Game from the Script: Shamanism

Shamans do not really follow a book and it is not a religion more like an initiation or methods to enhance the spiritual self and the connection to nature. Shamans are known as those who roam the spirit realm also known as the Otherworld. From the Otherworld they bring back messages, the ingredients to heal a certain illness or symptom and the foresights to guide one’s path.

In the ancient days, the community would turn to those who could roam the Otherworlds to help set a path or readjust one. They titled these people Shamans to distinguish them from others. It was a title well respected. Many books have been written about it, one such book that explains it well, is titled ‘Shamanism’ by Gordon MacLellan (who is a Shaman himself).

Shamanism by Gordon Maclellan

Gordon MacLellan
Gordon MacLellan

On page 17 of this page, Gordon explains the first skill needed to be a Shaman. It reads:

The first skills you need to develop if you are to begin to listen to the world, are the abilities to be still, quiet, aware and to listen. Our lives tend to be full of noise and bustle, and even at rest we are usually watching TV, listening to music or chatting to friends in a pub or club. You need to learn to relax and simply be still, to distract your busy mind from constantly bouncing from one image to another. When you become still, you stand a greater chance of hearing whatever the world may be trying to tell you.

Pg 25, explains the whole concept of Shamanism and how it relates to Self. It reads:

One image that might describe the course of a shaman’s training is that of the Spiral Path. This double spiral represents the two paths that a shaman learns to walk simultaneously: one path winding inward to the heart of the pattern, the other leading out from the centre, to release from the labyrinth and to freedom in the world.

The inward path is also the path of the self; the shaman must be able to walk into his own heart, to meet his fears and hopes and ambitions, know his passions, pleasures and pains, and learn to enjoy himself for who he is and for who his spirit is trying to become, not for who other people want them to be.

Double Spiral
Double Spiral

The second path leads the shaman outwards, into the wider world, the world of the spirits and the Web (connection to all things) and into a relationship with a world that is awake and watching him.

Following the Spiral Path is not a straightforward process of walking all the way along one path before stopping on to the other. The shaman learns by walking both paths at the same time, looking deeper and deeper into himself while simultaneously emerging into the world. The two processes are not mutually exclusive; exploring the world can reveal hidden wonders of the Self so that the shaman finds himself further along the inward path than expected when next he treads that path.

Walking the Spiral Path challenges and transforms the apprentice shaman. He will encounter aspects of himself he could never have imagined, stand up for himself in front of creatures that seem to have escaped from wicked fairy stories, and immerse himself, for a time, to move in the ebb and flow of its wonder.

Double Spiral
Another example of a Double Spiral. Which also illustrates the Spiral of the universe.

The Spiral Path also illustrates the Spiral of the universe, reinforcing the fact that one must look deeper into his or her existence by walking both paths.

Spiral of the Universe.

The two paths are one and opposite and some call it Tao or Ying or Yang.

Tao symbol
Tao symbol, also known as Ying and Yang

Game from the Script:Tao Te Ching

One thought to consider is how a shaman is in dealing with the Outerworld (Spirit realm). Pg 54 states:

The Outerworld is not always a safe place in which to go adventuring. You may have long peroids of calm, peaceful discovery, but at other times you will meet people who seem out to trick you, deceive you, pull off your arms and legs and eat you for breakfast.

Some of these may well be Otherworld inhabitants finding their own way of testing your strength and your commitment, but often the things that shake us up most are our own fears and insecurities given shape in the spirit world and reflected back at us as we work in it. Thus the landscape of the inward and outward spirals tends to be much the same: it all happens ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ at the same time.

This does not mean that our anxieties become independent of ourselves and lead interesting lives of their own. Rather, think of the Otherworld as a three dimensional mirror of the heart, reflecting back at us what we bring to it. This is not a direct matching of fear for fear, happiness for happiness, but a refection they may be best thought of as ‘what you hide is what you get’ rather than ‘what you see is what you get’.

You may enter the Otherworld with arrogance or pride and be crippled by fear, you may enter with apparent joy and have your festering anger sprout around you. The Otherworld responds to the heart, spirit and emotion much more than to reasoned discussion.

The careful ‘front’ we present to the world and all the nice ‘proper’ statements we make, of friendship with the world, accepting spirit as equals, loving and caring for our community, are seen through as the Otherworld responds to what lies in the heart rather than what lies on the tongue. Whatever we hide down deep inside us will, sooner or later, come walking through the woods towards us.

It is not safe to go walking in the Otherworld, anymore than it is safe to cross a busy road or dance down a motorway at rush hour. In everyday life we either take precautions that allow us to do what we must, or sensibly avoid things that are too life-threatening. So it is in our Shamanism: like children, we cannot learn to walk unless we go stumbling along and fall over a few times.

Some older and more experienced shaman may, like a helpful big sister, be around to hold a hand or dust down a bruised knee, but they cannot learn to walk for us. If you choose to go walking in the Otherworld, you will have to learn to do it for yourself.



When you do step out into the Otherworld, remember that it will be watching, listening, hearing the words you say and the words in your heart and comparing the distance between the two. Lie in the Otherworld and sooner or later something will catch up with you and make you eat your words.

As a shaman, you are not a medieval sorcerer, conjuring demons to appear, bound within a ceremonial circle. You are more likely to be out there in the middle of them, where your strongest defence is the line ‘I am Me Myself’. ‘Me Myself’ is a statement of identity, a claim of being who you choose to be, and a defiance of anyone who thinks you should be ‘who I want you to be’.

But you must be able to say it from the heart and not just from the head, for the monstrous affliction facing you may well be picking out your fears and throwing them back at you.

If you have looked-and are looking-at yourself, if you are walking the inward spiral, your personal horrors become much less alarming and you can confidently answer, ‘Yes I know about this part of me, and no, I have not met my Need For Respectability before, but I can see myself there.And that is all right. I am still Myself.’

Knowing who you are is your greatest safety.



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