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Unity in Diversity

When we begin our search in the land of spirituality, we often are left confused. There is so much offered everywhere. In my opinion, this has negative and positive sides to it. That is not what this blog is about now, this blog post is about traditions.

Let’s start to state that we don’t have a shamanic- or pagan-, living European tradition anymore. Luckely, there are a lot of very good and smart individuals trying to reconstruct our lost traditions in an as authentic way as possible and try to stay as close to the original sources of known history. This is very precious, however, to know for sure what people practised before Christianity made its appearance, we may never know. But still it is ofcourse worth trying.

Furthermore, it is also a fallacy that, in Europe and even in the Lowlands, we had here some united pagan tradition with uniform ways, with the same gods, goddesses and wrights. This was not so. For example, for water creatures alone, there are more than 20 different names in our country. That said, there are also great similarities between us and, for example, Scandinavia with their “Nokken” and us with our water- "nekker" which I think goes back to a common source of religious life of our ancestors somewhere in history.

The problem that I think comes with doing (desk-) research is that we approach things from our heads which ofcourse is actually highly non-rational. The beings, the spirits, the unseen world, they cannot be explained or known by books and by the intellect. Doing proper research is a strength, especially if it is objective research, but also a trap.

A second trap is the ego. People ganging up on each other to prove themselves right, creating heated discussions and almost a kind of persecution by a some pagan police chasing others because of a wrong name of a certain folk festival or goddess, and systematically aggressively correcting others. This way creates a strong culture of censorship, causing division and an unsafe climate even more similar to church persecutions than it was in pagan times. We know that our pagan ancestors were much more relaxed about other beliefs than the church and probably even more so than we are today.

Somewhere it sprouted in many people's minds, that we should be a kind of unified kind of religion of pagans in which this one group is "doing it right" and the rest are fucking around a bit. Presumably, there are those who would also like to be 'in charge' of this ‘united religion.’

In addition, we have the 'hype' and 'commercialization' of the old ways, where people seem to be taking a sweet coin from sharing knowledge and wrapping it up nicely with cool layouts and fancy pictures but also fierce competition.

I also offer paid services; I can't pay a utility bill from a bag of apples, but am I making big fat profits? Not exactly. I demand payment to be able to do this work, full-time, in order to put all my energy and effort into this work. With an extra job on the side - and I know how it is - this simply does not work out. This work requires 100% commitment and complete dedication, so all the money that therefore goes to me ends up back in the same work in the form of investments and reaching out to people who have little money so that I can give them discounts on workshops and sessions.

What I am very much missing in the whole story of reconstructing or rather, reintroducing a nature-based way of belief, is a clear mission and vision for the contemporary world and defining some degree of direction. Reconstructing paganism, why do you want to do that? And why in that way? Do you want to practice shamanism, why? Do you want to become a so-called Völva or Veleda, why do you want that? For your own image, the title, the vibe? Or do you have deep compassion for the world we live in and think shamanism is the way to achieve a better, lovelier, cleaner and healthier world?

I am initiated into a living tradition that has very ancient roots, which, by the way, makes me no better than anyone else, let this be clear. What it does give me, is a lot of insight into the similarities and differences in how we currently practice and view nature religion and ways of folk beliefs and healing methods, here in modern Europe.

In the tradition of Spirit of Wolf, in which my teacher Morsuk Kam guides me, there are specific guidelines and practices that you don't find in any other tradition in Siberia or in Eurasia. In fact, there are so many traditions there in the land of resurgent shamanism after communist age, you can't even count them. Big traditions like the Buryat, which are very well known, but also very small family traditions, far away in the mountains of Altaj, where almost no people come and people never leave their native land. Of course these traditions have similarities, such as the well-known fire ritual called 'kamlanie'/'kamlat'/'kamlania' and the tying of ribbons called 'chalama' which can be found as far away as our Lowlands (Indo-European origin, presumably?). But there are also many differences, such as the traditional ways of making 'snakes' for on the costume, the healing methods, the songs and their style, the perception of certain great spirits of nature, different names for Mother Earth, Father Sky, and much more.

In the book "the Sky-shamans from Mongolia," the author states that several shamans from Mongolia were interviewed regarding their way of looking at the shamanic cosmology and none of the 50 shamans their descriptions actually matched.

When I specialize in a particular topic in my healing work, such as working with death, for example, and I want more information about the rituals of death and all kinds of magical practices related to it - I don't go straight into the books at first. I make a kamlanie, a fire ritual, in which I make offerings to the ancestors from my traditional line and ask them if they can share their knowledge on this subject with me because I need it to help people and they have ancient knowledge about this. I seek clear information about something I want to put into practice for the good of others. There is a direct, personal connection, with the spirits and the other world. This to me, is what true freedom of religion and also paganism is about: without the intervention of a book, a vision of another person, a priest, even a shaman! - learning again how to connect directly with the spirits and working with them to help build and sustain a beautiful world. (Eventually the shaman will no longer be needed...). Can I fill in some gaps by doing research? Yes indeed, but the basis is in my tradition and direct contact with spirits.

You can join a living tradition or find the ancestors in your line who did magical work and see if you can find a connection with them to revive dead lines, or both, like what I do. Because not only am I a child of the lineage of shaman Karagai and shaman Morsuk, but also in my own ancestors are lines of people who were engaged in what we would now call shamanism.

What did they call their tradition? Seidr? That's a Nordic word, if you're working with Nordic lines that's an appropriate word it seems to me. Maybe our ancestors didn't call what they did by such a name, maybe they called the line after a particular animal, something like totemism, like how my foremother and non-physical teacher calls her line.

Who taught the first shaman? There were no books... Who initiated the first shaman? The first Veleda, the first Völva? Was it a god, a goddess, an ancestor, a nature being, God? It is always the spirits that are the determining factor in this, so no books, no social education or high IQ or doctorate, the spirits look into the soul and determine who is suitable to follow a serious path to serve society - they know who is suitable, see the fate lines, see the talents, time of birth, ancestor lines, everything fits. Just as it is so for those who lead, those who become genius artists, those who write beautiful books that enchant us, those who play with language in poetry, everyone has something he or she is good at and for good reason! - the spirits support the development that comes from the heart and is not used purely for self-interest and their own image. They have the deeper understanding that we are all connected and may have to chuckle at our highly individualistic ideas that we are small, uninfluential islands. Indeed, there is often an aspect to initiation in which one's own self is destroyed in order to receive wisdom and be able to give oneself fully to the path of destiny or be of service to the community.

In our area there were many traditions, many lines of wise men and women where, long ago, magical things were passed down in the family. Was this all called Seidr or shamanism? Presumably not at all. Let us not use these names and terms to divide and claim sole ownership of our ancestors' heritage and to bring others down. We are all searching here in Europe, realize that this period in history is supposed to be like that - that we are searching, trying out, separating wheat from chaff - joining old traditional lines, looking for dead ends of ancient lines, threads of our magical ancestors, and following them, experimenting with them. The ancestors are all there to help us in this. They call to us from the dark; here we are, reaching out to us the cut ends of their threads - here grab hold! Spin further, spin further!

As in ancient times, let the difference be allowed to be there. Let us develop local traditions in close contact with the local environment, honouring the spirits of the surrounding nature, developing relations with your own hill spirits, your own river spirits, your own images and forms - in personal and direct contact with the other world. Trusting your own images, seeking roots and ground within yourselves and not outside you - finding spiritual freedom after centuries of suppression of expressing faith in the divinity of our beautiful nature.


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