Shamanism, Paganism and the Spiritual Wisdom of the World’s Indigenous Cultures

Figure 1.1 Aztec Tree of Life

A long time ago, beginning in the Upper Paleolithic period, now known as the Aeon of Isis (see The Spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit), the Earth was seen as God- the mother and provider of all beings. She was worshipped and appeased through the appearance of ritual: repeated activities of primal practical magick, which was performed to bring about a desired result from nature, usually directed towards the harvest, fertility, protection, etc. During this time, Primal Man began experimenting with the consumption of various plantlife substances, animal blood, ground horns, hooves, etc. inducing new “altered” states of consciousness. Through these experiences he became aware of an “otherworld” beyond the realm of his five senses. From these experiences, an increasingly potent “spiritual” life began to develop. Through experimentation, these experiences became more clear and refined and thus led to the propensity to ritualize these experiences in order to bring a sense of understanding to them through repetition. Those who became masters of this otherworld became our first shamans.

Shamans learned to visit, communicate with, and channel various energies, beings, and spirits from the otherworld, from which they would gain knowledge and power to aid or heal their tribe. Shamanism is one of the most widespread spiritual occurrences in the world and the similarities in the cosmogonies developed through the various cultures of the world is remarkable, to say the least. For example, the motif of the Tree of Life occurs in every culture and religious system in the World. In the Nordic tradition, the Tree of Life (Yggdrasil) shows the connection of nine worlds emanating from the unknowable Source, which matches the Qabalistic Tree of Life in its entirety, with immense similarities to Aztec, Mayan, Egyptian, and Sumerian Tree of Life legends as well. Notice, that in the Aztec, Mayan and Nordic conceptions, the Tree of Life is birthed from the sacrifice of God in order to bring forth life. His life-blood becomes the life-blood of the entire universe. This is symbolic of the Shaman’s own personal journey into the Underworld. They sacrifice themselves to the Earth, that they may bring forth the gift of life from beyond into our physical existence. If you examine this closely, these Shamans of the Aeon of Isis, the mother, were precursors of the magick formula of the Dying God Osiris, for the Aeon to come (which formula comes to full expression with Jesus Christ).

Figure 1.2 Yggdrasil, The Nordic Tree of Life

Figure 1.3 Sacrifice of Odin to Yggdrasil

Figure 1.4 Sacrifice of Izzi to birth the Tree of Life

Figure 1.5 Sumerian Tree of Life

In addition to his exploration of the otherworld, the Shaman, by instrument of his capability of observation, began to mimic the traits of other animals in order to absorb their powers or medicine. He would wear the horns of a deer to gain its spirit, the claws of the tiger for its ferocity, or the head of a wolf to “know the path.” This all happened pre-language, pre-culture. But these practices, rituals and beliefs laid the foundation of early religion.

As spirituality progressed through the ages, it became colored by the various legends, creation myths, languages and cultures of the various people according to their experiences upon the Earth. The various forms of rituals and magick absorbed the qualities of each culture’s environment. Those who lived in the mountains, were subject to experiences with forest beings, sky gods, and the medicine and manna of those animals who lived around them. Those who lived near the sea, were subject to gods of the ocean and the storms. Those in the desert, listened to the voices of the wind and sands to guide them to food, water and shelter.

In some cultures, such as the Celtics, the development of these magick rituals reached such high degrees of sophistication that a priesthood was established (i.e. the Druids), whose core belief, according to Julius Caesar, was “a firm belief in the indestructibility of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed” (Compare with the Divine SELF, the Hindu Atman: The Silence of the Buddha). This “Great Spirit” or “Great Mystery,” according to the tribes of the Americas, is not only an animistic force that moves and flows through all life, but a personal deity that cares for all beings in existence.

The more you research the various Shamanic traditions and beliefs, the more familiar correlations and associations you find between them, in what seems like shocking coincidence. This phenomena has stumped scientists, leading anthropologists and neurological theorists to believe that these recurrences and overlaps are due merely to the propensity of human beings to use any means to distinguish and raise themselves above “normal humans” into the “superhuman” in order to exploit weaker human psyches. But as usual, science offers only an apologist’s account, dismissing Occam’s Razor itself, towards the true reality of these manifestations. For not only are these common threads of human spirituality woven intricately through every culture and people, through every period of human existence and can be traced as the source material for all modern religions and ways of thought; the true reason for the vast similarities and correspondences is, in fact, that they are derived from the same source: the Great Spirit, the Atman, and the One True SELF.

This is why every spiritual and religious system points back to this. Whether monotheistic, polytheistic, animistic, pantheistic, etc., every thought, word, action and deed is absorbed into the archidoxal One, that is beyond conceptions and time. The difference between Shamanism and the natural indigenous religions from the complexities of doctrines, dogmas and beliefs, is that the receive this information directly from the Earth, directly from the Source and directly from within themselves.

The process of receiving the spirits, energies and influences of the otherworld is referred to almost universally as the “Hollow Bone” (or “Empty Boat” to Taoists). This is a process of emptying oneself completely of your “ego,” or personal energies and identifications. When the Hollow Bone is achieved, the entirety of universal energy is able to flow naturally through. Many shamans only enter into the Hollow Bone as a state of their consciousness and resume personal attachments and identifications whenever they are not in ritual. But the true key to their wisdom is in retaining this state all the time. When one is able to hold and maintain this state, the true magick and power of plant medicines can be revealed.

One of the most important aspects of Shamanism comes from the role of plant medicines as sacraments. Entheogens, or a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a nonordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes, have taken on new meanings and roles in our society due to the invention of LSD-25 and the Spiritual Revolution of the 1960’s. LSD blasted open the “doors of perception,” as termed by William Blake, and made available experiences only achieved by monks, ascetics, shamans and mystics of the highest devotion and meditational attainment to anyone and everyone in the form of sugar cube or piece of paper. Now is anyone and everyone ready to experience, understand or interpret these states of consciousness? Absolutely not. And the lack of discipline, training and devotion is what led so many to “spin-out” and never come back.

In ancient Egypt, initiates would prepare themselves for 28 years before they would ingest the sacred mushroom in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid. Shamans would be selected and trained from the time they were children in order to properly interpret and understand the astral realms made available to them through mushrooms, peyote, ayahuasca, and other various psychotropics. The fact is, the wealth of knowledge, insight and experience available through plant medicine is something that should and must be utilized. But there is great necessity in preparing one’s self for these experiences and caution should be exercised judiciously.

Whether or not plant medicines will be utilized within the Temple of the Archinox will be dictated by the local and national laws. If their use is utilized, it will be under the guidance of experienced and tested shamans, taken ritualistically and in the spirit of meditation, spiritual vision and discovery.

In addition to giving a home to Shamanism and the world’s indigenous wisdom paths, this section of the temple will embrace the Pagan and Neopagan paths. Modern Druidry came into revival in the 18th century in Britain. Its main tenant is the adoration and protection of nature. In this section of the temple, a large stone monolyth structure: an astrological clock aligned with the planets and stars for the Aeon to come, will be raised as a place of ritual. Poetry recitals and musical performances will be held within. The Eight Festivals called The Wheel of the Year will be held commemorating Samhain, The Solstices, The Equinoxes, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnasadh.

Figure 1.6 Mabon’s Ritual with Raven Cry, Druid Ritual

Wicca is another form of Neopaganism, a new spiritual movement that developed in the 1960’s. Most forms of Wicca worship a Father/Mother Deity combo: the Horned God of Fertility (the male regenerative principle and a Solar Phallic Deity) and the Mother Goddess (the female receptive principle and a Lunar Deity). This is similar in conception to the yin and yang of Taoism, the white and red bodhicitta of the Kalachakra Tantra, and the twin pillars of Solomon’s Temple. They are both emanations of the “Prime Mover” or Supreme Being, which is beyond words and conception. Wiccans share equal devotion in their celebration of The Wheel of the Year and in many sects find themselves almost identical in practice and tenants to Aleister Crowley’s Thelema (See The Spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit).

Although Rastafarianism is technically categorized as an Abrahamic tradition, their use of sacramental medicines (cannabis) merges the Abrahamic tradition with Shamanism, especially with the core of Rasta “identity” and experience being based upon utilizing personal and intuitive instincts to override any particular dogma, rule or structure. Although monotheistic in their outlook of Jah (God/Christ), Rastas believe this Supreme Being to be personally manifest in each individual and in their study of the Bible, their tendency is towards the esoteric outlook of reading the “Bible within.”

Finally, of particular and vast importance in this section of the Temple of the Archinox will be the homage paid to the Polynesian spiritual traditions and tribes. The Temple, being built in Hawaii, fully honors the sacred ground upon which it takes root. The primary beliefs of the Polynesian spiritual paths is a form of animism, honoring the spirit that moves through the land, the animals and the ocean. In Hawaii, the four major deities were Kane (the highest deity and God of Procreation), Ku (the God of War), Lono (the God of Fertility and Music), and Kanaloa (the Octapus God, God of Magic, the Underworld and the Sea). Each of them had domains in the North, the East, the West and the South, respectively (Note: Four primal deities is a popular motif, including the Tetragrammaton יהוה, the four directions of most indigenous wisdom paths, the four suits of the Tarot, the four rivers of Eden, etc., etc.). In a similar manner, Kane, who perceived himself as the light, separated himself from the dark chaos (Po) and formed all of existence. According to all Polynesian spiritual paths, prayer, sacrifice, the building of altars and shrines were the direct paths in improving one’s mana or soul-force. For this purpose, Hawaiian shrines and altars, along with temples for all four of the Hawaiian main deities will be constructed throughout this section of the Temple of the Archinox.

More details to come.

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