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Creativty, Healing and Shamanism: Part 3

by Carlisle Bergquist, M.A., Ph.D.c.

A Dynamical Systems Model of exceptional encounters in Brazil.
© 1996 Carlisle Bergquist, MA, Ph.D.c.


Shaman #2

For a shaman, the appearance of this second cyclic attractor is the time when their culture realizes that they must find a new shaman because the existing shaman is aging, ineffective, or recently deceased. The society senses its need or, perhaps if you will, worries. An individual member of society who is in need of healing, removal of a curse, or other of the services a shaman offers, is an isomorph of the larger societal field. The client asks the shaman to replicate the process of dedifferentiation and redifferentiation an in the process meet his or her individual (client) need. This occurs through a journey to the other world or other ritual wherein the shaman may find the afflicting spirit or the "healed" part of the client. Rather than chronicle an individual healing as will be done later in this writing, this section will apply the dynamical model to the development of the shaman as a healer.

Phase portrait #3

A shaman may receive his calling in a number of ways. Phase portrait #3 shows the draw of an individual's personality (conscious and unconscious) to the attractor created by the collective need. The specific manner in which an individual becomes a shaman varies with each culture but some common themes recur. A common way in which a shaman may receive this calling is by hearing an inner voice from the spirit world. S/he might instead have an actual encounter with a spirit either in visible form or through an animal, plant or other object in nature.

An older shaman may select a neophyte in whom s/he has noticed exceptional abilities. Family members may also notice that a member has unusual dreams or abilities and report it to the members of the tribe or, to an existing shaman who may train the individual. Likewise, there may be elements about the individual's life that indicate their propensity for the work; for example, being born feet first or having what we would term a near-death experience. I use near-death since the individual came back to life no matter what the manner of the resurrection. Thus, hearing the call may differ from culture to culture. Yet, no matter what the cultural context, the surrender to that call consumes the unconscious of the new shaman as indicated in phase portrait #3.

Phase portrait #4

The individual now surrenders completely to the task of becoming a shaman. This is a fragile state, as previously stated about phase portrait #4 in this writing. It has no specific duration. The shaman in training generally disappears from the community during this period. In Sumatra for example, spirits allegedly carry the shaman candidate off into the sky, train them, and give them power (Eliade, 1974). In Venezuela, a candidate builds a small hut outside the village where s/he dedicates all their time and energy to studying nature, the use of plants, chants and songs, ventriloquism, rituals and the ability to mimic all the animals around the area. During this time the candidate eats and drinks only enough to sustain life and sleeps very little. This process further dissolves the ego and makes the neophyte more impressionable to the training shaman and the spirits. The is a time for both experiencing the spirit world and, for gaining practical knowledge of plants, animals, people and life. It is a time when the shaman becomes a dweller in two worlds.

There are many different rituals that may be part of this process of renouncing the flesh. A would be shaman of the Arunta of Australia for example may go through this initiation period in one of two ways. He may go off alone and be initiated by the spirits as described. A second alternative is that s/he may undergo a long a painful process wherein other medicine men drive magic crystals under the skin of legs and head and, under the nail of one of his fingers. In both cases his tongue his pierced either by the spirits throwing a spear or by the elder medicine men (Spencer and Gillen, 1927). As one can see, through the austerity of these rites the candidate must endure a great deal, and be willing to give up his personality as it existed before trying to become a shaman. In many ways phase portrait #4 shows an individual descending into madness, a madness the shaman must learn to survive and master.

Phase portrait #5

The final initiation of the shaman is the complete collapse of the personality and the person. The shaman divests him or herself of all earthly goods and is killed by evil spirits or, the spirits of his or her ancestors. This may occur in a drug induced trance, seance or other altered state of consciousness. The death of shaman candidates may include being mutilated and torn limb from limb. They may have the flesh torn from their bones and their bones scattered. Then, after the candidate loses everything, the spirits recreate the individual and impart shamanistic powers. Thus, phase portrait #5 shows this final destruction as the last vestiges of a personal ego disintegrate. New information and matter-energy then enter the system from the undifferentiated consciousness with which the spirits form the new creation -- the shaman.

Phase portrait #6

Recreation by the spirits is bifurcation #3. It represents new input into the system which results in the shamanistic power of the individual. The candidate died, went to hell (so to speak) and is resurrected in a new, more powerful form much like the Christian teachings of the death and resurrection of Christ (The Holy Bible). The new cyclic attractor around the personal unconscious in phase portrait #6 represents the internalization of shamanistic powers by the individual after the long disintegration process. To be useful, the new shaman must maintain these powers and again function as a member of the community. Thus, s/he rejoins the community and announces his or her abilities. A fledgling shaman may at first work only on family members until demonstrating his or her powers. The final stages of this model deal with the new shaman practicing his or her craft within their family, clan, or community.

Phase portrait #7

Receiving shamanic powers must be a severe psychological shock. One can only imagine what it must be like to contact the spirit world at will, to cure disease, or to wield metaphysical energies that affect the world. The shaman must learn to verify these abilities and master his or her art. Thus, phase portrait #7 indicates an individuation process in which the new shaman, having received power, must learn more about him or herself and continue to embody the new powers without depending on his teachers. S/he remains in contact with the teaching spirits or, in some cases the shaman instructor, but now the focus is in learning to control and command the forces rather than simply receiving them. It is the change from passive initiate to active instigator.

The new shaman remains open to the undifferentiated consciousness without the boundaries of his former ego. S/he has not yet taken up the personality role that will come in the community if s/he truly masters their craft. As mentioned, the shaman may work only with family or close clan members to perfect their abilities. Robert Lowie (1954) reports that a Washo Indian shaman after receiving his powers by from a dream must heal his first patient without any fee. If he is successful he will become a doctor. The shaman may then receive a buckskin for the second patient treated successfully and thereafter he may charge for his services. In so doing the new shaman verifies to him or herself that they have, in fact, become an adept.

Phase portrait #7 show that matter-energy and information flow into the system from the infinite undifferentiated consciousness. A shaman may symbolize this gathering of additional knowledge and power by empowering rocks and artifacts s/he will use as tools of the trade. Some shamans will find rocks that represent various powers and eat them (Harner, 1980). Upon solidifying his or her power and, feeling verified or self-confident, the shaman forms a new relationship with the community.

Phase portrait #8

The shaman must reintegrate as an individual who not only controls these shamanistic powers but can function as a member of the society. This is the ultimate verification of his or her abilities. The new shaman now stands as a re-integrated individual whose worth the culture may judge. The community will reward the successful shaman with power and greater payment for their services. Failure may be judged quite severely for should the shaman be unable to heal the sick, give bad advice or, fail to manipulate the forces affecting their clients, s/he will lose favor in the community. Another, more effective practitioner will be found. In the most extreme settings, the shaman may be killed.

Phase portrait #8 shows the final bifurcation in which the new shaman has re-integrated as a new personality with the shamanistic powers and found a relationship with the collective (community). The shaman relates both at the conscious and unconscious levels. The new abilities remain entrained with the collective need. As long as s/he continues to serve in a relevant and meaningful manner, the shaman has found a place, both as an individual and a communication vehicle between the spirit and material worlds, in society.


Phase portrait #2

Amyr met a small green man on the street who led him into ongoing secret teachings. Though he had probably witnessed phenomenal acts by his grandfather, the meeting with this stranger from Ezna was for him a pivotal event. It is difficult to posit the validity of his claim. It may be an actual close encounter with an alien intelligence or, a symbolic representation of transcendental forces moving through him. In either case, in this model, it is the appearance of the cyclic attractor of a collective need. Amyr did not cite exposure to poverty and pestilence in his childhood, but because of the economic conditions for most Brazilians it is likely that he encountered such conditions. Thus, the collective need, represented by the little green man, influenced Amyr who then allowed transcendental phenomena to occur through him.

The Blue Sky Bifurcation and cyclic attractor produced by the collective need in Phase portrait #2 also represents the interaction between Amyr and our group of travelers and observers called the "Noetic Scientists." Each of us came to Brazil to have a belief or, perhaps curiosity, verified. Each of us had a wish to know something of the paranormal powers expressed by individuals we would meet on this journey. Amyr responded to our collective wishes in a variety of individual ways. I will briefly describe a few of the wishes that evoked response starting with my own.

Initially, this collective need met response in that Amyr had, prior to our visit, kept his abilities unknown to any scientific observers. With the aid of Dr. Pierre Weil, Amyr met with our group and allowed us to observe his ability. Speaking for myself (yet I believe this is true of all the participants on this journey in Brazil) I wished to witness and experience paranormal events. I wished to validate my belief that such occurrences as I had heard described in books really existed. This was the aspect of the collective need that seemed most active in the interaction with Amyr. Each member of our group individualized this collective need.

Phase portrait #3

Amyr began to interact with us at the City of Peace as mentioned earlier. Phase portrait #3 shows the personal unconscious (in this case Amyr's) coming under the influence of the cyclic attractor generated around the collective unconscious. Our collective need drew information markers and matter-energy (perhaps psychic energies) from Amyr. His actions represent this in several ways.

First, the synchronicity of Amyr deciding to reveal himself, and the availability of both he and our group, are part of this response. Second, when Amyr met with us, he appeared to sense (intuitively and verbally) what each individual needed to validate their belief or, satisfy their curiosity. I am, in this statement, making the assumption that Amyr's acts were genuine and not expertly performed magical tricks. The possibility remains that he fooled us. Likewise, though Amyr perceived and responded to the collective need at some level, he may not have done so consciously. Many of the manifestations that occurred had meaning to the individuals involved that transcended Amyr's conscious knowledge. These events occurred at different times for each individual; however, I will describe them as they fit this model rather than listing them chronologically.

My part of the collective need was to witness "miracles" if you will. I wanted to experience such events first hand. I did not convey this to Amyr in any conversation. The event necessary to fulfill my "need" happened almost immediately upon meeting him. I assume that Amyr responded to that need at some unconscious level. I will describe the actual event in the following portions of this model.

The entire group met with Amyr at the City of Peace after eating lunch. During the meeting, Dr. Wiel showed us a chalice that Amyr held shortly before we arrived. What appeared to be blood covered a cross on one side of the chalice. Dr. Wiel explained that when Amyr picked up the chalice the blood exuded from the cross. I picked it up for a closer inspection and, after looking closely at the marks inside and out, I passed it around to the rest of our group. When it returned, created within it were several communion wafers that had not been there when it left my hands. To the best of my knowledge, the chalice was in the hands, or within plain sight, of our group the entire time.

At dinner a few days later, Becky J. sat listening and talking with the group and Amyr. During the conversation she mentioned that she had been studying various religious figures and wondered which of them might be her mentor upon whom she should meditate. Marylu, at the same dinner, mentioned that she would like a gold bracelet. Martha likewise mentioned that she would like an emerald as long as people were making requests.

In each of the above example, information markers transferred to Amyr (either consciously or subliminally). His attention drawn (as shown in phase portrait #3) Amyr opened his consciousness and allowed himself to become the vehicle through which to meet our desires. The following steps in this model may have occurred very rapidly in some cases but I will try to delineate how they transpired in these examples. Phase portrait #3 is the point at which the individual actively engages in the creative process. A creator or healer may return to this stage repeatedly if the task requires continued processing as it did when responding to our collective need (as will be shown in Phase portrait #9). For Amyr personally, this phase portrait represents his willingness to surrender his consciousness for training with the beings from Ezna, an act he likewise repeats monthly.

Phase portrait #4

As Amyr allowed himself to respond to the creative tasks of physical mediumship it was clear that he endured a considerable amount of stress. The immediate event described here happened so quickly that I am unable to separate all the stages discretely. Thus, the following paragraph describes the remaining stages of the dynamical process for this event. I may refer to areas of it in the subsequent stages.

I was sitting in the lunch room about four feet behind Amyr at the City of Peace. I heard Dr. Weil say "Here it goes again." His statement was in response to hearing something drop and bounce inside the room. Shortly thereafter Dr. Stanley Krippner, the leader of our group, walked over and retrieved a small polished black stone encased in mud from the floor. I watched with interest as they discussed it. At that moment no one in our group, except Dr. Krippner, knew that Amyr manifested apports; e.g., was able to produce physical objects through mediumistic abilities. Dr. Krippner asked Amyr if he felt that the phenomena happened through the work of some spiritual force or entity operating in him. Dr. Krippner mentioned the name Christ in this dialogue. Instantly Amyr began to bleed from his palms and the backs of his hands. A dark red mark also appeared on his forehead. This phenomenon called stigmata, allegedly indicates that an individual so heavily identifies with Christ that they express the marks of crucifixion. It is one consideration in the proof of a miracle according to the Roman Catholic church. Interestingly, Amyr is a Muslim though he was ecumenical in presenting his beliefs.

Several events occurred at dinner the following day. The most spectacular happened for Marylu R. Amyr had been playing with pieces of aluminum foil that had topped the butter containers served with dinner. He rolled several of them together and placed them around Marylu's wrist, telling her that he would like to make her a bracelet. She answered, "I would love it to be gold." For the next several minutes Amyr rubbed and shaped the foil occasionally looking upward. He reported later that he sees an entity in a brown robe kneeling above him from which he receives strength and guidance. During this time he appeared to be under considerable duress. Marylu felt his heart and discovered that "it was beating wildly" as she described it. Marylu and Maggie C. both monitored Amyr's pulse for some period at this time and expressed concern for his safety. Thus, as phase portrait #4 shows the system (Amyr) was in a very unstable condition.

This stage in the personal development of Amyr as a sensitive, likely includes a continued period of self-doubt and psychological stress as Amyr became an agent through which this greater creative force could operate. He described several incidents that caused him concern. As examples: he would occasionally bilocate; i.e., be physically in two locations at once. At times he even met himself which at first caused him great concern. He also stated that he had to tie himself into bed at night lest he float (levitate) out the window. This allegedly happened frequently and he feared injury in his sleep.

Phase portrait #5

In the process of creating, Amyr (the system) collapses further under in rushing matter-energy and information markers from undifferentiated consciousness. Continued stress marks this stage. It is the early infusion of the new, but not yet fully formed, creation. Amyr describes the being in a brown robe to whom he looks regularly while he is in the process of manifesting an apport. This may be a symbolic representation of the in flowing "prima materia" from the undifferentiated consciousness.

It is difficult to differentiate this stage from the previous one in Amyr's personal development as a sensitive from my knowledge of his life. However, I may speculate that just as the entity in the brown robe is present for him in the act of physical mediumship, a willingness to turn over control (surrender his ego) of his paranormal abilities to a higher will marks this stage.

Phase portrait #6

This is the moment when the prima materia merges with information to form the new creation. The creations flowing through Amyr often occurred so quickly; e.g., falling stones, that pinpointing the exact "ah-ha" moment is impossible. However the manifestations of Martha's emerald and, Marylu's gold bracelet, took place over several minutes and thus reveal this stage in a bit more detail.

As mentioned above, Amyr took several pieces of foil, rolled them together, and shaped them around Marylu's wrist. Thus, the initial idea of a bracelet was present then. He continued for sometime though before there was any evidence of a physical form. Likewise, with the materialization of the emerald, Amyr concentrated for several minutes. The bracelet took form slowly. Several people reported seeing the foil become stiffer as he continues to work it between his fingers. Steve P. stated that it seemed to get more yellow over time as he passed it back and forth between his fingers. Thus this stage seemed to unfold gradually as the bracelet came closer to manifestation. Then at the "Ah-ha" moment, by Marylu's report, he suddenly began separating the foil in his hands to reveal a gold bracelet with Arabic designs repeated along it. Amyr placed the finishing touches on it by rounding and smoothing the ends of the bracelet with his fingers and the placed the product on Marylu's wrist. Similarly, the emerald appeared suddenly in Amyr's hand after several minutes of playing with the foil. In both these instances, the prima materia merged with information to take the forms Amyr was trying to produce in response to the needs expressed to him by our group. In these acts, the undifferentiated has been redifferentiated to form the new creations.

Phase portrait #7

Once the various creations we witnessed had taken form they became objects that, though discrete, were not entirely separate from Amyr. Redifferentiation has taken place but may not be permanent yet. He mentioned in several instances with stones that had appeared, and again with the bracelet, that they sometimes revert to their original form. Amyr never made the critical variables for this possibility clear to us. However to the best of my knowledge, all the objects herein described remain as I saw them last. Thus for this writing, in this stage the new creations form relationships with the world as objects independent of their creator (arguably Amyr). Notably, the creation still relates to the collective need; as mentioned, the new form entrains with the collective need (albeit individually represented in any given creation). The relationship between Amyr's consciousness (ego state) and the collective consciousness of society has not yet returned to normal. Amyr must reintegrate his personality; i.e., come out of the trance-like creative state, and re-enter normal consciousness.

Phase portrait #8

With the reintegration of Amyr's personal consciousness the system returns to stability. Now however, the new creations exist. Society and Amyr now review the redifferentiated creation which is now in the state of societal verification. Thus, the creation receives matter-energy and information feedback from the relationship of Amyr with society (shown by the outside cyclic attractor) and from Amyr's unconscious (shown by the spiral line) flowing to his consciousness and into the interchange with society. This is of course a dialog for both, society as the suprasystem and, Amyr as the system, have evolved with the addition of a newly created form.


Continue to Part 4
[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 5]

Carlisle Bergquist is a psychotherapist, psychological researcher and relationship counselor skilled in Psychosynthesis, spiritual emergence and transpersonal issues. Visit his site at

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