Like My Writing? Then Give This a Listen!

So on Sunday I was a guest on the Pagan Musings Podcast. The initial topic was animism and my anthology, Engaging the Spirit World. We did start off in that direction—but then we wandered far off-trail into topics ranging from ecopsychology and environmental activism, to humanistic/naturalistic pantheism and other theologies, to my work with skin spirits and animal remains, to how we can best communicate about the things we feel strongly about. It essentially went from “interview” to “rambling, lovely conversation”, and we went for three hours!

Please do feel free to take a listen; I cover some things I haven’t really had the chance to talk about, and my gracious hosts helped this become a wonderful spoken creation, IMO.

Click here to hear the show!

Shamanism and PTSD

I found this nifty article about core shamanism and PTSD over at Letters from Hardscrabble Creek. This makes me very hopeful, as PTSD treatment is something I want to do some research on once I have my counseling degree. (Neo)shamanism fits quite nicely into ecopsychology–in fact, the first anthology on ecopsychology includes an interview with Leslie Gray, who created what she calls “shamanic counseling”, a hybrid of core shamanism and counseling techniques.

“But wait, Lupa, I thought you didn’t like core shamanism! Why are you singing its praises?” you may ask. Yes, I have some practical differences with core shamanism that lead to me not wanting to practice it myself as a (neo)shaman. However–and this is a big however–I’m also not going to be so territorial that I refuse to pay attention when something I may not incorporate into my own practices is showing significant results for others.

PTSD is different from a good number of mental disorders. It doesn’t respond to many common therapies in the same way that other disorders, such as depression, do–talking openly about what happened can trigger flashbacks and other symptoms which may be very severe. And, of course, as with anything, individual patients may respond differently. So it can be a lot tougher to treat than many other things.

Many core shamanic practitioners strike me as prioritizing the psychological and other technical aspects of what they do than the relationships with spirits, the latter of which is what I put first. However, in this case, the emphasis on psychology and healing seems to be exactly what hits the spot for some PTSD patients. Granted, I would really like to see formal research on it–anecdotal evidence is a good start, but if someone has published research on it, I’d definitely want to get hold of it. And I’d want to know about the long-term results as well, since I don’t believe in instant fixes. I’ve contacted Sacred Hoop Ministry, the folks mentioned in the article to get more information, because this does make me curious.

There is part of me that’s really curious as to whether non-core shamanic soul retrieval would have similar effects, for better or worse. Would one be more effective than the other? Would it depend on the patient? Or is it simply different ways of doing the same thing? This is in light of the fact that the views on journeying may be very different–Harner stated that the shamanic state of consciousness is safer than dreaming, while most non-core shamans paint the Otherworld(s) as a much more dangerous place.

Still, if it works, then I’m not going to complain about particulars. Despite my preferences and biases, ultimately I’m mainly concerned with what achieves changes for the better. There are too many serious problems that need solutions for us to be spending too much time arguing over things that may not ultimately be all that important.

Well….This Is It…..

First, a quick note, partly for my own organizational purposes–my column in the most recent issue Rending the Veil ezine deals with the importance of cosmology in shamanic practice; it’s the first link at the top of the page. It deals with some of what I’ve learned in the past six months; feel free to click and take a peek.

This will most likely be my last post before I head off for my ecoshamanic work tomorrow. I’ll be doing the first two initiations that are offered, back to back. I’m looking at it more as one big long experience with a day break in between for personal reflection, which is just fine by me. Wednesday and Thursday will be the first initiation, which will involve a lot of exploring the local area down around Cottonwood, AZ, working with power spots, and really getting a hands-on experience with working with the land. While I’ve done some of that, from what I’ve read in Ecoshamanism, James has a very particular way of relating to the land, and I’ll be curious to get his take on it.

The second initiation is going to be even more intense. I get to confront my claustrophobia while being buried in the ground! There’ll be a lot more going on, too, but confronting that fear will be one element of it. I can’t say for sure everything that will happen (such is the nature of a personal rite of passage) though this will be part of my therioshamanic work as well; basically over the next few days I’ll have to make my decision whether to put up or shut up–keep going, or give up. And with some of the things that have been coming to the surface in my private internal/introspective work, I get the feeling that there will be a lot happening between now and next Monday.

I will say I’m nervous. Despite the fact that yeah, it’s going to be cool getting to go to Arizona, and getting to meet someone I really admire–there are some potentially really tough things I’m going to have to face, both about myself and about the path I may be further committing myself to. I have a choice; I can say yea or nay, and there will be later turning points as well. But that doesn’t make it an easy thing.

Beyond that….I’ll just have to wait and see. See you in a week.

On Being a Pagan Omnivore

In case you don’t regularly wander the essay section of Witchvox, I have an article up there this week:

On Being a Pagan Omnivore

Here, I discuss the spirituality of eating meat. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on how vegetarianism/veganism can be spiritually fulfilling; however, how can those of us who prefer or even need meat in our diets go about it in a spiritually conscious way? Click the link to find out more.