The Origins of Modern Shamanism.
Hello, my name is Hamilton Souther,
I knew that things had to change. I was living a comfortable American life, but I was missing purpose. After reading a few books on traditional spirituality, despite having had no previous spiritual orientation, I felt that the answer would be found in shamanism. I traveled to the Amazon jungle to find the answers to my questions, and I found two of the most powerful medicine men in the jungle. I immediately faced more questions. Who are these healers? I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
Traditional shamanism was intense: life or death, as my maestros put it. I went through test after test in which the supernatural was breaking down the barriers between real and unreal. Hallucinations? Visions? Make believe? The locals did not care. To them, experience and survival was all that mattered. I had entered their world, and the only way through it was through it. Turning back was impossible because each time I tried, I faced the same dilemma: Continue the work or return home with the same problems I’d come to the Amazon to solve.
I chose to stay and began a transformation that took me from ordinary Westerner to master Amazonian shaman. After years of traditional apprenticeship, I was given the title Maestro (master) and for a decade, worked shoulder to shoulder with my maestros healing locals and Westerners alike. We tested our skills, treating physical, psychological, psychosomatic, and mystical illnesses. We faced life and death situations on a weekly basis. With our work on Westerners, we specialized in psychological healing (depression, lack of purpose, lack of direction, loss of well-being, anxiety, worry, pain, and disenchantment with life itself). The Westerners who came to us all had similar concerns. Like me, they each felt as if something was missing in their lives. They had come to traditional shamanism looking for answers, and they were about to embark on a long journey of confusion and misunderstanding, just as I had nine years earlier...
To live in the world of native healers, I had to learn to live and think as one of them. The maestros took my conceptual mind and destroyed it. They hunted through it, methodically crushing core definitions and structures. They were relentless and unfeeling toward pain. Everything was accepted as part of the process. Weakness was not tolerated. You either held it together and made it through, or you were left destroyed.
I learned their beliefs, their stories, their history, and their ancestry. Without it, I could not have understood them, their motives, or their lives. Their spirituality was a beautiful mix of color, fun, struggle, peace, savagery, battle, healing, and medicine.
I was destroyed so that I could become one of them. However, I realized that I could ultimately never truly live as one of them since I was not one of them (even though I had been trained by them, lived with them, and worked with them). I was part Westerner and part traditional healer, and I found myself needing a shamanic discipline that could hold the entirety of my life. Through the struggle to merge both parts, I began to channel universal consciousness and develop a discipline that became the foundation for Modern Shamanism.
In my healing work, I met thousands of Westerners. We talked for countless hours, sharing the differences between the traditional wisdom and Western conceptual thinking. One of these differences is that Westerners know life through thinking and the mind, but traditional shamans know life through action and direct experience.
Throughout my learning process, I found the meaning and connection that had been missing in my life, and then I met thousands of Westerners all looking for the same thing. How many other Westerners were going to have the same opportunity I had?
I realized that they were looking for connection and meaning, which is exactly what shamanism can provide. Yet how could they bring the shamanism home after one or two weeks with traditional shamans? The connection and meaning in traditional shamanism takes years to learn. They could not leave their lives and live in the forest, like I had. They could not go through the tests of traditional apprenticeship. There had to be a different answer.
Over the years, I worked with the spirits to translate the connection and meaning found in shamanism into a discipline. This discipline would be practiced wherever you found yourself, in your normal, everyday life. It would require no travel but would be available to the traveler. It would bridge the tremendous gaps between cultures and spiritual disciplines, including different shamanic cultures from around the world. The meaning and connection to life itself would be available all the time. Modern Shamanism is the result.
You don’t have to leave the modern world, as I did, to learn shamanism. You don’t have to try to cross the chasm between modern society and traditional peoples. You don’t have to destroy yourself through traditional apprenticeship. The course in Modern Shamanism teaches the skills necessary to forge that spiritual connection and to comprehend the meaning in your life. We teach shamanism as a practice of principles, not beliefs. These principles are the heart of shamanism. Free of dogma, Modern Shamanism is suited to your life, right now.