Falling Apart, Coming Back Together
Last weekend I had a very nice conversation with Lyssa, Bryce, and my fiancee about the shamanic path and the issue of trauma. Mainly this would refer to the propensity I’ve seen of some shamanists to be very loud and open about their traumatic pasts and experiences–as if that very thing is an automatic badge for being a shaman or taking on the shamanic path. Bryce hit the nail right on the head when he mentioned that, in order to function, one needs to be able to put oneself back together again. Or, be allowed to be put together again. This sort of thing has been evidenced time and time again across numerous traditions and mythologies.
Being put back together indicates being able to be a contributing member of society. If you cannot interact with people in your own society, how do you expect to interact socially with the peoples and beings of other realms? Also–if you cannot fix yourself or are broken and are unable or unwilling to fix yourself or be fixed, how do you expect to help or heal others on your shamanic path? This only reinforces my view that not everyone who takes on the shamanic path really should, or is able or capable of doing so. Not everyone who has suffered severe trauma in their lives are able to handle this sort of thing. They may even have the energy or power, but no knowledge on how to control or use it. Think a gun in the hands of a toddler. Now granted, some of them may grow up (aka, pull their heads out of their asses) to be skilled sharpshooters, but more often than not all they’ll end up doing is blowing someone else’s head off, or their own.
To some degree this can be blamed on the culture and society we live in–that we don’t have the elders or the people around to address the psychological as well as the spiritual needs of these people, to teach them how to handle the power they’ve been given. To follow a shamanic path is to be in the realm of the psychological as well as the spiritual. But, to another degree this can also largely be blamed on the ignorance of people who are unable or unwilling to take that much-needed step after experiencing the proverbial bitchslap. They do not wish to go beyond the finely-woven comfort zones they have built for themselves. It would be much easier to sit on your online journal and collect *hugs* and sympathy, for example.
Now, before people blast me for being an insensitive prick (which, I do admit, I’ve been guilty of before), allow me to say this. When I mention ‘being fixed’, that does not mean that there are no scars, no seams, no pain of the past lingering. I myself get fairly pissed off when people tell me I just need to “get over it”. Some things you never get over. Some things just stay with you, even fuck you up on occasion. And that’s okay. But what do you do with that pain? That’s the big question. When the shaman is dismembered by the spirits, he or she is usually given extra parts or modified parts in the process of being pieced back together. What are the special gifts you’ve been given as a result of these experiences? How do you adapt to the hand that was dealt you? What was given to you to help you compensate or cope? How about helping others?
I know I posted this before, but Jarandhel’s post Spiritually On-Call is another good rant to look at relating to this topic. I actually have much more to say in relation to this, but it may have to wait for further posts, as I need to run off soon and deal with a work-related crisis. Oof.