It’s funny how some shamans walking around today don’t even realize they are shamans (although their magic manifests nevertheless through the healing ceremonies they organize). I’m sure David Bowie was aware of his powers on the astral plane.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking magic (or spirituality—they are the same thing) is something that only happened in the distant past or in some Amazonian jungle. Life is a giant wheel and all the dramas and ceremonies, the avatars and saviors, the shamans and sorcerers manifest over and over endlessly. Despite the rapid growth of technology, human ceremonies have evolved little on a foundation built millennia ago. Ceremony involves investing meaning into life and also healing sorrow and pain. Which is why it surprised me when a friend implied I’m not a “true” shaman because I call my ceremonies “improvisational ritual theater,” an expression I coined over a decade ago. He feels theater is the realm of actors, not shamans. People are right to be suspicious. After all, the New Age movement, religion and magic are all peppered with frauds and hoodwinks of every color and stripe, and I love exposing the con jobs and will continue to do so as I want no association with any of them. Con jobs are found at the origins of many major religions as well as the pagan alternatives. My motivation is to pass down the wisdom I’ve learned over the decades to anyone who cares. And foremost among that wisdom is an understanding of what’s really going on in the world, and not falling for rabbit holes or wag-the-dog movies.
Funny how a title or a costume or even just a big hat can change people’s perceptions. Put on a clerical collar and watch how your aura changes. You’re no longer a mere human being, but something magical. And the same goes for dressing like a tribal shaman. Anyone can do it. Unfortunately, many wearing these costumes are frauds seeking money, and no more enlightened or closer to God than you or me. But the costume manifests magic. And the media works like that on a gigantic scale. Belief can be engineered with the right props.
The basic tools of ceremony have not changed for centuries: bell, book and candle. The revolution I suggest involves merging elements of all cultures (without any dogma) and leading the synthesis any direction you want. Just as hybrid genes produce hybrid vigor in plants, animals and people, hybrid ceremonies produce a cultural vigor. The centerpiece of my ceremonies is a seven chakra candle altar.
Instead of watching TV or playing video games, I encourage millennials to organize creative ceremonies to help harmonize family and tribes. Enlightenment is fun. It’s important to investigate the truth, but more important to celebrate life. Don’t believe the hogwash the path to enlightenment runs through a cave in the mountains. Restless minds require isolation to focus, but culture is a group effort. Unifying major spiritual traditions disarms those who manipulate religion to manifest war for profit.
I studied with a lot of the greatest post-modern shamans: John Cage, Ken Kesey, Jasper Grootveld, Judith Malina, Stephen Gaskin, Wavy Gravy….but one of the greatest was one my own age named James Wilson who became the first black elected senior class president at Urbana High School in central Illinois. This happened in 1968, the summit of racial tension in America. Right after Jim (wearing beret) got elected, he started planning events (ceremonies), the result of which drew students closer together and defused the tension and violence. Jim was already a master shaman at age 17, possibly in part because he’d been traumatized by the death of his father. Later, he became known as “Chef RA” and one of the most popular speakers on the original Hemp Tours.
The beauty of improvisational ritual theater is it requires zero training or induction into any dogma. Do what you want as long as nobody gets hurt. You see, the real Bible is written in your heart, provided you got raised in a loving environment and not warped through some abuse.