This Spring, the country of Norway chose to recognize shamanism as a “religion.” In truth, shamanism is not a religion, but rather a way of perceiving the world that includes the use of visionary methods which facilitate our communication with the marvelous field of sentience surrounding us. Yet, this recognition by Norway is a breakthrough. Firstly, the edict finally legally acknowledges the legitimacy of the indigenous spiritual traditions of the Sami people. These people are the ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia. Over the centuries, their spiritual practices were driven underground by government and the church. Indeed, the Sami experienced the same kinds of repression that Native Americans experienced in this country. From children being forced to attend boarding school, suppression of language and culture to the widespread destruction of Sami shaman drums, ritual objects and sacred sites.
Norway’s step, which echoes the 2008 applogy the country of Australia made to the Aboriginal people for laws and policies that “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss”, shows that some governments are willing to own their shadow sides and begin to create change.
Knowing our own dark shadow sides can offer us a pathway to liberation. The shadow side of us often holds judgement, creates blame, shames or hates, and capable of inflicting pain. It is the side of us that can hurt others and even have the capacity to kill. It can see other human beings as animals or “things.” No matter who we believe ourselves to be, a dire enough circumstance can cause us to be cruel, hateful or even seek to destroy another.
These feelings are a part of our human psyche. To be able to liberate ourselves from these demons, means first acknowledging the existence of them. The process of exploring the horrors of darkest self, or what I call “getting to know the inner Mengele,” can prevent us from taking unconscious actions from a shadow feeling, perception or thought. When we know our darkness and heal those places that make us operate from the shadow, can we truly make conscious choices about how we desire to be and behave. Only then can our Light be honestly and deeply bright.
© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.