I enjoyed reading chapter 3, “Shamanism and the State of Consciousness” in Michael Harner’s book. I was surprised to learn that archaeological evidence suggests that shamanic methods are at least 30,000 years old. And it is interesting how basic shamanic knowledge is so similar among tribes that are on different continents. Michael Harner suggests this is the case “simply because it works”. The fact that people from all over the world practice the same basic principles and methods tells me that shamanic practices are organic to the Earth, and are deeply rooted within the Earth itself. This seems so basic and so right. Michael Harner stated in this chapter, “a Shaman is a see-er”. This simple statement really talks to me, and was my favorite part of the chapter.
I also find it interesting that outside of North America, people from all over the world have what we are calling a “guardian spirit”, they just call it something different. Again, this goes back to organic and deeply rooted nature of this spiritual practice. I like the fact that a Shaman’s guardian spirit is typically a “power animal”, and that it can kind of be like an alter ego for the Shaman. I am very interested to learn more about the guardian spirit and how a Shaman uses it while in a shamanic state of consciousness. Also, I am anxious to learn more about spirit helpers.
On page 56, Michael Harner says, “one of the interesting things about shamanism is that when a drug is used, it is taken by the curer or healer, rather than the patient” I find this so interesting because it “seems” so backwards from what I know, or what I have lived with. Perhaps I will be learning of some additional things we do “backwards” in the west. I think I have been living somewhat backwards without even being aware of it. Mr. Harner summed it up nicely when he stated “the problem is that the Westerner is simply unsophisticated from a shamanistic point of view”.