Sunday, May 25, 2008

Getting focused

Sometimes there's nothing like getting your hands dirty. I've just spent today and yesterday out in the garden getting earth under my fingernails and it's amazing how much it calms my spirit. Mind you, it also stiffens my back and knees, but that's a different matter. 

Sales of the book are beginning to climb - even without all the promotional material that got disappeared off my hard drive. One of my old students from the workshops up in Ann Arbor came down for a visit a couple days ago and asked me if I knew that my book "bounces off walls." Apparently it managed to trigger her to the point that she had to throw it. I'm thinking this might be a good thing. At least she's not bored.

I suppose I should start applying this blog to shamanism. But I have some questions coming up in that process. For instance: I need to maintain client confidentiality, so I can't talk about work in progress. And the conversational tone that I'm working on may lull me into the sense that I'm just talking to myself - which could be dangerous. 

One of the issues that comes up around doing this work is that the word/term Shaman doesn't come from English. I think it says a lot about where we are in our culture that we have had to adopt the word from the Tinglit, because we no longer even have the concept readily available in our cosmology. Having done so, however, the word has become more widely used and relatively understood than it ever was when it referred only to those people in the Tungus region who practiced altered states healing techniques for their traditional communities. In fact, if it wasn't for the Russians who brought the word to the attention of their colleges, we might have had to create our own term from spare parts of other words. I can only image what we might have come up with. Soulhealer; Journeyerinotherworlds; Ekkar. . . the possibilities are endless. And if you think the topic is confusing NOW - just imagine. . . .

My own, somewhat biased, perspective is that the term Shaman has been firmly and successfully co-opted by the modern western world. Just like we are not about to give back Manhattan, we are not going to return the less substantial elements of traditional culture that we've appropriated over the years either. In pragmatic terms, Shaman is now in the dictionary. It has meaning in our language too. And - ever so gradually - it is becoming a meaningful part of our spiritual awakening. 

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