The Practical Power of the Shaman

Written by Keith Varnum

Spirit of shamanism brings harmony and magic into everyday life

Shamanism is a very practical spirituality. A modern-day shaman could live next door to you andrepparttar only clues you might have are that they get along well with people and animals and have a green thumb with plants. Also, shamans have a knack for putting people at ease and for saying and doingrepparttar 122371 right thing atrepparttar 122372 right time. In his book, Urban Shaman, Serge Kahili King defines a shaman as "a healer of relationships, between mind and body, between people, between people and circumstances, between humans and Nature and between matter and spirit."

If you have a taste of divine ecstasy, shamanism can teach you how to ground it, how to bring it into your everyday life through using your natural gifts and talents. Shamanism can support you in translating that experience, that creative energy, into physical form so it can benefit yourself and everyone around you. The essence of shamanism is not an esoteric, mysterious, ritualistic tradition which can only be practiced by native peoples in a tribal environment. This ancient spiritual perspective on life is a down-to-earth, pragmatic, realistic way of living that anyone can use anywhere, anytime, including in our modern world.

Currently acrossrepparttar 122373 planet,repparttar 122374 sacred knowledge ofrepparttar 122375 shaman or wizard is being translated into everyday street language in order to create more healthy, harmonious and enriching lives for people. The spirit of shamanism is more of an open, flexible attitude and approach to living than a rigid set of rules, formulas and techniques. Applyingrepparttar 122376 basic principles of shamanism opens people to new possibilities and options for dealing with modern daily challenges.

From Alaska torepparttar 122377 Andes, from Tibet to Tanzania, shamanism is a worldwide phenomenon. Virtually every religion has its roots in shamanism, although shamanism is not a religion. It's a perspective-a way of seeing all things as sacred. Shamanism does not preclude any religion. It simply says that anyone can have a direct experience ofrepparttar 122378 divine without an intermediary. By honoringrepparttar 122379 sacred essence of everyone and everything, one's whole life can truly become a spiritual adventure.

Omens and signs

The shaman relates to every form of life as being alive, filled with energy and always communicating something to us. The key is in learning how to receiverepparttar 122380 communication. "Omens are a way Spirit communicates with us inrepparttar 122381 physical world," states shaman Ken Eagle Feather in Traveling with Power. "You can decipher omens from virtually anything, but pay special attention to unusual occurrences, whether it'srepparttar 122382 strange behavior of birds, or conversations in which someone says something that catches your attention in a special way, or when a book falls off a shelf in front of you. You might find that messages on billboards change right in front of you, so that while others are reading anordinary advertisement, you end up reading a message from Spirit. Be careful about being too strict in your interpretations, though. Remember, you are looking for guidance, not assurance. An omen might berepparttar 122383 same for several people, or it might mean several different things. It's up to you to create your personal omen dictionary. This open-ended response is called nonpatterning, and it providesrepparttar 122384 space for Spirit to communicate with you."

Using personal experience asrepparttar 122385 means through which wisdom is gleaned (rather than through reading, thinking or analyzing),repparttar 122386 shaman presents opportunities where people begin to sense a real, interactive connection with everything else that exists, even those things believed to be inanimate such as rocks, plastic, glass or metal.

Everything is energy

The basis of shamanistic creation, healing and transformation has always beenrepparttar 122387 knowledge thatrepparttar 122388 essential nature of everything is energy. Modern science, specifically quantum physics has only recently concluded that every living thing is made of energy. The reason that walls and rocks appear solid is because they vibrate at a low, dense rate. We know that pictures travel invisibly throughrepparttar 122389 air and arrive on our TV screens. Is it such a stretch to open torepparttar 122390 possibility that everything has an invisible energy within it? And that communication can be transmitted through this energy?

Shamans utilizerepparttar 122391 knowledge that everything is energy to create in their world by using their conscious attention to directrepparttar 122392 flow of energy within all forms of life. Energy flows where attention goes. Indeed, scientists are now reporting thatrepparttar 122393 outcome of their experiments are significantly affected byrepparttar 122394 beliefs and thoughts ofrepparttar 122395 person conductingrepparttar 122396 experiment.

Since we come to this planet to evolve our soul withinrepparttar 122397 paradox of this world of polarity (light and dark, inside and outside, body and spirit), we must developrepparttar 122398 skill to play consciously and creatively with duality. If we are truly perceptive, we can see howrepparttar 122399 energies of each opposing polarity are serving us. If we see how we are at effect of all these dualistic energies, then we can make a choice of what to keep and what to eliminate. This is an act of magic. True magicians are those who can influence energy, whether it is inside them or inrepparttar 122400 world outside them. If we have learned how energy moves and behaves, we have opened ourselves up to our true selves. This is whatrepparttar 122401 paradoxes of our world teach us. Shamans know that humans are determiners of spirit, andrepparttar 122402 choices, decisions and priorities that we set fashionrepparttar 122403 reality ofrepparttar 122404 world in which we live.

Indiana Jones and the Volcano

Written by Keith Varnum

Indiana Jones andrepparttar Volcano

Experiencing a live volcano was on top of our agenda when my friend Rob and I visitedrepparttar 122370 exotic land of Costa Rica. The plane touched down inrepparttar 122371 capital city of San Jose, and we headed forrepparttar 122372 car rental to pick up a 4x4 and a map to Mt. Arenal,repparttar 122373 nearest active volcano.

After an arduous drive through torrential rain, we finally arrived in a quiet village supposedly atrepparttar 122374 foot of a fire-belching monster. I say supposedly because it was so foggy, we weren’t even sure a volcano existed. We couldn’t see a tree a block away, let alone a volcanic mountain looming 5,000 feet above us.

Locals claim if you really listen closely, you can hearrepparttar 122375 beast rumble. We never heard a whimper. Byrepparttar 122376 second misty day and night of no sighting, I suspectedrepparttar 122377 local population had fabricatedrepparttar 122378 story of an erupting volcano in order to attract tourist dollars. A volcano of convenience. No muss, no fuss. Just some imaginary rumbling every so often that onlyrepparttar 122379 locals hear from a volcano no one ever sees because ofrepparttar 122380 rain and fog!

Waiting outrepparttar 122381 rain, we were eating a tasty native dinner of red beans and rice at a colorful local dive whenrepparttar 122382 owner ofrepparttar 122383 café strolled over to our table. Without invitation, he plopped himself down. Miguel appeared to me exactly as I’ve always imagined don Juan of Carlos Castaneda fame to look. His face was dark and swarthy with a kind but inscrutable expression. Staring straight into our eyes, he declared in halting English, “You want to know volcano, not just look at it.”

Being a veteran traveler, I have learned to be agreeable in a foreign country and, in general, say “yes” to practically everything spoken to me byrepparttar 122384 locals. Not realizingrepparttar 122385 full import ofrepparttar 122386 distinction betweenrepparttar 122387 words Miguel had used, I responded amicably, “Yeah, yeah, of course, we’d like to knowrepparttar 122388 volcano.”

Without another word, Miguel turned over my paper place mat and began to draw a crooked line. We watched in silence as he guidedrepparttar 122389 pencil overrepparttar 122390 grease-stained paper in absorbed concentration. What emerged was a detailed map of twists and turns with landmarks indicated by little, kid-like pictures of trees, stone walls and tiny shacks to represent a village.

Finished, Miguel sighed and spoke directly into our souls with piercing, green eyes. “This map take you to volcano. To be with volcano—to feel and know spirit of volcano.” Then he laughed softly and cautioned us we would be scared becauserepparttar 122391 volcano would definitely erupt when we were there. “But volcano not harm you,” he added hastily. With a wistful look in his face, Miguel shared how he has picnicked atrepparttar 122392 edge ofrepparttar 122393 volcano his whole life andrepparttar 122394 towering inferno had never harmed him. His words only mildly consoled me.

The sound ofrepparttar 122395 cold, drenching rain woke us at dawn. We still couldn’t see or hearrepparttar 122396 volcano. Sincerepparttar 122397 downpour discouraged us from any tourist activity, we decided we may as well get soaking wet following Miguel’s map to wherever it led.

We drove uprepparttar 122398 steep mountainside untilrepparttar 122399 rugged jeep road ended abruptly at a craggy cliff. I was very surprised Miguel’s hand-drawn map actually corresponded to what we found on our journey. We followed our friend’s makeshift chart through a hole in a fence, up a circuitous rocky path, over many collapsed lava rock walls and past long-deserted fruit orchards. The trail ended at an imposing 300-foot wall of solid volcanic lava flow so jagged and sharp we couldn’t climb it.

Fortunately for us, Miguel had anticipated this challenge. Atrepparttar 122400 edge ofrepparttar 122401 lava flow, his map showed a naturally camouflaged trail throughrepparttar 122402 dense rainforest. We plunged intorepparttar 122403 dark primeval forest. The jungle growth was so thick with vines and roots,repparttar 122404 path so muddy and slippery, I felt we’d dropped into a comic scene right out ofrepparttar 122405 Harrison Ford movie “Indiana Jones andrepparttar 122406 Raiders ofrepparttar 122407 Lost Ark.” During one hilarious moment, Rob and I both lost our footing and, clutching each other, slid back down fifty feet ofrepparttar 122408 mudslide trail. Grabbing overhanging vines, Tarzan-style, savedrepparttar 122409 day—and our necks! Our guardian angels must get a lot of overtime pay!

Undaunted and filled withrepparttar 122410 rush of adventure, Rob and I helped each other stand up, pull ourselves together and restartrepparttar 122411 climb. Clawing and scratching our way throughrepparttar 122412 rainforest, we finally reachedrepparttar 122413 top ofrepparttar 122414 lava flow. My first impression was how very windy and cold it was up there for a tropical climate. The pouring rain and dense fog had persisted, obliteratingrepparttar 122415 view of anything more than a foot in front of us. As we inched our way alongrepparttar 122416 top ofrepparttar 122417 volcanic rock, I remembered how Miguel had told us of his many idyllic picnics here with his friends. Not very conducive weather for a picnic on this morning!

Suddenly, a booming roar filledrepparttar 122418 air, followed by a very powerful rumble that reverberated throughout our bodies. We feltrepparttar 122419 Earth roll in one undulating wave after another! Even though Rob and I had never experienced an eruption before, we instinctively knew this wasrepparttar 122420 volcano showing its might. The ground continued to heave in unnerving spasms. People-size boulders sped past us downrepparttar 122421 slope. Flying rocks were propelled into nearby trees,repparttar 122422 sheer force imbeddingrepparttar 122423 projectiles cleanly into their trunks. We heard and felt nearby avalanches crashing their way downrepparttar 122424 mountain. We could only see a fraction ofrepparttar 122425 devastation because ofrepparttar 122426 blinding downpour, but our bodies definitely registeredrepparttar 122427 massive rearrangement all around us.

A sharp electric terror shot through every cell of my body. Its message was explicit and commanding, “Leave! Now! You must go now to save your life.”

I shouted to Rob, “We’re out of here! It’s not safe!” To my astonishment, he shook his head from side to side indicating he didn’t want to go.

“I’m staying. This is too cool!” he yelled overrepparttar 122428 roar ofrepparttar 122429 wind and falling rock. He was nineteen years old. His sense of novelty and exploration was still stronger than his sense of danger and good judgment. I started to argue. I made zero impression onrepparttar 122430 brash, young daredevil.

Then another explosion rocked our world. I watched in horror asrepparttar 122431 heat, ash and force ofrepparttar 122432 blast denuded a huge 200-foot tree in one second, stripping off all its leaves and limbs. If this volcano could do that to a tree, it could dorepparttar 122433 same to us! I knew with certainty I was supposed to leave posthaste.

Jumping offrepparttar 122434 top ofrepparttar 122435 lava mound right intorepparttar 122436 rainforest, I bolted without another thought. I threw myself intorepparttar 122437 “Raiders ofrepparttar 122438 Lost Ark” express mudslide, ridingrepparttar 122439 flowing water and sludge throughrepparttar 122440 dense jungle growth downrepparttar 122441 side ofrepparttar 122442 still-quaking mountainside. In what seemed like only a few seconds, I arrived atrepparttar 122443 bottom ofrepparttar 122444 lava flow. The path was certainly faster and easier going down than climbing up! For a brief moment, I lay soaked torepparttar 122445 bone, resting in a mud puddle, my ripped clothes covered with brown muck.

Recovering some of my composure, I became aware forrepparttar 122446 first time of heat radiating fromrepparttar 122447 lava flow smoldering several feet to my left. I crawled inrepparttar 122448 direction ofrepparttar 122449 flow until I was within a few inches ofrepparttar 122450 mass. To my surprise,repparttar 122451 air felt like I had just opened a 400-degree oven. The surface was so hot, I instinctively jumped back a few feet. When we first arrived earlier inrepparttar 122452 morning,repparttar 122453 extremely cold wind and pelting rain had so neutralizedrepparttar 122454 radiant heat fromrepparttar 122455 lava, we didn’t even noticerepparttar 122456 temperature.

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