ENVIRONMENTAL SHAMANISM

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For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.

—ROBIN WALL KIMMERER, BRAIDING SWEETGRASS AS SHAMANIC PRACTITIONERS, WE HAVE A responsibility to care for our land in the same way we care for ourselves.

In the previous section, we discussed the importance of understanding our place within the story of humankind.

Just as we need to care for our descendants in our journeying practice, we have to care for the planet, so our descendants will also have a place to call home.

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks us to shift the way we view the world.

Our capitalist economy has turned the world into a resource to be mined, and all its gifts into commodities.

If we can return to the ways of our ancestors and instead see the world as a gift, we can transform our relationship with it.

If we understand everything as a gift, suddenly our lives are filled with abundance instead of scarcity.

Kimmerer also discusses the gift economy, and the true meaning of a gift.

There was a time when we understood that a gift was not a free thing, but rather the development of a relationship with responsibilities.

The earth provides us with gifts, and it is our responsibility to care for her in return.

For this reason, I see environmental Shamanism as an absolute necessity.

Our earth is hurting. It is undeniable that our planet is in a state of peril. Our goal as shamanic practitioners is to live in harmony with ourselves, the spirits, and with the earth.

If you pursue a shamanic practice, I urge you to include healing for the planet as part of your regular practice.

Our bodies are a reflection of the earth, in that we are the microcosm and the planet is the macrocosm.

Earlier in this book, I mentioned the Hermetic Principles.

The second principle is the Principle of Correspondence, which states that as above, so below; as within, so without.

We have the capacity to create change in the world by healing ourselves; and by healing the world, we heal ourselves.

It is our duty, as humans and shamanic practitioners, to actively contribute to the healing of the planet.

Once you have enough practice and are ready to journey in Middle World, this is a practice I strongly encourage every shamanic practitioner to engage in regularly.

I once attended an immersive workshop at a remote retreat center in Rowe, Massachusetts, away from largely populated areas and outside of cell phone reception range.

The center functioned solely as housing and gathering spaces for events centering on education and spiritual expansion.

As a result, the spirits of this place were always hard at work, tending to a place that acted as a container for hundreds of people passing through and experiencing significant internal shifts.

There was a significant energetic load to be managed by the helping spirits of the place.

The teacher of the workshop tasked our group, during our last shamanic journey of the event, to journey to those helping spirits and ask them how we could honor them and contribute our energies to help sustain the retreat center..

We were asked by the spirits to perform a variety of honoring acts, from dancing to clapping to singing in order to give of ourselves to the place that had held us as we learned and grew.

This is a concept that can and should be employed in any and all places that need healing.

Start on a smaller scale, with your own town or city for example.

Since this journey will take place in Middle World, you will start by visualizing yourself in your home, and simply step out of your own front door.

Keep moving and journey around your city and see what areas or neighborhoods are crying out for help.

Ask your helping spirits to accompany you and show you what you can do to help.

They will reveal specific tasks you can undertake. For example, I have charged quartz crystals with healing energy and then hidden them in places that needed it, such as the base of a tree growing in an ailing neighborhood.

You may be asked to bring an offering of herbs, or perhaps to clap or rattle to dispel stagnant energy.

This exercise can be performed on any scale.

Once you have journeyed around your city, broaden your reach.

You can scan your whole state, the entire country, and even the whole planet. During one such journey, I found myself at the North Pole; it was crying out for help, asking for healing to help counter the damage done by the melting polar ice caps.

When you reach a place that is asking for attention, find the helping spirits of the place and ask your own helping spirits to provide them with the help they need.

The world has many problems beyond the scope and ability of any single person, but if each of us does our part, we will have a cumulative effect.