Demons or Shamanic Allies?
An entity which encourages us to do harm to ourselves or anyone else is demonic, but threats against us do not necessarily indicate a malevolent spirit. Shamanic allies often resort to dire threats to scare their charges into cooperating with them. Awakening one night with an attack of neuritis, Arnold Mindell tells how, in the midst of excruciating pain, he encountered a spirit ally -- he saw "an old American Indian" standing behind him. The Indian put his hands on Mindell's back where the pain was and announced, "You've got to change!" Mindell goes on:
I asked him in desperation how I could do that.
He replied, "You're now in your mid-forties, you've got to change, I no longer want you to identify yourself as a human being."
I became furious. "But I'm just a normal human being with a family and large practice, get out of here."
"No, you now have to identify yourself as a spirit," he demanded.
"Are you out of your mind? I'm not a spirit. I'm just an ordinary guy who pays taxes," I insisted.
"All right, if you continue talking to me like that, I'll kill you!" he told me.
That shook me up and had me convinced, so I agreed to take a look at his world, to try and identify more with him, this old Indian. I saw that I had been complying with other people's ideas of what and who I was and what I should be doing, so I decided to give up my personal history and be more of an individual... (from Working with the Dreaming Body)
After this encounter, Mindell had a dream in which he met his "double," an entity "as big as a tree" who told him that he should identify with his real age, a "hundred-thousand-year-old personality." Thereafter, his neuritis gradually improved and his "double" enabled him to have clairvoyant insight into his clients. Says Mindell, "I still make lots of stupid mistakes like everybody else, but at other times I can be very aware. Sometimes I have this feeling of being the old personality, independent of culture, convention and time... Now he's no longer just a vision, he has become part of my total body experience."
A typical example of threats made by shamanic allies is the case of a forty year old Siberian man who became very ill and had a vision of a beautiful woman. This is what she told him: "I am the Ayami of your ancestors, the shamans. I taught them shamanizing. Now I am going to teach you. The old shamans have died off and there is no one to heal people. You are to become a shaman." When the man tried to resist this entity, she said, "If you will not obey me, so much the worse for you. I shall kill you." (from Holger Kalweit, Dreamtime & Inner Space: The World of the Shaman)
On a conscious level, becoming a shaman may be the farthest thing from our minds, but if it is our soul's mission, we can't refuse the calling without consequence. Often, "the shaman's path is a forced one; people are driven to it through illness, hereditary predisposition, dreams, magic, and bodily dismemberment," says Arnold Mindell. "All sorts of awesome activities are part of the shaman's path." His life is filled with "seeing spirits, hearing secret languages, and experiencing indescribable events..." (from The Shaman's Body) Later in his book, Mindell explains the rarely literal "dismemberment" experience of the shaman: "Chronic illness, feelings of being torn asunder by opposing forces, and near-death experiences frequently have the goal of 'cleansing' you from your own self... During such difficult times, you are forced to undo yourself, to go to pieces, to free yourself from the tendency to think of yourself at any given time as one type of person with one type of task." Stories abound of shaman-inductees who suffered years of woe from sickness, poverty, losses of all sorts, until they found their calling and devoted their lives to serving as a mediator between the earthly and ethereal planes. They do this by heeding the messages of their dreams, visions and inner guidance as well as being very attentive to everything going on externally. They usually become adept at reading the symbolic meaning of things, knowing that symbols, sensations and emotions are the prime language of the Spirit. It is the nature of the shaman, according to Holger Kalweit, "to perceive the universe in himself and others and, by going along with it, to influence and change it. His approach is based on empathy and unity with actual life-forces..." (from Dreamtime & Inner Space)
Demons may use astral sex to energize themselves. From my extensive reading and personal experiences, this seems true. Yet in addition to being guides and helpers, shamanic allies may also take the form of spirit-lovers who interact sexually with the shaman. Some allies "marry" shamans and are thereafter their spirit husband or wife, even if the shaman already has a human mate. Holger Kalweit devotes a chapter to this ("Sacred Weddings, Spirit Marriages, and Dream Sexuality") in his book, Dreamtime & Inner Space.
Kalweit writes: "The celestial partners involved in such relationships are often beguilingly beautiful, even though they may have much in common with earthly creatures. For that reason, sexual contact with a being from another dimension can be more refreshing and intense than might be the case with an earthly partner." Rejecting the amorous advances of an ally-spirit (or turning down their proposals of marriage) can produce the same kinds of misfortune that can plague someone who refuses to become a shaman. As a rule, says Kalweit, pushing away the spirit-lover "results in illness, bad luck and general misery."
Kalweit disagrees with those who dismiss entities as fantasy experiences. In light of "the latest findings
in the field of consciousness research, it is no longer possible to argue that the configurations of the Beyond
are merely unconscious projections, archetypes, or symbols without any real and practical consequences," says
Kalweit. "The spirit wife is not the daydream of a romantic neurotic. She instructs the shaman, makes him
into a person that fulfills an important role within his culture and allows him to display a great number of inexplicable
parapsychic phenomena." In the words of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" (in Wonderland): "Curiouser
and curiouser!" No matter how much we learn, there is always more mystery awaiting us. And as Arnold Mindell
has stated, "It's an inflation to think that you can manage the spirit. At best, you can learn to follow
it." This is from his book, The Shaman's Body, an excellent guide for anyone seeking to understand
the shamanic path from a Western perspective. From the same book, he says: "You cannot learn the skills
you need through effort alone, and each situation you meet within yourself seems more impossible than the last.
That is why the perennial philosophies have recommended that the best choice for the seeker of wisdom is humility.
Like the holy mountain in Japan, Mount Fujiyama, which is flat and humble at the top rather than peaked and proud,
the student is to rise above everyday life while being open to messages from above. At any height or degree of
accomplishment, you are always a beginner."
-- El Collie
© El Collie 1995