So I’ve alluded to doing a rite of passage at the end of my six months, which will be the full moon just before the Spring Equinox. I’m pleased to say this will actually include a special treat for me.
If you’ve ever looked at my bibliography page, where I list the various written resources that have been a major influence on me in creating therioshamanism, you’ll notice that James Endredy’s Ecoshamanism is among them. It’s actually one of my all-time favorite books. It isn’t traditional shamanism; rather, it is a modern form of shamanism that is specifically focused on increasing not only awareness but action with regards to the natural environment and the damage that’s been done to it. Unlike some “green pagan” books that talk more about herbs, and crystals, and other such things, this one is full of dozens of practices and rituals that are specifically designed to bring the environment the reader is in into sharp focus, and make a very real connection between the abstract symbols many pagans work with, and the gritty, beautiful reality the symbols spring from. Basically, it’s a great “walking your talk” book.
Due to some creative budgeting on the part of my incredible partner, I will be able to go through the first and second initiations through Endredy’s Earth Spirit Foundation over a long weekend. It just so happens that these are going to happen right when my six months end–in fact, the first will be happening on a Wednesday and Thursday, the second on a Saturday and Sunday, and the full moon when the six months are up will occur the Friday in between. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Granted, I’ll be dedicating time and other resources to this endeavor that a lot of pagans either A) wouldn’t pay, or B) would invest in training with an indigenous practitioner to learn indigenous practices. However, I have very good reasons for what I’m doing. In regards to A), I believe in paying people for their spiritual services when payment is asked for. This isn’t Siberia, and I don’t have land that a shaman can borrow to use for grazing for hir personal herd of reindeer, so currency will do. And I know a lot of pagans have kneejerk reactions to money in spirituality in general, the whole idea that “You shouldn’t have to pay for spirituality!” However, as far as I’m concerned, this person will be dedicating four out of five days to intense instruction and guidance, using his own property and taking me (and whoever else may be there) to his personal power spots. For the second initiation, he’ll be staying up all night Saturday night while I go through the vigil, making sure everything goes right and no one gets hurt (it’s a mock burial). And a person’s gotta eat and pay bills, never mind however much he may have invested in his own education. So I’m not going to begrudge him what he asks, especially when a fifth of it goes into charitable causes.
As to B), I’ve said it before but I’ll explain again–I’m not interested in shoehorning myself into someone else’s culture where I’m not wanted. Therioshamanism is tailored to my cultural context–modern mainstream American with a neopagan influence. Ecoshamanism is right up my alley–it addresses some of the problems I face in my culture, without trying to push someone else’s cosmology on me. While I think that there’s value in learning indigenous practices, it’s not my personal choice. To me, being able to go through Ecoshamanic training is my version of learning that particular shamanic practice in the cultural context it was developed in. I may be a solitary, but I know that there’s a difference between reading someone’s teachings in a book, and learning about them from the author hirself. Sure, I could go dig a hole in the back yard and throw a blanket over it and bury myself that way–but then again I could also shove bone spars in my pectorals and call it a Sun Dance. I want to experience Ecoshamanism in its original context, which means going down and training with the person who developed it. That has a lot of value to me.
I’m quite excited about it, to be honest. Granted, the Friday in between when I do my more personal therioshamanic work will be….interesting. I’m going to be taking the beads and findings for my prayer beads and creating the actual necklace that Friday. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Animal Father or other entities made cameo appearances during the second initiation ritual. I have plane tickets and transportation, and time off at work. So now there’s only the time to wait, and in the meantime prepare through the rest of my Water month and the final month focusing on all four elements again.