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Shamanic Death

Author: Bruce Luther

You can email the author, of the article and book, Bruce Luther at: with any questions or comments.

What is a Shaman’s death, and who’s likely to have one? The death itself
is a suspension between worlds. States of consciousness. The individual
today, who is likely to have a "Shamanic Death" is chasing extinction
itself. Through that process the person is readying him/herself to stand
on a bridge between space and time.

Native American Tradition, from my limited knowledge of it, describes a
ritual of preparation. The beginning of the ritual involved the initiator
burning away the world into which they were born. Removing any trace of
familiar surroundings and belongings. The ritual continued in complete
isolation to the tribe. The isolation took place in caves, and even in a
grave excavated by the apprentice him/herself. It was left to the
initiator to know precisely when the time was right to escape the
isolation and take his or her new role in the tribe. The ritual could take
years to complete.

The ancestors of the Shamans had learned the hard way of their chosen
path. It demanded an innate understanding of death and how to control it.
Many went beyond the controls of fatality, prematurely extinguishing their
human life. The Shamans were born with a mark. The mark was well hidden
until they had been recognized by the elders. The ideas that surrounded
the practice kept most people from it. A Shaman’s death was a real death
to those involved.

In today’s world, the solitude begins for the Shaman in streets and homes
of modern society. The initiator has a strong sense of being in an
unfamiliar time and place. Nothing seems as it should be. It’s hard for
the apprentice to function and find a place in the foreign surroundings of
his/her environment. Many times they act out in fits of madness. The
strain of trying to assimilate is overpowering. They abandon the idea of
becoming their true selves all together. Many turn to easier solutions,
such as drugs or any means to release the suffering. For some, they find
their way through the use of narcotics and controlled substance. They long
for the isolation, the preparation needed to stand once again between

A modern day example of a Shaman’s death would be the one which came to me
first hand. Most of my life was preoccupied by my unwillingness to
conform. I wanted no part of conformity. It was wrong for me to accept
social conditioning. The times that I broke under the pressure, I found
myself healing the wounds and starting the fight all over again. My
childhood was filled with abuse. As I see it now, this mistreatment was
necessary for me to recognize what was laying no the road in front of me.
It’s easy to blame others for the perceived destructive path which I was
taking. Every choice was my own, and I needed to endure the responsibility
for it. Our world does not allow us the freedom of alien thought. We are
forced to embrace the material reality presented to us, or so we think.
A year ago, I met someone who insisted that I go to India with him.
Because I had been chasing death most of my life, the decision was easy. I
did not know at the time that, that is what I was doing. Only after the
event took place, did I comprehend the idea. The last day of our trip, I
was confronted by a powerful negative being. That presence forced me into
accepting the fact that I had to the experience the Shamanic Death. There
was no alternative.

A portion of our spirit is contained within our body. My spirit was
conditioning my physicalness to accept the challenge of taking up my
preordained position in this world. The only place for me to escape the
negativity was to go to the water. My mind was spinning with sensations.
My spirit was in control. My body was overwhelmed with the stimuli of the
universe. All the years of abuse and dealing with the Shamanic isolation
had come to their conclusion. The ritual was to take on the meaning of
dying. Throwing off all that I knew of the world in which I was born.
I found myself at the edge of the Adriatic Sea. My mind was spinning,
reeling from sensation. What do I do now? I asked myself. I stripped off
my clothes, removed the contacts from my eyes and began to swim, swimming
as hard and as fast as I could. I swallowed as much sea water as my body
would tolerate. When I could no longer see the shore, my body sank. I did
nothing to stop it. I could see the stars turn dark the deeper my body
gravitated to the bottom. I was alone, in the darkness of the planet. My
fate was in the earth’s hands. All the components were there, conditioned
perception, total isolation and the absence of physical means.
I could see my body continuing down the column of water, yet my
consciousness was suspended above it. I stood at the place where time and
space no longer exist. I was outside of the universe once again in the
wholeness of my spirit, my core. I immersed my awareness in my creation. I
remembered all of what I am. I tossed aside the body and physical universe
to reveal my essence to my human mind. The body joined my consciousness
once again, and I returned to the surface. My lungs were not starved for
air as I swam back to shore. I had been reborn in the total insolation of
my tribe, humanity; the purpose of a Shaman’s death. The condition was to
remain between worlds, all worlds, neither more in one than the other.
Standing on the edge of the spiral of death, watching the flow of
life-force through the "Circle of Life."

After experiencing, "the death," your entire life becomes more in focus,
for your complete examination. Our spirit dictates the depth of the
experience. It gives to our humanness what it desires the body to carry on
into the physical reality, our will, or spirit than leads us through life
and creates a more fitting nature to our true likeness.
Life here in the modern world is the preparation. Modern society is far
removed, and distances us from our center. Engaging the world itself is
all the isolation that is required. One feels like a warrior, trying
desperately at times to keep the enemy at bay. It gives the shaman
apprentice all the direction required to remember his/her way to the
place, the space between worlds, if you can survive and keep focused on
the journey.

You can learn more about the journey in a book entitled: Elements of
. The experience even goes beyond the shaman’s death. It takes you
into aspects of creation that have been lost to our current comprehension.

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