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shamanism for atheists


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#1 carlotta

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 07:38 AM

Hi y'all,

I've been reading into heathenism, and it's appealing to me as long as I don't have to worship before any 'deities'. I prefer listening to the wisdom of elders (those that are truly wise and not just long-winded), which is a variant of heathenism.

I've listened to those who are trained shamans, and it sounds like something I'd like to work on. The workshops I've seen so far in the UK at least are based around god and/or goddess worship. Perhaps all of the foundations of shamanism are based on worship?

Are there lots of variants of 'shamanism'?

Carlotta
Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passersby, and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it, but the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the Earth endures, the Earth is eternal" - Earl Hamner

#2 CaveRat2

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 07:46 AM

Just food for thought.... Might this be because man has an inherent void intended to be filled by a diety? Regardless of one's persuasion in regards to religion / god(s) there does appear to be a place built in tothe human psyche that requires acceptance of something akin to a god. That is probably why when it comes right down to it there are very few true atheists. They may not recognize God as I do, but there is a void that needs acceptance of some form of god in some manner.

#3 Vampchick21

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 08:59 AM

As far as I know, shamanism in its various forms does indeed focus around Pagan worship, be it deity or general spirits or ancestors. It depends upon the form I suppose, I'm only really familiar with Celtic Shamanism.

(and remember, the term Shaman is specific to one cultural group, but the *idea* and techniques et all are widespread. Shamanism is being used as a blanket term nowadays.)

I suppose in your case you might want to focus on the form of Shamanism that would be connected to ancestor worship, since these are the spirits of the ancestors....aka elders. :( It might fit your outlook more comfortably than deity focused.

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#4 carlotta

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 10:08 AM

... there are very few true atheists. They may not recognize God as I do, but there is a void that needs acceptance of some form of god in some manner.


An atheist doesn't believe that there is a god, which is my case.

However, I can appreciate the experience and wisdom of those who have passed before me. I want to take advantage of their knowledge, and in my own turn perhaps show them ways that they hadn't considered. Do you think your grandparent knows everything or has done everything? Your grandparent may have valuable insight to share and will be enriched by your insights.

To me worship is rather one way, whereas I prefer two way communication and enrichment. No matter how old the person or entity, there are still things to learn and new experiences to be had.

It does seem that shamanism is a catch-all these days, as Vampchick points out. I want to learn to communicate better with my elders, and I wondered if any form of shamanism, or something like it, is available to me as a godless heathen. ;-)

Carlotta
Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passersby, and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it, but the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the Earth endures, the Earth is eternal" - Earl Hamner

#5 Seņor Hugo

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 10:38 AM

The biggest thing for Shamans is the understanding that there is a spirit in absolutely everything. This one belief ranges from not only Celtic Shamans, through the ancient Greek shamanic priests, to shamans in south America, through the Nordic Shamans, and through every shamanic group out there.

The reason the term Shaman has become a blanket term, is that groups of indigenous people have continually popped up who have a priest with the exact same belief structure as other Shamanic groups.

Like Vampchick said, Shamans is for one cultural group, as it came from Russian terms. But the same practices, beliefs, ideas, even incites into who is out there are all the same.

Honestly Shamanism as I have studied for the last few years is about not only worshiping the divine, be it one or many, but honoring the spirits of the Earth, the air etc, the spirits within everything, your spirit guide, and your ancestors who pretty much help you on your way with a few becoming a spirit guide to you as well.

I have only recently considered myself a Shaman before I only acknowledged I was following the Shamanic path, I don't do spirit journeys, I don't do soul retrievals, I usually don't help the recently departed(unless they make it clear to me that I have to help them), I'm a warrior, a defender. I protect those who can't protect themselves, I deal with the bad stuff out there, and I get hurt. Everytime you heal someone you take that pain into your own body to expell it later, everytime you deal with an evil spirit it can take physical action against you do you harm.

The thing is finding where you fit in to the big cosmic wheel, in my case, when I first read about shamanism, something in my head clicked, I knew I had found most of what I was looking for. Then it came down to whichever path worked best for me, Native American, South American, those didn't work, it wasn't until I tried Norse and using the Runes that I found what fit(I had previously been at an Ostara ritual and had been the one to call Odin, upon doing so I had gotten a tingle in my spine seconds before a kid in the corner blacked out and collapsed. It was this that had me give Odin, the Runes and such a shot)

Basically it's finding what works for you. I honestly have never heard of any shaman who is an atheist. It seems counter intuitive, for one who will be working with the spirits to not acknowledge there is a divine, and I honestly think you'd be operating not at your full capacity for doing so.

For me it wasn't until I encountered what could only be called a demon that I finally realized that there is a divine out there. Even though I had previously experienced the power of Odin and before that the power of Christ. There has to be a balance, with the bad comes the good, they keep each other in check.

But like I said, the biggest part of shamanism is finding your niche, finding your place, where your the most needed and can do the most good. I won't pull the whole "you need to believe in God or a God" but, you will find what works for you, and if it presents itself in a deity, don't push it away.

Edit: For the ancestor worship, you may want to look into Native American shamans, with their spirit guides and the ancestors things have a good possibility of getting a two way conversation. Though the trick with speaking to a god/goddess is listening and watching, it will be something subtle, a strong gust of wind pushing you in a direction when it seems no other trees are blowing, etc.

Also, Abra was a pain to catch.

Edited by Seņor Hugo, 25 June 2008 - 10:42 AM.

"I am the bridge between worlds. I have experienced life, I have experienced death, others and my own. I am a shaman."

#6 Yosei

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 05:36 PM

It's also worth pointing out that not every god in every culture is assumed to be all-powerful and all-knowing, since that, rather than the existence of non-physical entities, seems to be your concern( it actually confuses me a little. If you accept that there are non-physical beings that are wiser than you and can do things you at least presently cannot, isn't that the same as a god? I've never quite understood the difference, personally.) In Asian cultures, for example, the distinctions among nature spirits, ancestors, and gods are fluid almost to the point of irrelevancy( which is pretty much my own intuitive feeling as well), and worship in many ancient pagan societies really does seem more like two-way dealing than the abject submission we in our current monotheistically-influenced society seem to imagine---some ancient Sumerian prayers, for instance, actually read more like a modern prenuptial agreement than an expression of absolute devotion, and when I do offering rituals my feeling is not substantially different than when I make dinner for a well-respected guest.
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#7 carlotta

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 08:56 AM

For the ancestor worship, you may want to look into Native American shamans, with their spirit guides and the ancestors things have a good possibility of getting a two way conversation.


Thanks Senor Hugo,

That's a good idea. I'll look into that for my next trip back to WA state.

Carlotta
Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passersby, and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it, but the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the Earth endures, the Earth is eternal" - Earl Hamner

#8 Morbid

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 02:02 AM

In a general sense, I believe you could be a shaman. I wouldn't rely on finding anything about them without a deity, but I believe in making things as they work, which I think you should try. I write all my own rituals and they work just peachy. I've in a way made my own religion.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.The law of Chaos.

#9 Shawn333

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 05:18 PM

I believe ancestor worship is one of the oldest forms of religion, if I'm not mistaken. Although it sounds like you mean to have more of a 2-way relationship for spiritual growing, than a worship type relationship, Carolotta. I know a girl who practices some form of Wicca or Paganism, I'm not sure which, and she's really an atheist. It sounds contradictory, but she believes in spirits, energy, and magic, and believes in doing things to control things around her and to help people. She uses the names of deities in rituals but does so believing in the psychological power of invoking those names more than in the reality of those deities. I don't understand it all, but it's certainly interesting. Anyway, good luck finding the path that's right for you.

#10 Mike-Campbell

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 02:28 PM

There are many heathens who do worship their deities, though you are right, the majority do not.

As a heathen myself, I think the best way to describe it is that we take the stories of our deities and ancestors and use them as inspiration towards what we should look to be and do in our lives.

Don't look so hard at labeling yourself. While it's important to find others of a similar mindset, you shouldn't look to find your particular niche of any religion to belong to. Believe what you want, and you will do much better.

#11 carlotta

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 03:10 AM

Don't look so hard at labeling yourself. While it's important to find others of a similar mindset, you shouldn't look to find your particular niche of any religion to belong to. Believe what you want, and you will do much better.


I agree that I don't have to label myself, but I miss the community aspect of a belief. It's nice to be with people who aren't trying to 'understand' what you believe or push you into their belief system.

In addition, I want to do paranormal research in haunted locations, but protection is crucial for this sort of work. Those who believe in gods can pray to them for protection. I have my spirit guides who help me out.

Can the strength of someone's god be more powerful than the strenth of my spirit guides and my sense of my own inner strength?
Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passersby, and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it, but the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the Earth endures, the Earth is eternal" - Earl Hamner

#12 Seņor Hugo

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 06:05 AM

Don't look so hard at labeling yourself. While it's important to find others of a similar mindset, you shouldn't look to find your particular niche of any religion to belong to. Believe what you want, and you will do much better.


I agree that I don't have to label myself, but I miss the community aspect of a belief. It's nice to be with people who aren't trying to 'understand' what you believe or push you into their belief system.

In addition, I want to do paranormal research in haunted locations, but protection is crucial for this sort of work. Those who believe in gods can pray to them for protection. I have my spirit guides who help me out.

Can the strength of someone's god be more powerful than the strenth of my spirit guides and my sense of my own inner strength?


It really depends on what works for you. Like with job hunting, finding a religion or belief system that you're comfortable with, one that just "seems to click" and is perfect for you.

The strength doesn't come only from a deity/spirit guide/etc, it's a two way road. You have to believe, trust in that deity/spirit guide/etc to help you, thats when the true strength comes through.

Doubting yourself, your inner strength, and either your spirit guides or deity is what hurts one the most.

Although, some gods may be more proactive(at least more noticeable) than others. God(god God) works in mysterious ways. While Thor tends to get physical and hit things. This goes for spiritguides as well. Some may flat out tell you what you need to know/do, others may do so more covertly and it's not until later you have that epiphany.
"I am the bridge between worlds. I have experienced life, I have experienced death, others and my own. I am a shaman."

#13 carlotta

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:04 AM


Can the strength of someone's god be more powerful than the strenth of my spirit guides and my sense of my own inner strength?

The strength doesn't come only from a deity/spirit guide/etc, it's a two way road. You have to believe, trust in that deity/spirit guide/etc to help you, thats when the true strength comes through.

Doubting yourself, your inner strength, and either your spirit guides or deity is what hurts one the most.

Although, some gods may be more proactive(at least more noticeable) than others. God(god God) works in mysterious ways. While Thor tends to get physical and hit things. This goes for spiritguides as well. Some may flat out tell you what you need to know/do, others may do so more covertly and it's not until later you have that epiphany.


I've never been hit by a spirit guide or had things thrown around me. The guidance is more subtle, since I'm of a stubborn nature. I get the epiphanies that can be anywhere between "of course" and "Doh!" I've had warnings in my mind when I'm in a dangerous place and need to get away.

I think our guides warn us to get out when they know that the power of what is there is too strong at the moment, and that more help is needed.

Carlotta
Who owns the land? Only the land knows. We mortals are passersby, and our lives are but a brief moment in the great span of time and space. We are born, we live out our lives, and most of us do the best we can with it, but the wind is forever, and the rivers flow forever to the sea, and all the seasons of the weathers will come and go after we are gone. But the Earth endures, the Earth is eternal" - Earl Hamner

#14 Seņor Hugo

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:20 AM


Can the strength of someone's god be more powerful than the strenth of my spirit guides and my sense of my own inner strength?

The strength doesn't come only from a deity/spirit guide/etc, it's a two way road. You have to believe, trust in that deity/spirit guide/etc to help you, thats when the true strength comes through.

Doubting yourself, your inner strength, and either your spirit guides or deity is what hurts one the most.

Although, some gods may be more proactive(at least more noticeable) than others. God(god God) works in mysterious ways. While Thor tends to get physical and hit things. This goes for spiritguides as well. Some may flat out tell you what you need to know/do, others may do so more covertly and it's not until later you have that epiphany.


I've never been hit by a spirit guide or had things thrown around me. The guidance is more subtle, since I'm of a stubborn nature. I get the epiphanies that can be anywhere between "of course" and "Doh!" I've had warnings in my mind when I'm in a dangerous place and need to get away.

I think our guides warn us to get out when they know that the power of what is there is too strong at the moment, and that more help is needed.

Carlotta


Well what I meant with the whole "God works in mysterious ways, while Thor tends to get physical and hit things" was that God does things really on the downlow, so you're left wondering. While Thor is more direct about things, if you need help, you'll know when he's playing a part. He's always up for showing how strong he is etc. That kind of thing.

Our guides do warn us, if there is something that we really shouldn't be messing with, we get the warning signs, through some "gut instincts," others through emotions like unexplainable fear, bad vibes, and so on.
"I am the bridge between worlds. I have experienced life, I have experienced death, others and my own. I am a shaman."

#15 Mike-Campbell

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 11:43 PM

Well what I meant with the whole "God works in mysterious ways, while Thor tends to get physical and hit things" was that God does things really on the downlow, so you're left wondering. While Thor is more direct about things, if you need help, you'll know when he's playing a part. He's always up for showing how strong he is etc. That kind of thing.


I know a lot of heathens who would disagree with that kind of thinking, even though many of the tales seem to show him as that kind of a character.

I think the most important thing to remember is that it's not about what gods you pray to or look to help from, it's your relationship with that god or gods which determines how strong of a bond you have, and how much protection you will receive from them.




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