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Shamans: An Overview
It was an opportunity of a lifetime, an offer seemingly just out of reach. For years Shawna had wished for the anthropologist's dream: an assignment to Lima, Peru, jumping off place for the Andes. And now a group was being formed and she was asked if she wanted to go. But the obstacles seemed almost unsurmountable. Slaving over a maze of reports from her last assignment, Shawna was not even remotely ready to go. She was also flat broke. Shawna spent hours in the July heat of Los Angeles calculating the costs, pouring over the calendar, and figuring in any possible assets she could turn into cash. Neither the figures nor the dates on the calendar added up.
In frustration, Shawna threw her pencil across the room where it bounced and spun into her favorite cottonwood drum, a gift from her grandfather in New Mexico. He wasn't really her grandfather but she called him that. Old Bill was everybody's grandfather. Shawna had spent a few summers with the ancient Apache and now she ,suddenly recalled something he had taught her. 'When your heart is sad and you have lost your path, go inside for help. When your heart speaks its truth, you cannot know failure." Suddenly Shawna relaxed. How could she be so foolish as to give up her dream because of a few calculations?
Swiftly crossing the room, she picked up the drum. Sifting quietly for a time, she began to sing a little song Old Bill had taught her, accompanied by a light drumbeat. "Falcon I am calling, Falcon I am calling, Come and be with me..." Closing her eyes, Shawna could see the ebony of the falcon's wing feathers as he flashed by her. "Falcon," shewhispered, "I could use a little help. I want to go to Lima but as you can see I am stymied. Any suggestions?" The image of the falcon appeared to look her straight in the eye and say without opening his beak, "Melanie, call Melanie. You will go, you will go." Then he vanished across an imaginary horizon.
Shawna rubbed her eyes. Melanie? The only Melanie she knew was a former employer from pre-graduate school days; a prim, exacting woman whom Shawna had always found somewhat hard to please. Melanie also possessed power, money, and influence where it counts. It started to dawn on Shawna.
The following morning found Shawna on the phone with Melanie. "Ah, hello, I'm Shawna Michaelson, I used to work for you and -- " Shawna was amazed. Not only did Melanie remember her but she also showed a genuine enthusiasm for Shawna's Peruvian plans.They agreed to meet the very next day.
"I can't believe you called me," Melanie exclaimed. "I've been hoping to start a foundation for scholars but had no focus as yet. Now I've got something to start with. How much will you be needing?"
Shawna's mouth fell open. "I, I, I don't know. Five thousand dollars will go a long way in Peru."
"Good," stated Melanie, "lets make it six for good measure. That's a good beginning for this year's endowment."
Excited beyond measure, Shawna decided she now must get down to that paperwork. Then she caught herself. "Falcon's working on it. I'm not going to fail. I'm going to Peru."
On her way home Shawna stopped at a gas station. "Hi, Shawna," a familiar voice called. It was her supervisor, Larry Jackson, from her last job, which was in Montana. He said, "I'm in town for some lectures at U.C.L.A. and was going to call you. I want Terry, that doctoral student, to finish those reports you're working on. It will be good practice for him and give you a break. What do you think?"
Larry wasn't expecting the big bear hug Shawna gave him. She mumbled thanks and hustled home to get her affairs in order. "Let's see: passport, shots, cold-weather clothes... Thank you, Falcon! My friend. This assignment is starting out right!"
Shamanic advising is an ancient and powerful form of information retrieval and inner consultation that can be adapted by anyone for use in the context of the modem world. Shamanism itself is a time-honored cross-cultural quest for knowledge and personal power that predates all known religions, psychologies, and philosophies. A set of techniques developed over ages, it allows individuals to learn consciously to bridge the apparent chasm between the physical world and the realms of imagination and vision. The great advantage of this form of guidance is that it requires no outside tools, no expenditures, and very little time investment. In fact, you might be tempted to overlook it because it does not fit into what we think of as a traditional path to success, whether personal or professional.
The shaman relies on inner powers to support his or her conclusions about a situation, rather than on material concerns as is often the case today. The only price you have to pay to use this form of consultation is that shamanism asks you to let go of your conventional belief systems about reality.
While shamans have no fixed dogma or religion, they all believe in the universal web of power that supports all life. According to shamanism, all elements of the environment are alive and all have their source of power in the spirit world. Rocks, plants, animals, clouds, and wind are charged with life and must be paid due respect for the maintenance of harmony and health. Shamans consider all life-forms to be interconnected, and a mutually supportive balance among them is essential for humankind's survival. Our job is to understand this balance and to five in harmony with it, always taking nature into consideration in every endeavor. The web of power in nature is the life giver and the source of...