The Isolated Animist: Respectful Relationships in Postmodern Individualism

As above so below, within as without, except for with other people. I've worked with others as a modern shaman since 2000, and the hardest facet of that role to impart is creating balanced relationship with All Things--especially each other--and live it in our "I" culture. It's easy to feel interrelated in trance, to idealize it in solitude, but to reach beyond the isolation of how capitalistic culture has created us and fosters us poses significant challenges. We end up living the collective experience alone. In this blog I explore new approaches to being an introverted, suburban American animist in an individualist culture, and living that connection out loud.

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The Animistic Dream Team

In the Betwixt series focusing on mundane support for skywalking seekers, we’ve talked about reciprocity with guidestaking the baton from guides, and finding etheric support in the life force around us. What about that of our immediate formed community, as in the people around us? How do they fit into our spiritual, if not animistic, Dream Team? How do we decide who should be on our Team?

Photo by ChinoGypsy ~Flickr

Most new to the path of actively connecting with aliveliness   rely heavily on spiritual benefactors, as in guides, spirit allies, engaging totems in trance or alone in Nature. However profoundly those relationships impact our lives, we can’t substitute them for human connection.

Of course, we can, but should we? Is it healthy to? Is it complete? I’m open to arguments that we aren’t all wired for the same kind of interpersonal connection.  To clarify, I’m not talking about introversion versus extroversion. Rather, my emphasis is on deep, honest assessment about where humans fit into our animistic path. I meet so many animists who are deeply connected to, tend, and are tended by Nature, but care nothing about humanity. They want to save dolphins, though aren’t motivated to meet their neighbors. Such a visceral disjunct in one area affects how we relate to every species.

I freely admit, in the past I’ve dissed Camp Humanity, and since have realized what a self-defeatist victim stance such is. An assault on all is an assault on me. As a result, I was  faced with the limitations of my personal power from not being better connected to humanity, and the truth that my skills in deepening any relationship rely entirely on my intentional engagement in every relationship–animal, plant, element, human, discarnate…  Of course, as we must become intimately aware of where we stand with humanity, we need to be vividly clear on what people we appeal to for help, and frankly, those whom we do not.

How do we connect with people as spiritual allies? When in distress or need, most of us look to our partners or other loved ones for total support, only to wonder why the relationship implodes. First, one person can’t hold everything, especially if it’s expression around a deeply personal or traumatic event. Even if it’s just sharing of an experience outside that person’s belief system or experience, such a departure can create dissonance in the relationship. Second, just because our loved ones adore us and want to be supportive doesn’t mean they’re equipped to provide the depth of witnessing or assistance that we need, that which an objective, trained professional can provide.

And what if we don’t find that trained professional? Many on the animistic path are dubious of working with caregivers in traditional modalities. We fear judgement, we fear change as much as anyone, and we often don’t know who or what to look for, particularly in times of distress. Along with those is inability to find the best-suited modality to meet our needs. Some of us of are land-locked, socially isolated, and limited in available resources. Further, sometimes it isn’t personal help that we need, but education, information. Sometimes we just need to connect with someone who knows what we do not.

The people on your Team don’t have to be professionals. They can be listeners. Sometimes all we need is someone to witness our vision, our experience, our plans. We don’t necessarily need feedback, reframing, or a nod, just a caring person. I’ve witnessed many seekers abandon a budding path because they didn’t have anyone to talk to about their experiences. They didn’t have a human community with whom they could share, seek guidance, find encouragement, sit in the woods, or overcome challenges. For such people, that lack of support eventually generates more stress in their lives than the experience that drove them out of the frame to begin with.

Like it or not, most of us need people as part of our spiritual path. We need the intimacy of sharing and creating space, exchanging experiences. Even the animal instincts to smell, feel, and hear the presence of others alters how we tread our soul travels. We also can’t ignore each other as facets of our own healing,  as mirrors and/or projections. We can’t ignore where we as individuals become a collective.

Explore what interpersonal connectivity you need. What skills and personalities do you need in the people around you? What ones can you do without? It’s just as important to be clear in what you don’t need, not because you’re afraid to reach out or try something new, but because your truth says to move on, because mindlessly filling with relationships you don’t need distracts you from connecting with those you do.

To get a feel for who should be on your Dream Team, look at the people in your life.  Do they fill you? Do they drain you? What does each individual bring, that none other offers? How do you bless them? How do you affirm them? How do you let go of relationships you don’t need? Where do you excel in human interconnection? In what areas could you use some work?

In examining the people in your life, look at modalities of healing and learning. Challenge yourself to consider your concept of healing and healer, of learning and teaching. What modalities do you implement regularly? Do they fill your needs? What modalities do you avoid? What ones would you like to try? How do you best learn? What approaches do not serve you?

Consider the following roles in examining human relationships and your spiritual path:

  • Medical Doctor
  • Acupuncturist
  • Naturopath/Nutritionist
  • Clergy
  • Massage Therapist/Structural Integration Therapist
  • Cognitive/Behavioral Therapist
  • Witness/Listener
  • Personal Trainer
  • Legal Advisor
  • Financial Advisor
  • Teacher
  • Shaman
  • Energy Healer
  • Horticulturist
  • Artist
  • People Like You
  • People Different From You
  • Friend
  • Family
  • Lover

SoulIntentArts.com

These are but a few possibilities. Even if you don’t make humans a core facet of your animistic path, acknowledge that they are in some way significant to it. Challenge yourself. Amongst those fetishes for animals and plants on your altar, insinuate some praise for your people–those you know, those you will never know, those you have let go. Honor the Dream Team, and it will find its way in blessing you.

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Kelley is an author and modern shaman in North Carolina. She writes about the challenges of being a neoshaman and renegade Druid, as well as those of transforming spiritual emergency into a meaningful soul path (while still managing to show up for work every day and put food on the table). She shares The Weekly Rune at soulintentarts.com, and created the Tribe of the Modern Mystic to support and mentor spiritual emergence in community. Find more information about Soul Intent Arts at http:/www.soulintentarts.com , and her publications at http://www.kelleyharrell.com .

Comments

  • singh pammy
    singh pammy Monday, 03 February 2014

    yes dream team or team work

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