. Harmony is found through healing ceremonies that site individuals in relation to nature as part of a cosmos. This opens ‘a broader horizon’ for their being, and results in a ‘sense of planetary and cosmic relatedness’. It is by virtue of this ‘capability of feeling at one with the forces of nature’ that healing can be attained.
While this type of healing ceremony is different from a conscious practice of focusing on the powers of nature, it shows that to do so is healing. It activates a sense of relatedness to that ‘broader horizon for one’s own being’.
The world of the shaman is rich with teachings, insights, initiations and thresholds. The world is seen as a mystery where spiritual power is all around us in a universe that is constantly changing and evolving. Through the doorway of awareness this power is available for everyone, not just for shamans. All practical and esoteric teachings can be found in nature, if we know how to use the gateways of silence and meditation. The old wisdom keepers were aware of this fact, and to this day knowledge on survival, spirituality, mysticism, technology and science can be found in nature. We are the Earth; the Earth and we are one. The Earth is part of the Universe, and so the Universe and we are one.
Our heritage of wisdom
All knowledge exists in the consciousness of the Universe, and in us, the human beings. Shamans worldwide have kept this ancient wisdom alive, and over the last forty years have begun to share their knowledge. At this point in time we are collectively beginning to awaken to it. Shamans are telling us that it is time to take the heritage of our ancient wisdom and step forward into a new world, leaving behind the old ways that have been outdated.
Our remembrance emerges from the ancient shamanic practice of understanding the nature of things, as well as knowing and appreciating the sacred in its physical forms. To know the force behind the form, the spirit under the surface: this is the way of the shaman.
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