Death and Resurrection as Shamanic Experiences, continued

In yesterday’s DM, we shared some of Emily Dickinson’s experiences of death and resurrection.  Artist-shaman David Paladin tells us that the warrior-shaman rises above his own dead body and says, “I have died, too.  Now let’s dance.  We’re free.  The spirit is ours because we have died.  Now we are resurrected from the ashes.”   

Gazing the sun. Photo originally to Unsplash by Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.

This theme is common to shamanistic practitioners, as Mircea Eliade makes clear when he says: “initiation rites…(shamanic or other) involve the ritual of the candidate’s death and resurrection.”*   

It is also how Paul describes the experience of baptism—as an entrance into the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Thus we can say that not only Jesus but Paul too is bringing forth elements of the shamanic tradition.  And of course Paul underwent his own death and resurrection experience in his conversion experience, being thrown off his horse and rising eventually to becoming a very different person from the one who persecuted Christians.

Comments Herrmann, “When she [Emily] says, therefore, she died and arose from the dead, I do in fact believe her.  This is the basic experience of shamanistic dismemberment.”  Herrmann comments that “no poet I have read focuses so intensely on the experience of Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection as significantly as Emily does.”  And he cites her statement, “’Twas just this time, last year, I died.”   And again, “It was not Death, for I stood up,/ And all the Dead, lie down—”.**  Thus she underwent both death and resurrection.

This teaching very much resonates with that of the contemporary Biblical scholar Bruce Chilton, who in his substantive study on Resurrection (as well as in our dialog about the same HERE), Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead, emphasizes how the real meaning of resurrection in the New Testament is not about an empty tomb (Paul, who wrote first and most frequently about the resurrection never once mentions an empty tomb), but about a death and deep transformative awakening—such as Paul underwent.  All the apostles underwent a version of it in their own way after Jesus died, as did the “500” others who claimed to have encountered a risen Christ.   

Art piece entitled, “Ex Nihilo” (Out of Nothing) by Richard Reich -Kuykendall who is an Author, Artist, and graduate of Matthew Fox’s University of Creation Spirituality.

Are all of our awakenings and breakthroughs, oneings, ecstsasies and deep transformations, experiences of resurrection that follow on rupture or death experiences?

If this is so, is it possible that the dying we have been undergoing as a species due to coronavirus a prelude to a resurrection, a change of consciousness, a transformation that allow us to see the world anew?  To melt the denial and divisions that divide us from each other and from nature to enter into the love that, in Julian of Norwich’s words, keep the whole universe together?  

That moves us beyond our human-centered and species-narcissism to a greater experience and love of the whole?  That marries psyche and cosmos?  Is this what Paul rhapsodized about when he sang of a “new creation”?  Meaning a new relationship to creation?  “All our relations.”  Amen.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, p. 173.  See also: 88-153.

*Steven Herrmann, Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times, p. 269. 

** Ibid, 269, 266f.

See also, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – and beyond, p. 40

Banner Image: Fishing boat on water while sun sets behind the hills. Photo originally posted to Flickr by Greg Clarke.

Have you also died and resurrected?  How many times?  What was born of those experiences?

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

Upcoming Events

Join Matthew Fox for a free, thought-provoking hour and Find Inspiration & Healing in the Radical Teachings of St. Hildegard: Discover the Uncommon Life of This 12th-Century Mystic to Reconnect to Nature & the Divine. Saturday, May 29, at 1:00 pm Eastern (GMT/UTC-4). Register HERE.  

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

10 thoughts on “Death and Resurrection as Shamanic Experiences, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Yes, we experience and see ongoing deaths and resurrections everyday. Paramahansa Yogananda called this growth process The Resurrection of the Christ within You.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I do see this time of pandemic as a global, collective journey of the process of death and resurrection. I see it as a death of the illusion of seperateness and a resurrection of unity, through the awakening of Divine Love and all that this is, was and ever shall be, that binds us together. What I also see is many now understanding much more deeply our interconnectedness, our interdepence and our interreliance with the mystery of the all and the everything of creation, this Oneing that the mystics, the prophets and the poets have so often given voice to from one generation to the next. I hear some people say that they can’t wait for things to get back to normal, to the way things used to be, however true resurrection surrenders to the death of this, in order for new life to come into being. It’s then up to each one of us all to daily choose to take personal responsibility, again and again, to nurture, tend to, and care for this new life, this new normal that is coming into being. The process of death and resurrection leads to real transformation. Butterflies reflect this truth, this reality so beautifully.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, The pandemic as a collective journey in the process of death and resurrection is on the way to unity and the awakening of Divine Love! This as you say is the Oneing that the mystics, prophets and poets have given voice to from generation to generation. And it is up to us to choose what the future offers us…

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Michelle. Thanks for sending me the link to your video clip play. It was beautiful, bringing a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye.

  4. Avatar

    Yes, it seems I’m always dying and resurrecting . . . go through these struggles, then get the answer that I need, and think:”I’ve got it this time!!” The resurrection can last a few days, then it’s back to the grind. Though it may seem that I’m not going forward very fast, there is definitely a sense that I’m getting stronger and feel more powerful and whole as god created me. Hallelujah!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Vivian, yes, we all go through deaths and resurrections as we walk the four paths of Creation Spirituality. You are walking the Via Positiva–the path of awe and wonder, and then you experience a crisis and now you are walking the Via Negativa–only later to be resurrected in the Via Creativa. And the Via Transformativa is where we celebrate our births, deaths and rebirths…

  5. Avatar

    By chance I was pondering the relationship of resurrection and the feast of Pentecost and these thoughts from an empty chapel with a window on a glorious garden flowed forth……
    an inclusive community.

    50 festive days termed Pentecost sounds religious
    and is often trapped in cultic language.
    Its reality is celebration of universal integrity,
    reminding all of primordial unity, not uniformity,
    the spirit of all creation energising life
    in myriad forms of differentiation

    Blackbirds dart about the lawns and beds.
    Crows sweep in from lofty lookouts.
    Pigeons swoop by at ease in any clime.
    A Robin hops about its guarded patch
    keeping watch on human garden chores
    encouraging effort by their curiosity.

    A single Heron wings by with throbbing beats
    Starling’s rush here, there and off again.
    Wagtails dance in search of flighty food.
    A squirrel nips in to grab seeds among the birds.
    My God, it is one Pentecostal crowd,
    eternal resurrection, creation’s consistent unity

    The Christian High Holy Day of Pentecost,
    celebrates 50 days from mind-expanding Easter
    commemorating the sensing of spirited energy
    upon those who recognised the example of Jesus.
    Nature is spirited energy materialised in multi-form
    with humanity a key trustee of its replenishment.

    Peter Challen

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: