Monday, May 25, 2009

Integral Shamanism, States and Stages of Consciousness

I've been involved in an email discussion about how indigenous spiritual leaders organize (or don't organize) sacred gatherings. No one showed up at a recent gathering, which okay for the elders. A few highlights as background:
  • If it is a sacred gathering it is not publicized. If someone is to be there they will find it. Gatherings are made hard to find on purpose.
  • Fliers are usually a no-no. It is like, if someone calls themselves a medicine man/woman or shaman--run as fast as you can. Only the people can give you that honor.
  • It does not matter if there are 2000 people in attendance or one. When an Elder speaks it goes out to the whole Universe. Elders are not attached to how many they speak to, only that they can speak.
  • They understand that the words "we are all related" are real. That the trees, wind, rocks, and water will carry their words forward. You were fortunate to be one of the ones to experience them first hand.
  • If there are hundreds of seats they are all filled, even if you can not see the people.
  • Elder gatherings never start on time. It is normal for an Elder to be several hours late. They will start when the energy is right.
I'm reminded of the story about a religious man who, caught on the roof of his house as the flood waters rose all around him, beseeched God to rescue him. As two boats and a helicopter came by and asked if he needed help, he told each that he was fine, God would save him. Finally, as he clung to the chimney with water just below his mouth and still rising, he cried out, "God, why hast thou foresaken me?" Suddenly, a booming voice rang out from the heavens: "Whaddya want, I sent you 2 boats and a helicopter!"

While I honor traditional methods and beliefs, I also see that Spirit moves through us, and that we are the manifestation of Spirit, and what we do in the name of Spirit and in integrity is Spirit in Action. I also see that we are evolving creatures, and as we evolve, so does our deepening understanding of God and the Universe, as we can only see where our current structure of consciousness enables us to see, not beyond, and our perspectives are limited by those structures.

In other words, that all states of consciousness, right up to awareness of the non-dual, are available to anyone at any level of consciousness, has been demonstrated throughout the ages. Shamans and Medicine Men have always had ready access to those altered states of consciousness (ever-present, never-changing, the formless), but they can only be interpreted from an individual's stage, or structure of consciousness (always changing, evolutionary). What it means to be enlightened in the Integral age is very different from what it meant a thousand years ago, as newer stages of consciousness had not emerged and simply weren't available.

Unless we become aware of ourselves as evolving spiritual creatures, we'll keep doing what we've been doing, and getting the results we've been getting. Yes, I agree that the talks go out through the oneness of everything, into the collective unconscious, but I'd prefer that it also goes into as much of the collective consciousness, as well.

Post-modernism must integrate the wisdom and altered state skills of the Shaman and the Medicine Man, and indigenous teachers must integrate post modern stage consciousness. Anything less is only partial enlightenment.

The Minority Report sequel, starring Barack Obama

I'd prefer to stay away from blogging about politics, focusing instead on the masculine and shamanism from an integral perspective, but sometimes stuff is too important to ignore. Like this.

William Harryman, over at Integral Options cafe, has put together a blog subject I've been thinking about writing (without as much detail) regarding president Obama's plan to implement "preventative detention." Can you say "thought crime?"

I voted for Obama in the hope we would be John F. Kennedy. My worst fear, that he might really be Bill Clinton, is being surpassed, thinking there are multiple indications he might well be George W. Bush.

Read here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Calling in the Four Directions and Masculine Energies

As I prepare to leave the mountains next week to facilitate my first men's workshop, The Priest Process: Integral Warriors, in Vancouver, BC, I have been working on a new version of the Shamanic practice of calling in the Four Directions.

With an intentional masculine approach, my version moves as the masculine moves, on purpose and singularly focused. One part of my approach to Integral Shamanism, I offer it here four your consideration.


We call in the Spirit-Keepers of the East, place of the Rising Sun, the archetype of the WARRIOR and the Element of FIRE….the place of the Dawn, New Beginnings, vision and inspiration of newness and fresh starts. the eye of the eagle, able to see the Big Picture, the place of creativity, co-creation, and conscious leadership. We call in the energies of the east, new beginnings, and questions needing answers….What are we at the beginning of? What have we just begun to figure out? What visions and plans are we creating? We call in burning through our fears and blockages to stand in our truth and our light as Spiritual Warriors. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the East.


We call in the Spirit-Keepers of the South, the archetype of the KING and the Element of WATER. We call in the energy of plans getting established and projects coming to life, the realization of visions and plans of the East. We call in the energy of organizing and making things happen, diligence and small steps…the middle, the working time, the every-day on-going flow of effort, of purpose, of our mission. We call in Mouse energy, scurrying around, tending to small tasks….we call in the ability to stand and feel all the aspects of our lives that are in full swing, living in the South. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the South


We call in the Spirit-Keepers of the West and the setting sun, the archetype of the LOVER and conscious relationship, the element of AIR…The place of harvest and abundance, of sharing and community….accomplishment and enjoyment, time for sharing the bounty of our efforts and connecting with others. We call in personal introspection: What have we learned from whatever we just finished? What might we do differently next time? It’s the place to celebrate and take stock of our lives. The West has Otter energy, whimsical and relaxed, playing through the forest and the water. And like the Otter, the West heads into the hibernation of the North. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the West.


We call in the Spirit-Keepers of the North, the night-time sky, the archetype of the PRIEST, the element of EARTH….The place of sleeping and dreaming, solitude and spiritual introspection…..connecting with Spirit, of communing with unseen worlds, deep inner reflection, meditation, and receiving guidance. It is the place of the night, winter, and the wisdom of the Elder. Of celebration and taking stock of the Spirit that moves through all things. The North is Bear energy, fully embracing the night and the visions that are gestating in hibernation ...and in the dawn before the dawn, we begin to feel the stirrings of the next phase. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the North.


We call in the Center and the three final energies: Father Sky, Mother Earth, and our own Essence. Father Sky is consistent, reliable and predictable. We call in the masculine energies that are stable and strong, the place of order and discipline. We call in Mother Earth, beautiful, spontaneous, ever-changing….always in motion, never the same from one moment to the next, the good feminine energies of Mother Earth, adaptable, flexible, inspirational and creative. Finally, we call in our own Essence, feeling into our cores, feeling the part of the universe that is only and totally filled with us, connecting to the energies of our own uniqueness, our special medicine, our song, our gifts. When we are filled with our own personal energetic energies, we walk on, taking within us the four directions, Father Sky, Mother Earth, and the fulfillment of all that we are. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the Center.

Thanks to Tanis Day, PhD, for the original format from which these were created, and to the work of David Deida, whose work changed my life and how I relate to both the Masculine and the Feminine.

Image source:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The State of the American Male

Editor's Note: Jim's last two books "World Made by Hand" and "The Long Emergency" are now available at deep discounts via Amazon. The following article was originally published on July 2nd, 2007. It was one of his most popular/controversial pieces throughout the blogosphere and one of my personal favorites. If find it as illuminating as I did, allow me to recommend the book "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover" which has really helped me better understand and map out the current state of American men. -Matt

As someone who spends a fair amount of time in airports, I marvel at the way my fellow citizens present themselves in public. I see middle-aged women who appear to have left home in their pajamas. But it's the costume and demeanor of American young men especially that raises interesting questions about who we have become.

The fashion and body language of male youth in 2007 comes from three sources: prison, the nursery, and the pimpmobile. It's an old story now that many conventions of gangster fashion come out of the jail experience, where they take away your belt and shoelaces so you won't hang yourself. Apparently, at some point in US history, they stopped giving the belts and shoelaces back on release, and it became stylish to wear your trousers falling down below the top of your underpants (or butt crack as the case may be). Jail being a kind of accreditation device these days, the message may be: I passed the entrance exam.

Less obvious is the contribution of the nursery. Pants that are ambiguously neither long or short, worn with XX-large T shirts, tend to make grown men look like babies. Babies have short legs and large torsos compared to grown men. They also make big awkward gestures and touch their sex organs a lot. Add a sideways hat and unlaced sneakers and you have the complete kindergarten rig. Why a 20-year-old male would want to look five years old is another interesting question, but it may have a lot to do with the developmental failures of boys raised in households without fathers. They simply don't know how to be men. They only know how to behave like five year old boys. They even give themselves nursery school nicknames. But they are men, and what could be more menacing than the paradox of a child bent on homicide.

Tattoos used to be pretty much the sole fashion statement of merchant seamen or people who have served in the armed forces (or people who live in jungles). Now they are common among career girls. The tattooed guys I see down at the gym are ordinary young men who work in cubicles. Tattoos on sailors used to celebrate places they had been or people they had loved. The tattoos I see now are meant to convey fierce and barbaric statements of superhuman power: look at me, I'm a Power Ranger! It's understandable that someone who spends most of his waking hours in a cubicle wearing a telephone headset in order to swindle old people out of their savings might fantasize about rising above all that. But the tragic thing, of course, is that getting tattooed is not quite the same as accomplishing something with your life. In the end, you're just another loser with a grandiose and ridiculous tattoo.

The pimp connection is too obvious to belabor -- meant to mock normal executive attire while signifying an existence of total leisure and the enjoyment of unearned riches. The trouble is that the worship of unearned riches -- based on the belief that it truly is possible to get something for nothing -- has now become normal at all levels in American life. Everybody from the lowest whoremonger on Hollywood Boulevard to the Wall Street hedge fund managers believes in unearned riches plucked from "suckers." The catch is that men who live by this code almost always come to a bad end. They get their throats cut with razors, or go to prison, or manage to lose all their unearned riches (and the investments of many strangers, too).

The portrait of the young American male in 2007, therefore, is of an impotent, infantalized being lost in grandiose fantasies of power and importance. It's a picture of men without real confidence, and no idea how to achieve it, who wish to project a transcendently ferocious image complete with odds-and-ends of manner taken from comic books and movies based on comic books, in order to be taken seriously.

The rest of the world must tremble to contemplate the picture we present. The Nazi soldiers of 1944 were glamour boys compared to the riff-raff that American young men have become. As for those who actually do make it into the army, you wonder how they appear to the locals overseas -- they're probably taken seriously as exactly what the present themselves to be: manifestly evil beings who really need to be blown up. Back home, I look around at the thugs and sluggos at my gym, and I'm ashamed to be a citizen of the same country they live in.