Shamanism: Calling Us Home
Chris Lüttichau learnt from indigenous peoples how to understand his own mind and find connection, and he shares some insights here…
The mind of the human being is an extraordinary thing. The journey to understand the power and nature of your own mind may be the most important one you can make: it involves building a strong inner centre, your key to finding balance as a human in the world.
Imagine the amount of energy that could be freed in you, if you could easily untangle your core self from the constant stream of random thoughts, often of a worrying and critical nature, that characterise the average human waking life.
When we undertake this journey, great reserves of energy are freed up for much more constructive living. Over the course of my life I have been lucky enough to receive teachings in Earth-based wisdom from the true experts in the mind and heart of the human being: the indigenous people who have worked with such a journey for hundreds of years.
Bridging the Physical and Spiritual Worlds
What are the stages of this journey, and how do you embark on it? One of the most liberating of my own first steps, guided by my teachers, was to realise that the mind manifests as two: the Outer Mind and the Inner Mind. Of course, both are parts of the ocean of consciousness, and cannot really be separated from each other. But it is helpful to recognise their different natures. The Outer Mind seeks and knows duality, cause and effect, the form and mechanical aspect of things, while the Inner Mind seeks and understands unity and interconnection: it can relate to their spiritual essence.
Far from being an ‘enemy’, the Outer Mind is a useful faculty for living in the physical reality, and it can be a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds. The problem comes when we completely identify with just the Outer Mind, a process that happens to most of us as we grow from childhood into adulthood. In most post-industrial cultures we have separated ourselves and our way of life from the wisdom of the Inner Mind: we are living in what shamans call the Dream of Life, characterised by a constant flow of unnecessary and random thought, which often winds us into a labyrinth of confusion and uncertainty. We zap between channels of perception as if tuning in to an interactive broadcast: we are watching, and at the same time we are part of the broadcast, generating it repeatedly with our thought patterns. Yet in one of the many paradoxes of human existence, we can direct our Outer Mind and thereby consciously choose a new channel: one of deeper spiritual truth.
The power of intention that the Outer Mind generates can be one doorway to developing your awareness of the Inner Mind. When you tune in to this underlying channel, you place both feet back in the centre of your own circle: you come home to yourself. Two of the most direct routes home are through appreciation, and focusing on the powers of nature.
The Inner Mind represents the entire development through which you have journeyed on the soul level: it is the sum total of a soul that has wandered through lifetimes. Appreciation is so powerful because it opens a doorway into the Inner mind, which then brings you into contact with all the experience, knowledge and wisdom that your soul possesses.
The Inner Mind sees how all of life is connected, and recognises decisions and actions that disturb the balance of that connection: it restores your alignment with the Sacred Dream of Life. Bridging the gap between the ‘Dream’ and the ‘Sacred Dream’ is what the Lakota have called “the longest walk: the road between the heart and mind”.
Focus on Nature
The practice of focusing on nature has much to do with appreciation, openness, trust and curiosity. Experiencing these qualities brings you out of the endless stream of Outer Mind thoughts and into a deeper place of Inner Mind, heart, and instinct. It is a place of direct connection with the rest of creation, and with practice it brings you closer to a shamanic way to perceive and relate to the world: you perceive not only the form of a thing, but also the force behind it. You are still centred in your body. It is not an escape from reality, but rather a journey deeper into the essence of reality.
When you let yourself be moved by the mystery of the living world, you become present in the here and now. There are not many random thoughts in that state. In whatever season you find yourself, focus on the forces at work during that time of year; they are part of what forms our consciousness. Notice how they affect your thoughts and feelings. All other creatures are directly aware of the seasons and feel their effects. The seasons begin to teach you about who you are. In that process you become aware of the life force in nature, and you too become more alive. Eventually there is no separation between you and nature’s life force.
When you work in this way you experience your power to change the ‘channel’ your mind is tuned into. Energetically your body will connect to the powers that you observe and contemplate, and they may begin to give you sudden insights. Nature will take you closer to essence, and to yourself.
All practical and esoteric teachings can be found in nature, if we know how to use the gateways of silence and meditation. All knowledge exists in the consciousness of the Universe, and in us, the human beings. Shamans worldwide have kept this ancient wisdom alive, and over the last forty years many have begun to share their knowledge. At this point in time we are collectively beginning to awaken to it.
Our remembrance emerges from the ancient shamanic practice of understanding the nature of things, as well as knowing and appreciating the sacred in its physical forms.
Once we have experienced bridging the Outer and Inner Minds in ourselves with such practices as appreciation and focusing on the powers of the living world, seeking guidance from spirit helpers and power animals is greatly enhanced.
Seeking Spirit Guidance
To seek guidance from sources bigger and wiser than our own personality is an ancient shamanic practice, and there are many methods: the medicine walk, the drum journey, and diverse meditations. The very process of seeking guidance also means that you open your mind and heart to the spiritual world, and on one level the practice is more important than the outcome.
Even if as individuals we are not natural psychic channels, we can still seek advice and guidance through our spirit guides. This always begins with a prayer and an offering. As a general rule you connect to the Lower World to meet your power animal, and to the Upper World to meet your spirit guide. When you connect directly to your power animal and your spirit guide, you begin to strengthen that connection, and thus to put yourself in a position where you can seek your own guidance. This is both empowering and very useful.
Traditional shamans don’t go on imaginary journeys; they don’t imagine going somewhere and imagine things happening there: they work with what is real, as much in the physical as in the invisible world. Awareness, an open heart, clarity of mind and devotion can take you into the reality of spirit. The real question is this: can you make yourself available for that reality?
Energy and consciousness need to work together: your intention and awareness must be clear. Once you understand that consciousness and energy are in relationship with one another, you can deepen that relationship with the power of your intention. It needs to be humble, finely tuned and focused, like the feather of an eagle. An eagle feather is structured so that thin, strand-like barbs extend at an angle from the central shaft, then branch again into thinner barbules that hook into those above and below it, making a perfect weave that can flex with the wind.
Let your awareness and your intention be the weave in the eagle feather. The feather does the work, not the hand that holds it. Awareness and intention fall into place with what is, and then what is meant to happen, will happen. This kind of work is an art, and it fosters a living spirituality within you. Use your tools with care and focus, hone your intention and awareness, your clarity of mind, devotion and longing. Spirit will respond.
Find Out More
Chris Lüttichau’s new book, Calling Us Home covers many more aspects of shamanism and of the earth wisdom teachings, passed down to Chris through 25 years of direct study with indigenous teachers. It includes meditations and awareness exercises that can help you to embody the shamanic and earth wisdom teachings, and make them part of your daily life. Chris shares his teachings on shamanism and earth-based spirituality in workshops and ongoing training groups through the Northern Drum Shamanic Training Centre. He also leads wilderness expeditions.