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The Four Pillars of Disaster Shamanism



“We need shamans, and if society doesn’t provide them, the universe will.” ~Joe Lewels

In the article The Archetypal Path to Getting Your Shit Together, I wrote about the power of archetypes. A Disaster Shaman is an example of using an archetype to make the world a better place; to become the change we want to see in the world.

The Disaster Shaman recipe combines aspects of The Shadow with aspects of The Hero and then mixes in a little Trickster tomfoolery. The combination of these archetypes creates a particular flavor of nontraditional shamanism that spearheads healthy Cosmic Law through the heart of unhealthy lawfulness.

A Disaster Shaman is a force of nature first, a person second; sowing radical revolution in order to reap progressive evolution. Healthy balance is primary. Even if it comes at the expense of comfort and security. Disaster Shamanism (otherwise known as Apocalyptic Shamanism) is the interdependent shamanic response to apocalyptic times.

The primary tasks of a Disaster Shaman are as follows:

–Heal disaster situations through shamanic cosmology and ecopsychology.

–Listen to Universal Laws to discern the difference between healthy and unhealthy.

–Live moderately so that others may moderately live.

–Diagnose and heal Nature Deprivation.

–Transform weaponry into livingry.

–Bring “water” to the Wasteland.

The sub archetypes of the Disaster Shaman archetype are The New Hero, The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, The Sacred Clown, and The New Oracle. The four pillars of Disaster Shamanism subsume these sub archetypes. Let’s break them down…

Hero-expiation (New Hero or Cosmic Hero):

“Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems beyond that are not ours to solve.” ~Ray Kurzweil

The average person is not heroic (courageous). Likewise, the average hero is not prestigious (provident). A New Hero, as opposed to a typical hero, is a hero with prestige. A New Hero has gone Meta with the concept of heroism itself.

The New Hero sub archetype is the first pillar of Disaster Shamanism. New heroism is gained through hero-expiation. Hero-expiation is the voluntary, wise, honorable, moral, and compassionate distribution of power so that power doesn’t get to the point that it corrupts.

It is through the wise distribution of power that a typical hero becomes a New-hero (cosmic hero, next-level hero) with skill, power, honor, and prestige, as opposed to just a typical hero with only skill and power.

Hero expiation is all about getting power over power. Whether one’s own power or the overreaching power of others. It’s about turning the tables on entrenched power by “counting coup” on it.

A Disaster Shaman as New Hero is a social leveling mechanism par excellence. They count coup on power through strategic humiliation (shaming) so that power never has the chance to become absolute.

When a New Hero comes to town, fear-filled blue pills are swapped with wisdom-filled red pills. The Disaster Shaman has come to set the record straight. To recondition the culture that has been conditioned into believing in competition over cooperation and narrow-minded one-upmanship over open-minded compassion. They teach that competition has always been secondary to cooperation; otherwise we wouldn’t have survived as a species (Darwin).

Eco-consciousness (Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse):

“Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Eco-consciousness is about uncontrolled order overcoming controlled chaos. Whether the culture (tribe) has become too obese, too greedy, too violent or some other unhealthy excess, the Disaster Shaman arrives to set the record straight; to plant a seed of overt moderation within the covert immoderation.

The Fifth Horseman is the one that cleans up after the original Four Horsemen (the Four Horsemen is a metaphor for anyone caught up (aware or not) in any kind of unsustainable, unhealthy, violent, immoral, or mass-destructive social system). The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse is an archetype representing rebirth and renewal in the face of conquest, war, famine, and death.

The Fifth Horseman is ruthless with her healing powers. Her name is Providence, Phoenix-like, she rises up from the ashes of war & decay to spread self-actualized love, open-mindedness, and progressive sustainability by digging up the decay and unsustainable residue of past and present civilizations and then using it all as compost in cultivating and growing a healthier more balanced future.

In that capacity she has devoted herself to planting gardens of eco-centric heroism in the humus of war, hate, close-mindedness and greed, and anything else left behind by the original four horsemen. She is dedicated to, as Buckminster Fuller said, transforming weaponry into livingry.

She subsumes the original four horsemen by teaching them that the new definition of right & wrong must be derived from the universal dictation of healthy & unhealthy rather than the human opinion of good & evil.

The Fifth Horseman is the Goddess of Recompense. She is the Verdant Force. She is the soft hammer of evolution. She has come to blur the false boundaries that have been erected between nature and the human soul.

She is Gaia. She is Lady Justice. She is the return of the Sacred Feminine. She is all of us, men and women, realizing that we are nature first and humans second, that we are soul first and ego second. She is weighing the worth of the human world with the Scales of Justice. With or without us, she will not fail to bring water to the wasteland.

High humor (Sacred Clown):

“What is a tragedy but a misunderstood comedy.” ~Shakespeare

Most of us are familiar with the prototypical clowns: red-nosed clowns, court jesters, and Tarot fools. But sacred clowns take clowning to a whole other level.

Almost all types of sacred clowns combine trickster spirit with shamanic wisdom to create a kind of sacred tomfoolery that keeps the zeitgeist in check. Their methods are unconventional and typically antithetical to the status quo, but extremely effective. They indirectly re-enforce societal customs by directly enforcing their own powerful sense of humor into the social dynamic.

The main function of a sacred clown is to deflate the ego of power by reminding those in power of their own fallibility, while also reminding those who are not in power that power has the potential to become corrupt if it’s not balanced with other forces, namely with humor. But sacred clowns don’t out-rightly derive things. They’re not comedians, per se. Though they can be. They are more like personified trickster gods, poking holes in things that people take too seriously.

Through acts of satire and showy displays of blasphemy, sacred clowns create a cultural dissonance born from their Crazy Wisdom, from which serious anxiety is free to collapse on itself into sincere laughter.

The high humor of Sacred Clowns leads to a higher courage and the audacity to speak truth to power. And they do so with silver-tongued proficiency. There exists no perceived construct of power that’s above their enlightened rebellion. No idol too golden. No high horse too high. No pedestal too revered. No “wizard” too disguised. No God too godly. No title too contrived.

Nothing is immune to the exactness of a Sacred Clown’s rebellion. It’s all merely procrastinating compost. It’s all just well-arranged armor waiting to rust. It’s all an illusion within a delusion. And the Sacred Clown has the enlightened sense of humor to reveal that absolute fact.

Lest we write our lives off to unhealthy stagnation and devolving inertia, we must become something that has the power to perpetually overcome itself. The sacred clown has this power. Paraphrasing William Blake, “If the fool (Sacred Clown) would persist in his folly, he would become wise (New Oracle).”

Self-overcoming (New Oracle):

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” ~Lao Tzu

A Disaster Shaman is a New Oracle who has come to inform the old oracles that they have failed. The self-centered “culture” has been declared a wasteland, and the unhealthy surroundings dubbed unworthy for healthy humans attempting to evolve into a more robust species.

The New Oracle teaches this, above all: Pain should not be avoided at the expense of love. Love should be embraced at the risk of pain.

As such, a master with high humor is needed to resolve the disaster of the self; to usher in an eco-centric, as opposed to an ego-centric, perspective. This master lies dormant inside us all. It can only be found by having the out-of-mind experience of no-mind, in the courageous throes of self-overcoming. There, in the stillness, the master is meditating. The master is connected to the source of all things, his thousand-petalled lotus spinning like a galaxy above his head.

He is radiating inside of you, bursting with wisdom and nth-degree-questions. She pirouettes like Shakti. He foxtrots like Shiva. He/she is the all-dancing, all-laughing oracle of the primordial self, interconnected with all things. And it can only be found there in the silence, between inhale and exhale, between being and non-being, between mind and no-mind, between finitude and infinity.

After disaster, but just before mastery, the Disaster Shaman as New Oracle persistently self-actualizes toward enlightenment.

There, above thought, is the source of human creativity: the place where artists, poets, musicians, and even scientists have discovered the secrets of the universe. Like Leonard Cohen said, “You lose your grip, and then you slip into the masterpiece.”

The mind of Everything holds the heart of Nothingness; the void of Nothingness holds the core of Everything. The masterpiece is the working, self-overcoming, canvas of the New Oracle’s life. The New Oracle is forever in the process of seizing the moment in order to seize the day in order to seize the life.

In the end, the Disaster Shaman is a healthy response to our unhealthy times. Wielding the courage of the New Hero, brandishing the mettle of the Fifth Horseman, harnessing the humor of the Sacred Clown, and channeling the wisdom of the New Oracle, the Disaster Shaman is determined to tonalize an otherwise atonal world.

Image: BABAROGA/Shutterstock.

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