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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index



The Sacred Heritage:
The Influence of Shamanism on Analytical Psychology


Sandner, Donald F. and Wong, Steven H. (Editors) (1997)
Routledge: New York and London.


ISBN: 0-00-013261-6

Description: Paperback, xx + 277 pages.

Contents: Foreword by Linda Schierse Leonard, acknowledgments, editors' preface, 4 parts: 1. Beginnings and Meanings: The Shamanic Archetype, Part 2: Shamanic Medicine: Explorations in Healing, part 3: Dark Encounters: the Shamanic Experience, Part 4: The Numinous Web: Cultural Connections, editors and contributors, index.

Contributors: Margaret Laurel Allen, Norma Churchill, Arthur Coleman, Lori Cromer, Patricia Damery, C. Jess Groesbeck, Pansy Hawk Wing, June Kounin, Carol McRae, Pilar Montero, Jeffrey A. Raff, Janet Spencer Robinson, Meredith Sabini, Dyane Neilson Sherwood, Sara Spaulding-Phillips, Bradley A. TePaske, Louis Vuksinick.

Excerpt(s):
Editors' Preface
The material in this book is neither strictly about shamanism nor strictly about analytical psychology. It is a close look at how shamanism has influenced analytical psychologists in their work and in their lives. (page xix)

Chapter 1: Introduction: Analytical Psychology and Shamanism
by Donald Sandner

Shamanism and analytic psychology, so outwardly different and so inwardly similar, have something to teach each other. Analytical psychology contributes its skill in self-reflection, conscious analysis, and self criticism. The old shamans badly needed these qualities of the modern mind. There were certain ways in which they claimed to regularly influence outer reality: changing the weather, influencing the fortunes of the hunt, healing known illnesses, and so on. They were effective so long as the influence operated within the aboriginal environment. But when, this was no longer the case - as in North America, for instance, when the Europeans introduced the hard outer reality of the steam locomotive, the modern rifle, and the devastating scourge of smallpox - the shamans had very little effect. They did not consciously know their limits, and this contributed in large part to their loss of credibility and status. In spite of the most potent shamanic magic, the ghost-dance shirts used by the Plains Indians did not deflect rifle bullets. In the triumph of the focused mind that produced powerful machines, shamanism all but died.

But now, interest in and practice of a new shamanism, born out of the ashes of the old, reasserts itself. Why does this new shamanism seem so important to the modern world? I think it is because it brings relief for the modern mind, which is always so focused on some minute details of outer reality. Shamanism unfocuses the mind, loosens the ego from it rigid outward ties, and allows it to descend into the other, inward reality of the core of the psyche. This experience restores to us the depth, richness, and perspectives of an open universe populated by animal and human forms that are found not on earth but only in the inner psychological reality of myth. In this wealth of symbolic forms (and only there) can the meaning of life be shown, not intellectually or dogmatically but experientially and metaphorically. This is also, as Eliade so correctly perceived, a "technique of ecstasy." Ecstasy gives us the strength and the will to follow, apart and alone if need be, our own path through life and into death, gratefully and willingly.

As Jung said of his almost fatal illness in his late sixties: "On the whole, my illness proved to be a most a valuable experience, which gave me the inestimable opportunity of a glimpse behind the veil. The only difficulty is to get rid of the body, to get naked and void of the world and ego-will. When you can get rid of the crazy will to live and when you seemingly fall into a bottomless pit, then the truly real life begins with everything you were meant to be and never reached. I was free, completely free and whole as I never felt before." This to my mind is a modern experience of shamanism with its meaning and its ecstasy; it is also the goal of individuation.

But let us recognize pride of discovery in the old shamans as represented by Maria Sabina, the Mexican Mazatec shaman, who said: "There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby and invisible. And there it is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits and the saints, a world where everything has already happened and everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own. I report what it says." But this shamanic world is unknown to those of us who do not participate in traditional shamanic cultures, because we have destroyed all routes of communication with it. In restoring that communication I realize that we are, as Joseph Campbell said, "participating in one of the very greatest leaps of the human spirit to a knowledge not only of outside nature, but also of our deep inward mystery." For this we need the wisdom of the deep psyche, such as has been held in trust for us during the long history of shamanism. Tribal societies such as the Navajo, the Hopi, the Huichol, and others are now returning this wisdom to the greater collective world and to the conception of a greater healing that includes both the scientific and the shamanic. That process has just begun, and we, the authors of this book, hope to further that progress, and through the many descriptions and illustrations presented here, be a part of it. (pages 10-11)

Chapter 5. The "Book of Knowledge" in Shamanism and Mysticism: Universal Image of the Source
by Meredith Sabini

When Teresa of Avila was deprived of books during the Inquisition, Christ appeared to her and said, "Do not be distressed, for I will give thee a living book." He then became that "book." The Mazatec Indian healer Maria Sabina, during her initiatory shamanic vision, was handed a book of wisdom in which "everything was written, everything needed for your work." Over the years, I have known of similar images of sacred text or ancient tome in the dream and visionary material of psychotherapy clients as well as professional colleagues. What is this book of knowledge or book of wisdom, and what does it mean that individuals from vastly different cultures and times would be shown such a text as part of their interior education as shamans, mystics, and healers? In this essay I will present examples of this image, which I believe represents the living source to which shamans and mystics are granted access and from which they bring forth what Jung called "something like 'absolute' knowledge" built up over the history of our species and accessible under certain unusual conditions. ...

The appearance of this motif in different cultures and at different periods in history means that it is an archetypal image of "mythologem", a term Jung defined as " 'portions of the world' which belong to the structural elements of the psyche ... constants whose expression is everywhere and at all times the same. This mythologem can be cataloged alongside others Jung recognized as being part of the individuation process as portrayed in both alchemy and shamanism: loss of soul, dismemberment, descent into a lower world, ascent into an upper world, and union with a spirit spouse." (pages 45-46)

The parallels between her [St. Teresa of Avila] experience and that of the Mazatec Indian healer Marina Sabina are quite striking: Two women of different cultures and different eras of history with almost identical inner experiences related to their vocation. ...

With this example, we come to an image of the book explicitly identified as a book of wisdom, containing "everything." Again, it is a huge tome and is given to the dreamer by the ancestors, a council of elders. The language of the book is sacred language. As Maria looks at it, it grows into the size of a person: that is, it comes to life, as did the "book" Christ promised to Teresa of Avila. This change of shape, it seems to me, signifies the transubstantiation of two-dimensional knowledge into three-dimensional, living wisdom that pertains to the human world. Like Teresa, Maria accepts the book, knowing that this acceptance entails the responsibility of her avocation. In talking with her biographer, Estrada, about a later period in her life, Maria commented that the book no longer appeared to her, because she already had its contents in her memory. (pages 49-50)

With her scholarship regarding fairy tales, M.-L. von Franz furthers our understanding of this image as it appears in nonliterary traditions. Such tales also contain references to a magical book used by seers, magicians, druids, and priests. Reminding us that in folk cultures "there is an oral tradition of stories and known facts, knowledge of psychic laws and events which have already been codified to a certain extent and handed down." This interpretation would be in agreement with my contention that the book of wisdom represents the possibility of access to knowledge in the collective unconscious, which we can understand as a storehouse of the accumulated wisdom of the species." (page 50)

Let me now summarize some of the other themes that surround the book of knowledge mythologem. First, the book is often old and what it contains is timeless. The language is foreign archaic, strange, or somehow "foreign." Rarely located in the dreamer's own library, it is usually elsewhere, as if to indicate that there is a spiritual journey involved in discovering it. And though the dreamer may be handed the book to read and use, there is no sense that it ever comes into their private possession; it remains an Other that they are granted the privilege of seeing. The contents of the book are not depleted by its use but remain enormous far beyond the human capacity to integrate and understand. (page 57)

The increasing appearance of this mythologem at this present point in history may signify the revitalization of our human connection with archetypal wisdom after having lost this connection through the overdevelopment of linear, rational consciousness. This material enables us to witness the process of eternal truths being born anew in the psyche of humankind. (page 58)



This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2002 CSP

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