Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Shamanism For Beginners Walking With The World Healers Of Earth And Sky

Shamanism For Beginners Walking With The World Healers Of Earth And Sky Cover

Book: Shamanism For Beginners Walking With The World Healers Of Earth And Sky by James Endredy

James Endredy is a teacher, mentor, and guide to thousands of people through his books and workshops. After a series of life tragedies and mystical experiences as a teenager he changed direction from his Catholic upbringing and embarked on a life-long spiritual journey to encounter the mysteries of life and death and why we are all here. For over twenty-five years he has learned shamanic practices from all over the globe, while also studying with kawiteros, lamas, siddhas, roadmen, and leaders in the modern fields of ecopsychology, bioregionalism, and sustainable living. James also worked for ten years with Mexican shamanic researcher Victor Sanchez learning to share shamanic practices with modern people.

James Endready's new book on Shamanism takes a look at the world's oldest profession with insight, depth, all grounded in his own personal experience of working with indigenous peoples all over the planet. The book is comprehensive in scope.

James is one of the few people born into a Eurocentric culture who is a practitioner of shamanism worthy of your time. But as he accurately notes, even Eorocentric peoples were originally part of shamanic practices. He understands deeply the commitment/responsibility side of taking up this rather profound `call' by spirit, and what is entailed in walking this path.

He notes in his introduction that he is a "small shaman" Understanding that shamanic knowledge is a lifelong quest, where one's full powers are achieved in old age.

James differs substantially with the New Age (or neo-shamanism) movement in profound ways. He understands his commitment is to serve the traditional communities who keep these traditions alive for humanity; he further understands his own personal responsibility to his mentors, who have shared their knowledge with him.

Too often in our contemporary moment, there is a rush by some to embrace "spirituality" as a commodity. In this sense, Spirituality and neo-shamanic practices in particular, are seen as nothing more than a path to personal prosperity and happiness.

As James succinctly notes in his narrative, a shaman is chosen by spirit for a specific commitment to his or her own community; in this regard the `call' a shaman receives is to service to others, and not to one self. I suspect that the `call' any prospective shaman receives to take up this healing art and requisite commitment to training is understood by Spirit to also posses the required maturity to serve others selflessly. To further understand the call, is to also understand the sacredness of the indigenous world view and its connection to the land itself as a nexus to the ancestors who abide upon the land at the service to the continuity of the people. This Relationship between the living, the ancestors who have passed over, and the land is critical to the entire meaning of indigenous identity. When broken, the stories die and pass from the living font of the tribe.

James notes many interesting anecdotal stories of his own experience working with indigenous healers, elders, and sages, who have kept the stories and traditions alive. One of the functions of keeping these stories alive is the vast diversity of the art and its keepers. As James notes retelling a story of a question posed to a friend about something he did not understand in a ceremonial function:

"He casually explained that shamans all have different levels of knowledge and experience. Even the wisest and most experienced shamans didn't know everything that another shaman does, or even all the myths and histories of the people. That is why there are multiple shaman leaders, or kawiteros, that would always come together at special ceremonies and work together to keep the tradition alive. "

The author also pays particular attention to the maturity of the shamans he studied under noting that they often keep silent or speak briefly to the point; they avoid participating in community gossip, and are role models representing the best of human character traits. He discusses the differences between authentic shamanic power, and what it is not. He describes the various ways one is chosen to be a shaman and the signs or portends to this end.

In taking up the call, any prospective shaman undergoes a rigorous initiation where the former life drops away, and a new life emerges through intense trails. This is not a calling for the faint of heart, or dilettantes engaged in New Age superficiality.

So the author's discussion on Becoming a shaman is worthwhile and directly to the point.

The discussion on the plant spirit medicine is also profound. Again, as juxtaposed with the New Age movement which is entirely geared toward making a buck, or to create a cottage industry that is ubiquitous through eco-travel; James notes the dishonesty, not only to those who are being defrauded by shame healers, but also how this preoccupation with eco travel diminishes the indigenous communities.

As a case in point, I often visited the Shaur Indians deep in the upper Amazon jungle in Ecuador. On one particular trip, a couple of thrill seekers showed up obliquely with a tribe I had a relationship with through the environmental organization Dreamchange. In a subsequent conversation, these two were giddy and eager to participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony without also understanding the sacred nature of the ceremony. As it turned out, neither had a vision using the medicine and both were disappointed afterword. I later asked the shaman why they did not receive a vision, and was told simply said that "their hearts were not true."

James also notes how different shaman use companion plants with the Ayahuasca, thus the brew is unique to every shaman. He also offers a warning that this is nothing to fool around with, if your heart and focus is not prepared in a good way that also honors the traditional practices. Since the authentic indigenous healers have been working with this medicine for thousands of years, and have a deep spiritual relationship with the plants, it is nothing to be taken lightly or as just another experience.

As I've previously noted, this book is comprehensive in scope and practice. I give it my highest recommendation. James brings to this work a creative spirit will still honoring the traditions and cultures giving them birth. You won't find a better guide or healer from a western perspective that Endready.

Buy James Endredy's book: Shamanism For Beginners Walking With The World Healers Of Earth And Sky

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