In the Nepali culture potential candidates to become a shaman are abducted by the “bon jhankri” between the ages of seven and twenty years of age. The “bon jhankri is ” a partially human and partially animal Yeti type creature called a jungle/forest shaman. During the period of this dangerous abduction the candidate is introduced to the mysteries of his/her calling. Alternatively, and increasingly more rare are calling received by candidates “aph se aph” or by spontaneously receiving their mantra’s and healing knowledge. Either way, these candidates can suffer shamanic illness as they are attacked by bokshi (evil sorcerers) and lagu (the bokshi’s evil spirit allies). Even with its unique cosmology, this calling fits within the candidate’s world view and is thereby similar to receiving a calling in many traditional indigenous cultures. Their life struggles are often viewed as shamanic illness and as battles with the bokshi and lagu.
In our modern western culture people who have characteristics which would make them candidates for learning and using shamanic knowledge often don’t understand what is happening. Typically shamanic candidates function well in society and are successful in their chosen field. Then something happens which causes them to wonder “is this all there is”. Not everyone who reexamines their life is a potential candidate. However, some are. The precipitating event isn’t important, though there are amazing stories in this area.
My subject today is helping people who have unrecognized callings. Many times their lives contain struggles with shamanic illness and battles with evil which rise havoc but which seem bizarre and unfathomable. It is important is that the candidate gains understanding of these events and finds a place that feels like home in which to learn to counter negative effects of the struggle.
The current issue of The Journal of Shamanic Practice, (Volume 4, and Issue 1 Spring 2011) has articles on “Taking a Teacher” and “Apprenticeship”. This post isn’t about that. It is aimed at helping anyone who might feel lost, off track, or who has through some participating event reached the bottom on the wheel of good fortune. When we reach this point where we question everything in our lives, even to wondering what is worth living for, learning about shamanism is one way to regain our sense of purpose in our life.
Many times I am visited by people within whom I see a shamanic warrior or potential healer who hasn’t found themselves. It appears that their calling is stalking them, often through shamanic illness. It will continue to do so until they see and accept this calling.
I list the following sign posts that you might have calling though it is, by any means, an all inclusive list. Have you had:
- Ancestors who were healers/doctors, herbalists, etc.
- A job in the healing field
- The awareness of healing energy in your hands
- Strong and correct intuition and the ability to “read” other people
- A strong desire to spend time in alone in nature
- An intimacy with animals
- Imaginary friends or an awareness of spirits
- Frequent déjà-vu
- Vivid dreams and an awareness of their importance
- Where you born with a caul (thin membrane) covering your head (My old Aunties swear this is a strong sign of a future healer)
- Any physical, mental, or emotional abnormality that set you appear as a child (In Brazil there are hospitals which achieve wonderful results by training patients as mediums to treat illnesses like schizophrenia, paranoia, and depression. In the US these patients would be labeled and often receive powerful medications. I suggest that some of these people who could be helped by exploring shamanism and the possibility that these illnesses could have a spiritual cause. I have written on this subject before so forgive me for repeating myself.)
- Surviving an illness, accident, or unusual event such as being struck by lightning, especially if this included a lengthy recovery or is of a chronic nature
- An intense interests in learning about shamanism