Thursday, May 9, 2024

loss of the sacred, or did it just get thrown away?

Sliding into a parallel universe today, but not really…

Loss of the Sacred

May 8, 2024 

The loss of the sacred in western society is also a loss of soul, a loss of the soul of the earth, of the cosmos, of human society. Modern men and women are truly in search of soul, and a retrieval of the sacred is essential to their finding or recovering soul. 

— C. Michael Smith 


Scholar and author, C. Michael Smith, in his profound little book — Jung and Shamanism in Dialogue: Retrieving the Soul, Retrieving the Sacred, explores the intersections between Carl Jung's analytical psychology and shamanic practices from various cultures. 

It’s an original, esoteric work that delves into the similarities and differences between Jungian psychology and shamanism, emphasizing their shared focus on the psyche and the quest for spiritual wholeness. 

The author writes: “Perhaps the most salient common feature of shamanism and Jungian psychology is that they both offer a way of soulful living that takes its direction from spirit, a transcendent dimension of wisdom and power.”

Ultimately, this book sheds new light on the transformative potential of integrating Jungian psychology with shamanic wisdom, and how this synthesis can lead to a deeper understanding of the human psyche and its connection to the divine.

I hope you enjoy this passage. 

In the modern West today, there has been a loss of the sacred from the assumptive world generally, and from the healing arts specifically. 

Individuals may be religious, may go to church or synagogue, or practice some other form of institutional or non-institutional religion, but other areas of life are typically encroached upon by the secular. In traditional and tribal societies, every substantial aspect or function of life had a sacred basis. 

As Eliade has noted, such substantial events in life were founded upon the paradigmatic acts of the gods. Their sacredness guaranteed their significance, and proper social ordering…

The situation of the loss of the sacred has been characterized by various existentialist philosophers, in their own idiom. 

Nietzche’s heralding of the death of God was prophetic of the loss of the sense of the sacred from the assumptive world, and from life generally, in the west. 

Heidegger described the withdrawal of Being from modern man as equivalent to a loss of a sense of meaning, of mystery, and of dignity. He might as well have called Being the sacred, for it possesses those numinous (attracting/repelling, mysterious/ineffable) qualities we have attributed to the sacred. 

Calculative thinking, economic thinking, the tendency to quantify everything, goes hand in hand with a reductionistic materialistic science, which finds nothing but physical, mechanical, or chemical causes. 

The world seen only through the lenses of scientific-calculative thinking is a thin, dry, hollow, surface world, devoid of mystery, depth, and meaning. There is an existential nausea (Sartre) that comes with such a nihilistic view of reality.

Such a view is itself a symptom of deep spiritual, social, and ecological pathology. 

Some face this nihilism with stoic courage, others retreat into fundamentalistic and traditional forms of security, where they may have some limited contact with the sacred, while still being touched by the nihilism of the modern scientific worldview. 

Some seek a genuine sense of the sacred to give their lives meaning and direction, but cannot find it in the institutional religions of the west. Some turn to the numinous resources of the East, some to occult interests; some are now turning to shamanism, others the psychedelics, to rekindle a sense of mystery and meaning characteristic of the sacred…

The loss of the sacred in western society is also a loss of soul, a loss of the soul of the earth, of the cosmos, of human society. Modern men and women are truly in search of soul, and a retrieval of the sacred is essential to their finding or recovering soul…

Jung believed one could only get right with oneself if one got right with nature… It isn’t the techniques that are the essential thing, but the person inside, its capacity to live from the heart in earth-honoring and Nature-attuning ways that is the essential center of the Jung/shamanism interface.

Sloan Bashinsky

Once upon a time, a woman psychiatrist came to me for help with what she said was “pain!”, which she did not describe further. I had been trained as a patient and as a practitioner to help people look inside of themselves with their eyes closed and have discussions with what was behind what ailed them. I got her to do that and she got into a dialogue with something that showed up and it freaked her out and she said she didn’t care to pursue it, and that was the end of that. 

Another time, a woman who claimed to be a PhD in clinical psychology and a certified Jungian analyst came to me to see what kind of therapy I was doing on my massage table. We talked a while, and I asked her a few questions, and she got into a difficult dialogue with her deceased father and the session ended and she left. When I saw her by chance a week or so later, she looked angry. I asked her was that was about? She said she didn’t like getting so intimate with someone she barely knew. I said I had told her the work I did was very fast, and she had said she was interested in experiencing it. She said, still, she didn’t care for now it went, and we parted and had no further interaction.

The cranial rhythm, which can be felt in the head and all over the human body, was discovered by osteopath physicians and chiropractors later came to recognize it. Modern medicine does not recognize the cranial rhythm, which stops when a person is talking about something significant. The cranial rhythm stopped when I silently asked my clients such things as, "Did you come to see me about your father issues, or your mother issues?” When I talked with my clients, their cranial rhythm stopped every time I asked them something significant. I had other ways of knowing when clients were dead on top of something that had waited a very long time to express itself. 

Believe it or not, there are many people who do that kind of work, which is totally alien to and light years beyond psychology and psychiatry’s ken. That work cannot, however, cure psychoses. But then, neither can psychology or psychiatry cure psychoses. What psychiatry and psychology do is treat symptoms of something they do not understand.

While psychiatry’s pills may somewhat control some symptoms of psychoses, the pills always have rough side effects, which require more pills to try to subdue the side effects. Patients on pills end up like I once ended up: walking, talking chemical waste dumps, the ordeal of which their psychiatrists have no clue, because they have not taken a full course of the pills themselves. 

In aboriginal tribes, psychoses were treated very differently, but good luck getting psychology and psychiatry and the pill makers interested in that. 

However, I doubt a psychiatrist or a shaman could help Joe Biden or Donald Trump, because they do not think they need such help. What might help Biden and Trump is a really good exorcist, but would they admit they need that kind of help?

Now grab a tight hold and consider:

The Shamanic View of ‘Mental Illness’: Birth of a Healer

From Uplift: “In the shamanic view, ‘mental illness’ signals ‘the birth of a healer,’ explains [West African Shaman] Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

What those in the west view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as ‘good news from the other world.’ The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. Dr. Somé comments:

Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field.

These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study, was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to ‘nervous depression,’ Dr. Somé went to visit him.

I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.

What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself:

So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.

‘The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,’ states Dr. Somé.

Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.

The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized. ‘The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,’ he notes.

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as oversensitivity. Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive. In the west, ‘it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,’ observes Dr. Somé. The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special ‘receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,’ stated Dr. Somé.

When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy.

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a ‘sweep’) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura. With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world, and give birth to the healer. The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems. ‘The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,’ he observes.

When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. It’s like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket. That’s a sad image.

Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, ‘fuses’ aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing. There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura. In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies.”

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