Modern Shamanism

Developing our spirituality in alignment with the single truth is a process of crafting a present independent of our past. Today we find ourselves surrounded by a universe of systems and philosophies reinforcing hierarchical meaning philosophies. The dominant spiritual technologies of the present provide no alternatives, both through their texts and structural opposition to evolving at pace with human consciousness. By embracing ancient spiritual philosophies, the individual binds themselves to frameworks of divinity and morality crafted by a humanity far gone. They choose to inhabit a willful ignorance of our oneness with the relational universe. Modern shamanism is our ritual practice to erode the boundaries our ego attempts to reinforce upon us. It helps us connect authentically with ourselves and others, reinforcing our embrace of the relational universe and the single truth. 

A shaman acts as a bridge between the material and immaterial aspects of humanity. In time experiences long past, shamans served as healers, community organizers, and mystics. These amateur alchemists utilized sacred plants and fungi such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, cannabis, and others to experience aspects of our reality otherwise unavailable. Their facilitation of the high-dose psychedelic experience long served as a community glue, an event that connected individual and universal intelligence for a brief but meaningful moment. For the uninitiated, no language can adequately convey the experience of a high-dose, ego-dissolving psychedelic experience. It is a form of communication with an intelligence far beyond our own, but whether it exists beyond our perception is difficult to claim accurately. Many share similar stories of communication with psychic beings in their experiences, and if we review the ancient texts, their descriptions of angels share commonalities with present-day descriptions of the psychedelic experience. Shamanism has shaped the human time experience for hundreds of thousands of years under a variety of different labels and mythos. Now we explore how it can be leveraged to help meet the needs of the moment in our journeys toward self-actualization in the age of crisis.

The stoned ape hypothesis developed by ethnobotanist Terrance McKenna links the explosive growth of human intelligence to the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Our present understanding of human evolution is that between 4.2 million and 3.5 million years ago, early hominids left the trees and began walking upright.31 A changing climate resulted in less dense concentrations of trees, which were sources of food and shelter. Trees being farther apart meant that walking between them was a much more efficient approach to energy conservation. Between 2 million and 800,000 years ago, our brain sizes doubled, rapidly increasing again between 800,000 and 200,000 years ago. There are several theories for why this first leap took place. Our mastery of fire, rudimentary tools, and language over generations are likely sources of change, but few explain the emergent properties of this growth better than McKenna’s. As ancient humans left the trees of their wet and humid world and began tracking animals, they noticed that mushrooms grew from the dung of their prey. As group consumption of psychedelics became a common activity, humanity began to expand its powers of imagination and abstract thinking. The psychedelic experience is one of synesthesia, the linking of neural pathways such as vision and sound that connect in ways unavailable within our standard experience. Prolonged exposure to these circumstances likely contributed to the expansion of human language—the linking of sounds to information—as well as community and oneness. Language would be passed on and expanded upon with each generation, and over hundreds of thousands of years, this consistent consumption and expansion of information fundamentally changed us. The second leap in our ancestral brain size occurred in correlation with significant fluctuations in Earth’s climate. New circumstances demanded new awareness, and our advancing capacity to store and process information expanded our ability to adapt and overcome challenges. Although it is difficult to prove whether the consumption of psychedelic mushrooms was a primary influencer on the evolution of the modern human mind, the transcendental experience certainly infused awe in these primitive consciousnesses just as it does in present-day humanity. Our reimagining of ancient rituals for the immediate present is a practice rooted in a history that dates far beyond any of the popular spiritual technologies of the present. It threatens the presently available frameworks of meaning and value by bringing awareness to the undeniable. As McKenna would label it, it is an archaic revival of human spirituality, a natural and necessary part of overcoming the age of crisis.

All of humanity’s spiritual technologies contain ritual. Prayers, sacrifices, fasting, song, and other practices support the alignment of individuals and beliefs. Our creation of the non-religion religion through the embrace of individual and system as a single unified self is a practice of several rituals. But rituals without a “why” are meaningless, and the age of crisis demands new whys. Our primary purpose in developing rituals is to strengthen our command over the direction of our focus and energy. To do this, we develop meaning and values in alignment with the single truth and the relational universe. By embracing specific core values and understanding the relationship between individual and system as a single self, we transform ourselves into more expansive beings. We undertake the journey of emergent evolution, knowing full well that in a future time experience, our radical reimagining of human potential will not be enough. At that moment, the frameworks we explore should be discarded for more ideal alternatives. In our immediate present, we choose self-actualization as an alternative to the age of crisis. There are practices we can develop now and begin immediately, and those that will reveal themselves as our systems evolve accordingly. 

Embracing new rituals also means letting go of those that no longer serve us. The relational universe ensures us that continuing to engage in rituals that reinforce hierarchical notions of meaning and value will distract from our personal progression toward alignment with the single truth. The crisis demands we reimagine who we are as individuals and as a collective. It is an effort of persistent practice, growing in parallel with the expansion of ourselves and our systems. There is no firm destination in becoming more, just a process of perpetual becoming. Whereas past spiritual practice attempted to define a pathway to guide us to paradise beyond death, individual actualization focuses on embracing divinity through life. That we share habits together and apart bonds us in the higher struggle of self-actualizing. It strengthens our connection to each other and furthers our commitment to the unifying vision of transcending the age of crisis.

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Small Rituals
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