A shaman, as defined by Michael Harner in his book The Way of the Shaman, is thus: "A man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness - at will - in order to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help others. The shaman has at least one, and usually more, "spirits' in his personal service."
I've gotten about a third of the way through this book, and I had to stop reading because I kept having this thought of Jesus as a shaman, and I kept seeing that dove at his baptism. Not only that, but verses of scripture kept popping in my mind with scenes like the transfiguration, and all those instantaneous healings he'd done. I just couldn't read further because of all the distraction of these images.
The so-called "civilized" world has other words for shamanism, such as magician, sorcerer, witch doctor, and medicine man, making it seem like an evil and barbaric thing to practice, but I have to wonder if some folks have misinterpreted the practice. Jesus was a healer, and we are told plainly that he did have contact with the spirit realm. Was that Dove his spirit guide or power animal?
And, well, Jesus was all about helping others. He did go off in between all those healings and teachings, to the garden many times, for solitude, as we are told, to pray. What was he really doing in there? Could he have been in an altered state of consciousness? He even went to the wilderness where he was tempted, but could this also have been an altered state of consciousness? After all, this Satan character is never really visible to anyone, is he?
And then, I had wonder if John, the writer of Revelation, was also a shaman, because the in first chapter of Harner's book he, an atheist, enters this altered state of consciousness and sees basically the same thing John saw, which scripture is later revealed to him by missionaries he meets up with.
The following is an excerpt from the book about the experience Michael Harner had while in an altered state of consciousness in the jungles of South America, followed by the scripture from Revelation that John had:
"As my eyes seemed to adjust to the gloom, the moving scene revolved itself into something resembling a huge funhouse, a supernatural carnival of demons. In the center, presiding over the activities, and looking directly at me, was a gigantic crocodilian head, from whose cavernous jaws gushed a torrential flood of water...... I was told that this new material was being presented to me because I was dying and therefore "safe" to receive these revelations. These were the secrets reserved for the dying or dead, I was informed. I could only very dimly perceive the givers of these thoughts: giant reptilian creatures reposing sluggishly at the lowermost depths of the back of my brain, where it met the top of the spinal column. I could only vaguely see them in what seemed to be the gloomy, dark depths. Then they projected a visual scene in front of me. First they showed me the planet Earth as it was eons ago, before there was any life on it. I saw an ocean, barren land, and bright blue skies. Then black specks dropped from the sky by the hundreds and landed before me on the barren landscape. I could see that the specks were actually large, shiny black creatures with stubby pterodactyl-like wings and huge whale-like bodies. Their heads were not visible to me. They flopped down utterly exhausted from their trip, resting for eons. They explained to me in a kind of thought language that they were fleeing from something out in space. They had come to the planet Earth to escape their enemy. Then the creatures showed me how they had created life on the planet in order to hide within multitudinous forms, and thus disguise their presence........ They were the true masters of humanity and the entire planet, they told me." (end excerpt)
"Revelations 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood. 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels with him."
So, was the whole symbology of John's Revelation the result of a shamanic journey into another dimension where this scene plays out over and over again for the dying and dead?
What really struck me was that later Michael Harner was relating this same experience to another shaman, and the response he received was, "Oh, they (the demons) are always saying that. But they are only Masters of Outer Darkness." But Michael had omitted the part about their arrival from space. So, evidently this shaman had also experienced and perhaps heard of this experience from other shaman.
And so, the question bears asking: What did Jesus really mean when he stated: You will do greater things than I? Could he have been talking about masses of people entering altered states of consciousness?
Shamanism is found in practically every culture on this planet in some form or another, and not all of them used hallucinatory plant matter in order to reach another level of consciousness. Some used drumming, some used rattles, some entered sacred circles, and some just danced, while others in the east merely meditated. We're told that Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered all these things in her heart, which to me, is meditation. Could she have been in an altered state of consciousness when she saw that angel?
Hmm, many stories in the Bible are beginning to make more sense to me. How about that talking donkey? Perhaps shamanism was widely practiced before the Inquisition?????