The Theology of Core-Shamanism

Although proponents of Core Shamanism claim that they are only distilling techniques from classic shamanism, Core Shamanism does have an implied theology. Its belief system, which is human-centric, contains elements from Jung, the Goddess Religions, and New Age Religions. From Jung comes the doctrine that humans create the Goddesses to worship. These Goddesses are the archetypes of one divine benign entity, who is responsive to people’s requests. From New Age Religions comes the doctrine that the Universe is filled with friendly beings who allow humans to download information directly from them.

From the Goddess Religions comes the doctrine that we live in a patriarchy which overthrew the matriarchy of earlier times. In order to save the world, we have to end the patriarchy. This is reflected in the writings of Evelyn Rysdyk, a well-known Core-Shaman, and Theresa Dintino, a self-described Core-Shaman. Archeologist Marija Gimbutas wrote that a Goddess culture existed before it was overthrown by the invading the Indo-Europeans and replaced by their patriarchy. According to Gimbutas, this culture was peaceful and egalitarian. Since it was ruled by female shamans, the culture was a nurturing one.

In her self-published books, Theresa Dintino calls Nyame, the supreme deity of the Akan people of southern Ghana, a Goddess. However, this Deity is really the Male Creator of the world. Her reasoning is that Nyame (female) is an aspect of the Mother Goddess, who is the luminous life-giving force of the universe (the Archetype of the Womb).

Meanwhile, Rysdyk interprets The World Tree of Norse Polytheism in the context of the cosmic tree that is found in other cultures. For her, this World Tree has many connections to the Mother Goddess. She says that the Norse World Tree is a symbol for the primordial Goddess. Rysdyk echoes Dintino’s idea of the Archetype of the Womb by saying that this particular Tree acts as a cave, and is therefore a womb. Then she ewpresents Ragnarok, the end of the world according to Norse sagas, in terms of overthrowing the tyranny of the patriarchal culture.

Core shamanism also reflects aspects of monotheistic theology. In her various writings, Rysdyk discusses surrendering the ego for knowledge. In order to be a shaman, people need to strip away their egos to unite with the Mother Goddess. At her website, Rysdyk says, “Increase your personal power and feel your intrinsic sacredness through expanding your connections with All That Is.” This is similar to the objective of Christian monks to unite with God.

In the collection of essays, “Awakening to the Spirit World” (edited by Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman), various Core-shamans stress that we are here to co-create the next reality in planetary evolution. Westerners will take up where the indigenous people have given up. In other words, Westerners have come to save the world and usher in the New Age. Ingerman in “Walking in the Light,” expands on this by saying that Westerners will transfigure the world to be luminous. They will also be the new caretakers of the Earth. This reflects the Second Great Awakening in the United States which focused on Christians creating the New World for God’s Coming.

Works Used:
Dintino Theresa, “The Amazon Pattern.” Self-published. 2015
“Notes from a Diviner in the Postmodern World.” Self-published. 2016.
Ingerman, Sandra, “Walking in Light.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2014.
Ingerman, Sandra and Hank Wesselman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2010.
Rysdyk, Evelyn, “The Norse Shaman.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2016

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Core-Shamanism: the Shamanism of the New Age

To make classic shamanism available to lay people, Michael Harner developed Core-Shamanism (Note 1) from his field studies. He distilled a set of techniques for Westerners of how to be a shaman. Furthermore, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (his organization) indicate that they intend to recreate European shamanism (Note 2), which (according to them) is virtually extinct. (Note 3) Therefore, by using the core techniques of classical shamanism and by consulting the spirits, Core Shamans can rebuild this lost tradition.

However the writings of Core-Shamanism as presented by two noted practitioners -Sandra Ingerman in “Walking in the Light” and Evelyn Rysdyk in “The Norse Shaman” reveal a strong New Age/Theosophy influence. Ingerman writes, “A way to evolve your work is to acknowledge the unlimited power of your helping spirits. … This adds exponentially to the outcome of whatever spiritual healing practice you engage in. You can be a vessel of this unlimited power when working for yourself, others, and the planet.” (Note 4) Moreover, Ingerman claims that people can transfigure and experience their divine light, which is considered to be an ideal state of being in Theosophy.

None of this echoes European cultural ideas but is instead a mixture of Theosophy and New Age beliefs. Core-Shamanism promises the power of divinity, and union with a great moral purpose. Ingerman writes “Transmute the energy behind your thoughts and words…Dream the world you wish to live into being.” (Note 5). She and other Core-Shamans speak of dreaming a new world of light, harmony, peace and abundance into being. This is the ideal of the New Age religions to bring about the New Age of Light and Love.

Rysdyk alludes to the same thing in her book, “Norse Shamanism.” She urges people to move towards the light. Rysdyk says, “Since Urd (one of the Norns) functions as this action of transforming potential into reality, it would suggest that Urd is a representation of the Divine Mind manifesting physical existence.” (Note 6). She describes the Divine Mind as “All That Is.” Although Rysdyk titles her book, “Norse Shamanism,” it is really Core-Shamanism with a Northern-European flavor, and not actual shamanism practiced by the Norse.

These writings by Core-Shamans reminds me of Ufology, another Western belief system. After studying reports of encounters with alien beings, Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, investigators of the unknown, noted that people would experience UFOs in the context of their culture and era. Some saw fairies, others angels, and modern people space aliens. Understanding what these beings are is to “understand the incomprehensible.” They summarized it as (emphasis theirs): “The UFO mystery is primarily subjective and its content primarily symbolic.” (Note 7)

Jerome Clark (ufologist) and Loren Coleman (cryptozoologist) described the continuing fascination with UFOs as being rooted in “future shock.” (Note 8) They define this as “the acceleration of changes has become unbearable and the future unimaginable.” This makes living in the present problematic. Therefore, in their opinion, some people seek liberation from Western materialism by having UFO experiences.

I see the same impulse in Core Shamanism, which instead of recreating European shamanism, offers people relief from their awful present. It gives them a picture of a utopian future. It allows them to feel that they can do something to ensure that future. In fact, Rysdyk ends her book with “we can become the new humans who will contribute in bringing forth a verdant new world. (Note 9)”

Notes:
Note 1: From the Foundation for Shamanic Studies: “Core shamanism consists of the universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds, a distinguishing feature of shamanism. As originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner, the principles of core shamanism are not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective.”

Note 2: From the Foundation for Shamanic Studies: “Since the West overwhelmingly lost its shamanic knowledge centuries ago due to religious oppression, the Foundation’s programs in Core Shamanism are particularly intended for Westerners to reacquire access to their rightful spiritual heritage through quality workshops and training courses.”

Note 3. Medieval scholars such as Claude Lecouteux have studied ancient and medieval folklore of Europe. In their research, they point out that European shamanism is often reflected in Christian mysticism and European folklore.

Note 4. Ingerman, “Walking in the Light,” page 198

Note 5. Ingerman, page 213

Note 6. Rysdyk, “The Norse Shaman,” page 78.

Note 7. Clark and Coleman, “The Unidentified,” page 236

Note 8. From Alvin Toffler’s book “Future Shock” (1970): A condition of distress and disorientation brought on by the inability to cope with rapid societal and technological change.

Note 9. Rysdyk, page 204.

Works Used:
Clark Jerome and Loren Coleman, “The Unidentified.” San Antonio (TX): Anomalist Books. 2006. (Reprint of 1975 edition.)
Cooper, Diana, “The Archangel Guide to the Animal World.” Carlsbad (CA): Hay House 2017.
Foundation for Shamanic Studies, https://www.shamanism.org/workshops/coreshamanism.html
Ingerman, Sandra, “Walking in Light.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2014.
Rysdyk, Evelyn, “The Norse Shaman.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2016
The Theosophical Society, http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/ryan-wh/wit-hp.htm
Toffler Associates, http://tofflerassociates.com/about/the-toffler-legacy/

Gods of the Month: November

For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

Read more at: Gods of the Month: November 2016

In the Wheel of the Year for Neo-Pagans, November is the time to remember the Ancestors. Two Gods of the Dead that I have devotions for at this time are Hecate and Anubis. Hecate has a festival day on November 30. (This is also Lost Species Day.)

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1. God of the Month: Pomona

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8. The Mundus and Me

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce. God of the Month: Fortuna Primigenia  and God of the Month: Feronia

TIAMAT: November 6 is one of the festival days for Tiamat of the Mesopotamian Gods. As the Great Mother Creator, She created Heaven and Earth with Her Body. God of the Month: Tiamat of Babylon

Polytheism Begins at Home

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Roman Polytheism (Religio Romana) is first and foremost a home-based religion. The home is the temple for the family cultus of the Di Familiaris (the Guardian Gods of the Family). This includes the Lars Familiaris as the Guardian of the Family and the Genius of the Paterfamilias (the Protector of the Head of the Household. It also includes Di Manes (the Ancestors of the Household).

At the main altar (the Lararium) I make offerings of food and incense as well as say prayers. Janus receives the first offering and Vesta the second. During my daily devotions (morning and evening), I ask for guidance and help from the Household Gods, Ancestors, and other Gods.

The Goddess of the Hearth, Vesta, who lives in my kitchen, experiences my efforts at cooking. The Penates look out for my food stores. The Lars look out for the general well-being for the family and home. Janus and the other Gods of the Door (Cardea, Forculus, Limentinus, Portunes) guard the inside and the outside. They oversee the liminal places protecting my family. The Lars Loci (Guardians of the Place) who guard the windows are included.

A Polytheist’s home usually has many altars to different Gods. I have two for the Ancestors in my bedroom, and two for the Gods of Indoor Plumbing under my sinks. The altar to Vesta, the Lars and Penates sits in my kitchen. Each altar receives offerings on a daily basis. The Lars receive food and milk, the Others incense and perfume.

The home is where the family and the Gods interact daily on an intimate basis. The altars provide a liminal space for formal devotions. The Gods and Others are not remote, but are with us always.

My Polytheism and Jung’s Archetypes

In Postmodern Spirituality, people found themselves at a crossroads wanting spirituality but finding Monotheism too rule bound to follow. Since Western culture is steeped in Monotheism, people regarded their only choice was between God, Who lives outside of Humankind and the Higher Self, Who arises from humanity. Therefore, it became easy to combine psychology and spirituality to form a new belief system. Human-created archetypes became the root of this new religion.

My problem is with Archetypes comes when people insist that They are my Gods as well. I dislike the notion that those who believe that Archetypes are Gods should be included in Polytheism. I have no problem considering these people being called Neo-Pagan since that religion includes a wide variety of beliefs from the Divine Feminine to Core-Shamanism.

Jungians Caroline Pearson and Hugh Marr say that the sacred myths of cultures are archetypal and not literal. According to them, the ancients projected the Archetypes on the images of their Gods. These religious figures actually symbolize the inner experiences of humans. To me, this reflects the meme that the ancients are unenlightened unlike modern people. This needs to be exposed for what it is – a bias.

I was raised Atheist by dedicated Atheists, who regarded the study of religion as simply an intellectual exercise. Therefore I was not conditioned to think about God or Gods. In fact, I could point to “The Bible” for evidence that God was fiction. In the Old Testament, Elijah dueled with the priests of Ba’al. He taunted them by asserting that Ba’al and the other Gods were made-up. If that was true, then why not the Monotheistic God?

Therefore, Core-Shamans Sandra Ingerman and Harry Wesselman could assert that people are in contact with the “greater Human Spirit (which can be thought of as ‘God’) through their personal oversoul.” (Note 1) This leads to what Katalin Koda writes in her book, “Fire of the Goddess,” the “goddess is a feminine archetype who figures in myth and holds certain quality of power… in the sacred feminine path.” (Note 2) To “ignite the Sacred Feminine,” she suggests following the paths of nine feminine archetypes.

Neo-shaman Linda Star-Wolf writes, “Do the archetypes change under a cosmic plan of some sort? Or are we changing, and so we change our archetypes? Just as the sun keeps us alive, the archetypes are keeping us alive through the planetary influences of intersteller multidimensional beings. Jung said that there are psychic forces within the human psyche. Perhaps these forces are downloading into the human psyche at this time.” (Note 3)

To me, these ideas of Archetypes are a form of ‘having your cake and eating it too.” A person does not need to believe in a God or Gods, but still have the benefits that belief brings. Archetypes are another aspect of the postmodern culture – i.e. being spiritual without having to deal with a God.

Because I kept having unexplained “psychotic” experiences, I sought answers. After many years of working with psychiatrists, I finally came to realize that I was experiencing the Gods. They were the Other, Who are not a part of me. These Gods were not internal archetypes derived from the “collective unconscious.” They were alien. There was nothing human-centric about the Gods.

Notes:
Note 1. Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World,” pgs. 172-3.
Note 2. Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess,” pg. 191.
Note 3. Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering,” pg. 210.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.”
Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.”
Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. http://carl-jung.net/index.html
Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”
Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.”

Third in a series.  The others are:

Gods and Archetypes: Archetypes and Postmodern Spirituality

Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

 

 

Gods of the Month: Gods of the Pantry (Di Penates)

ndcricket

Roman Polytheists have many deities who protect the household. Di Penates, the Spirits of the Pantry (penus) guard the food stores. Three times a month (Kalends (1st), Nones (9th) and Ides (15th), the Lararium (household altar) is decorated with garlands in their honor. On October 15, a festival is held for Di Penates.

Di Penates are the Spirits of the Ancestors who have become the Keepers of the Hearth and the Stores. They preside over cooking and meals, inspiring the family to make and eat nutritious meals. Di Penates also help the family care about food that they consume. During meals, They are thanked for their role in the family’s well-being.

Any food that falls on the floor is offered to Di Penates. I usually give Them cereal each day and any leftover scraps from cooking. Di Penates help me with my meal planning and cooking. They also ensure that I have a well-stocked pantry.

Traditionally Di Penates are represented by snakes. Even today, these reptiles are enticed to stay near the stove and are fed milk. If the snake leaves the home, then disaster will follow, since Di Penates no longer protect the family. I have a pewter snake next to my kitchen cupboard, which I give milk to.

The veneration of Di Penates have continued, in subtle ways, in modern times. In some parts of Europe, homes still have pots behind stoves for bits of food. These pots are for the “Masters of the House” (i.e. Di Penates). Meanwhile, a cricket on the hearth brings prosperity and good health. A cricket in the living room ensures good fortune. “The Cricket on the Hearth,” a novel by Charles Dickens, features the cricket as a guardian angel.

Salvete Di Penates!
Kind Spirits of the Home
Who protect our stores
May we remember You.
May we thank You always
Kind Spirits of the Home
Salvete Di Penates!

God of the Month: Venus

ndvenus

Venus of the Romans is a complex Goddess, who is often equated with the Greek Aphrodite. But Venus is more than the Goddess of Love, She is also the Patron of Gardeners and the Protector of the Graves of Girls. Venus Genetrix (the Mother of Rome) is the Ancestor of the Romans. Meanwhile, Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious) carries a spear into battle, and rides alongside her favorite generals.

The first temple to Venus was built in 295 BCE by Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, Consul of Rome. He collected fines that were levied against women who were found guilty of adultery. Since it was built using those fines, the temple was dedicated to Venus Obsequens, the Goddess of Sexual Excess.

The second temple was built during the Second Punic War with Carthage. In a rite of evocatio, Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus persuaded Venus Erycina (Venus from Eryx) to come to Rome. To defeat the Carthaginians, the Sibylline Books counseled to remove this Goddess from Sicily, which was allied with Carthage. After Venus Erycina came to Rome, She became the Goddess of Female Prostitutes.

Upon discovering the unchaste activities of three Vestal Virgins, the Romans consulted the Sibylline Books. To atone for this gross act of impiety, the Senate built a temple for Venus Verticordia (Venus the Changer of Hearts) in 114 BCE. This Venus is the Protector Against Vice.

For his military victories, Pompey claimed that Venus Victrix (Venus Victorious) blessed him. To celebrate his triumphs, Pompey dedicated a temple to Her in 55 BCE. She shared the space with a permanent theater which Pompey also wanted to build.

Julius Caesar introduced the cult of Venus Gentrix, the Goddess of Motherhood and Marriage. His family, the Gens Julia, had long claimed Venus as an Ancestor. After Caesar, Venus Gentrix became the Mother of the Roman People. In 135 CE, Hadrian built a temple to Her and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome). He considered Venus to be the Protector of Rome.