What does it take to have a shamanic experience?
Just show up, some say.
But show up how? For what? To whom?
It may seem odd to illustrate these thoughts
with images of a sailboat, but keep going.
The first requirement of showing up is willingness to change,
without being in control of where that change might lead.
The single most significant skill we can bring to showing up is trust.
Trust in the skill of others we don’t know.
Sometimes, trust in small gestures.
As it is, regularly, the small gesture upon which turns
the largest moments of safety and revelation.
Trust in procedures that mystify.
Always, trust in outcomes we cannot imagine.
This trust finds a myriad of forms: the clarification of a dream, the recognition that a phrase in a book is actually instruction for something else entirely,
a sensation of good fit between the flight of a bird and a thought just pondered,
a resolve to keep going because understanding is complicated,
rather than because it is straightforward.
But why show up at all? For what? What is a shamanic experience?
To me, it is a transformative moment when I enter into a larger than human awareness. Not vertically better-than or worse-than being human,
but laterally bigger than my usual mental and emotional state.
I understand I am showing up to my elder sisters and brothers–all of life that was here first—the plants, animals, birds, rocks, clouds, the wind. And just like with my human acquaintances, it is best if I am not trying to fix or help or require anything, unless I am shown something is needed.
This showing up is not idle curiosity. It requires a commitment to purposeful attention. I have to keep going until talking to a stone, or receiving oracle messages in a dream, is normal rather than unbelievable. Like sailing is not just slating about, drifting wherever the wind wills. It is an continuously active attention to the presence, direction and speed of something unseen.
When we keep showing up we learn the language
of our other-than-human relations, of the wind,
and we get to keep going together
into the mystery of who we really are.