by Gary Z. McGee
"If you are
then you have to
invent your own:
vibrate to anyone else's tune.
You see that the
those around you
are a lie,
a denial of
person becomes then,
literature, and religion the mediator of
and the indicator of a new way
to triumph over
He reveals the
darkness and the dread
of the human
condition and fabricates
a new symbolic
transcendence over it.
This has been
of the creative
We've all experienced that feeling of emptiness at our core:
important is missing...
Even in our synthetic,
dog-eat-dog society, we can feel our souls aching, pushing up like
flowers through the asphalt of our lives.
We catch fleeting glimpses of it in poetry, in the embrace of a
lover, in the howl of a distant coyote, or during a magnanimous
sunset. Most of us muffle that cry, pressing the thousand-and-one
inane snooze-buttons of our lives.
But some of us are
beginning to hear 'the call' again.
For us, all is not
We are beginning to
We are finding that
there is still time to reunite ourselves with mystery.
And nobody is
reuniting things with the Great Mystery more so than modern day
post-modern shamans with the ability to,
disaster into regeneration...
Here then are six signs
you may be a Disaster Shaman...
1.) You heal
disaster situations through shamanic cosmology and ecopsychology
pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
disaster situation that is our
modern culture, you are a force to be reckoned with.
The world is your tribe.
You demand respect...
hunters," even "fools" have no choice but to respect you.
you bridge the gap
between victim and world, between lost citizen and the natural
world, between the innocent and the numinous.
Your reach is beyond
the typical person's reach precisely because you are a
force of nature first, and a person second.
Your way of healing is by immersing yourself in disaster
situations and doing your best to heal (directly or indirectly)
as a beacon of hope for the victims involved.
You are a shoulder to
lean on, a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.
You empower the disempowered and lift the downtrodden through
shamanic reengineering. Your philanthropy is not money,
necessarily, but sacred energy.
You realize as Henry David Thoreau did:
"To affect the
quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
But you do not preach.
You teach by
ecopsychology as a direct
method to reintroduce the afflicted to the healing
properties of the greater cosmos
post-modern shamanic cosmology as a medium for safe passage
into higher realms of thinking about the human soul
Like Andrea Gibson,
you realize that,
"We have to create.
It is the only thing louder than destruction."
In the midst of
destruction, decay, and tragedy, you reinvent the sacred
and the numinous.
You understand that
everyone is an artist, and your goal is to help others to tap into
that innovative force of unstoppable creativity.
You see that we are not
only capable of retrieving the mysterious, inexplicable, constantly
flowing creative phenomena:
We are the phenomena.
Even in disaster situations...
Each of us is an agent of
transformation, wired to perceive, absorb, and transform knowledge
(pain, suffering, destruction) into imagination and imagination into
creative, healing energy that has the potential to heal the world.
2.) You listen to
nature in order to learn the difference between healthy and
demands that you take your own steps with courage,
compassion, and vision.
It requires that
you learn how to learn from nature. It teaches you to meet
power directly, embrace it, and claim it"...
"The priest is
interested in the answers; the shaman is more interested in
provoking you to ask the questions that will lead you into
paradox and duality.
The task of the
shaman is not to pursue meaning but to create it, to bring
the sacred to an otherwise profane and mundane reality.
That takes a
daily act of courage and a willingness to make mistakes."
You use a nature
first culture second approach to life.
You are a space that
the cosmos fashioned to feel its own grandeur, and you are not
afraid to feel the double-edged sword of that grandeur.
You are a custodian of interconnection, attuned to the
paradoxical reality of the human condition as being both
god-like and animal-like, and so you operate outside the
cultural framework of right and wrong.
Outside of this typical
framework, you are free to use a bottom-up (feminine/strong-god)
approach, instead of a top-down (masculine/straw-god)
approach, to healing the world.
Like Klaus Joehle said,
"The Universe is
Allow me to flow
through you unrestricted, and you will see the greatest
magic you have ever seen."
And you are intent upon
sharing this magic with others.
Through this bottom-up
approach, you dare to be a conduit for what Derrick Jensen
"a language older
Like Terence McKenna
"Nature is not mute;
it is man who is deaf," but your ears are wide open.
Your soul is a sponge
prepared to absorb sacred knowledge.
Indeed, there is a
concert hall in your soul welcoming the orchestra of the cosmos to
play its sacred music.
You are intent upon
listening to what nature has to teach, especially as it pertains to
the concepts of healthy and unhealthy.
3.) You live
moderately so that others may moderately live
"A free life still
remains for great souls. Truly, he who possesses little is so
much the less possessed: praised be a moderate poverty."
Similar to Gandhi,
"live simply so that
others can simply live."
You realize that living
moderately leads to living deliberately, and if you
limit yourself to what's comfortable, you deny yourself what's
A deliberate life is all
the more liberating.
The lighter you
become, the more meditative and methodical you become.
Indeed, the lighter
you become, the brighter your light will shine.
And so you have adopted a
Your lighter load has led
to a lighter heart, and you are freer because of it.
Living moderately is
challenging, but you embrace the challenge, knowing that the
liberation of the soul is worth going through any amount of
Living this way
upturns convention and undermines tradition, creating a sacred
space for new world-building.
And because your load
is so light and you are so adept at practicing moderation, you
tend to exist on the periphery.
You are in between
worlds, in more ways than one.
But this gives you a
distinct advantage, a kind of - outside the box, on the outside
looking in - perspective into "the box" that others seem to be stuck
From this vantage point
you are free to create a new sustainable world that has the
potential to leave the old unsustainable world behind.
4.) You are
skilled in diagnosing and healing nature deprivation
"You can't wake a
person who is pretending to be asleep."
You bring back continuity
to the whole by guiding people back to their personal power, a power
that can only be discovered through solitude and meditation in
You understand that it is
only by getting outside of the rat-race of civilization that we can
truly heal the divide between nature and the human soul.
Like Alan Watts said,
"When one speaks of
awakening it means dehypnotisation. Coming to your senses. But
of course to do that you have to go out of your mind"...
In order to heal our
nature deprivation we must "lose our mind," a mind that has been
molded and conditioned for years by an unsustainable culture.
But, like Carl Jung surmised,
"In all chaos, there
is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order."
And so by losing your
unhealthy-mind (chaos), you are allowing for a healthy-mind
(order) to emerge.
As a disaster shaman, you restore wholeness and power to
people using the natural world as your guide. That wholeness and
power then heals whatever is wrong with that person (mind, body, and
And then the domino-effect continues, until we go from living in an
unhealthy, unsustainable culture, to a healthy,
You teach how to
develop emotional bonds with nature, in terms of wildness,
parsimony, and spirituality.
You teach people how to live sustainably within their immediate
environments, revealing how a moderate lifestyle, as well as a
nomadic existence, allows the environment to regenerate.
You even take the concept of re-wilding to the next level,
applying it to human beings as well as non-human animals, so
that they can rediscover a sacred spirituality by getting back
in touch with Nature and Cosmos as God.
5.) You are
adept at transforming weaponry into livingry
"All of us,
Westerners and indigenous peoples alike, are descended from
tribal ancestors if we go back far enough... and they all had
This fact reveals
that the shaman's path is part of the cultural heritage of all
people, everywhere, although it was largely lost in the West due
to the ruthless suppression by our organized, state-level
religions and ideologies.
shamanism is not a religion, nor does it conflict with any
It's a method...
And when this method
is practiced with humility, reverence and self-discipline, the
shaman's path can become a way of life."
You are adept at healing
ecological, psychological, and cultural environments, especially
those that have been decimated by the militarized nature of mankind.
As a technician of the sacred, immersed in the
numinous tapestry of the cosmos, you realize that the only thing
that trumps moderation is volition, and so you understand the
importance of education.
You realize that if moderation isn't taught as an imperative for a
healthier world, then the volition of people will become immoderate
and militarized, and the world will therefore be unhealthy.
As a disaster shaman, you realize that times of
crisis are the best times to teach, and that teaching by
non-violent, demilitarized example, is the best method of teaching.
If we are to
"transform our weaponry into livingry" as Buckminster Fuller
suggested, then we must tend to the soul with art, poetry, and
myth, with failure and loss, with ambiguity and complexity (ecopsychology);
rather than soulless, machine-like, diagnosis and treatment
As a disaster shaman,
you personify "rolling-with-the-punches," knowing intuitively what
Darwin surmised years ago when he said,
"It is not the
strongest of the species that survives, nor is it the most
intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to
You are adaptable to
change like no other.
It will be your creative
vision that will transform the destruction inflicted by the
weapons of unsustainable men, into a creative force for
progressive technologies created by sustainable men.
6.) You are
willing to die in order to bring water to the Wasteland
are many other ways to collect and interpret information about
The ability to
hold several seemingly contradictory views simultaneously.
to cultivate, explore, and trust subtle sensory signals.
The boldness and
endurance required to set a course that defies the dominant
This is the domain of
certain artists, poets, musicians, shamans, ecologists,
philosophers, and others adept at seeing and feeling connections
to the obscured dimensions and forces of nature that others
neglect to notice."
wrong crew is
You understand that
we live in dark times...
You realize that the
stories we've been telling each other are unhealthy stories that too
many people believe in.
Indeed, the landscape
of the human condition is a wasteland filled with parched souls.
But, disaster is to the
disaster shaman as ashes are to the Phoenix.
And so from the
destruction of the old, you are beginning to build the
foundation of the new.
You are rewriting the
story into a healthier version.
You have the courage to rise up out of the mass-destruction of
unsustainable men and dare to become a sustainable force of nature.
Art is your medium.
Creativity is your
Sacred play is your
power, and not even death can prevent your message from being
Creative play, the
essence of myth-making, is the sacred "reach" of a disaster shaman.
As a disaster shaman,
your creative play is your power.
You are neither
scientist nor priest, but artist.
You are Artist
Your sacred art is
like water for parched souls.
And you have the
audacity to bring it to them, despite
You have no fear.
For you realize that
safety is an illusion and security is a prison in an
ever-changing, ever-evolving cosmos.
Like Clarissa Pinkola
"When a great ship is
in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt.
But that is not what
great ships are built for"...