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Shamanic Crisis?
November 21, 2005 8:45 AM   Subscribe

So You Wannabe A Shaman, Huh? Or got a Spiritual/Shamanic Crisis? Trouble with Mystical and Psychotic Perceptions of Reality? Some tips on How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later may help. Maybe just go watch Predator, with a Shaman's view. Or skip the lot and Transcend Duality.
posted by MetaMonkey (33 comments total)

 
Alternatively, you could goto the Universal Light Church and choose Shaman as your religious title.
posted by gren at 9:18 AM on November 21, 2005


Fourth link is dead.
The part on how to transcend duality might be useful here.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:24 AM on November 21, 2005


The dead link is "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later."
Heh.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:27 AM on November 21, 2005


It's not dead on my end. Great read. I love Dick. Phillip K. Dick.
posted by lyam at 9:30 AM on November 21, 2005


Here's some alternatives.

How to build a Universe...Google search
posted by lyam at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2005


Philip Dick says, "My theory is this: In some certain important sense, time is not real. Or perhaps it is real, but not as we experience it to be or imagine it to be."
This is interesting, since quantum physics contradicts our notions of time, also.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
Yet belief can create a reality, like war, that will not go away when the belief does.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:53 AM on November 21, 2005


I want a talking Philip K. Dick head on my desk - he would make all my mondays better:

"whirling around in one of the giant teacups while discussing the rise of fascism with Norman Spinrad... an old friend of mine who writes excellent science fiction. We also discussed Watergate, but we did that on the deck of Captain Hook's pirate ship."

(from the fourth link of course)
posted by freebird at 10:14 AM on November 21, 2005


...that will not go away when the belief does
Belief is not agreement.
posted by uni verse at 10:15 AM on November 21, 2005


I'd settle for a nice cup of coffee.
posted by homunculus at 10:28 AM on November 21, 2005


I see a shaman on TV commercials everyday now: Santa Claus. They've cleaned him up a bit, though.
posted by homunculus at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2005


Nice link Homunculus, I've liked other e-sheep comics but not checked that out yet. Couldn't read the whole thing, but the part where the office lady is drinking the shaman powered starbucks, her brain expanding while she thinks "that's a really....really....really...good cup of coffee" pretty much hooked me in.
posted by freebird at 10:37 AM on November 21, 2005


I wrote a number of articles on shamanism a little while back that may be of interest, starting with "The Shaman's Vision," and followed by, "Neoshamanism is Masturbation" and "Sacred Addicts."
posted by jefgodesky at 10:38 AM on November 21, 2005


This seems like a fairly heterogeneous collection of links. Shamanism != Philip K. Dick's mystical musings != Zen Buddhism.

It seems like maybe you think all those wacky alternative religions are kind of the same, huh?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2005


"!=" != "not related"
posted by freebird at 10:48 AM on November 21, 2005


So what's the relationship (aside from the "wacky alternative religions" angle)?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2005


Nerf Shamans
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2005


So what's the relationship

I've not read every link to great depth, but it seems they're all about the nature of reality, and the extent to which it is constructed, and people whose job it is to work on that construction. No?

A bit harum scarum for me, most of it, but I love me some Dick and a good Koan with my monday morning coffee.
posted by freebird at 11:13 AM on November 21, 2005


I wish I taught school in Kansas. My students would get a healthy dose of P. Dickean I.D.
posted by iamck at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2005


"So what's the relationship..?"

"it seems they're all about the nature of reality, and the extent to which it is constructed, and people whose job it is to work on that construction"

That was my thinking at first also, but on reflection I think I was also implying Dick's life and works were a prolonged shamanic/spiritual crisis of sorts. And that he could have done with a bit more koans and a bit less amphetamine maybe.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:22 AM on November 21, 2005


he could have done with a bit more koans and a bit less amphetamine

Heh! Yet, one always has this paradox: if he'd lived a healthier, more balanced life, would his work have been as good? Thus, one is left with the guilty feeling that perhaps he had to burn himself up like a torch, to cast the light he did for the rest of us to see.
posted by freebird at 11:45 AM on November 21, 2005


Nerf Shamans

Cry more alliance!
posted by evilgenius at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2005


Ghost wolf++
posted by beth at 1:10 PM on November 21, 2005


By the way, I just got a chance to look at the Shaman's View of Predator. Great, great link. Joseph Campbell would be proud. Or crying, I don't know. But he'd definately notice.
posted by freebird at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2005


"seems like maybe you think all those wacky alternative religions are kind of the same, huh?"

On further reflection I may also have been trying to draw a more subtle comparison of psychotic/mystic experience as (mis)understood in modern/monothestic cultures, and the understanding of same in primative/pan/polythestic cultures. And that I think P.K. Dick was about the closest thing we get to a shaman in the western world.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2005


Please don't squeeze the shaman.
posted by snakey at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2005


I thought everybody knew that you couldn't be a shaman unless you buried your fist in the earth overnight and it had roots in it in the morning.

You know, like Ed Chigliak.
posted by ulotrichous at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2005


Interesting articles, jefgodesky, thanks for the links. I've found some good stuff on your site before.

Haven't had a chance to give much attention to the Shaman's Vision, though the other two I enjoyed. The jist seemed to me the unholy perception of shaman in the western world. I'm inclined to concur largely, though I'd like to add that I suspect there are probably an awful lot of dodgy shaman in all cultures, just as there are a lot of bogus gurus in India and hypocritcal holy men in christianity.

I read somewhere on the net that in primitive cultures roughly 1 in 30 people are or become shaman. Whether this is accurate or not, the article speculated that this ratio is also demonstrated in non-primative cultures, only we lack the framework to understand those people, so they are labeled as madmen/artists. Thats where the P.K. Dick connection comes in.

Bill Hicks spoke of himself as fulfilling the role of a shaman. Jimi Hendrix has healed a lot of people, and he wasn't doing it for the money. For me it is a fairly small leap from imagining the storytellers/healers/drumleaders/firebuilders of ancient times to the authentic modern artist, doing his/her thing because that's what they were put on this earth to do.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2005


Jefgodesky, have you ever seen White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men? It is a wonderfully funny native critique of new age "shamans" and their appropriation of Indian culture.
posted by LarryC at 3:15 PM on November 21, 2005


An alternative view of shamanism.

The assumption of primitivism may be incorrect. People have a tendency to assume that, not our knowledge or technology, but the *way* we *think* today is superior to how those in ancient times thought. This is a very arrogant assumption, and very wrong. I submit the writings of Homer as proof that there were at least some people who were very intelligent and had a highly structured and complex means of expressing that intelligence.

Once you accept the axiom that not all people in the ancient world were dummies, the next concept is that shamanism was, in essense, a non-mechanical technology. Again, people today assume that our technology demonstrates our ability to think, and think better than those who live or lived in non-technological societies. But technology itself is just re-ordering what is known--there is no great originality or creative thought involved in it.

I suggest that we are not better thinkers, just that we have taken a different path for our thought from those other peoples.

The vast majority of our technology is under 250 years old. But some shamanistic traditions may be 3000 or more years old. So assuming that their non-mechanical civilization was not stagnant in its thought all that time, comparitively speaking, some shamanism could be highly advanced.

And yet, with our firm conviction in the superiority of technology, might we be blind to far more advanced intellectual traditions? Just because they are not expressed in technological innovation, does not mean that they are any the less valid.
posted by kablam at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2005


The assumption of primitivism may be incorrect.

I suspect you may have mistyped, as you then go on to describe the philosophical foundation of primitivism...

Unless you meant by "primitivism," "the pejorative view of older beliefs as backwards and 'primitive.'" It usually means, "of or pertaining to one who finds value in primitive beliefs and cultures."

Jefgodesky, have you ever seen White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men? It is a wonderfully funny native critique of new age "shamans" and their appropriation of Indian culture.

Indeed, but I don't find it terribly convincing. There is a condemnation that's too broad. I don't think Indians have any kind of racial monopoly on shamanism, any more than any other group. I suspect that though we've lost shamanism, we haven't lost the shamanic sickness--only its cure. I suspect that this has been a profoundly negative thing for us, and thus, regaining some kind of shamanism may be very important. Slavishly following every detail of Indian religion is stupid, since we don't come from that background. But I'm also a big fan of syncretism--and that means borrowing liberally from any religious tradition you admire, including Indian shamans.
posted by jefgodesky at 4:06 PM on November 21, 2005


I don't know if Dick was a shamen, but he sure seems to have had access to knowledge from somekind of beyond.

Did reality evolve in the mind? Dick only knows...
posted by 0bvious at 1:05 AM on November 22, 2005


Maybe watch Cocteau's Blood of a Poet as a shamanic text. Might even learn something.
posted by Wolof at 3:13 AM on November 22, 2005


Didn't we just talk about the Dick essay like a week later?
posted by Falconetti at 9:26 PM on December 1, 2005


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