|The following excerpt is from an interview of Martin Prechtel by Derrick Jensen in the April 2001 Sun Magazine. Martin's story and the complete article can be found at Hiddenwine.com. Martin's books, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar and Long Life, Honey In The Heart are excellent reads.
Also see the Contemporary Shamanism video
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Jensen: What is a shaman?
Prechtel: Shamans are sometimes considered healers or doctors, but really they are people who deal with the tears and holes we create in the net of life, the damage that we all cause in our search for survival. In a sense, all of us — even the most untechnological, spiritual, and benign peoples — are constantly wrecking the world. The question is: how do we respond to that destruction? If we respond as we do in modern culture, by ignoring the spiritual debt that we create just by living, then that debt will come back to bite us, hard. But there are other ways to respond. One is to try to repay that debt by giving gifts of beauty and praise to the sacred, to the invisible world that gives us life. Shamans deal with the problems that arise when we forget the relationship that exists between us and the other world that feeds us, or when, for whatever reason, we don’t feed the other world in return.
All of this may sound strange to modern, industrialized people, but for the majority of human history, shamans have simply been a part of ordinary life. They exist all over the world. It seems strange to Westerners now because they have systematically devalued the other world and no longer deal with it as part of their everyday lives.
Jensen: How are shamans from Siberia, for example, different from shamans in Guatemala?
Prechtel: There are as many different ways to be a shaman as there are different languages, but there’s a commonality, as well, because we’re all standing on one earth, and there’s water in the ocean wherever we go, and there’s ground underneath us wherever we go. So we all have, on some level, a commonality of experience. We are all still human beings. Some of us have buried our humanity deep inside, or medicated or anesthetized it, but every person alive today, tribal or modern, primal or domesticated, has a soul that is original, natural, and, above all, indigenous in one way or another. The indigenous soul of the modern person, though, either has been banished to the far reaches of the dream world or is under direct attack by the modern mind. The more you consciously remember your indigenous soul, the more you physically remember it.
Shamans are all trying to put right the effects of normal human stupidity and repair relationships with the invisible sources of life. In many instances, the ways in which they go about this are also similar. For example, the Siberians have a trance method of entering the other world that is similar to one used in Africa.
Index of Articles
What is a Shaman?
Excerpt from interview with Martin Prechtel published by Sun Magazine.
Eight Characteristics of Shamanism
Edited by Gerry Starnes
Interview by Jennifer Robenalt, Soul Lab Media.
Ecstatic Body Postures
Figurines, carvings, and artwork from around the world suggest archetypal ways to produce and enhance ecstatic experience.
How can people live a shamanic experience within the urban environment?
The Bandana: Toward the Within
The use of the bandanna in TranceDance
The Shamanic Journey
The shamanic (drumming) journey has been used for thousands of years for guidance and healing. Excerpt of material by Tom Cowan.
Power Animals & Helping Spirits
What are power animals and how does one work with them?
The role of Elders in an shamanic cultures can be applied to help save our own.