Awakening into Dreamtime: The Shaman’s Journey by Wynne Hanner, Intern – sacredpermaculture.net
The Australian Aboriginal Culture
The indigenous Australians believe in what is called ‘Dreamtime’. This is not what we think of as daydreaming, nor is it reserved for sleeping. The Aborigine Earthkeepers believe the world is real only because it has been dreamed into being.
In their mythology, the Dreamtime contains stories of how the Universe was formed which involves the ancestral Totemic Spirit beings. The creation of Dreamtime is referred to as the ‘time before time’, with dreaming being an individual’s or group’s spiritual beliefs.
The Earthkeepers honor the myths of the Ancestor Spirits who came to Earth in human and other forms, and the Earth’s plants and animals were given their present form. Once the Ancestor Spirits’ work was finished, they changed again into animals, stars, hills, or other natural objects. The Spirits embodied their new changed forms from the end of Dreamtime, and continued into the future where they will always remain.
Legends of Dreamtime are still handed down by word of mouth and by Totem from one generation to the next. These myths apply three concepts. First, the human world of relationships, family, behavior, adaptation, and society.
Then, the physical world of sky, land, sea, and animals. Last, is the sacred world of stories, healing, divination, law and justice, the keeping of the Earth, and the spirit/etherial.
The Aborigines embrace the concept of ‘reality dreaming’, with reality and Dreamtime intertwined. Reality can be illusion, deception, learning, perception, experience, and is the evolution of consciousness in the alchemy of time. Reality shifts and changes like the flow of the collective unconscious, and is in constant motion creating new spiral patterns of experience. Reality, in its illusion, is the dream from which we all awaken. To understand and work with these concepts is to awaken into the dream.
Escaping The Collective Nightmare
The Collective nightmare is created when individuals in a culture share the acceptance of mediocrity and apathy instead of honoring achievement through hard work and determination. The nightmare results in conformity, cowardice, fear, worry, lack of self worth, and the belief in scarcity. In order for us to awaken into the Dreamtime these things need to be replaced by their opposites: caring, originality, calm, courage, and embracing the concept of abundance. To embrace the Shaman’s world view and way of life requires a shift in how we perceive reality. We can’t make needed improvements by clinging to negative thought patterns or past failures. This is an individual process. Whatever therapy we choose to partake in can’t help us if we are unwilling to re-create our reality and think independently. Sooner or later through life’s experiences, we may begin to question the spoon-fed societal expectations: the must-have lifestyle, the acquisition of material goods which temporarily bring us feelings of success. When we stop measuring our life worth by programed standards, we awaken from the collective nightmare and begin creating lives of actual worth, value, joy, and spiritual growth.
The Vision Quest: Artistic Living And Healing
At first, it might be difficult for us to embrace the Shaman’s path and to distinguish between the Shaman’s world and that of the lunatic. Perhaps the difference lies in the lunatic’s inability to leave the etherial plane, while the Shamans merely visit there, spending most of their time in the mundane. The Shamanic journey or vision quest is an individual’s path to transformation, egoless empowerment, creative/spiritual living, and healing. In tribal cultures, the Shaman sees into the sacred world and shares the vision with others. This can be done in the form of art, music, dance, teaching, storytelling, and Earth-medicine. By this process the Shaman heals others and the Earth.
Traditionally, a tribal vision quest involved being sent out alone into nature to listen to the voices of the Earth where one could find power animal helpers or Totems. The seeker spent time in caves, on mountaintops, on rivers, in deserts, etc., waiting for the visions and inviting Earth voices to speak to them. When this was accomplished, the initiate would return to the tribe knowing who s/he was and what to do for the community.
We can move past the unpleasant episodes of our past dramas when we realize our power to change the scripts of our lives. Even if we are presently dealing with the here-and-now issues, writing a new story or myth for ourselves allows for the pattern of conscious change needed to create a better reality. Thus, changing our thought patterns= visualized potential=manifestation of a new life path. This means abandoning pre-programed, pre-concieved notions of what can or can not be accomplished, to release the negative influences in our lives.
As children, we may have embraced a belief in the magickal Universe. Along the way on our life paths, we sometimes become jaded or suffer feelings of guilt for not having lived up to our potential, or relinquished the heart-path to settle on a life that brings empty success and/or feelings of loss, no matter how well others tell us we’re doing. Holding onto the waking dream is the first step to the heart-soul flight of one’s individual vision quest.
The Shaman As Alchemist
When we ponder the concept of Alchemy, often we associate the transmutation process with the magickal art of transforming one substance into another, or creating tinctures from herbs and other plants to create a desired result. Alchemy in its many forms, is the art of transformation. The Shaman employs Alchemy in various ways as a means of transcendence. For example, the Shaman can improve community relations by applying the necessary ingredients of vision and insight to enhance the spiritual atmosphere which s/he and others partake in. Medicinal expertise and/or emotional healing is also a vital part of the Alchemical process. Art, music, science, literature, myth creation, storytelling, and Earth stewardship are all Alchemical methods employed by Shamans to create needed conscious change and growth for the community, individual, and environment.
Living Creatively is important to the process of the Shaman’s awakening into dreamtime. Adaptation and courage are needed to defy the ‘gods’ of mediocrity, conformity, and petty authority. When we step behind popular public opinion, we relinquish our creative freedom to be individuals, become unoriginal, and closed off to innovative ideas.
There are many paths to creative living. One does not need to be an artist to acquire creative abundance, though an appreciation of art and nature allows for the higher awareness needed for the ‘peak experiences’ of inspiration which allow us to pierce through the sensory world of illusion and travel to the etherial plane of the Great Mystery. The ability to temporarily transcend the mundane begins the vision quest.
The Shaman is unconcerned with the ego and has no need for the trappings of affluence, knowing that true power comes from within. The practice of mindfulness and honesty are important to the soul’s development. In our modern societies we often place value in keeping up with the latest trends, or embrace the pressure to rush from one thing to the next, fearful that if we can’t keep up, we’ll miss something important, or be left behind. Unfortunately, adhering to this very concept is what keeps us from enjoying and partaking in the beautiful mysteries of life. Slowing down a bit, living more in the moment helps keep us aware of what we feel is genuinely important so we can remain true to ourselves and our life paths. Whether a shaman’s vision quest is traditional or modern, it is the path to self-realization, heightened awareness, an individual journey of healing and heart-soul fulfillment.
‘Courageous Dreaming: How Shamans Dream The World Into Being’ By Alberto Villoldo, P H. D.
‘The Path Of The Feather’ By Michael Samuels, M. D., and Mary Rockland Lane, R. N., P H. D.