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The Academic Question of Shamanic Studies

To: soc.religion.shamanism
From: (Dean Edwards)
Subject: Re: The Academic Question of Shamanic Studies
Date: 16 Nov 1994 06:49:52 GMT

...Each person has their own expereince. This is a combination of our 
outer and inner lives. Without an inner life, a shaman cannot develop 
the personal tools necessary to function for anyone. The inner journey 
and the outer journey become complementary aspects. Each have their 
own value and usefulness. The act of connecting the inner with the outer 
existence is a personal thing. Sometimes it may also be done within a 
group, sometimes not.  Such things are usually held sacred and close.

Among many Siberian people's there is a keen appreciation for the
symbolic significance of the pole star which they see in the
night sky. All other objects in the heavens move around this central
star, Polaris. It is often called 'the nail (peg) in the sky.' It
connects the heavens to the earth via a great cosmic pillar. (This 
pillar shows up prominently in many traditions, including the celtic.)
The pillar (or column) is a musical expression of light. It is sometimes
called the axis-mundi here in the west.

Actual initiation, in the sense in which I am speaking here, is well
represented by the cosmic/world pillar connecting earth and thei
heavens. It is an inner spiritual event. It also, in my expereince, has
an outer component. An initiation (or for that matter, any inner
experience), IMHO, is made whole by grounding it in all aspects of
being, including the physical. What an outer initiator can do is to
assist in the process of grounding the experience in the physical
and perhaps also in the other aspects of emotion, heart, mind and

...A shaman engages in the exploration and development of their own 
initiation and expereince. There are also a whole lot of cultural 
variables. Most of the real training that a shaman experiences
seems to occur inwardly and not outwardly. Applying what has been
learned is another broad topic in itself. A shaman engages in the
practice of being a shaman. This goes beyond desire, feeling or

...There is, it would seem, a distance that must be crossed between 
the Call and the actual practice. In the Shamanism-General Overview 
I use a lot of qualifying words such as usually and often. There are 
no hard and fast deliniations here. This is why we cannot specify 
exactly when the line between recognizing a possibility and being able 
to put life into it and practice it is crossed. This is an individual
experience. It can have sigificant ramifications for those
who work with, interact with or come to a shaman, but the one who
is doing the work is the shaman. Much of this is personal and involves
self development. Even in these quiet ways, a shaman can affect the
community in which they live. The recognition of this seems to often
lead to more obvious methods of interacting with those around her/him.

There is an old street expression, "You can talk the talk, can lyou 
walk the walk?" A shaman may or may not talk much, but walks, swims,
flies and moves beyond the ken of the mundane. Personal experience
varies considerably, but a shaman does indeed put into practice
a process of inner and outer life we more generally refer to as


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