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Filan and Sophie Reicher on Michael Harner and Practice Tips for Newbies

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  • Kenaz Filan
    I am hoping to include an interview with Sophie Reicher, author of *Spiritual
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2010
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      I am hoping to include an interview with Sophie Reicher, author of *Spiritual
      *, in an upcoming issue of Witches and
      But some of this info was so good I thought I'd drop a few teasers on my
      blog. Hope you enjoy!

      *You identify as a "shaman." Today many who use that title have been trained
      in Core Shamanism, a lineage developed by Michael
      What do you think of Core Shamanism?*

      I do not identify as a shaman, Kenaz, though several of my friends and
      colleagues do indeed claim that job and calling. One of my teachers, with
      whom I studied for many years, is a shaman but that is as close as I come. I
      am a magician. I will take a stab at answering this question anyway, because
      I have often dealt with practitioners of Harner�s �core shamanism�
      techniques � most often by cleaning up the messes they leave in their wake.

      I think the kindest thing that I can say about Harner�s approach is that
      it�s clueless. The problem doesn�t lie with the techniques themselves �they
      can be quite effective�rather the problem lies with the approach of those
      applying those techniques and the fact that they have been taken out of
      cultural and spiritual context. They are utilized in a manner that is both
      short-sighted and ungrounded.

      I think Harner tries to force a certain egalitarianism on the whole thing
      that simply does not and never has existed within shamanism. Essentially,
      not everyone can become a shaman. It�s a spiritual calling, a claiming, a
      vocation. It�s not as easy as taking a series of weekend workshops and
      *poof* one suddenly becomes a shaman. Shamanism is about service to Gods,
      spirits, and community. It�s about serving and restoring cosmic balance on a
      level that Harner�s techniques don�t even begin to grasp.

      Furthermore, he teaches no protections. It�s not clear whether or not he
      even teaches proper cautions and respect for the beings that one might
      encounter when utilizing these techniques. The Harner trained practitioners
      that I have encountered didn�t seem to even believe in the objective reality
      of otherworldly beings. Nor did those that I encountered (and cleaned up
      after) seem to comprehend that the techniques they utilized might have
      tremendous impact on their audience. They had no idea how to deal with
      emotional fall-out and aftercare. Basically, Harner�s techniques provide
      just enough techniques to get a practitioner into trouble, techniques
      presented without respect for the otherworlds, and without piety. He gives
      practitioners just enough to get themselves in trouble, without ever giving
      them the tools to get out of it again. His approach is fundamentally flawed
      and frankly, I think it�s the New Age equivalent of spiritual
      misappropriation at its worst.

      *You've written a book for beginners (albeit one with plenty of information
      that more advanced students may find useful). What advice would you offer to
      those who are just starting out on their magical journey?*

      I�d tell newcomers that magic isn�t just about casting spells. It�s about a
      way of living and being in the world at large. Because the practice of magic
      will hone and change a person, it�s important to start out rightly: get your
      mundane life in order. The more honorable and balanced your life, the better
      (and safer) your first steps into magic will be. It has a siren song and
      that song can drastically unbalance the unprepared. That unbalance can lead
      to self-delusion and in worst case scenarios, insanity. The key, is balance:
      as above so below. As you progress magically, let your daily endeavors
      progress as well. So do whatever you have to in order to get your mundane
      life in order: health, finances, life path, relationships and even therapy
      if necessary. Pare them down, clean them up.

      Then I would counsel a newcomer to pay attention to the basics. Learn to
      center, ground, cleanse, cleanse, cleanse, and shield. Do not rush through
      the exercises and do not stop doing them once skill has been acquired. They
      are lifetime fundamentals. I also think it is helpful to develop some sort
      of prayer practice or devotional practice. Having a relationship with some
      sort of numinous power can be very beneficial and grounding. I would also
      say to start honoring your dead. Ancestor veneration is fundamental to an
      organic, balanced, healthy spiritual practice and having such a practice can
      only make your magic stronger. Magic is not prayer. Magic is not
      spirituality. Magic is an art and a craft of wielding personal power. That
      being said, it is one piece in a puzzle that encompasses one�s entire life
      and spiritual practice should be an important piece of that life, its
      necessary humility and piety a counter-balance to the stubborn pride so
      often required of the magician.

      Posted By Kenaz Filan to Kenaz
      9/01/2010 10:21:00 AM

      kenaz filan,
      kenazfilan @ gmail.com | 917 267 7469
      kenazfilan.blogspot.com | www.kenazfilan.com
      the haitian vodou handbook,
      vodou love magic
      drawing down the spirits (w/raven kaldera)
      vodou money magic
      the power of the poppy (forthcoming)

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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