Shamanism - A Heart Path

A new sense of the sacred has appeared in the Western world, one that incorporates spiritual realization, personal growth psychology, and being of service all in one orientation. This spiritual reawakening is generating a real change in attitudes as we move into and rediscover our own spirituality, and it is generally believed that this resurgence of interest in the spiritual, proceeding from the personal to the global, has the power to shift the directions of world history.

I have written about this phenomenon in Visionseeker, exploring some of the ways in which the modern mystical movement is shifting the beliefs, values, and trends of Western society. From my perspective as a social scientist, it is quite obvious to me that the so-called New Age is not a fad, but rather heralds the emergence of a true Transformational Community--one in which the old mystery schools of the past are being recreated in response to need.

Shaman Visionseeker in Esalen

Shaman Visionseeker Workshop: Esalen Oct 2008          Photo: Daniel Bianchetta

Contemporary spiritual seekers can now attend workshops and seminars at places like the Esalen Institute in California, the Omega Institute near New York, and the New Millennium Institute in Hawaii, all locales where Jill and I now lead experiential retreats. Our schedule (frequently updated on our website) reveals that we teach at many other places as well, and I am pleased to say that our workshops this year have been heavily attended, with the Visionseeker retreats often selling out months before the actual event.

Our event descriptions, listed under Workshops & Presentations, show that the crux of our work utilizes the time-tested ways of the shaman to reconnect people with their inner sources of wisdom and power.

The ease with which these ways can be learned and practiced by non-tribal Westerners for healing and problem-solving reveals why the rediscovery of shamanism has become a major thrust of the current spiritual reawakening in the West. Shamanism is a path with heart, and includes a methodology that leads us into the direct, transformative experience of the sacred that defines the mystic.

The Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax recounted a conversation in her book The Fruitful Darkness in which she once asked a Zen Master the following question:

"Going to the temple, you take the path; entering the temple, you leave the path. What does this mean?" Without a pause, the Roshi's response came: "Joan, the path is the temple."

The paths that each of us take as we negotiate through life are the vehicles through which we awaken. In this sense, the singular contribution that the authentic spiritual teacher has to offer is to help us step onto our path. And once that is accomplished, their job is essentially done.

A person who is in thirst needs water, not the faucet. And the water is everywhere, in everything...

Jill joins me in sending you our very warmest aloha...

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Dear Hank,
I saw some of your interviews on u tube and was very impressed.
I am new to shamanism and became interested after I read a book called Shamanistic Wisdom of the Pyramid Texts. I am doing courses in Egyptology at London University.
I have done some drumming journeys using a CD but have only had partial success. I'm not sure if I'm just imagining the whole trip. How do you know that what is seen is not just imagination.? I think this type of journeying requires a special gift only accessible to a few. Should I keep trying ? How would I know if II can really have a genuine experience ? Thank you.

Hank Wesselman PhD.'s picture

Dear Mohini--

Thanks for your post. Shamanic journeywork is a learned skill that improves with practice. It also is much more powerful when practiced in groups with live drums or rattles. You might find my published books useful--The Journey to the Sacred Garden (short version) or Awakening to the Spirit World (long version) Both have CDs for practice. These works will reveal to you what is possible. And no, you're not making it up but that is a topic for a long conversation. Perhaps we'll cross trails at one of our five day Visionseeker training events... Folks do come over from Europe to work with me. Just a suggestion...


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