Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Shamanic Dismemberment- An Answer


"What's the difference between a "shamanic dismemberment", and a "more" typical person who is completely destroying and rebuilding their life?" asks my friend David over at SA-Essay.

I'm glad he didn't say 'normal' person, at least.

A Shamanic Dismemberment for a member of a traditional or indigenous society, where Shamanism is still a part of everyday life is of course anticipated by the initiate. In that way we can say that it is a consciously undertaken process.

Most of us in the civilised world however are so messed up that we have disconnected from our roots, and the roots of all Life on the planet. Therefore we do not often consciously seek a Shamanic Initiation, let alone anticipate the Dismemberment which precedes it.

I know I certainly didn't. That is to say, my little-self ego had no idea of what I was going through. That my relationship with alcohol and drugs had become deadly was symbolic of my relationship to life and to the planet which sustains it. I was nearly dead several times during the process - but  it is certain that had I not been Dismembered I would not now be here talking to you.

I now know that some part of myself - the larger part which can indeed call itself God - was aware of everything as it happened and also before it happened.

But my Dismemberment was not made with the agreement and knowledge of my ego, my 'present' self. It couldn't have been,as there was no way in hell that the selfish, stupid,civilisation-raddled person who was me at that stage could understand anything which was not to its own immediate survival.

 And yet, it allowed itself to be destroyed, for the birth of the authentic self.

I'm  saying that only looking back on the process can most of us understand what has happened to us. It may be that we deliberately give meaning to something which otherwise would seem ugly, nightmarish and without a shred of worth to the wider world. We create the Dismemberment in retrospect by the meaning we endow it with - and this by the way we live our lives thereafter and the amount of conscious awakening we strive for.

Not everyone calls this a Shamanic Dismemberment, either. A Conversion, Salvation, Hitting Rock Bottom, The Dark Night of the Soul - these are all good names for it. But in this case, a Shaman arose from the destruction of the outer shell and not, for example, a Born Again Christian or a reformed alcoholic, and so I call it a Shamanic Dismemberment.

One life may not be all important in the grander scheme of things...or is it?

It's more than possible that Life needs every single organism which is capable of transcending the hypnotised state of modern life to do so. This is a time of some urgency, after all, when we decide as a collective whether to carry Life forward or to end it all here. Guess which decision I made?

Pic: Lexie Sundell