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August 18–20, 2014
Malidoma Patrice Somé
Entering the circle of elders
In summation, we are going to explore the path of direct revelation as a personal practice in this book, and we will discover that it is essentially an ancient form of meditation. When practiced with humility, reverence, and discipline, it can give the spiritual seeker virtually instant access to many varieties of experience, including connection with the spirit world if that is his or her intention.
Speaking as highly educated persons who unknowingly stumbled onto this path decades ago, we can affirm with confidence that the ability to achieve the shamanic state of consciousness is a learned skill that improves with practice. We also know with absolute certainty that once the “visionary program” on our DNA is activated, this can enable us to ascend toward the luminous horizon of our personal and collective destiny as we travel across time in a completely new way.
The wise ones among the tribal people would agree with this statement because they know a great secret: any human activity or endeavor can be enormously enhanced through utilizing and eventually mastering this sacred technology. Another secret: if we go back far enough (as Hank has said), we are all descended from indigenous tribal ancestors—Westerners and non-Westerners alike—and they all had great shamans.
The six contributors to this book are all accomplished professionals, writers, and fully initiated shamanic practitioners and teachers who walk the path: Sandra Ingerman, a psychotherapist; Hank Wesselman, a paleoanthropologist; Tom Cowan, a historian; Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, a psychotherapist; José Stevens, a psychologist; and Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist. We all have different voices and we all bring our shared wisdom for you to soak up and work with in the ways that speak to you.
Together, we will shed light on how the shaman’s time-tested method may help us awaken from the consensus slumber of culture at large, enabling our life experiences to manifest as a true hero’s journey, as an upward quest that may lead us into the direct experience of spirit—a journey that becomes possible for us through the doorway of the heart.
It is through this gateless gate that we can personally experience reunion with unlimited power and a mysterious, godlike mind. Once in connection, we then know with certainty that no holy words or books, no secret ceremonies or rituals, no spiritual leaders or gurus or faiths can do this for us.
Once the higher evolutionary functions are triggered within us, some mysterious predetermined schedule is set into motion, activating a program that cannot be given to us by any outside agency. This is because most of us already have it.
In the chapters that follow, we will explore a path on which we may learn something truly interesting about ourselves, as well as where we are headed.
We are excited about this literary project, for in it we will be sharing different perspectives on how we as modern people may walk the shamanic path. We are also providing you with a book filled with enlivening narratives and spiritual practices that you may incorporate into your life—ways that may help you establish your own bridges into the sacred realms. To create a readable narrative, we could not represent every shamanic tradition. Rather we are giving you a sprinkling of stories from some traditions, providing you with a foundation that hopefully will lead you onto your own path of direct revelation. Now imagine yourself sitting in a circle of elders, listening to each share his or her stories and teachings with you. As you listen to and absorb their words and thoughts, you will inevitably crossreference them with your own experiences and your own dreams … and this is good medicine indeed.