Birthing and the Role of the Shaman in Our Time

NOTE: The Response to our altered weekend format a few days ago was so positive that the DM team has made the decision to extend the new format to weekdays as well.  Thus, beginning today, we will have shorter essay meditations from Matthew Fox and longer video sharings.  We hope you like this new format.  And feel free to spread the word!

Yesterday we meditated on the role of creativity in our deepest or most noble selves.  Meister Eckhart emphasizes that reality almost non-stop in his writings.  To be god-like is to give birth—“What does God do all day long?  God lies on a maternity bed giving birth,” he teaches.  And “God is always needing to be born.”  What we give birth to is nothing less than the Godself, the Christ, the image of God, what can also be called the Buddha nature. 

“Mythra: A myth symbolized as a phoenix rising from the…ashes of civilization. Nine symbols on her staff represent galaxies which have given birth to mankind. Each time mankind has been destroyed it has been recreated as symbolized by man/woman emerging from the egg.” From Art Stories by David Paladin

Giving birth, as most mothers can attest to, is not an easy task.  Not only are there many months of gestation that are often inconvenient and trying, the actual birth can be an excruciating ritual.  But, as Jesus observed, the suffering gives way to the joy of birthing a new being in the world.

Shamans know this same rhythm, how death and woundedness can give birth to breakthroughs and new awareness and new powers.  The shaman becomes, then, a wounded healer. 

We might pose the question today: Might the deep suffering of our world today—the coronavirus, climate change, extinctions and threats of extinctions, the disappointments of democracies—be gestations our species is going through in anticipation of a new birth?  A wake-up call for humankind?  Is this why prophets like Thomas Berry say we need more shamans today (and fewer priests and fewer professors)?

With these questions in mind, Buddhist scholar and teacher of shamanism, Isa Gucciardi and myself are offering a Teach-In on Shamanism in our respective traditions this weekend.  Hope you join us!  See below for details.

See Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart;

and Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart

and Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

and David Chethlahe Paladin, Foreword by Matthew Fox, Painting the Dream: The Shamanic Life and Art of David Chethlahe Paladin

Banner Image: “Shamanic Journey” Collage by Angela Marie Henriette on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense a deeper purpose afoot in the sufferings and challenges of our time?  

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

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.

Upcoming Events

Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT

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10 thoughts on “Birthing and the Role of the Shaman in Our Time”

  1. Avatar

    I found today’s meditation very powerful.
    All of us suffer individually,communally and even in the universe when stars die it seems to me.
    At many levels though as the meditation highlights in this suffering we become grounded we hit the bottom( Something experienced in my own battle with alcoholism) however in that bottoming out a breakthrough occurs. A door is opened to Resurrection and rebirth. Once we pass through that door how can we turn back? ( for what would we turn back too… )
    As David Paladin puts it our suffering initiates us into shamanhood, and I love the phrase our wounds become the worlds ( and vice versa).
    I also am so struck how the shaman rises above his dead body and says I have died too.
    Finally it resonates that the sufferings of the world in these times are maybe part of a deeper breakthrough our culture is experiencing and how this is an opportunity or door for our culture itself to rise above its wounds and give birth.
    Thank you . A powerful reflection in today’s meditation which will stay with me.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Steve, you point out, “I am so struck how the shaman rises above his dead body and says I have died too”–in this the shaman becomes the “wounded healer”–the one who has died and yet lives again as a new person! Thank you for your comment Steve!

      1. Avatar

        Yes Richard, it really resonated with me. Maybe the more we die in this sense opens up more possibilities to healing ourself and others and the worlds suffering)
        I also find the phrase “wounded healer” so powerful – in today’s society that phrase is almost a contradiction in terms, yet it strikes me that the person who has wounds is exactly the person who is needed, called upon today ( a royal calling?).
        It also reminds me of Teresa of Avila,s description of transformation being like a silk worm turning into a butterfly- the silkworm resurrects and gives birth to the butterfly.

  2. Avatar

    I am very disappointed that you have move to the new format every day. I don’t like videos. I won’t watch a five minute video. I want text that I can read at my own speed – skim, slow down, go back and read a section again. Please consider providing a link to the text of the video.

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Thank you for that feedback, Karen. On doing further research, we’ve found that it is possible to offer a transcript. Unfortunately we cannot do so for today’s video, but we’ll do so henceforth.
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

  3. Avatar

    I love Matthew’s meditations that feature or include David Palladin. The concept of the wounded healer is true in every faith tradition. The path to transformation is the path of descent, as Fr. Rohr puts it. I think it is only through deep and prolonged suffering that a lot of us finally “get it”.

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