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Why I Don’t Call Myself a Shaman

“If you could just create a product, like a meditation CD set or something, we’d love to have you on our show… “You could call what you do something else, give it words others can relate to like shamanic or vibrational. Instead of ‘just’ healing, maybe vibrational something… Like everyone else has… [So and so] started making money when he told people [x, z and z] and he’s on all sorts of shows now.”

I’m in the midst of a tome on The Industrialization of Shamanism but linguistic gymnastics and attempts to braid three lines of thinking into one coherent and engaging post are delaying me.  However, today’s interaction with a producer of a well-known ‘spiritual celebrity’ show (my descriptor, not theirs) helps make my larger point.

This is not my first experience with this.  In fact, it’s almost word for word a conversation I had about two years ago with another woman who has a similar kind of internet radio show.  My response then and now were also nearly identical:

 The ‘product’, the outcome is the healing itself, the whole person that comes out the other side of the work we do together. It doesn’t fit in a plasticine box. If I created a meditation CD when I actively encourage people to not meditate, what kind of message does that send beyond one of hypocrisy? Those are a dime a dozen, available everywhere but don’t meet my way of working.  Yes, I would like a revenue stream, but the revenue stream I want is one that allows me to share my work with many while standing in my own integrity, not to line another’s pocket, or encourage piecemeal bits of work that just bring people along bit by bit. Although I work I do shares discrete elements that are associated with a shaman’s work–spirits and Spirit, earthy and etheric connections, healing as well as curing, and  the sacred nature of the work–that’s it. To use the term shaman as an identifier ‘so people are more comfortable or have some familiarity with the work’ is beyond cultural appropriation at it’s worst. Not only is it used without permission, it’s used without context–in fact, entirely outside of context, without any true contact with what it really means. This stuff fell in my lap. I didn’t work for it, wish for it, study it, sweated through it, and haven’t been tested for or by it; there’s no lineage of it. I certainly don’t practice anything and am not disciplined it or desciple to anyone or process. I don’t deserve to use that label. That label is beyond an honorific or connection to the past, the exotic or spirit. It is rooted in a way of both being and lifelong learning that very few of this era deserve. That word and the work has lost it’s importance and meaning in this ‘quick fix blue-light special’ spirituality where it’s merely a marketing schtick it to convince people they need help to find their soul, or soulmate or, even better, that fucking (I’m not sure if that actually spilled out of my mouth or just feels really good here) abundance thing. When you–representing this as ‘spiritual’–use the words “just healing”, it’s clear that you don’t know the importance or meaning of that, either.  As to the other familiar language, in my opinion, people shouldn’t have to sift through the chaff to find the truth. Until yours or any other show will allow me to show up as I am and share the work freely and for free–without a specially-priced package of familiarity, I’ll continue to say no thanks.

I posted this on  Facebook a couple of weeks ago:

There’s a very, very fine line between the shilling of shamanism as a panacea for all people’s fearful bits and snake oil sales. Be careful what you choose to buy and buy into.

I think I said it wrong. Instead of ‘be careful what you choose to buy and buy into’ I should have said, ‘be careful how you choose to sell yourself.’

Sure, I’d like to make money. I’d like to know that I can be financially supported when doing this work. It’d be nice to afford my own place, shop when I want, have a cell phone (admittedly, I hedge on that) and other trappings of comfort. However, if I say,

As far as I’m concerned, this is about sharing the Holiness and wholly sharing it–without condition. And the Holy nature of this is simply this:  Bringing love back home to itself.

If I say that and then add ‘familiarity’ to the already existing obfuscation, where’s the love?

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