The Cost of Being Weird

6 01 2011
Are you afraid to be considered weird by your family and friends? Or do you relish the idea?The time of burning witches and medicine men is not so long past that it can be completely forgotten.   I frequently hear snickered remarks in the workplace about anyone who admits to metaphysical interests. 

Who are these People?

Modern shamanic practitioners come from all walks of life and at first glance seem to have little in common. They are often healers looking for ways to expand their services.  Some folks are vagabond drop-outs wandering the earth happily experimenting with odd traditions. More commonly they are nurses, plumbers, housewives, farmers, or shoe salesmen who are not looking for drama, a guru, or the latest new age workshop. They are simply people trying to understand their place in this universe.

What will my Friends Say?

Many of the people I have met exploring the shamanic path are concerned with what others think of them. Many friends and family members will find the practitioner’s interests weird.  The practitioners may be embarrassed or afraid of ridicule, especially as they experiment to learn more about this path. Some friends will present themselves as happy test subjects while others silently move away.

The more I learn, the less I feel weird.  In fact, people who don’t question their lifestyle choices, who feed on drama, and those who define their life with many common pursuits, seem weird to me.

As I learned about non-ordinary reality I realized how much of what I previously considered real was related more to my view of things than the things themselves. As I became an observer of my actions I stopped, for the most part, blaming anyone else for my choices. I am working on forgiving myself for the difficult ones. No, my choices aren’t perfect.  Some aren’t even rational and I continue to make frequent bad decisions. Still, I find myself to be happier, more compassionate, and less judgmental. I no longer suffer depression of the sort that marred my youth.

While my family and friends may not understand my obsession, I believe they realize it has value and meaning to me. Some friendships have fallen away. Among those that remain strong they have accepted me as I am. Other friends and family members are noticeably more comfortable to avoid the topic.  I am hopeful that with time they will come to trust that I haven’t joined a cult or become a fool. Meanwhile, my growth is more important to me than their judgment.

Yes, you can still hold a job

Unlike a monastic life, shamanism is practiced in conventional societal and economic rolls in one’s customary environment. You don’t sit in a trance 24-7.

The shaman is a master of the two realities, ordinary and non-ordinary. A practitioner’s ability to function in non-ordinary reality in no way hinders her ability to function in ordinary reality.  In traditionally shamanic cultures the shaman joined her community workforce just like everyone else. She slipped into her shamanic roll only when it was called for, by someone’s illness or other triggering event in the community.

Drastic Change

Students of shamanism often fear the loss of important relationships. Why? Most likely because they realize they are changed by what they learn.  Change is hard on relationships. Most people can look back and see that as their life moved through cycles their primary friendships changed.

I experienced great upheaval in my life.  My exploration of shamanism coincided with these changes and helped me make them. However, the desire for change was already there. This desire for change is one of the characteristics many shamanic practitioners have in common.

Common characteristics of shamanic practitioners

I have observed that many people on this path where already set outside the mainstream of society by something. Perhaps it was an aspect of their temperament or a lifestyle choice. Often their intuition has made them aware of things others don’t notice.

While shamanic practitioners vary in many ways I see some commonality in the following areas:

  • Open to change
  • Introspective
  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent
  • Self-directed
  • Resilient
  • Creative
  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • Disciplined
  • Nonconformist
  • Strong Intuitive

Interesting Times Ahead

I remember my mom saying to me one day, “your friends are certainly interesting.” Her tone of voice suggested that interesting covered a lot of territory, some of which she wasn’t comfortable with. Her remark was loving and undoubtedly true. My friends are interesting. So, dear friends, welcome. There are interesting times ahead.

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