My friends are my tribe, the people I think of as family, extended community, my people. They’re mine, I keep them, and I do work to help ensure that they are happy and content. At least work to alleviate their suffering, if nothing else. A Shaman takes care of the spirit world in their community, from helping heal illness to chasing off negative spirit entities, bolstering the protections of the community and doing spiritual battle to mixing up a tea blend for a sore throat.
Shamanism and Zen combine in shamanic energy work to build a cohesive whole focused on compassion and alleviating suffering.
When I sit down to do energy work, it’s through a trance state. Meditation and focused visualization are fantastic tools in the Shaman’s arsenal, and combined create powerful vehicles for directed change. Zazen is the practice of sitting and watching one’s own mind work, but the discipline needed to do that sitting, to observe oneself, is the same discipline put forth in Shamanic work. Zen Buddhism teaches that suffering arises through attachment and desire; Shamanism says that attachment and desire can be fostered through the workings of the self or manipulated into being by others.
To a Shaman, the self is an interwoven matrix of energy created from the efforts of the mind, body, and soul, and influenced by a myriad of outside factors. Zen says everything is Maya, illusion, experienced by the mind in defiance of reality. Combine those two points and you arrive here: how you perceive the world around you is influenced by your mind, your interactions with other energies or beings, and the objective reality that is beyond your normal perceptions.
Shamanic trance is used to open up the eyes of the soul to that objective reality, much as Zen meditation is used to realize your beginingless enlightenment (or the true nature of the self and reality.)
Ok, so. Shamanic energy work. Brass tacks time. I sit in zazen and when I am cool and calm, fully present and aware of myself within the spiderweb of life, I begin to focus on the goal. Each working has a different goal, because you don’t sit down and then promptly divide your effort. One trance, one goal. There can be several tasks, but one ultimate goal. Sometimes I’ll use my trance state to travel, and go to places outside my immediate surroundings. Sometimes I’ll send energy to help heal a friend, or work to remove a malignant influence. There have been times when I’ve used my trance and energy to build metaphysical structures in the spirit realms. If you can imagine it, you can do it, within the trance state.
A few cautions, for the beginning Shaman:
- It is possible to hurt yourself in the trance state. Your mind is open and you are actively manipulating your perceptions. You can break yourself, so go cautiously. Remember that sometimes it’s a good idea to slow down, take your time, and be wary. The energy will work when it works. Your helpers will assist as they feel like it. Don’t push or force your way past a blockage.
- It is possible to hurt the people you’re trying to help. You have put yourself in a position of authority and power, and it’s very easy to overstep and cause harm. Stepping in before you know all the facts, acting without thinking or a plan, reaching further than you are actually capable of, are all ways to hurt your community. Interdependent web, remember? If you pull on your community too hard you can drain them and harm them, bruising their trust, their souls, their minds, as well as your own.
- There are entities that are bigger than you in the Spirit Worlds, and they can and will lie to you, trick you, and take advantage of you. Go slowly, be cautious, and double check your sources.