To affirm life is to respect its cycles. You can offer no disrespect to the departed by living vibrantly.
An important point of clarification… In Native American shamanism, their lore told not of many bear spirits, but of one single bear spirit. This tends to confuse modern thinkers, because they see animal behaviour and they do give evidence of being individuals, showing different learned behaviours and memories, temperaments and personal preferences. The shamans weren’t talking about bears when they were talking about “Bear.” They were talking about therians. Each class of therian shows a strong resonance with a species or group of species.
Sort of “archetypal energy”? Well, the therian connection is not psychic. It’s causal, formative. A therian wouldn’t have much better a chance of influencing a cougar’s behaviour than you would.
Another mystery here, but one easily explained, is the appearance of hybrid animals in shamanic lore. They were perceiving therians who precede animal life and do not fit into the expressed ecological web as we know it. There relationship is implicate, and their state of being is, for lack of a better term, liminal. Though in fact, the truth is that humans and other organic species are actually the transitional entities, the ones who evolve. Therians retain their basic essence just as the fabric of reality itself retains its basic structure.
This is the intro to explaining how shamans used their connection to therians. Shamans were well versed in what they called “medicine”, though that’s just a poor English translation of their actual concepts. They had a strong understanding of the innate connection between all forms of life, and could intuit the connections either through observation or when necessary actual ingestion. Their sense of their own internal being, their subconscious mind and proprioceptive intelligence was such that they were awake to any impact drinking water or eating a “food” might have.
They understood that their own minds ability to “mirror” the behaviour of other species was more than a strange artifact of their heritage. It was a present and vital connection to the world behind the world, and through meditation, ritual imitative dance, and selective diet, they could for a passing moment unite with one of the therians behind the world they were dealing with in normal consciousness. Harmonize their energy with the broader more open therian resonance.
I read an anthropologist’s account that shamans were using two plants to produce a certain effect and when asked how they knew to combine those two, they said the plants told them. Indeed, the land as well, which usually informs them through their practice of drinking from “taboo” water sources. A tribal hunter would have neither the intuition nor the training in herb lore to be able to weather ingestion of some water sources, but shamans could, and through the experience and how it altered their state of mind, intuit more about the spirit of the land around them, like the famous Oracle of Greece and her habit of inhaling volcanic vapours.
I’m reminded of the criminal investigators in some shows. How they smell and taste something to get a clue about the case. Good connection, yes. That is how they learned. It is also perhaps why modern science lacks so much accountability. They don’t have to endure direct experience of what they study.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.