Today I am commencing a series of writing about the unseen – which ironically has been the fundamental core of what IS seen of people, societies and cultures since man walked the earth.. and is what I photograph. How humans make sense of the world and their place in it, has been the catalyst and embryo of belief, religious thought, and ways of living since man took breath…. and I am investigating my place in the world through my exploration of my experience and awareness and connection with the unseen.
Todays post is and introduction… setting the scene.. and each subsequent post I will explore different facets of the “unseen” world in which we visibly live.
These articles in this series will not fulfill the quick key line and following-4-sentences criteria espoused in the “10 best ways to keep readers reading your post.”
If you think you can grab a few tips by scanning the first sentence of every paragraph, I advise you to leave now.
If you want to quickly absorb a sentence here and there; and have this as a ‘quick 30 second read’ – you best leave now.
If you are inquisitive… want to learn… want the prospect of illuminating greater understanding of your own gifts and life through reading about my own extraordinary experiences….
If you want to find out about how other cultures have integrated the ‘unseen’ into their daily life and how societies still manage today to uphold traditions which revere and accept as completely ‘normal’ and quite necessary practices into their communities and way of living…
If you want to come closer to being able to fulfil the glimpse of inner knowing which surfaces within yourself…
then stay here.
Get a tea or coffee and think of each of these writings as a chapter – rather than a grab line from a facebook post. If you can’t stay now… make a note to return later in a time where you know my words will benefit you through my insight and sharing of my own experience and gifts as a Shaman.
The ‘unseen’ is what is not discussed and often ridiculed in contemporary western society in relation to Shamanism, Healing; Spirit; Universal Consciousness; Alignment; the Cosmos and is now often discounted as irrelevant and unquantifiable fantasy not relevant in modern society.
These beliefs and practices and ways of living are still very alive currently in less developed societies; some of which I have travelled – remote Ingenious communities in Australia; Greenland; Bhutan; Morocco; India and Myanmar… and one could say that it is because of ‘development’, we have surpassed those notions of connecting with the ‘unseen’; yet questions are being raised now about the future of climate; food and economies; by those exact same cultures who espouse to know the best way forward for humanity – and that being the abandonment of man’s connection with the land, the cosmos and the unseen elements within it; in favour of a more scientifically justifiable, technological and economic world.
It is through my photography and experiences that I investigate my own beliefs, and witness that which is both innate in me and learned as expressed through those experiences; and I will share my own experience of the unseen in relation to some of the traditions of Shamanism, Animism and connection to the earth and cosmos.
Shamanism and Animism are traditional belief systems which stem from the idea that everything in the universe is alive and interconnected, and people should treat it as such. They are believed to share qualities of Zoroastrianism and even Daoism, as Shamanism and Animism had arisen in the same areas that Zoroastrianism and Daoism were developed. These belief systems were present in the Middle East (namely Persia) and was widespread over East Asia in small, nomadic tribes that were still rooted in hunter-gather traditions.
Shamanism pre-dates paganism and modern religions. It can be said that “shamanism can be defined as a religious belief system in which the shaman is the specialist in knowledge. The shaman knows the spirit world and human soul through “ecstasy,” the power of an altered state of consciousness, or trance, which is used to make a connection to the world of the spirits in order to bring about benefits to the community.”(Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman). Shamans are present globally and using altered states of awareness either with or without drugs for the benefit of community. “Thus shamanism in what is generally considered its most classical form was based on a particular cosmology and belief system, one in which the community depended on the shaman, a person with exceptional powers and abilities, to communicate while in trance with spirits and deities for the benefit of the community.” (Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman).
I am a Shaman. I have had a profound connection with the landscape since I was a child. I looked into the night sky and saw movies of how the Universe was created. I looked into the eyes of dolphins and became in a trance and saw the history of the earth flashing in my mind in a single breath. I heard the call and instructions from whales in my dreams then in the water with them. I hear what the birds say. I hear the rocks speak. I hear messages from the ether. I dream events before they happen. I breathe and focus and through the mastery of energy within my body can reach altered states of awareness into other dimensions. I see inside people. I am a Seer. I see the future in dreams. I see the past. I am a healer. My body gets hot and my hands on fire when i place them on something which requires healing. I have been instantly recognised by Shaman around the world as one of their peers.
I feel and yearn to and connect with “that which is beyond”.
I was born into a modern urban society in Brisbane… and yet recall in my childhood scratching the earth beneath a Stringybark, and each season watching the Tawny Frogmouths chicks fledge or die. I can recall the smell of a chick which had fallen from the tree and we raised it in a box and fresh mince. I planted seeds. I walked the bush and taught orienteering. I sailed the ocean. I surfed the waves. I walked the streams. I was tormented by the voices which I didn’t understand. I pushed them away and didn’t honour my gift for a long time.
Why was I born into a modern community with gifts I now now are present in so many cultures across the planet and demonstrated by women and men wearing feathers and beating drums?
What was I to do with this deep understanding and connection with the Earth and the unseen Spirit world?
As I began to travel and learn, the common thread I recognised between myself and the Shaman and Healers in other cultures; where for centuries their presence in their communities was not only accepted – but was essential; was their connection with the Earth.
The link between the Shaman; the Healer – was the earth. To go into other dimensions…. to connect with a Higher Source… to understand the Cosmos and it’s Divine mechanics…. to be able to heal and fulfil their destiny as Healers and Seer’s; their connection to the Unseen Spirit; they all had to connect deeply with the earth.
James Cowan states “Aborigines cannot detach themselves from their country since their country embodies bot only their identity, but their being. ” A.W McDonald states that “Nepali shamanism is based on an animistic belief that honors Mother earth and respects the spirit that resides in all living beings. This universal worldview is key in preserving the ecology of the land and in bringing harmony and creating healthy alliances with to all things visible and invisible. The role of the Dhami/Jhankri (shaman) is to reestablish this harmony.”
Many cultures have a specific word for the energy of the land… the unseen element of the land which is visceral – which communicates…which is as relevant and real a the mountains and streams.
If a Shaman is to serve his innate gift I have been told he MUST live within a natural environment.
So where does that leave me? .. born into an urban society? I lived in the bush amongst the native timbers and my bedroom as a child had no veranda so I could see the stars. I then married and have lived on a farm, now in a retreat setting amongst the bush along the Ley lines of the Earth. Intuitively I knew I needed and it was absolutely necessary for me to connect with the landscape on a daily basis… not just the occasional bush-walk. I knew intuitively I HAD to live close to the land, so that I could hear the Earth and Cosmos speak and to be in alignment with the Earth.
It is the Earth and the Shaman’s connection with the earthly world, which enables the Shaman to access the ‘other worlds’ – the Spirit worlds; the other dimensions. When a Shaman in displaced and isn’t living in alignment with the natural environment, the Shaman’s abilities are severely diminished.
When this requirement is not adhered to through urbanisation and developing cultures and societies; the role of the Shaman also becomes diminished, and the respect for the power and effectiveness of the Shaman is lost.
I have seen through my travels how vitally important it is for the Shaman to live amongst nature and adhere to a life where they are in communion with the natural environment. I was told in Bhutan that the healers and Shaman… the pawo, pamo, terdag, nyeljom, lhapa, jankhri, bonpo ; all live on the perimeter of the towns where there existence is much quieter than most, and they can connect with the earth and the cosmos in preparation for the trance like states required in the healing or prophetic space.
It is not only imperative that Shaman live within the natural environment – but also be aware and sensitive to the cycles of the earth.. the daylight hours.. the seasons.. the cycles of the moon. Today is the Summer solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere and it marks an important day for me in acknowledging the Divine nature of the cycles of life and Existence. In many cultures it marks the end of a period of huge energetic change within the Cosmos. I have felt this turmoil and it is now time to spend as the daylight hours begin to shorten; that I come more inward and reflective and nurture myself before winter.
I am reassured by this discovery and realisation, that the place in which I live supports my gifts as a Shaman…. and yet I still do not know how to utilise my gifts as I know they should be used… that is what i am exploring at present … and invite you to be part of my journey in this exploration.
Subscribe or pop back frequently to read more about Shamanism and Animism in the cultures I have travelled… and how I relate to them personally.