From Writing as a Sacred Path:
Since the first glimmerings of human consciousness, virtually every society on Earth has had members who travel between the mundane world and the spirit realm. These extraordinary people—known today under the catchall term shaman—cross barriers between life and eath, concrete reality and shadowy myth. They enter states of consciousness inaccessible to others. Their goals are to gain healing knowledge and aid from the spirits. Anthropologist Joan Halifax calls them “specialists in the human soul.”
Shamanism has been nearly obliterated in industrialized cultures, but the need for shamans has not disappeared. In fact, in a world where rationalism rules, we deperately need people to serve as our emissaries to the mythological realm. In the West, this task falls largely to writers.
In my book, Writing as a Sacred Path, I write about four spiritual roles writers play: that of the shaman, the warrior, the mystic, and the monk. The next four weeks of my writing pilgrimage will be devoted to each of these roles. This week in the Writing as a Sacred Path Blog I will be exploring the shamanic aspects of the writing life.
Let me start with a warning: The shamanic journey is not for the feint of heart. Traditional shamans are believed to travel to the realm of dangerous and malevolent spirits. They have visions of violent confrontation in which they endure terrible trials, such as being devoured by demons or crossing rivers of fire.
The writer’s shamanic journey may not be quite so brutal—but it can be dark. It can also be full of light and joy, of course, but even the most sanguine of writers knows that good writing often comes out of pain, and being willing to face that pain is an essential part of the writing process.
To read more about the shaman's journey go to the Writing as a Sacred Path Blog.
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Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...