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“Spirit Power and the Cave” by Michael Harner
 
An excerpt from the book Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality
 
Power

In February 1957, a small band of Shuar (Jívaro) men and I became lost after trekking for weeks through mountainous Upper Amazon rainforest. Tired, disoriented, and hungry, we finally ran into a friendly group of Shuar hunters who told us that we had been going in exactly the wrong direction. They shared a bit of their provisions and pointed the way toward the Shuar neighborhood we sought.
 
Leaving the hunters, we soon came to a small but raging river, fed by recent rainstorms in the Andes to the west. This was an obstacle to our further progress, so we waited for several days for the waters to go down, without luck. My companions waited quietly and seemed unperturbed by the situation while I became increasingly impatient, for I knew it was possible to construct rafts of balsa logs and to get across using makeshift guadua bamboo paddles. Several times I proposed to my companions that we should wait no longer for the water to recede but instead make rafts and paddle over to the other side. Repeatedly they declined to do so.
 
Growing increasingly impatient, I finally challenged my companions, pointing out that they called themselves great warriors but were unwilling to cross the river. Without comment, they shortly constructed three balsa log rafts, and we prepared to make the crossing. The river was about 150 feet across, and the first raft, paddled by two of the Indians and carrying some of our baggage, made it to the other side. Then I went on the second raft with two paddlers. We made it about three-quarters of the way across and then were swept down into the rapids where the raft overturned, dumping us into the raging torrent. With extreme effort we were able to swim the remaining distance and survive. The third raft made it across.
 
As we collected ourselves and rested before hiking farther, I remarked to them, “That was a pretty close call. I guess we are lucky to be alive.”
 
I was expecting some agreement, at least tacitly, but my companions silently remained standing there like stereotypes of stoical Indian warriors. They gave the impression that this had been nothing, acting completely unfazed.
 
Their lack of reaction perplexed me, because these were the same men who were reluctant to cross the river despite my urging. So I undiplomatically pointed out that they had not wanted to make the river crossing, and now they were acting as if it were nothing, even though they had been afraid to cross.
 
They exchanged glances with each other but said nothing. Then one of them, whom I knew particularly well, finally replied. He said, “Well, you see, we were not really afraid to cross the river because we cannot die. But we did not know about you!”
 
At that moment, the perilous Amazon river crossing opened a door to important spiritual knowledge. After that I gradually learned from the Shuar that they were protected by spirit power against all forms of death except epidemic disease. I also learned that such power can leave one. Thus unprotected, people do indeed die. Therefore, before leaving on precarious missions, people watched for signs as to whether they still possessed the protective powers provided by their guardian spirits. If the signs were negative, they did not depart on such a mission, especially if it involved an attack on an enemy.
 
Like the Shuar, indigenous shamans worldwide know that spirit power is basic to one’s health, survival, and ability to heal others. Without this power, one is not resistant to illness or misfortune. In traditional shamanic cultures this awareness permeates the daily life of virtually everyone.
 
Jaime de Angulo, who spent time with the Atsugewe people of Northern California in the early twentieth century, said it well: “Without power you cannot do anything out of the ordinary. With power you can do anything.”
 
The power is like a force field that permeates the shaman and permits him or her to use the power to help and heal others. The shaman’s idea of power is similar to our concept of energy, yet it includes more: energy as well as intelligence and self-confidence. Spiritual power is not political power or power over others. It is power essential to one’s health and ability to survive.
 
Spirits
 
At this point let me explain what I mean by a “spirit.” As I have said elsewhere, a spirit can be defined as “an animate essence that has intelligence and different degrees of power, that is seen most easily in complete darkness and much less frequently in bright light, and in an altered state of consciousness better than an ordinary state. In fact, there is some question whether you can see it in an ordinary state of consciousness at all.”
 
In other words, not all spirits have significant power. Those spirits that do are often referred to by shamanic peoples simply as “powers.” Particularly important in indigenous cultures are the guardian spirits that provide protective power to the people they love. When properly invoked by a shaman, such a power also provides active healing assistance for curing illness and pain in the shaman’s patients. Through experience, the shaman has learned which spirits are powerful.
 
Power is acquired in different ways. In Siberia and parts of South America it was common to gain personal power after suffering from a severe illness that put someone at death’s door. If that person suddenly had a miraculous recovery, the local community concluded that a spirit had compassion for the person and interceded to relieve him or her of the illness. In such an event, people in the community typically would go to the revived and cured patient to see if the healing power could be used to help another individual suffering from a malady, usually a similar one. In other words, the suffering of the ill person could evoke pity by a spirit. In this way, a shaman sometimes was created.
 
Seeking Spirit Power
 
Ideally, one should not wait to become ill to aspire to gain this power. Members of traditional shamanic cultures understood this well and encouraged young people in good health to suffer voluntarily in order that ancestral spirits might intervene to help them by sharing their power. Much more than a healing energy, this power was seen as a force that would support people in daily life, helping them to avoid misfortune and hardship, and to achieve good outcomes.
 
Most famously, this acquisition of power occurred in the power quest, more commonly called the “vision quest.” It should be mentioned, however, that not all successful power quests involved achieving visions. For example, among the Southern Okanagan the seeker might not see the spirit but instead receive its power through an auditory experience, such as a song and words.
 
Most power quests were not something to be done by a sick person, but by one who was healthy and often relatively young. In a sense, it was a kind of spiritual life insurance to further an individual’s success and survival.
 
Spirit power could usually be sought by almost anyone in a variety of isolated places where ancestral and other guardians were known to reside. Such sites include mountaintops, the depths of a cave, a remote waterfall, the Arctic wilderness, particular canyons, local burial sites or ruins, a remote trail, and other locations. But one thing remained constant for success: the spirits had to be convinced that a power-seeking visitor to their haunts deserved help. When arriving at such a place, the visitor would usually sing or silently speak to the spirits there, asking for their assistance.
 
Suffering Voluntarily to Evoke Compassionate Help
 
The quest took various forms. Regardless of culture, it commonly required seekers to prove themselves by suffering voluntarily, such as from fear, hunger, thirst, extreme cold or heat, and exhaustion. In shamanism, suffering is not a method of atoning for one’s “sins,” but a way of attracting the help of powerful spirits.
 
Among some Inuit of the Arctic, one way to have a successful quest for power was to spend four or five days in a special isolated igloo in the depths of winter without food or water. When the specified time elapsed, an elder, usually a shaman, opened the igloo and brought the person home. The igloo did not have even an oil lamp to heat it, so the suffering from extreme cold was combined with suffering from lack of water and food. It is reported that in some cases the person seeking power might be naked during this time of questing. A less life-challenging example is my own power quest among the Shuar that involved an exhausting climb up the forested eastern slopes of the Andes, a near-freezing bath below a waterfall, and no solid food allowed prior to obtaining a vision helped by the overwhelming power of datura (Brugmansia sp.) juice.
 
Voluntary suffering for such power sometimes still occurs among Native American peoples of the Great Plains of North America, where the person seeking a vision and power typically first becomes dehydrated in the purification or “sweat” lodge. There the individual will intentionally suffer from the extreme heat and may even start becoming aware of spirit appearances and manifestations. Afterward, the seeker goes to an isolated mountaintop accompanied by a shaman-priest (medicine man) and/or other elders. The individual is left all alone for a prearranged number of days, and then the elders return to retrieve the person from the mountaintop.
 
In the more extreme form of the Plains vision or power quest, the seeker would be wrapped in a blanket or quilt and placed in the ground in an L-shaped ...

Revue de presse

Praise for Michael Harner and The Way of the Shaman
 
“What Yogananda did for Hinduism and D. T. Suzuki did for Zen, Michael Harner has done for shamanism—namely, bring the tradition and its richness to Western awareness.”
—from Higher Wisdom, by Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob
 
“Wonderful, fascinating.… Harner really knows what he’s talking about.”
—Carlos Castaneda, best-selling author of The Teachings of Don Juan and The Active Side of Infinity
 
“An intimate and practical guide to the art of shamanic healing and the technology of the sacred. Michael Harner is not just an anthropologist who has studied shamanism; he is an authentic white shaman.”
—Stanislav Grof, author of The Adventure of Self-Discovery
 
“Harner has impeccable credentials, both as an academic and as a practicing shaman. Without doubt (since the recent death of Mircea Eliade) the world’s leading authority on shamanism.”
—Nevill Drury, author of The Elements of Shamanism
 
“Michael Harner is a great shaman. He also proves that a person can be both a scientist and a shaman.”
—Bo Bair Rinchinov, Siberian Buryat shaman

"Michael Harner is the world's best-known expert on shamanism."
Parabola magazine

"Without doubt essential reading and destined to be a classic on the subject—just as much as his ground breaking Way of the Shaman, written all those years ago."
Sacred Hoop magazine

"A contemporary classic of shamanic studies."
—Nefer Khepri, Magickal Musings

"Cave and Cosmos demonstrates with many examples of shamanic journeys from [Harner's] students that spirits really do exist and they want us to know that they exist."
—Riverdrum.com

"Cave and Cosmos is likely the most important modern work on the perservation of shamanism and our renunion with humanity's original spiritual heritage."
—Marc Star, New Dawn magazine

"Since the publication of The Way of the Shaman Michael has established The Foundation for Shamanic Studies and has been actively promoting his work through regular workshops and lectures. Cave and Cosmos is a relfection on a great deal of the intervening years research...It is a highly-readable and thoroughly engaging account..."
—Peter J. Morris, MysteriesofSirius.com


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 312 pages
  • Editeur : North Atlantic Books (9 avril 2013)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1583945466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583945469
  • Dimensions du produit: 15,3 x 1,9 x 22,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 74.306 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Dans cet ouvrage Michael Harner fait un recueil de nombreuses experiences shamaniques ("core shamanism") que differentes personnes ont eu. Il les compare quand c'est possible a des experiences traditionelles de shamans du monde. Les etudes de l'auteur au long de sa vie se revelent ici pour le lecteur a qui le sujet interesse. Une oeuvre d'art tres interessante.
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67 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Changed my Life 12 avril 2013
Par anonymous - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I devoured this entire book in a single sitting. Like Harner's previous masterpiece, The Way of the Shaman, Cave and Cosmos is an instant classic. Harner's writing is clear and easy to read, yet immensely intelligent. His knowledge of shamanism and how it is practiced in a variety of cultures around the world is immense.

But that's not the best part of the book.

The Way of the Shaman offers many accounts of journeys to the Lower World, yet Upper World experiences are nowhere to be found. Cave and Cosmos picks up where Way of the Shaman left off in this regard. And the accounts of Westerner's journeys to the Upper World are... extraordinary. Sure, there are heavenly realms complete with clouds, crystals, and deities, but there's more.

It has become fashionable to consider the formless and nondual experiences cultivated by disciplines in the East as more "evolved" or superior to shamanic experiences. Several accounts in Cave and Cosmos indicate that this is incorrect. I will let the accounts speak for themselves here:

"I travel away, fast, upwards I go. I am nothing but a speck of consciousness in a vast Universe. Like a particle of stellar dust, I travel through infinity... I sense that perhaps I can stay in the "nothingness" or return to near Earth and assist with the great white rings of light. But no, I must go through an opening in the vastness in which I encounter myself... I enter and, once again, I become Light. Incredible warmth and peacefulness fulfill my senses, my body, and my mind. Now I experience pure joy! I see a Buddha. Earth is the first chakra within Buddha. There are other Buddhas within the first Buddha, just like a babushka doll. The joy and laughter of the Buddha within a thousand Buddhas fills eternity..."

"I heard flutes, other music, and singing. Light was streaming past. I lost my sense of self-- was dispersed with what seemed to be the Life Force, heard hmmmm, thunder, and more hmmmm..."

"I began to feel like there was no more "me" in the sense I was accustomed to. How curious this was... I would hear babies crying, people talking, and I felt like I was part of everything. I felt like animals, plants, people, air, dirt, and God. I was everything. I was bubbling in and out of myself, bubbling from within myself out into myself. I felt like a huge ball on top of another ball. I said, "Where am I?" I heard in my mind, "The one mind, the one all..." Then I saw the Great One..."

These experiences hit my like a lightning bolt, and this is only a small sample of some of the most mind-blowing experience reports. People have been meditating for years to have experiences like this, and these people had them in half an hour. In fact, an entire chapter is devoted to cosmic union and dismemberment experiences (Buddhist no-self interpreted through shamanic paradigms??), which are considered lofty goals in many spiritual disciplines. Yet it is all in a day's work for a sky shaman.

Union with the Beloved (Christ), becoming one with the Universe, the Sufi dissolving in Allah, becoming nothing yet everything, having the entire universe contained in one's being, cosmic dismemberment, psychospiritual death and rebirth, and even meeting with deceased loved ones... it's all here. It's all been done for thousands of years.

Cave and Cosmos shows that shamanic practices are just as "sophisticated" as the disciplines of the East.

My only criticism of Harner's approach is that it seems to center around inducing light altered states through drumming. Why not cultivate more vivid visions through hypnagogia like Jung? Or induce out-of-body experiences like Robert Monroe? Maybe some lucid dreaming or Tibetan dream yoga would be a worthy addition to core shamanic practice. There's nothing wrong with daydream-like experiences, but I suspect stronger altered states may be more effective. And of course, you don't need psychedelics or weeks of fasting to have stronger experiences. Fred Aardema's Explorations in Consciousness is recommended for those interested in full-blown OBEs.

That said, this book has changed my spiritual practice. Up until yesterday I believed that I would have to meditate for years to experience cosmic union or no-self. It's not true! Consciousness isn't "evolving," shamans have been doing it for 50,000 years.

Thank you, Michael Harner.
35 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good for new students. 19 septembre 2013
Par Dave Hanson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Good book for beginning students of shamanism and a nice followup to Harner's "The Way of the Shaman," (1980) The two books together provide an easy beginning study and practice of what he terms "core" shamanism, a universal form of shamanism that floats free of culture. His books are essentially descriptions of techniques and reports of the visionary results..

As one who learned about shamanism from Harner 27 years ago, enjoyed his teaching immensely, completing all the courses from his FSS, became a certified shamanic counselor, taught in many small shamanic circles and worked as a shamanic healer, I, along with others have waited for this book for decades. Now I have read it with some pleasure, nostalgia and surprise that the author restricted himself to the same methods, student accounts of "journeys", a bit of personal experience and more stories of the upper world.

Harner is an important central figure in returning some popular attention to shamanism as a spiritual practice so it is surprising that "Cave and Cosmos" stays so narrow in its focus while there are so many questions to discuss if shamanism is to have any chance to gain more understanding, contemporary support, and any chance of making the world a better place. To be fair, Harner has no obligation to write more broadly about the nature and place of a shamanic spiritual path in contemporary society, or the possible ways in which such a practice could engage the practitioner in contemporary concerns, but one would hope that the ordinary middle world destruction would illicit something along those lines from him.

His repetitive accounts of his early experiences and the reports of "journeys" from students are interesting for those readers new to shamanism, but reports about what people do with their visionary experience are far more important and they are missing here. Do students go on to establish long term, disciplined practices? How does their introduction to shamanism change their engagement in the world? What are the obligations and responsibilities of students who successfully acquire shamanic abilities through relationships with the helping spirits? What percentage of workshop attendees get those skills and keep them? Is there an actual contemporary shamanic community beyond the next FSS workshop? Why is core shamanism so easily subsumed into the pop psych of the new age community?

So definitely read Harner's two popular books. Then if you find the methods successful and wish to continue, begin a more broad, serious study and practice, then engage; do something with it. Mother earth needs our attention.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An invaluable resource for the shamanic practitioner of "Core Shamanism" or the new and curious explorer. 6 mai 2013
Par Sarah Seidelmann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is the book for you if you want to understand as much as possible about the shaman; who they are, how they do the work that they do and the worlds that they travel to. It is like Mircea Eliade's "Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy" in scope and depth but extremely user friendly as it is is written from the point of view of the practitioner AND scholar. I think of this book like a series of first hand reports from the first sailors who set off for the new worlds and reported that the world was not, in fact, flat. Harner wants to show you this new world/other reality- and to show you its maps. The many encounters noted reflect a universality of experience and give ample support for the existence of another reality. Of course, I needed no convincing of this as I am a practitioner myself. I am also a student of Harner's. The book contains a bit of memoir from Harner as well as hundreds of examples of shamanic experiences from his students. Do not read this book if you like to be surprised and you have not yet undertaken such journeys and plan to do so. As a person who has dedicated my life to this work, I read this book with great interest. Harner is a master story teller and this book may ignite your interest in exploring this other reality if you have not yet done so. Don't take Harner's word for it. In the appendix, instructions for making your own forays into this other reality are also there. I keep very few book and send most to the library or give to friends.. This is going in the permanent collection as this will be a resource I return to again and again.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
One of Micharl Harner's best 4 mai 2013
Par Rainbowmoon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I debated about buying another Shamanic book, even though I have enjoyed some of Harner's other books. I've found lately that most books coming onto the market are all saying the same thing - old news.
This one is different - sort of.

It's a verification, in a way, for those of us who have been following the Shaman's path, on our own for the most part.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has quietly, but seriously, been searching for what exists beyond ordinary reality; and who has realized that for each what we find will be unique for us. This isn't a handbook to tell you what to do and what you will see. It says here's what others have found - embrace your own experiences.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Reality of Spirits 3 mai 2013
Par William S. Lyon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Having spent forty years studying American Indian shamanism, I whole heartedly congratulate fellow anthropologist Michael Harner for providing us with the first-ever, cross-cultural mapping of nonordinary reality--a three tiered realm of spirits. His ability to even produce such a map, called "cosmography," demands a paradigm shift in anthropology.

However, most importantly, this book provides for all of humanity a long-awaited proof of the reality of spirits. Harner's proof is based on data collected from thousands of Westerners who have experienced shamanic journeys. No other scientist has ever undertaken this approach to the study of spirits. His results call for a huge awakening in our attitude towards spirits and their powers.

If you prefer, no-matter-what, not to believe in spirits, then do not read this book. However, if you would like to know about the potential ability of your own consciousness to explore these spirit worlds, then you must read this book!
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