Jay Thomas was recently interviewed by the Q+ Spirit Shamanic Healing Network. Here is an excerpt:
Q+ Spirit: Why do we see such interest in shamanism now?
Jay: For those of us who believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience, modern shamanism offers direct connections with Spirit. I think people who are open to personal growth want to live meaningful lives.
Q+ Spirit: How does shamanism help?
Jay: Perhaps the most unique feature of shamanism is direct access to Spirit. There is no intermediary. Folks can set an intention to connect with energies beyond the material world and get results.
Q+ Spirit: What kind of energies?
Jay: Primal energies, such as animals. Ancestors, both known and unfamiliar. Spirit guides, such as friends and relatives who have passed. Any welcoming energy that would serve as a spirit ally.
Q+ Spirit: How do folks get this access that you talk about?
Jay: One important tool is the “journey.” That’s when one enters a trance-like state, with a set intention, to get information. Often that’s done with drumming, however, bells or breath or chanting or dancing or song can work, too. It doesn't take much training to learn how.
Q+ Spirit: Can you give me an example?
Jay: Sure. Let’s say I’m struggling with my physical health and I’m not exactly sure what’s going on. Of course, I’d get the medical care that’s appropriate. Then, from a shamanic perspective, I can set out on a journey with a specific question — the most effective ones start with HOW or WHAT, such as, “How am I not listening to my body?” or “In what ways can I be more attentive to my body so it can heal?”
Q+ Spirit: Would shamanic methods interfere with my current belief system? Isn't shamanism a religion?
Jay: Nope. Shamanism is not a religion. It’s a spiritual practice. Some folks call it a “technology” because it’s a skill set that can be used for problem-solving. There’s no worship. No rules. No governance. No church building. No dues. Folks who practice shamanism are deeply connected to nature, believing that the essence of Spirit is present in all the natural components of the world.
Q+ Spirit: You mean like a rock? Or a river? Or a fire?
Jay: Exactly. And what’s beautiful, is that we can connect with those Spirits. Everything is energy. Science confirms that. Our tribal and pre-literate ancestors knew this too, without all the proof contemporary people require. They were deeply connected to the cycles of nature. They respected the inherent power of those life-sustaining elements in the environment. And they listened to the wisdom of nature and communed with those energies for guidance and to be whole.
Q+ Spirit: It sounds like a renaissance.
Jay: I agree. I suppose it's like a re-awakening. Modern life is complex, often perplexing. Shamanism offers one way of being more present in the world, so we can live fulfilling lives. In many ways, the formula, if you will, hasn’t changed from its beginnings: using a trance-like state, to connect with Spirit, with the intention of growth, healing or service. I'll take all the help I can get to find my way and to support others.
Jay Thomas and Tony Alicino will lead a retreat, Introduction to Shamanism, March 16-18.