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Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Personal Sources

Presented by Service Leader Carol Boston; with Dayna Edwards, Director of Multigenerational Religious Exploration

Personal Sources:

Mary "Tyrtle" Rooker: Shamanism

Depending on which scientist you believe, shamanism  is known to be 40,000 to 100,000 years old.  A shaman is a person regarded as having access to wisdom and healing. The term "shamanism" was first applied to the ancient practices of the Turks and Mongols; the word "shaman" originates from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia.

Shamanism is not a religion; it's about experience, not belief. It's about accepting your daydream, imaginary visions as having a certain reality. For example, I might have a shamanic meditation about how to heal my relationship with my brother.  A turtle I often see when I meditate might come to me and hand me one end of rope while the turtle pulls on the other end. As we play tug of war with the rope, I might feel my hands burn and let go. The turtle smiles and lets go, too. I would interpret that journey as the tug of war representing the disagreement with my brother, and that only harm will come from continuing the disagreement and that it would be best if I let go of my issues with him.

I don't see the turtle or the vision because I "believe" or have faith in that turtle; I actually see the turtle and the vision in my mind's eye. That it happened in my mind, my imagination, if you will, makes it no less real. The wisdom is still good!

Shamanic meditation is a deep altered states of consciousness. We attain this deep state in order to interact with the invisible, unseen world and channel these transcendental energies into this visible world.

I began this special shamanic "meditation" approach in  1993 or so, assuming that I was simply accessing my subconscious or my own inner wisdom. Over time, I concluded that my  own inner wisdom couldn't be that good or accurate about other people, so there's something more to this work.

 "Helping spirits" are not a resource to be used but living beings here to help us live appropriately, take our rightful place as human beings within the ecosystem, and in shamanism, humans are NOT at the apex!

Shamanism has helped me to go deeper into my own beliefs, question my assumptions, refine my cosmology, and bring wisdom and healing to myself and others. I am not taking clients, but I have an active  teaching practice and currently have 6 students who are mid-way through a 200-hour program I teach to learn how to do these healing rituals.

The 7 UUA Principles

Shamanism resounds strongly within all 7 UUA principles.  When I first studied the 7 principles, I remember thinking that they were in perfect alignment with shamanism.  A shamanic view would make some of the principles even stronger. For example, shamanism isn't just the inherent worth and dignity of every person but of every being; animals, insects, plants, rivers, mountains, sky, etc.  I'm on the UUA's national Animal Ministry listserv, and that group has proposed a "First Principle Project" that would indeed change the first principle from "person" to "being" to include animals.

The same is true of the second principle: shamanism isn't just about justice, equity, and compassion in human relations but in ALL relations—human to human, human to animal, human to plant, human to river, and so on. And the 6th principle, the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice is for all BEINGS, not only people.

For me, shamanism aligns smoothly with Unitarian Universalism.

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