Shamanic Initiation

It had to happen at some point, that I would give expression to it: Shamanic Initiation.
It’s taken a long time. It was my wish to tread the subject light-heartedly, because I feel there’s enough of the melodrama around shamans already. I read a thing or two about shamanism and it seems to me as if all historics and anthropologists only seem to focus on the dark side of shamanism. And ok, it’s not all sunshine and daisies, but a little sense of humor never hurt anyone.
And so I took the picture of the beheaded teddybear, to take off some of the edginess around the concept of The Calling and The Initiation of a Shaman.
Pfff, it’s such a mouthful.
When I received my calling, I visited a shaman who said: “You are cursed with the Gift, you are touched by The Spirits”. It could’ve been a quote from a romantic B-movie, while this is not just some story, it is my life.
A shamaness I met later during a workshop explained that being a shaman is actually having an illness. And yes, I’ve gone through a very dark passage myself and it nearly killed me. I went to the edge of sanity and had a sneak peek over the edge, so to speak.
But I made it back and ever since I’ve experienced shamanism to be nothing but a blessing.
The learning process is a lot of fun, at times totally maddening and confusing, but very rewarding, especially creatively. It provides me with excellent inspiration for creating art, composing music and so on.
I’ve got this child spirit. She helps me with creating and keeps my approach to shamanism playful. She likes pink and comes through when I’m really in The Zone, creatively speaking. And so it happened that she came in while I was designing costumes last weekend and together we came to the point of doing a performance titled (rolling of drums): “The Sacrifice of the Teddybear”.
img_0527While cutting off the bear’s head we whispered: “Abracadabra kazam, we hereby offer this head to give life to The Protector!”, the protector being the mask you see in the picture. We figured every shaman needs some level of protection during ceremony, and the mask would be excellent for that purpose. So we decided it had to go into a ceremonial outfit.
But the mask was ugly. So we gave it some make-up to make it look fierce and pretty on front of the outfit. The teddybear’s head would go on the other side of the ceremonial piece, so it’s got protection on both sides. We applauded for ourselves. Mission accomplished, we summoned a protectional spirit for ceremony!
It was one big theatrical act of magic.
Then a little bell rang in the back of my mind: hey, I’m probably doing something on a shamanic level here, this may be a little bit more than just creating cool costumes.
Amidst the chaos of the creative process, I noticed I started contemplating on the shamanic initiation process, and wondered if it reoccurs, perhaps in cycles, like a seasonal happenstance. While I didn’t get a direct answer to that question, I started to realize that in this creative process of designing costumes, I was facilitating the initiation process myself.
I discussed my contemplations with Rombout this morning, and came to the conclusion that what I had been doing was a symbolic re-enactment of shamanic initiation: Sacrifice of the Old Self to give life to the New. So I made the initiation reoccur (albeit subconsciously) by creating costumes with the purpose of manifesting the shaman in me in real life.
As some of you perhaps know, the shamanic initiation process is both physically as well as psychologically a violent process. Very typical for the process is having visions or experiences of dismemberment. The mind, and on a symbolic/visionary level also the body, are being ripped apart by spirits.
I remember having this experience of spirits taking my head off and showing it to me, while cheering: “Look Kiki, this is your Self! Not a happy Self. Let’s make a new Kiki!”.
I’ve experienced the excellence of Spirit in its ability to make such a brutal gesture seem actually entertaining and funny. It made me giggle out loud, as if I was watching a cartoon while my mind was being zapped with spirit power, blissfully obliterated by spiritual shock therapy. My old self was being destroyed to make space for the new and improved version of me: ‘Shaman Kiki’.
Shocking indeed.
But you ought to know it was all for a good cause. Because at the time I was suffering from severe adrenal fatigue, so bad, I started to think (no, actually notice) that I was dying. My body was slowly giving up, I could no longer see my past, nor my future. I was on the verge of self-destruction.
Looking back at the visions of dismemberment one could say Spirit took me out of broken body, to take it apart for maintenance and put it back together with the addition of some shamanic components. While I was spiritually floating Out There, tripping my head off, both my body and psyche were being healed.
Since the initiation process, I feel healthier and happier than I’ve ever felt before in my life.
My task lies in figuring out how to use the shamanic upgrade.
I think I found a way.