I think therefore I think. I think too much. Egad! I can’t stop thinking.
Now all is not necessarily peace and bliss in the natural world. Even without the shaman or shamankas human concerns, the part of their life they live in sympathy with the spirits in the wild around them, leave them understanding life and reality in what most would consider very strange ways. Without rituals of grounding and some ability to maintain a human identity, they ran the risk of forgetting their humanity all together. There are really many accounts of this happening, especially in Celtic lore, sometimes passing with a considerable cycle, sometimes never passing at all. They wind up living with the fay instead of humanity. Morgan le Fay can be seen as a shamaka who this occurred to from one point of view, but even as the spirits experience conflict between themselves.
So they withdraw from humanity sometimes? Indeed, becoming immersed in the strife in the deeper reaches of the spirit world sometimes never to actually return even if their bodies are recovered by the tribe.
Is that why the traditional sorcerer will have a penchant for tobacco, or lovers, or some other grounding habit? It is indeed why.
They leave civilization and live in nature. Yes, but in the outer reaches of the spirit world, the shaman ran the risk of encountering and being overcome by less “natural” spirits, beings that it would be very hard to see living peacefully in our world.
The nasties… Yes, but the shamanic relationship and talents remain the same even in those cases, leading to what even in Native American cultures was seen as a twisted being. One example being the raven mocker. The raven mocker was not a shaman with the raven totem. Spirits are ultimately metamorphic, and some are experienced by people only as whatever they come closest to resembling. The raven mocker was a soul eating shaman. One who came to prey on humanity rather than preserving the balance of man and nature. They took the power of the weak and old and sick, leaving the ones left “heartless” to die of despair. They practice not the way of the warrior as the shaman did, but the way of terror as it manifests in the shadows.
Do you know about the Skinwalkers? I do. They were another such dark shaman. One given more to animalism than the terrorism practised by the raven mocker. The skin walker took on the role not of a medicine person so much as that of a brave or warrior. Often they would just go through a bout of counting coup of the warriors of a tribe, but this would just as often devolve into cannibalistic theft, and they were so in tune with their totems that they were hard to distinguish from the beast in the wild, often adopting the mannerisms and even the appearance of their totem, though with a rabid, feral twist.
They were perceived as skinny when perceived as being human at all, because as rogues they often either did not eat well, or bore some wasting disease. I have explored the connection between diseases and the spirits in earlier dark metaphysics classes. There was the practice of deliberately seeking infection, eating necrotic meat and such, giving rise to legends such as that of the Wendigo.
Diseases can be handled the same as an evil spirit. If you get the head of the disease’s collective intelligence, you could be like a wendigo. Well, the fever inducing diseases often left one with a feral intensity, a ferocity that gave one great power in conflict with others even though it also compromises one’s ability to know peace from then on. The human genome project has even discovered viral code to be incorporated into our normal healthy genome which can be activated later due to epigenetic influences, dietary change or extreme chronic stress.
Activated to what end? Usually not deliberately, and to a negative end, but there were some few groups that harnessed dark shamanism to constructive ends. Usually in the case of these dark orders which arose in cultures that were primarily embattled by rival nations, there were warnings given to any prospective initiate.
Ah, like the Maori! Yes, exactly, and they would establish lodges where the initiated could live separately from others for either a limited or long term span, and then their awakening was conducted in such a way that if coupled with their training would channel all the unlocked rage into defeating their enemies.
What never arose in any formal sense though, was an integration of the dark shaman with domestic society. The people of the tribe or village were often too fearful even when the dark shaman could make peaceful, reasonable contact with them. The dark shaman could be seen as the outrider of the spirit world, and if society could find peace with their “otherworldly” behaviour and mentality, they could contribute insight into the way of the world that occurs “in the gaps.” In that hazy period just before the rise of the age of empires, the more “demonic” spirits of daemons where often described as the dwellers at the crossroads.
Pre-age of Aries? Yes, the lurkers on the threshold.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.