Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to live a shamanic life

I recently began reading a new book by Paulo Coelho titled The Winner Stands Alone. Right at the beginning I discovered this quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass:

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?
The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,

You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect
to be your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives
around you would have to be abandon'd,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further,
let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.

Although the quote illustrates Mr. Coelho's story, I felt a profound resonance in the words to my experience of living a shamanic life. Every line is a refection of my lessons. In these 35 years of asking to be taught by the Spiritworld, the way has always been suspicious, the results uncertain and the procedure often dangerous. I have understood to give up all other loyalties, paths and teachers. Even so, the more the years pass, the more I realize the modesty of my knowledge. I understand the isolation that comes from my never being able to truly share my direct experience, nor receive a clear sense of any one else's journey on the other side.

And yet I have not released my hands, I have not put down this remarkable contract. Just like the starlets in Mr. Coelho's story, I am still willing to "agree to anything" in order to stay in this shamanic life.