This a good question to ask about shamanic work in general. I stand or sit or dance or drum or rattle, entering another form of consciousness while doing so. Beings who do not have physical bodies speak with me, show me things, guide my hands in providing release and healing and recovery of self. So far as the western, developed-world mind knows, this is mostly taking place on the field of my imagination; how can it be real?

Which raises the question of what is real, a deep question that anyone in the “developed” world must face who chooses or is chosen by a path that requires faith or prayer or any other relationship with the unseen, unseeable world. Out of my own background with the church I am reminded that Jesus was asked the same sort of thing about the holy spirit. His response was along the lines that you also cannot see the wind yet you are in no doubt that it exists because you see the results of the wind blowing; likewise, those that have eyes to see (a favourite phrase of his) can see the result of the actions of the holy spirit.

The tricky bit for me has been allowing myself permission to develop eyes to see. In this world, there is always the voice (well, certainly in my own head) that says I am just making this up. I am making up the experience, and I am making up the connection to results; the whole thing is a fantasy of a weak mind, a wish-fulfillment exercise in making myself believe I have some power in the world, or my ego playing “I am special” tricks on itself about which I will feel really silly later. Self-delusion on a grand scale. Laughable at its best, cringingly humiliating at is near worst. Soon they will put me on medication and if that does not snap me out of it there is a special padded cell with my name on it waiting.

The bad news is, that for me there is no fighting this voice. The more I fight it the stronger it seems to become. So I have, for years, had to let it run on and on until it slows down and then choose: do I give up here and now or do I just go on with this work that I feel called to and that appears to give at least comfort if not actual help to the person in front of me? Uncomfortable, but effective. The more experience I gain with spirit the weaker the voice becomes. It is a slow process, but effective.The good news is that recently I have found a world view that helps me sidestep that developed-world critical voice. I hope it will help you as well. It is based on indigenous views of reality from around the world taken from The Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicine to Life on Earth by Stephen Harrod Buhner….

“While containing numerous variations, themes, and differences these nonindustrial epistemologies do contain a basic framework that is very similar in a number of areas. Most assert that:

  • At the center of all things is spirit. In other words, there is a central underlying unifying force in the Universe that is sacred.
  • All matter is made from this substance. In other words, the sacred manifests itself in physical form.

  • Because all matter is made from the sacred, all things possess a soul, a sacred intelligence or logos.

  • Because human beings are generated out of this same substance it is possible for human beings to communicate with the soul or intelligence in plants and all other matter and for those intelligences to communicate with human beings.

  • Human beings emerged later on Earth and are the offspring of the plants. Because we are their offspring, their children, plants will help us whenever we are in need if we ask them.

  • Human beings were ignorant when they arrived here and the powers of Earth and the various intelligences in all things began to teach them how to be human. This is still true. It is not possible for new generations to become human without this communication or teaching from the natural world.

  • Parts of Earth can manifest more or less sacredness, just like human beings. A human being can never know when some part of Earth might begin expressing deep levels of sacredness or begin talking to him. Therefore it is important to cultivate attentiveness of mind.

  • Human beings are only one of the many life-forms of Earth, neither more nor less important than the others. Failure to remember this can be catastrophic for individuals, nations, and peoples. The other life in the Universe can and will become vengeful if treated with disrespect by human beings.”

This gives me a different place to stand, one that pre-dates the voice in my head and seems to confuse and render it powerless or, at least, less powerful. That is because it have stepped sideways from a world view based in the material. It says, “First there is what is solid and can be touched, tasted, smelled, heard with the ears, explored with instrumentation. This is real. Out of it arises everything that is intangible and, therefore, ephemeral and not to be trusted. Not real. Not important.”

The indigenous world view says, in short, “First there is the intangible, the sacred intelligence. This is real. Out of it arises all that is tangible and measurable, still imbued with sacred intelligence, able to relate to humans who have eyes to see and ears to hear.”

You will have to make you own choice in this matter, – and you do get to chose because it is part of your inheritance as a human being to co-create your own reality with spirit; you are doing it already by accepting the reality your own culture hands you when you are born, and you may have to develop the eyes to see and the ears to hear – but as for me, I choose to stand in the non-industrial reality. It is painful because what we are doing to this beautiful, wonder-filled sacred-intelligence-imbued physical earth is painful to see, but it is a place that gives me access to healing for myself, my family and the world. That is what I came into this world to do, so clearly this is the place for me to stand. It may be helpful to you to stand there as well, particularly if you have arrived at this blog because that probably is an indicator that you have come here to heal and serve as well.

Only you can know that.