Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Michael Harner, Ph.D., author of The Way of the Shaman, learned the craft of the shaman from some of the remotest tribes on the globe. No adventurer ever trekked further or sought more diligently the hidden secrets of the spirit world. For Harner, the purpose of shamanism is to help people who are bound and diseased by the intrusion of negative energy and spirits. A person needs power to combat these dark forces of nature. That power often comes from the spirit of a power animal, which has left the patient and has returned to its abode in Lower World. The shaman's job is to attain a shaman state of consciousness (SSC), with or without drugs, to leave the physical body, to combat or avoid the malicious spirits in the portal-tunnel (they may appear as fanged spiders or vipers, etc.), to recognize the appropriate spirit animal, to grab it securely so it can't bolt away, and bring it to the ailing participant. To be able to do so, of course, the shaman must have already gone to Lower World, via to the remote jungles of South America, or the deserts of the U.S., or some other place where master shamans abide. Through dangerous rituals that carry a risk of madness or death, the shaman-to-be acquires various spirits called tsentsak to serve and protect him/her. So the shaman must be power-full as he/she ministers to the ill. The shaman may suck the illness out of the person and blow it into a pot. He then blows the power animal into the chest of the patient, restoring their own power and protection. This is all done in darkness, perhaps to better maintain the proper state of consciousness. It may sound loony to our modern ears, but the shamans declare that it works. In the pursuit of this activity, I have to assume that the shaman believes that the spirits acquired will remain benevolent. Even though they may appear as a plant, human, or animal (or all three), their ability to shape-shift and affect the physical reality of our world will allegedly not be abused. These tsentsak are morally neutral and will heal or kill according to the wish of the shaman. The creed seems to be that they were placed in Lower World to be retrieved and pressed into service of living, mortal humans by a benevolent universe that knew we would need extra help now and then. Harner assures the reader that the shaman possesses the spirits; the spirits do not possess the shaman. They need to be exercised, not exorcised (p. 68). We hope that Harner is right, because if he is not, he is leading his disciples to hell and back with tagalong entities that certainly do want to possess them. To prepare for his first encounter with the spirits of Lower World, Harner drank some ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic drug. He saw something "like a huge fun house, a supernatural carnival of demons. In the midst of it all, he saw a huge crocodilian head, out of which gushed a flood of water. Then he saw two boats approach. They joined into one, with a dragon-headed prow, rowed by humans with blue jay heads. He began to physically die and his soul essence began to be gathered to the boat. In spite of the lovely music he heard, giant reptilian creatures "told" him that since he was dying, he would be shown secrets. He saw the Earth as it was eons ago. Black specks rained down onto the primordial scene. The specks were black, shiny entities with pterodactyl-like wings and bodies like whales. They had come to earth from outer space to escape their enemy. They claimed to have created life to disguise their presence here. They claimed to be the masters of humanity, and since we were their servants, they were able to speak to him from within himself. When Harner related his vision to an old shaman, about how the bat-like animals claimed to be masters of the universe, the shaman smiled and said, "Oh, they're always saying that. But they are only the Masters of Outer Darkness." So the little bats were prone to exaggeration. Harner then presented the tale to two missionaries up the river from his location in the Peruvian Andes. They pointed him to two verses in the biblical Book of Revelation, chapter 12. Harner only mentions vv. 7-9 and 15 because those verses affirm exactly what he saw. But the fact is, the chapter names the serpent as Satan. His tail swept away a third of the stars (former angels) and hurled them to the earth. There was a war in heaven resulting in Satan and his followers being cast to earth (7-9). A child is born in the chapter, which can be none other than Jesus Christ. Harner never mentions Christ or Michael the prince of angels in his book. Satan casts a flood of water out of his mouth (v. 15) to destroy the woman who gave birth to the child, but the earth thwarted Satan by helping the woman. Satan then makes war on the rest of her seed, "those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony about Jesus." Not only is Satan shown as cast out of God's heaven (into Outer Darkness), he is described as an entity who "deceives the whole world." Harner's vision is amazing, but like so many masters of the paranormal, he cherry picks the Bible and sees only what he wants to see. He obviously came within a hair of death in his drugged state. He saw the demons that were in process of taking his soul. He pulled back because he realized that he didn't belong with them and they might be evil. Some other intrepid experimenter may not be able to whisper, "Medicine!" in time. The reality of a great, crocodilian beast as described in Revelation 12 became part of Harner's new experiential knowledge. But the implication that Christ must then also exist didn't seem to phase him. The suggestion that Satan may dwell in Lower World, that the bat creatures lie about who they are, that he even admits that they desire to dwell in human flesh, that he almost died and went to hell, etc....these dots are not connected by Harner. He seems to think that because he lived, he overcame these beasts and they will have no further hold on him. We, gentle reader, should do ourselves a favor and connect the dots that Harner ignores. If his story is true, those who do NOT have the testimony of Jesus may spend eternity with the bat creatures in Lower World.