Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Many Dances of Shamanism

{Author's Note:  This article went through 3 different versions.  This one is missing the Magickal Tradition write ups.  That goes into game mechanics territory.  It still gives you an idea what can be done.  This also includes a lot of in world information.  The main concept is how Shamanism is shaped by magick returning.}
   
Shamanism comes in many styles and many traditions. With the advent of the awakening, people of the non‑shamanic cultures have discovered that they too hear the voices of the Totemic spirits. Among those of European descent there are several paths to follow. The first is the Way of the Land, it is a path that follows the cultures native to the land. So the Non‑Native follows Native American practices and usually studies under a Native Elder of the same or compatible totem. The shaman adopts native ways and beliefs and usually is adopted into the tribe of his or her Teacher. This Way is full of challenges based on the fact the shaman was not born to the culture and is somewhat an outsider.

Another path is the Way of the Lost Tradition. Shamanism also existed in areas outside of the stereotypical spectrum of Shamanic cultures (such as Native American, African, Australian Aboriginal, Siberian, and Pacific Islander). Europe had several shamanic Cultures, the Druidic Celts, the Teutonic peoples, the Lapps, and the Scythians. Shamans of this path follow those cultures and work to rebuild those traditions which have been lost. The Shamanic Celtic Druids have been covered nicely in the Media because of their high profile in the British Isles. Another tradition is Seidhr the Norse shamanic tradition. Scholars believe it was matriarchal, in that most of its leaders and members were women. They followed the Norse Goddess Freya, but also were known to follow animal spirit guides.
Among the Lost traditions there are both traditional shamanic traditions and Nature magick traditions. The following are examples of both:
     Egyptian Tradition: Following the Pantheon of Egypt for the most part it is a Nature Magick tradition. Though there are those who follow the animal totems.
     Asatru: A Norse tradition following the Nature Magick tradition following the Teutonic Pantheon.
     Seidhr: A Teutonic Tradition following the standard Animal Totem practices and worshiping the Goddess Freya.
     Celtic Druidic Tradition: A Standard Animal Totem that also follows the Celtic Pantheon.
     Olympian Tradition: A Greco‑Roman Tradition following the Nature Magick Traditions of the Olympian Pantheon.
     Slavonic‑Russian Tradition: A Nature Magick Tradition following the Slavonic‑ Russian Pantheon.
     Mesopotamian Traditions: Nature Magick Traditions follow the Mesopotamian Pantheons.
     Finnish‑Ugrian Tradition: A Nature Magick Tradition following the Finnish‑Ugrian Pantheon.


 There are many other Traditions being discovered by Anthropologists and Archaeologists.

Another Path is the Way of the Goddess, it is based on the multicultural religion of Wicca. Wicca also known as Witchcraft believes in the Earth Mother Goddess. Many in this path are also practitioners of Nature Magic and follow the idols of that style of Shamanism. This Path also includes many who follow both Animal and Plant Totems as well. Wicca is a religion in which the Goddess and her consort, the God, are revered. Those of the Path of the Goddess can follow a number of different cultures, for example Egyptian, Norse, Celtic and so on. There are also separate traditions of Witchcraft based on different cultures like the Italian Strega. Typical Animal Totems include Cat, Raven, Owl, Wolf, Stag, Bull, Cow, Snake and others of the same vein.  This path owes its traditions to the religious movement of the late 20th Century and to the Authors of that movement such as Starhawk, Raven SilverWolf, the Farrars, Raymond Buckland, and etc.
Among the Traditions of the Way of the Goddess are the following:
     Teutonic Witchcraft: Very Similar to Seidhr.
     Strega: An Italian Tradition of Witchcraft.
     Gardnerian Tradition: A form of Witchcraft heavy in Nature Magick Elements, but Hermetic. Founded by Gerald Gardner in England after World War II.
     Dianic Tradition: A Matriarchal and Feminist From of Witchcraft. Some Covens are strictly Female. If Co‑ed all the leadership is female.
     Celtic Wicca: Celtic Tradition, same mythos as Celtic Shamanic Druids but include Nature Magick as well as standard Animal Totemic Shamanism.
     Seax‑Wica: Founded By Raymond Buckland and based on Saxon Beliefs.
     Pictish Witchcraft: Scottish Witchcraft very similar to Scottish Druidic Practices.

Note: There are many more Traditions in both the Way of the Lost Tradition and the Way of the Goddess these are just a few and are in no way all out there.

The Final path is the Way of the Spirits, The shaman gets his direction from the Totem itself. This is extremely rare because the totem takes on an even more active involvement in the shaman's life. Everything comes from the Totem. These shamans are the visionaries and they usually introduce new styles, rituals, ideas and methods. All shamans get direction from their totem, but shamans of this path are almost micromanaged by the totem. These shamans are very intuitive and an increasing number of European‑American shamans are coming from this path. Maybe this is a sign of another new Shamanic tradition being created in the Sixth World. A lot of Urban Shamans come from this school.

The most covered shamanic tradition is the Native American but the Africans are also known for shamanism. There are several totemic cultures such as the Zulu, Masai, Swahili and the !Kung(Bushmen of the Kalahari). They have their own rituals, rites of passage that differ from the Native American, but are similar to each other. The Yoruba's traditions are the basis for Voudoun, with spirits like the Loas/Orishas of Voodoo. With the advent of the Awakening some African‑Americans of a shamanic nature found themselves drawn to their Ancestral ways. They gravitate towards either Voudoun or the African Shamanic tradition.

Some African Americans also follow the Ways of the Land, most of those shamans are the Creoles of Louisiana and the South who also have Native American heritage. In the Salish‑ Shidhe and Sioux Nations there is the NuZulu Nation. Their traditions are an amalgamation of Native American and Tribal African ways (mostly Zulu, Swahili and Masai). They were granted tribal recognition by the Salish‑Shidhe and Sioux Nations. They feel a strong connection to both North America and Africa, so they show reverence to their dual nature. They all feel the call of the African Totems.

In Asia there is also a tradition of following Animal Totem spirits. Most notable of this tradition is the use in Marital Arts where a Martial Arts Physical Adept or a Martial Artist who is a Magician takes an Animal as the Basis for his Marital Arts Style. When this happens the Martial Artist(Adept or Magician) has the Animal's spirit guiding him as his/her spirit guide. In Asia The Martial Arts Path is a Spiritual and Magickal One. Many European‑American and African‑Americans have taken the Asian Shamanic Path as their own since the Mid‑20th Century. One Prime Example of this is the amount of Shao‑Lin Kung Fu Animal Stylists.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shadowrun & Me

{Author's Note:  This was a Blog article from my main blog, The Recovering Ubergeek.  Since it spells out my history with this game I thought I was re-post it here as well.}

My favorite Table Top Role-Playing Game of all time is Shadowrun.  My history with it is storied.  First, I need to explain what the Shadowrun setting is.  Shadowrun mixes two genres Cyberpunk and Fantasy. For the uninitiated Cyberpunk is a genre of Science Fiction.  Cyberpunk is in the near future usually less than a hundred years.  Key elements are cybernetics/bionics, the ability to directly connect the human mind to the internet and the power of Mega-corporations usurping the power of nations.  It uses elements from Hard Boiled Detective stories, Film Noir and Nihilism.  Shadowrun is set in the 2060 to 2070’s where magic has also returned.  People are born Elves and Dwarves or suffer Goblinization, which results in becoming Orks or Trolls.  The Mega-Corporations are the true power in this world.  When magic came back cultures that had magickal traditions regained power.  In North America this meant the rise of Native American Nations who break off from the US and Canada.  The game is primarily set in Seattle, which is part of the remainder of the US and Canada (they unified), however it is surrounded by the Native American Nations.  The game is Cyborgs, Elves, Dragon, Hackers (called Decker in the game), Wizards, Shamans, and Bio-Tech.  It is a brave new old world.

The game first came out in 1989 and I was into it from the start.  My first campaign however was in the setting, but not the rules.  My roommate at the time preferred Hero System rules, same rules as those used in the Superhero RPG Champions.  He used other settings but always used those rules.  I played in that campaign from 1990 till 1991.  When I moved from Eugene and back to the Portland area, I ended up with a new gaming group.  This is when I starting using the rules that came with the setting.  Our main Gamemaster and I alternated running the game so each of us got to play.  Generally, I was the head Gamemaster for Shadowrun. My areas of expertise were Metahumans (the catch all term for non-human humanoids), Magic (specifically Shamanic Magic), and the Native American Nations.  I loved the research, which lead me to discover Neo-Paganism and Shamanism as personal spiritual paths.  I did not like dealing with the personal politics.  At one point my players decided to try to get rid of an annoying character.  When the plan failed and the Player of said character got upset, everyone turned on me.  This pointed out some of my social limitations.  I had players that wanted their character histories to be hush hush, and they became upset when I fleshed it out in scenarios.  I was with that gaming group for four years.  When I left, I was made to feel I was stabbing people in the back.  I left for the most part because going became a chore.  It was no longer fun.


I still kept my Shadowrun game books and novels.  I was still buying the newer sourcebooks.  In 1997, I started a Shadowrun website called Dreamsinger’s Circle.  The site was mostly stuff about the Shamanic Magic tradition in the game.  I included new totems, new cultural paths, new takes on Shamanism itself, and articles about various Shamanic subjects.  For the uninitiated, in Shamanic lore the totem is the spirit animal that a Shaman embodies.  I expanded the site to included rants and campaign setting materials from my own campaigns.  I gained a decent following in both the online Shadowrun community and the AOL gaming community.  I never got into the various attempts at Shadowrun video games.  At the time, I did not have a video game console or a PC that was up to specs.  I continued working on my site.  In December of 1998, I bought the newest Magic Sourcebook and found many of my ideas in the book; the concepts were universal enough that one could claim independent inspiration.  However I knew the Author was a fan of the site.  It just left a bad taste in my mouth.  It stung especially when I had failed multiple times to convince FASA, Shadowrun’s publisher to take me on as a contributor.  I should have tried to publish in various gaming magazines before trying to submit something directly to the publisher.   I was young and impetuous.  In 2000, I decided to close the site and I sold most of my Shadowrun gaming books.  I figured that I had spent enough time and effort playing in someone else’s sandbox.  I decided that I would try to concentrate on my own creations.  Life happened and I still need to work on those. Now with a new lease on life possibilities are endless.  I will tell you this; I still love that world and its concepts.  It gave me an outlet that helped me hone my writing skills.  In many ways Dreamsinger’s Circle was the prototype for this blog.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eyes Wide Awake

{Author's Note:  This was written in world, as a look how after 50 or 60 years what perceptions about magick were and what pre-conceptions were broken.}

When magick returned and the sixth world began, there was a backlash in various communities.  The one hit the hardest of course was the pagan community.  Figure this, the community always believed in magick, however not everybody has the magickal gene.  Some Wiccan covens and hermetic circles were lucky and every member was magickal, but this was the exception not the rule.  There was a group of new age shamans called the Circle of the Drum.  After the Awakening it was learned only one person in the group was a magickally active and was a shaman.  That person turned out to be the daughter of one of the members, a 13 year old.  The Circle was discredited and broke up.  Another group, the coven known as the Children of the Stars, discovered that their High Priest and Priestess were the only non-nature mages in the Group.  This of course lead to a re-configuring of the coven's structure.  Groups that thought they were wholly Hermetic had shamans and nature mages awaken and vice versa.

Incidents like these shattered the pagan community.  Many neo-pagan traditions dissolved due to the fact that there were no real practitioners in their organization.  The Awakening also validated those who had always believed and knew they were different.  Once the smoke settled the remainder of the pagan community was stronger and much more stable than before.  The Awakening vindicated many Pagan beliefs, but shattered others.  Some left the neo-pagan beliefs due to the fact they did not become magickal.  Other still believed and realized that the magickally gifted were the leaders of their beliefs which still needed a congregation.

The shamans that this kind of experience happened to were those who did not follow a cultural tradition.  After looking at some of the precepts one learns, they followed some assumptions that the Awakening proved false.  One assumption that some of these groups had was that everyone who followed their beliefs should be magickally gifted.  In the pre-Christian groups they emulated not everybody was a priest, shaman or druid.  The post Awakening Pagan Community learned this and those who survived it accepted it.  This did affect the size of the pagan community which shrank after the Awakening.   As stated earlier the resulting Pagan communities were stronger in faith and the Awakening trimmed many congregations of those who sought to fleece the gullible. 

It also trimmed the pagan communities of those who dabbled in pagan beliefs.  This led to a situation where the pagan communities were stronger in their beliefs and faith.  After those who were not serious left the various pagan beliefs many newly magickally active folks started to investigate the various pagan beliefs.  This led to the present situation where over 60% of the pagan communities are magickally active.

Another assumption was one chose his or her totem or idol.  Some of those who Awakened learned that they heard the call of a totem or idol other than what they had assumed prior to the Awakening.  Any present day shaman or nature mage will tell you that the totem or idol chooses its shaman or nature mage, not the other way around.  Many of these people had not been taught a cultural tradition, they followed books or made things up on their own.  One belief of the pagan and new age groups that was vindicated was the existence of the mythic totems, like Unicorn, Wyrm, and Phoenix.  Many orthodox shamanic communities scoffed at the idea, but the new age and pagan communities were vindicated when they were proved to exist.

Another assumption that was shattered was that some pagan groups had the belief that there was only one "proper" way of doing things.  This assumption was shattered.  Since members of each pagan belief had magickally active members in them.  Before the Awakening certain groups of each pagan religion had conflicts over ritual and proper style.  After the Awakening many of those arguments were made moot. 

The Post-Awakening pagan communities and religions now have a solid foot hold in the Sixth world.  There are pagan groups in almost every UCAS and CAS state or province.  The pagan renaissance is now in full affect in Europe and North America.  As the magickally active community grows it is believed that the pagan communities and religions will grow.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Introduction

I am Rick Myers.  Between 1996 and 2000, I had a Shadowrun Shamanic magic focused website called Dreamsinger's Circle.  With my discovery of Shamanism, I found a personal spiritual path as well as something interesting in a game.  Many of my observations based on my research into Shamanism and Totemic thought and lore, found themselves on my site.  In 2007 I started posting my thoughts on Pop Culture and Geek/Nerd Culture on My Space.  In November of 2009 I started the blog The Recovering Ubergeek, which in 2015 became the Fumbling Forwards blog..  In 2012 the blog was re-invigorated after I left a major long term relationship.  On that blog I began to rediscover and re-examine my Pop Culture passions.  I became a fan of Charles de Lint back in the mid 1990's.  His work covers some of the similar subject matter found in Shadowrun in terms of folk lore, Shamanism and the spirit worlds.  I discovered his Facebook group in 2014.  A lot of the subjects covered in the group are ones I discussed on the old site.  This site is not a mirror of the old.  I am going to post those old articles and rants.  However I am going to remove the game mechanics and edit them slightly.  The reason for this is there have been two new editions of the game since I left Shadowrun.  I am also not going to post my campaign stuff.  The reason is those works were my own personal creations.  At some point I will reach the end of all my work in the game.  I do not plan on any new work.  This is mostly to give the old work new eyes.  I hope you enjoy.

Many Blessings,

Rick