By Bruce Luther
What is a Shaman's Death and who's likely to have one? The death itself is a suspension between worlds, states of consciousness. The individual today, which is likely to have a "Shamanic Death," is chasing extinction itself. Through that process, the person is readying him/herself to stand on a bridge, between space and time.
Native American Tradition, from my limited knowledge of it, describes a ritual of preparation - preparing the initiator to burn away his/her world they were born into, removing any trace of familiar surroundings and belongings. The ritual continued in complete insolation to the tribe. The isolation took place in caves, and even in a grave excavated by the apprentice him/herself.
The ancestors of the Shamans had learned the hard way of their chosen path. It demanded an innate understanding of death and how to control it. Many went beyond the controls of fatality and prematurely extinguished their human life. The Shamans were born with a mark. The mark was well hidden until they had been recognized by the elders. Because of the ideas that surrounded the practice, it keeps most away from it. A Shaman's death was a real death to them.
In today's world, the solitude begins for the Shaman in streets and homes of the modern society. The initiator has a strong sense of being in an unfamiliar time and place. Nothing seems as it should. It's hard for the apprentice to function and take a place in the foreign surroundings of his/her environment. Many times they act out in fits of madness. The strain of trying to assimilate is over-powering. They abandon the idea of becoming their true self altogether. Many turn to easier solutions, such as drugs or any means to release the suffering. Some find their way through the use of narcotics and controlled substance. They long for the isolation, the preparation needed to stand once again between realities.
A modern day example of a Shaman's death would be the one that came first- hand. Most of my life was preoccupied by my unwillingness to conform. I wanted no part of it. It was wrong for me to accept. On the times that I broke under the pressure, I found myself healing the wounds and starting the fight all over again. My childhood was filled with abuse. As I see it now, the mistreatment was necessary for me to recognize what was laying in the road in front of me. It's easy to blame others for the perceived destructive path. Every choice was my own and I needed to endure the responsibility for it. Our world does not allow us the freedom of alien thought. We are forced to embrace the materiality presented to us. Or so we think.
A year ago, I met someone who insisted that I go to India with him. Because I had been chasing death most of my life, the decision was easy. I did not know at the time that is what I was doing. Only after the event took place, did I comprehend the idea. The last day of our trip, I was confronted by a being. A powerful, negative being. That presence forced me into accepting the task. It was required that I have the experience of a Shamanic Death. There was no alternative.
A portion of our spirit is contained within our body. My spirit was conditioning my physicalness, to accept the challenge of taking up my preordained position in this world. The only place for me to escape the negativity was to go to the water. My mind was spinning with sensations. My spirit was in control. My body was overwhelmed with the stimuli of the universe. All the years of abuse and dealing with the isolation had come to its conclusion. The ritual was to take on the meaning of dying, discarding all that I knew of the world I was born in.
I found myself at water's edge of the Adriatic Sea. My mind was spinning, reeling from sensation. What do I do now? I asked myself. I stripped off my clothes, removed the contacts from my eyes and began to swim - swimming as hard and as fast as I could. I swallowed as much sea water that my body would tolerate. When I could no longer see the shore, my body sank. I did nothing to stop it. I could see the stars turn dark the deeper my body sank. I was alone in the darkness of the planet. My fate was in the earth 's hands.
I could see my body continuing down the column of water. Yet my consciousness was suspended above it. I stood at the place where time and space no longer exist. I was outside of the universe once again in the wholeness of my spirit, my core. I immersed my awareness in my creation. I remembered all of what I am. I tossed aside the body and physical universe to reveal to my human mind, my essence. The body joined my consciousness once again and I returned to the surface. My lungs were not starved for air as I swam back to shore. I had been reborn in the total insulation of my tribe, humanity, the purpose of a Shaman's death. The condition was to remain between worlds, all worlds, neither more in one than the other. Standing on the edge of the spiral of death. Watching the flow of life-force through the "Circle of Life."
After experiencing "the death," your entire life becomes more in focus, for your complete examination. Our spirit dictates the depth of the experience. It gives to our humanness what it desires the body to carry on into the physical reality. Our will, or spirit than leads us through life and creates a more fitting nature to our true likeness.
Life here in the modern world is the preparation. Modern society is so far removed, distancing us from our center. By the mere fact of engaging the world itself, is all the isolation that is required. One feels like a warrior, trying desperately at times to keep the enemy at bay. It gives the shaman apprentice all the direction required to remember his/her way to the place, the space between worlds - if you can survive and keep focused on the journey.
You can learn more about the journey in a book entitled Elements of Creation. The experience goes well beyond the shaman's death. It takes you into aspects of creation that have been lost to our current understandings. You can email the author of the article and book, Bruce Luther at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any