August 9, 2012

Psychedelics & “Plant Teachers”: Technologies of Transcendence in Shamanism.

*elephant is proud to serve as a media partner with Sounds True’s first annual “Wake Up Festival.”

A Technology of the Sacred

Many who study and practice shamanism consider the ancient methodologies developed and refined by traditional shamans for achieving expanded states of awareness to be a form of technology—a technology of transcendence, or a technology of the sacred—in which each new generation has the responsibility to perpetuate and refresh a continuously recreated tradition, even adding to and changing the ever-accumulating trove of wisdom and technique. For it was in this way that the ancient path of the shaman remained immediately meaningful and vital to those who practiced it.

Indigenous people know everything there is to know about their surrounding environment, and if there are psychotropic plants growing nearby, the ritual use of hallucinogens derived from these “plant teachers” is sometimes utilized for the purpose of expanding awareness and accessing the sacred realms.

Many investigators such as Terence McKenna and Ralph Metzner, the anthropologists Michael Harner and Luis Eduardo Luna, and researchers such as Graham Hancock, Rick Strassman, and others have suggested that the use of plant-derived psychedelics (the word “psychedelic” means “mind manifesting”) may have been responsible for the beginnings of spiritual awareness in human beings. This implies that hallucinogens may have actually served as the genesis of religion in the first place, which explains why these “plant teachers” are often referred to as “entheogens” (meaning they “release the deity within”).

The growing literature on hallucinogens reveals striking cross-cultural similarities in the reported effects of these natural substances on human consciousness. These include the capacity to channel the energy of the universe, discover the most profound secrets of Nature, and acquire wisdom that may be used for magical, medical and religious purposes.

But equally powerful and far more widespread are the psychological and physiological technologies developed by traditional shamans for altering consciousness and re-patterning it in specific ways. These highly effective techniques include fasting and sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion and hyperventilation, and the experiencing of temperature extremes during rituals of purification such as the sweat lodge and the vision quest.

Until relatively recently, most Westerners have tended to regard these technologies of transcendence as mysterious, paranormal, even pathological, and so some of us, in ignorance, still respond to the idea of expanded awareness and connection with spirits with fear and rejection.

By contrast, in a traditional indigenous society such technologies are valued and treated with great respect. Each girl and boy grows up in relationship with elder ceremonial leaders and shamans who are able to access expanded states of consciousness intentionally for the benefit of themselves, others, and the entire community. In these societies, everyone knows that virtually anyone can learn how to access sacred states of consciousness to some extent. They also know that some of us are real naturals at it.

Whether the practitioner of shamanism is a traditional shaman or you, it is important to understand that the nature of the visionary experience can be determined, to some extent, by our intentions, by our belief systems, and by the nature of the experience—the set and setting—in which we find ourselves. Taken together, these parameters serve as “patterning forces” that can shape the visionary experience once the initial state of consciousness has been destabilized by the drum, the rattle, or the hallucinogen, if one is used.

Furthermore, as most modern shamans are well aware, the psychedelic is not necessary. The ritual use of hallucinogens is only one facet of the path of direct revelation. Many of us who have never experienced mind-altering substances have had spontaneous visionary experiences that have carried us through some unknown inner window into the realms of things hidden, which are so well-known to tribal people.

These technologies—from drumming to hallucinogens, from sleep deprivation to singing and dancing—enhanced by ceremony and ritual, collectively and singularly, are being reworked in our time into something entirely new, something that reflects who we are today and what we are becoming. Hence, there’s the need to achieve an upgrade that reflects who we are as modern people in our own time.

See Sandra Ingerman, live, Thursday, August 23rd-26th, 2012 at the Wake Up Festival in Estes Park, CO, sponsored by Sounds True. Visit Wake Up Festival for more information: www.wakeupfestival.com.

Sandra Ingerman teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture, addressing the needs of our times. Sandra is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and Professional Mental Health Counselor, and the co-author with Hank Wesselman of Awakening to the Spirit World Sounds True, 2010)Shamanic JourneyingShamanic Meditations, and more.

Wake Up Festival, Community Immersion—August 23rd, 2012, 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

“Opening Ceremony to Honor, Give Thanks, and Receive Guidance”

To begin our first full day as a Wake Up Festival community, shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman will lead us in a collective ceremony to open our hearts to the earth, to each other, and to all of the forces that exist that are supportive of our personal transformation and healing.

In traditional cultures, the power of ceremony is well-known as a method for honoring the life-giving elements of earth, air, fire, and water, and as a way to give thanks for the tremendous beauty and power of the natural world. Ceremony also allows us to release and unburden ourselves from ordinary concerns, thoughts, and attitudes that might prevent us from awakening to new perceptions and from connecting in the deepest way to ourselves and each other.

With a gift for bringing ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern world, Sandra Ingerman has emerged as one of the top teachers in the modern renaissance of shamanic practice. Here she will lead us through a shamanic ceremony using rattling and drumming to help us offer ourselves completely to the experience of transformation, invoking all possible sources of support and guidance.

Wake Up Festival, Break-Out Workshop—August 23-25:

“Experiencing the Shamanic Journey: The Path of Direct Revelation”

In the shamanic understanding, there is a spiritual dimension that is invisible to the five senses, yet which profoundly affects our lives. What would you find if you could journey there? The shamans tell us that there are unseen forces that are with us from the moment we are born, friendly allies who guide and shelter us throughout our lives. What would you learn if you could speak with them? Shamanic practice is about finding the answers to these questions—and opening the door to an awakened connection with the spirit world.

In this two-hour workshop, one of today’s most respected teachers of shamanism, Sandra Ingerman, introduces participants to the cornerstone practice of shamanism—the shamanic journey. The shamanic journey is the art of using rhythm and intention to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to connect with the spiritual dimension of reality. As part of the journey experience, you will have the opportunity to meet helping spirits and allies and receive guidance and healing. You will also be given guidelines about how to interpret the information you receive and how to trust your own unique way of receiving what Sandra calls “direct revelation.”

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Editor: Brianna Bemel


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