Photo of the
aftermath of the
Spiritual Emergency - Election by Divine Call
'Oh shoot! Am I going crazy or what? I don’t know which of the two prospects is most frightening, the feeling that I believe I can hear a spirit talking to me, or the thought that I might be freaking out.'
And so it goes, for those who find themselves unexpectedly confronted with burgeoning psychic abilities that are manifesting in dramatic ways - which test their mettle to the core. Not for all is the cosy, stereotypical gentle hereditary ‘7th son of a 7th son’ lineage transmission of the gift of ‘second sight’. Sometimes it hits you like a locomotive. Bang! And your life turns upside down. Never to be the same again.
According to current received expert opinion shamanism has existed since at least the early upper paleolithic era, which dates back to about 30,000 years ago. In all likelihood, setting specific moments in time for dates to fix the dawning of spiritual practices which are intrinsic facets of human behaviour probably means that elements of humanity’s quest for communion with the spirit world reach far back, beyond our ability to set definitive points in time. Just as Spirit manifests, on the whole, in ethereal ways today, so too the moment at which contact was first established remains equally intangible to our reckoning.
What sets such a personal odyssey in motion? Well, shamanic practitioners have understood, for as long as ‘who-knows-when?’ that the process of becoming a shaman is usually sudden, dramatic and challenging. There are of course those who make a conscious decision to become shamen, and they achieve a certain level of skill, but those who have closest contact with the spirit world are usually those upon whom the spirits descend, like a bolt out of the blue, shaking up, breaking down and disintegrating old, outmoded, ways of thinking and belief systems before revealing new realities and reintegrating a new, truer, world-view in the mind-set of the recipient as their, sometimes unwanted, gift develops. Notice how often, for example, scripture indicates that election to such a role comes unexpectedly, such as in the example provided in the book of Ezekiel where in Chapter 1, Verse 4, it is stated boldly: ‘The hand of Yahweh came on me’, after, ‘heaven opened’ to Ezekiel and he saw ‘visions from God’; or of how the Prophet Mohammed was overwhelmed by the embrace of an angel, which literally took his breath away, before he was commanded to ‘Recite in the name of thy Lord...’ and so the Koran was received. In the process of such transcendence the recipient oftentimes undergoes a death of sorts. Sometimes practically literally, as a result of succumbing to and nearly passing from a disease (see for example Holger Kalweit’s account of the shaman-to-be who nearly died of smallpox, in his book: Dreamtime & Inner Space: The World of The Shaman, page 79), or as a result of being struck by lightning, or by encountering a severe time of psychological trial... while in my own case it occurred in a number of life-or-death situations, including once when I was nearly killed in a hurricane, which plucked up off of the ground a mobile home I was staying in at the time, like a piece of match-wood, as it simultaneously threw it through the air, blasting it to smithereens in the process, while smashing down a wall and crushing my car which had been parked next to it and upon which it was dropped as what was left of it came temporarily to rest (much like Dorothy’s house descended upon the ‘Wicked Witch’ in Oz) before bouncing to one side of what remained of my vehicle, leaving me, somehow, mysteriously floating, softly, into the grass, some distance away, not knowing how I got there, but glad to be free of the carnage that was going on around me. It’s suggested by some that those who have not experienced a significant challenge that may be likened to a close brush with death, should more accurately be called ‘medicine men’ and not shamen, as the true shaman is a man or woman who has faced death and survived. What’s more, they are also masters of the technique of ecstasy (trance).
Today as our ability to document evidence expands dili gent researchers including Stanislav and Christina Groff (editors of the excellent book called ‘Spiritual Emergency’) have documented a number of phenomena which can be classed as genuine Spiritual Emergence experiences, which, when they occur suddenly, even violently, are referred to as a ‘Spiritual Emergency’.
It seems that in order for the recipient of the gifts to be ready-and-fit to utlise whatever is being bestowed upon him or her, whether prophethood, shamanhood, mediumship or spirit channelling ability, a total breakthrough needs first to occur. The recipient needs to see the world for what it is - and what it isn’t! The psychic-in-the-making needs to see through the illusion of ordinary ‘reality’ (which is really unreality) and into the truth of the nature of existence. For creation is populated by incarnate and discarnate beings - of which, the discarnate variety many cannot see or hear, and in which, perhaps as a result, some do not believe. The job of the prophet, shaman, medium, channeler, clairvoyant, or whatever other title might be used to identify such an individual is to act as a go-between (hence the term ‘medium’) between the realm of the discarnate and the realm of the incarnate.
What follows such an experience? Well depending upon what the spirit world has prepared for the recipient of the gift, the person may develop prophetic ability, clairvoyant, clairaudient and other mediumship skills, channelling ability and, perhaps, even a message from the Spirit World which is entrusted to the person upon whom it has been bestowed, to be delivered to a particular culture, at a particular point in time. The process may involve a quick recovery after the first illness or ‘death’, or it may be protracted, causing the object of the Spirit World’s attention to suffer for a long time, running a gauntlet of challenges in which it seems that ‘everything’ is working against the person, in order, if necessary, to whittle down their reluctance to step out of their comfort zone, and to be prepared to mismatch accepted ‘norms’ of behaviour in order to successfully complete a very unordinary task or tasks. It has been said ‘The greater the suffering, the greater the shaman’. It appears that there is often a direct correlation between the suffering that’s borne by the shaman-to-be and the degree of gift that is bestowed upon him or her (remember, for instance, Jesus was taken violently by the Spirit into the desert to be tested by The Devil, before his ministry began). It’s as if the shaman-to-be is first tested, to the hilt, to the limits of his or her endurance - and then beyond - before fully being bestowed with the gifts required to accomplish the task that they have perhaps volunteered for, or in some cases it seems, been drafted to complete. In my experience, oftentimes, if you meet a psychic, medium, channeller, prophet or shaman (and in many ways these terms can be used interchangeably) you will find yourself meeting someone who has suffered a lot (although you may not know this by first appearances). And, as a result, in many cases they will have developed a keener personal sense of compassion for those they help to navigate the ‘human condition’ as they live in this amazing world, with all of its challenges... and all of its opportunities.
As I write and as my mind is turned to the process of shamanic initiation (also called election by Spirit) I’m reminded of the words to the song ‘Ghosts’ as performed by the 80s pop group called Japan (which I’m listening to right now) in which David Sylvian sings ‘Just when I think I’m winning, when I’ve opened every door, the ghosts of my life grow wilder than before’. And so it may seem to the psychic-in-the-making, just as he or she thinks that the process of testing is about to end, they find instead that they’ve merely reached the next phase. During this process of ‘death’ and breakdown, the person learns to come to terms with and understand how to use his or her expanding ability to communicate with the spirit world. He or she will often become proficient at utilising the state of trance to enhance this line of communication (I myself trained as a hypnotherapist and now use trance often to help my clients overcome phobias and addictions and such like, as well as to meet their guides and to explore past lives). Gradually though, the balance begins to shift from one of continuous trial and testing to one of a greater sense of harmony and of acceptance of the spiritual gifts that have been bestowed and as this transitionary period occurs the person finds himself or herself called to work with people using these gifts. In so doing the purpose of the experience is complete, and the person elected to the role to which they’ve been called by Spirit perceives a great plan revealed in what at times had seemed an unfair, haphazard life-or-death process. And so a shaman is born!
Have you ever wondered whether you were really seeing and hearing spirits? Did you worry that you might be going crazy? Did you even nearly die or die once and return to life, such as occurs during a near death experience? And did your life suddenly turn upside down? But did you also begin to notice that you were beginning to see through the illusion of the so-called real world, to notice a more true, more real world on the Otherside? If you did, welcome to the process of Spiritual Emergency: a dramatic election by Spirit. And to the development of your psychic gifts.
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