We have been meditating on the shaman for a number of days in our daily meditations. I give credit to Thomas Berry for his insistence that the shaman archetype needs to return in our time—it needs to move from the periphery to the center (which is the very definition of paradigm change according to scientist Thomas Kuhn: what used to be considered peripheral moves to the center).
The shaman archetype can assist religion to be renewed and move from its anthropocentric narcissism to authentic spirituality. Much of our deepest spiritual relationships to the earth, to the divine mother and feminine as well as to the sacred and healthy masculine will be restored. Time is clearly running out for our species, so we need to call on our deepest powers of healing at this time. Healing ourselves, healing one another, healing our professions and institutions and healing Mother Earth who is suffering so much.
David Paladin is one of our wisest shaman teachers. He identifies as a Navajo “artist shaman,” and reminds us that “the roots of religion, art, and human creativity spring from shamanic tradition.” If we are interested in waking religion up so that it becomes part of the solution of humanity’s blindness and denial about climate change and the suffering of Earth and her creatures, we should take heed of his teaching.
To me it resonates with Carl Jung’s observation that “only the mystic brings what is creative to religion itself.” We renew religion through mysticism and shamanism.
David continues his teaching: “The creative response to others and to the universe is the thread that connects us to the whole.” Einstein said we are now entering the “third stage” of human religion which to be a “cosmic religion”—one that embraces the whole therefore. Shamanism can assist us in this movement to a third stage of religion. It is about the “whole” or the “All” (a term used by St. Paul actually).
I have long been deeply interested in understanding altered states of consciousness as they related to the role of the artist-shaman, even though my own Navajo tribe does not have a shamanic heritage. My involvement with shamanism is an attempt to reach back into my own mind, to reexperience the primordial unity.
To this end he studied shamanic understanding with the Tarahumara and Huichol peoples of Mexico as well as the Lakota people in North America. Vision quests and peyote were part of the former training, but
…I learned to achieve an altered state of consciousness without peyote and to create shamanic paintings that were relevant to them….Though hallucinogens may intensify the visions, I find them counterproductive because they interfere with my ability to paint.
Undergoing sweat lodges and dancing the Sun Dance with Lakota people in Nevada resulted in a
…major vision….The actual ceremony was a peaceful, quiet experience. At one time I felt myself tugging against external reality, finally falling into the sun and into the gateway of All.*
*David Paladin, Painting the Dream, pp. 20f.
See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest.
Banner Image: “Forest of Life” by David Paladin. On DavidPaladin.com. Used with permission.
Do you sense a deep need for religion to be renewed today? Do you recognize the roots of religion, art and creativity to emerge from ancient shamanistic places as David Paladin does?
Painting the Dream: The Shamanic Life and Art of David Chethlahe Paladin
By David Chethlahe Paladin, Foreword by Matthew Fox
A glimpse into the remarkable life and visionary artwork of spiritual artist and activist David Chethlahe Paladin. Looks at the spiritual traditions surrounding the images that Paladin features in his art. Discusses the importance of Paladin’s shamanic history in the creation of his artwork. Features commentaries by Matthew Fox and others on Paladin’s life and art.
Matthew Fox speaks on “Teilhard de Chardin & Carl Jung: A Convergence” for the Omega Center – Center for Christogenesis. Thursday, 5/13, 4-5:30 pm ET (GMT/UTC-4). Learn more HERE.
Matthew Fox offers the webinar, “Meeting the Mystics: The Wisdom of Julian of Norwich and the Tao of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of Earth and Humanity” for the East West Bookshop. May 15, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PDT (GMT/UTC-7). Register HERE.
Join Matthew Fox and the Infinity Foundation for an inspiring virtual event based on Matthew’s latest book, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic, Wednesday, 5/19, 5:00pm-7:00pm PT (GMT/UTC-8) Learn more HERE.