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Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Creative Unfoldment (essay)

Epona, by Susan Seddon-Boulet


The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You


In this essay I will present my ideas of the connection between shamanic healing and creative unfoldment. It is something I make aware of in my philosophical counseling practice, which I combine with forest therapy.

Table of context:

1) Introduction

2) The Artist as Shaman

3) Kintsugi – The Beauty of Imperfect Repair

4) The Roads of Life, by Karen Blixen

5) The Four Philosophical Hindrances and Openings

6) The Painbody

7) The Song of Creation

8) The Song of Healing

1) Introduction

In a forest therapy situation I often (not always) introduce two important aspects of the combination of Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy. They are not techniques I use systematically. I just make aware of them in order to get the therapy started. They are:

 1)  The Compass – The forgotten Secret of Hara Healing

2)  Kintsugi – The Beauty of Imperfect Repair  

1)  The Compass – The forgotten Secret of Hara Healing

The next thing I will present is the concept of Hara. Here I will directly instruct the guest in Harameditation (omphalos psychism), which aim at stillness (hesychia).

Hara is fundamental to all wisdom traditions and natural healing professions. Hara is therefore known in all wisdom traditions, though only explicitly emphasized in Zen Buddhism and Taoism (Omphalos Psychism is the name for the same practice, as it was practiced in ancient Greece). So, the name Hara is quite known, but what is less known, or rather, forgotten, is Hara as the basis for meditation. Traditional meditation teachers always instructed their students to center the mind in Hara, or, as it is called in China, the lower Tan Tien (=Omphalos). The centrality in this is shown in the Buddha sculptures, where Buddha either sits with both hands, or the left hand, in Hara. It is therefore a peculiar phenomenon to see how modern meditation teachers often have forgotten this, though they might very well be able to sit in the correct meditation position. I therefore believe that the Buddha sculptures shows a secret which are forgotten. In the following I will explain what this secret is.

Acting from the Hara is traditionally considered to be related to higher states of awareness or Samadhi (Nirvana, Unia Mystica, Satori, etc.). Hara is traditionally considered to be the seat of awareness. This is in complete opposition to the Western top-heavy focus in the head, where the crown chakra is considered to be the place of enlightenment. This is a mistake created by the ideology of evolutionism, a newer European invention formulated from around 1550 to 1900. In Harameditation you don´t move upwards, but remains focused in Hara. Personally, I discovered Hara due to my top-down kundalini awakening.

Though only explicitly practised in Taoism and Zen Buddhism, the concept of Hara is universal, and therefore ought to be rediscovered by all. Hara awareness offers no philosophical systems, moral precepts, psychological analyses, or intellectual explanations (this is the reason why I teach it to all people, no matter what religion or belief they belong to). Instead we receive helpful impulses from moment to moment. Just like a child searching for Easter eggs is guided by calls of “warm” or “cold,” so we can rely on the hints from our centre in our search for happiness and success. Of course, there will be minutes when we notice that something is wrong. Then we feel unhappy until we remember our inner compass and follow its messages.

In my article The Compass - The Forgotten Secret of Hara Healing, I give an introduction to Hara and my own developed Hara exercise. This is further explained in connection with my concept of Sûnyatâ Sutras and the art of going beyond all images and ideas.

In the end of that article I give some links to other related texts, as for example my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth. Here I describe Hara seen in relation to the chakra-system, and how the correct opening of the chakras happens. Hara is namely also the gateway to Mother Earth, or the Earth chakra, which is essentially in all shamanic healing practices.

2)  Kintsugi – The Beauty of Imperfect Repair  

As mentioned, on the Buddha sculptures you can see Buddha with a hand resting in Hara. On the sculptures of The Medicine Buddha, you can see Hara illustrated as a bowl with medicinal herbs (read more). 

If you have no contact with Hara, this bowl will be broken. Your task is to repair it. At this point I will present the concept the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the beauty of imperfect repair. It is an old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold.

Later the illustration of Kintsugi can be connected with the heart, and the Heartmeditation called Tonglen: how to heal a broken heart with the gold of compassion. The heart is the seat of creative emptiness, Sûnyatâ, the indescribable Otherness, the breath of the Divine.

So, by presenting Kintsugi, I just want to use an illustration of how shamanic healing can be connected with creative unfoldment and art. I will return to Kintsugi.

2) The Artist as Shaman

In my article, My Life as a Vagabond, I wrote about the author and folklorist, Terri Windling´s article, On Artistic Inspiration. Here she writes:

“In the mythic tradition, both artists and shamans walk perilously close to the realm of madness; indeed, in some cases, their gifts specifically come from journeying into madness, or Faerie, or the Realm of the Gods and then back again.”

This is also a central theme in her book, The Wood Wife. It begins with a Goethe quote:

Who wants to understand the poem
Must go to the land of poetry.

In her article, The Artist as Shaman: Madness, Shapechanging, and Art in Terri Windling's The Wood Wife, Mary Nicole Silvester has written about the artist as shaman seen in relation to Windling´s novel. She writes:

In popular thought, if not always in fact, shamanism is associated with altered states of consciousness and borderline madness, with shapechanging and otherworldly journeys, with creativity and genius. Windling’s novel The Wood Wife weaves these elements into the story of a woman who meets spirits of place when she travels to the Arizona desert.

The artist figures in The Wood Wife are, like shamans, intermediaries between the spirits/nature and the human world. The artists speak to and for the spirits.

First, let´s look at what a shaman is. Lessa and Vogt (see references in the end of this essay) define a shaman as “a ceremonial practitioner whose powers come from direct contact with the supernatural, by divine stroke, rather than from inheritance or memorized ritual,” as opposed to a priest, who uses codified and standardized ritual (301). They also say that shamans “are essentially mediums, for they are the mouthpieces of spirit beings” (301-302).

Functionally, according to Eliade, “[t]he shaman is medicine-man, priest and psychopomp; that is to say, he cures sickness, he directs the communal sacrifices and he escorts the dead to the other world” (“Shaman”2546).

All of these functions are accomplished by the shamanic ability of otherworldly travel out of the body and by the help of spirits. In one sense, then, the shaman is an intermediary between the world of spirits and gods and the world of human beings.

“The function of the shaman,” says Leslie Ellen Jones in her book, Druid, Shaman, Priest: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism, “is to mediate between the mortal world and the Otherworld, and therefore, while he is not wholly of the Otherworld, he knows it better than ordinary people” (page 79). 

In popular thought, if not always in fact, shamanism is associated with altered states of consciousness and borderline madness, with shapechanging and otherworldly journeys, with creativity and genius.

Another aspect of shamanism important to this discussion is the way a person can become a shaman. According to Eliade, there are three possible ways: “first, by spontaneous vocation (the ‘call’ or ‘election’); second, by hereditary transmission of the shamanic profession; and, third, by personal ‘quest’ or, more rarely, by the will of the clan” (“Shaman” 2546). Silvester claims that all three of these appear in The Wood Wife, but the first is the most significant.

So, the figure of the shaman is closely associated with madness. When an initiate becomes a shaman by Eliade’s first method, “spontaneous vocation,” he “takes the risk of being mistaken for a ‘madman’” (Myths 80). The behaviour of someone chosen in this way becomes more and more strange. Such a person “seeks solitude, becomes a dreamer, loves to wander in woods or desert places, has visions, sings in his sleep, etc.” (75). Leslie Ellen Jones describes similar absentminded, solitary behaviour (90). Silvester claims that a number of characters in The Wood Wife are potential shamans.

Besides being solitary and dreamy, a shaman sometimes “becomes violent and easily loses consciousness, takes refuge in the forests, feeds upon the bark of trees, throws himself into the water or the fire or wounds himself with knives” (75) In Stephen Larsen´s book, The Shaman´s Doorway – Opening Imagination to Power and Myth, he writes that a shaman is often a solitary, half-mad creature through whom a god—or demon—may begin speaking unexpectedly. Or he may suddenly keel over in a trance, leaving his body lifeless and glassy-eyed, only to return from the invisible realm of myth with some outrageous demand, not at all in keeping with orderly social processes. The shaman’s primary allegiance is to the supernatural dimension, not to the society. (page 11)

But, Eliade says, “his ‘madness’ fulfills a mystic function; it reveals certain aspects of reality to him that are inaccessible to other mortals” (Myths 80).

This kind of behaviour is normally labelled mental illness in contemporary Western society (Larsen 25-25, 132). It may be the case that such shaman initiates are suffering a mental illness, but the act of curing themselves constitutes a major part of the initiatory experience, as “it is only after having experienced and entered into these hidden dimensions of reality that the ‘madman’ becomes a shaman” (Eliade, Myths 80). “A shamanic illness,” says Jones, “cannot be cured until the sufferer undergoes shamanic initiation in the Otherworld” (91). In effect, by becoming a shaman, the shaman heals his (or her) own illness, and the initiatory madness can be compared to “the dissolution of the old personality” (Eliade Myths 224).

Where the successful shaman candidate heals herself and becomes a shaman, the unsuccessful candidate fails to heal herself, resulting in “a total crisis” and quite possibly “leading to the disintegration of the personality” (Eliade Myths 224). According to Larsen, balanced awareness in a person requires both dreams/illusions and an understanding of factual reality. Reality without dreams is a lifeless existence. Dreams without reality leads to madness: “Subsumed in myth, the dimensions of consciousness, free will, and compassion are left out, and one is easily capable of becoming the nightmare in another’s waking dream” (4).

Silvester claims that one of the magical abilities possessed by shamans in many cultures is that of shapechanging. Not only is there a connection between shapechanging and shamanism, but in some Celtic stories there is a strong connection between madness, shapechanging and poetry. Suibhne, or Sweeney, is one example. He was a warrior-king who insulted a cleric. The cleric cursed Suibhne with madness so that he “levitated in a frantic cumbersome motion "like a bird of the air” (Seamus Heaney, unnumbered pages). Suibhne leaps into the air—he is sometimes described as being feathered, but seems to be neither wholly bird, nor entirely human during his madness. He lives in the wilderness, eating only watercress and drinking only water. In addition to becoming wild and birdlike, Suibhne also becomes a poet and frequently speaks in poetry.

One shamanic method for changing shape is “undressing” down to the skeleton and “putting on” an animal form. This may be related to the dismemberment of the shaman initiate. Jones describes the dismemberment visions of the initiate shaman during his initiatory illness: his or her body is cut into pieces, boiled in a cauldron or the flesh scraped off the bones until it is nothing but a skeleton; the eyes may be removed or replaced in order to supply supernatural vision; pieces of crystal may be implanted to provide a link between the shaman and the spirits. Quite often the head is cut off and set aside to watch all that is done to the body. (90)

Kung practitioners, Siberian shamans, and other mystics, often expressed themselves in poetry and music. Poetry and music are not preserved among archaeologists’ material data. (74)

But the idea of a connection between shamanism or other mystical experience and art of any kind is an intriguing one. Larsen refers to myth as “the bubbling lifespring of our consciousness, that comes from inner reservoirs no man has fully fathomed. It is the source-font of our highest creativity as well as of our worst delusions, and the secret is all in how it is tended” (4). In other words, myth is the true source of human creativity and mystics access myth more closely than other humans.

[Note that Stephen Larsen is a Jungian, and talks about this source as centered in the human psyche, whereby the existence of the external world, hereunder the traditional shamanic worship of the enchantment of nature, is removed. He is a psychologist and not a philosopher, and this Jungian perspective ends in solipsism. I myself is a Platonist, and consider the source of myth to be situated in an objective world of collective and universal images, which exists independently of the human psyche. However, we can get in touch with this source through our consciousness. But I consider this consciousness to be something entirely different than the mind, or the psyche (read more in my booklet, Philosophy of Mind)].

Silvester writes that the connection of mysticism or shamanism with poetry is clearly illustrated in such figures as Suibhne, Merlin and Taliesin. Merlin and Taliesin have particularly strong connections to magic and possibly shamanism, and Taliesin in particular was a great poet. In addition, Leslie Ellen Jones, in discussing possible shamanic elements of ancient druidism, says of the early Celtic manuscripts:  

The shamanic elements we find in this material seem to cling to the figure of the poet, since we have references to poetic ecstasies of composition, and since generally shamanic modes of behaviour are found attached to the figures of Taliesin, Finn, Myrddin, Suibhne. (71)

She also mentions that, in many traditions, “[s]hamanic elements often arise in conjunction with poetry and prophecy,” and gives the example of the Orpheus myth as having shamanic overtones including an underworld journey and a dismemberment theme (74). Shamans and poets both are known to have larger than usual vocabularies—Jones compares Eliade’s Yakut shamans (with 12, 000-word vocabularies compared to the 4, 000 words of people in the rest of the community) to ancient Irish poets and storytellers known for their huge store of words (74).

As for the connection between shamanism, poetry and painting, there is an interesting connection between visual arts and mysticism. Hugh Mynne wrote a new age book called The Faerie Way, which “offers people of European descent their own shamanic road to travel” (back cover). Mynne describes the poet AE (George William Russell) as “a deeply intuitive seer and mystic who had lifelong communication with faerie beings,” and says AE “left an astonishingly detailed account of his visions, both in his beautiful prose writings and his numerous faerie paintings” (44).

In my article, Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing, I describe how close the Scandinavian Seiðr tradition also is to poetry and storytelling (song healing). I write about how I lately is beginning to experience inner tantric phenomena. Some of the female street entertainers which I frequently dream about, appear like dakinis. Tsultrim Allione describes the dakinis as “mystical female beings who may appear in dreams, visions, or human form.” They are primarily energy-beings, “the wisdom-energy of the five colors, which are the subtle luminous forms of the five elements.” In The Faerie Way Mynne writes that there is a truly astounding point-to-point correspondence between British faerie beliefs and Tibetan teachings concerning dakinis (besides its New Age scent, Mynne´s book is quite good). In Scandinavia we have the Disir (about the connection between art, dakinis and tantra, see my article, My Friend in the Woods).

Dakinis, like faeries (and Disir), are particular associated with twilight; they frequently appear at twilight. They speak a mysterious non-rational “twilight language” (Sanscrit: sandhyabhasa) which can only be understood through the operation of another mode of knowing. Like faeries, they are “between-creatures,” appearing and disappearing in the mysterious radiance of another world. This has all something to do with dream yoga (see my article, What is dream Yoga?).

Tolkien was inspired by the British fairie beliefs. One of the saddest consequence of the end of the Third Age is the loss of the Elves – with their beauty, their wisdom, and their song. Elves were seminal to Tolkien´s conception of Middle-earth from the very beginning: the core story of his entire Silmarillion mythology was the love between a mortal man and an Elvish woman, Beren and Lúthien, who he openly acknowledged symbolized the love affair between himself and his wife Edith. On the grave stone of Tolkien and his wife´s final resting place on Wolvercote cemetery, you can see that under under Edith´s name is written: “Lùthien”, and under Tolkien´s name is written: “Beren”.

There is no question in my mind that Tolkien´s work was streaming from non-ordinary states of mind. It all has an exceptional touch of tantra (and magic). The key image of this relationship was of the man watching the woman sing and dance in the woods, an idyllic vision removed from the horrors of war (from which both Tolkien, recovering from shell shock, and Beren, sole survivor of his people, were fleeing). The Elves are being of starlight, immortal and ageless although subject to death by means of weapons or as a result of grief; men, in contrast, are being of sunlight and are mortal.

Although no race of Middle-earth is completely incapable of any of the arts, each has its speciality, and the arts of the Elves are music and poetry. They were also great healers. It is interesting that the main healing tool in the Scandinavian Seiðr shamanism is song healing.

When the Elves leave Middle-earth, they take magic with them. Even though dwarves, hobbits, and Ents remain, it is men who will dominate from now on. Magic will be displaced by science and technology. Melkor and Sauron may have been defeated, but the price to be paid for the defeat was high. Tolkien seems to imply that the price indeed have been too high: Magic may be gone, but it is still yearned for and technology has stopped in to fill that gap. The pollution and destruction of the natural world that Saruman inflicted on Isengard remains while the songs of the Elves are gone. It is only through telling stories that the memory of the Elves remains.

But even this art is today under attack. We see how universal values such as goodness, truth and beauty fall more and more away. Storytelling was traditionally a way of getting in contact with such universal values. It was intimately connected with philosophy. Philosophy shows essences, storytelling shows existence. Philosophy shows meaning, storytelling shows life.

As the Nigerian poet and novelist, Ben Okri, writes in his little book, Birds of Heaven:

Philosophy is most powerful when it resolves into story. But story is amplified in power by the presence of philosophy.

We are going into an era where the keepers of such stories will be mugged and suppressed, just like Socrates was by the Sophists, eventually leading to his death. True storytellers and philosophers must from now on live in secret and meet in underground places. Instead we will see false storytellers and philosophers take their place. They will be politicians, business leaders and scientists. The return of the sophists.

As Silvester points out, there is a longstanding association between creativity and madness, in particular, painting and madness. Interestingly, a number of painters of fairies were, or were thought to be insane, and Silvester writes that fairies are cognate with the spirit beings in The Wood Wife; it is the term Davis Cooper (a character in the novel) uses to describe them, while Anna (another character) called them angels (277).

In her book, The Book of Fairies, Beatrice Phillpotts writes that the painter John Anster Fitzgerald painted works that, “unlike the majority of fairy painting which relied on an external literary source, they sprang straight from the artist’s imagination, an aspect which caused some contemporary critics to speculate on the artist’s personal sanity”. Fairy artist Richard Dadd murdered his father, thinking the other man was the devil. Dadd painted some of his most remarkable work within the asylum. His madness aided rather than impeded his artistic vision; fairyland continued to fascinate him and his heightened perception created a delicate but threatening microcosm of human society which exercises an abiding fascination.

He was kept in the care of Bethlem Hospital, the famous “Bedlam” (15), itself associated with fairies in the folk song “Tom O’ Bedlam” in which the narrator intends “to cut mince pies from children’s thighs with which to feed the fairies.”

In his book, The Cottingley Fairies: The End of a Legend, Paul Smith writes that Charles Altamont Doyle, a fairy painter and brother of a fairy painter (Richard “Dicky” Doyle) painted pictures that “display yet more bizarre imaginative twists, heightened by the artist’s later madness” (16). He “had kept an illustrated diary which was full of drawings of fairies” while in various mental institutions (382).

Charles Altamont Doyle was also the father of Arthur Conan Doyle, famous creator of Sherlock Holmes and avid fairy believer. The younger Doyle risked his reputation to support the veracity of the Cottingley fairy photographs (we should also remember that the poet and Nobel Prize winner, W.B. Yeats, claimed that his work came from personal encounters with fairies).

As mentioned earlier, one of the primary functions of the shaman is to mediate between the mortal world and the Otherworld. Jones comments that “The Otherworld can perhaps be regarded as a psychological state related through language” (79), making a poet a natural choice for shaman. This psychological state is another state of consciousness that alters the perception of reality (79-80). In normal life, we live in consensus reality, to purpose of which is “to provide a structure for filtering masses of potentially perceptible raw data into a manageable flow that offers enough information about the environment to enable us to function, but not so much information as to be overwhelming.” A shaman is able to leave consensus reality and enter another state; “[a]n altered state is merely a different filtering of the same mass of available data” (80). Larsen phrases it this way: 

The shaman obviously has access to dimensions of consciousness usually unavailable to us. Whether in trance or awake, he seems to be able to see things that others do not see. In our culture this condition is regarded invariably as a symptom of psychotic episode. Yet the shaman is not psychotic . . . . (80)

Shamans perceive the world differently, and can relay the important aspects of those differences to their people. People, like the shamans and potential shamans we have been discussing, gain the ability to see the spirits through a change in perception. This change can be given as a gift by the spirits themselves,

Silvester writes that one theme in The Wood Wife is that the spirit beings wear shapes given to them; in the novel it is the artists, the painters and poets, who create those shapes. This idea is echoed in other literature. E.L. Gardner, a Theosophist who brought the Cottingley fairy photographs to Arthur Conan Doyle’s attention, wrote: “The diminutive human form [of fairies], so widely assumed, is doubtless due, at least in a great measure, to the powerful influence of human thought, the strongest creative power in our cycle” (in Doyle 174). Commenting on this statement, Paul Smith says “[f]or Gardner then, the way fairies look to us was determined by the way our collective unconscious shapes them, in that it may ‘select archetypal images and project them on to the raw elemental force, producing the materialization of our choice’” (380; quoting Picknett, 159). This is somewhat comparable to Larsen’s comments on the function of myth: “Firsthand mystical experience is sometimes so powerful that one must render it, translate it, shape it, into a form comprehensible to consciousness” (34). Myths and mythic characters, then, serve two functions: “They reawaken man to an experience of the divine, and yet also safeguard him from having to deal with it in its formless aspect: pure power and meaning” (34). Without such a safeguard, mystical experience would drive people to madness (as it probably has done). So shamans give form to otherworldly creatures. The shaman is an “imposer of form. He refuses to be baffled by stimuli which are diffuse and lacking in significance,” says Richard A Shweder (329, italics in original). In my article, Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Connection With Mystical Experiences, I have given a metaphysical explanation of how we can give shape to external energies not created by ourselves. This is given a much broader context in my Ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien.

That the artists give the spirits shapes to wear becomes more and more evident as the novel progresses. Silvester writes that it is when the artist becomes a shaman, whether they are aware of it or not, that they gain the power to shape the fairies or spirits, and to shape the perception of others who see the beings.

3) Kintsugi – The Beauty of Imperfect Repair

Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks.

In her book, Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelley, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken.

A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind.

Nnedi Okorafor writes about how she found her vocation as an author of African-based science fiction and fantasy. She'd gone to university intending to focus on science and athletics, until the shattering experience took her down another path completely. She writes:

"Ultimately, I lost my faith in science after an operation left me paralyzed from the waist down. It took years, but battling through my paralysis was the very thing that ignited my passion for storytelling and the transformative power of the imagination. And returning to Nigeria brought me back around to the sciences through science fiction, for those family trips to Nigeria were where and why I started wondering and then dreaming about the effects of technology and where it would take us in the future.

"This series of openings and awakenings led me to a profound realization: What we perceive as limitations have the power to become strengths greater than what we had when we were 'normal' or unbroken. In much of science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. This is a philosophy that positions our toughest experiences not as barriers, but as doorways, and may be the key to us becoming our truest selves.

"In Japan there is an art form called kintsugi, which means 'golden joinery,' to repair something with gold. It treats breaks and repairs as part of an object's history. In kintsugi, you don't merely fix what's broken, you repair the total object. In doing so, you transform what you have fixed into something more beautiful than it previously was. This is the philosophy that I came to understand was central to my life. Because in order to really live life, you must live life. And that is rarely achieved without cracks along the way. There is often a sentiment that we must remain new, unscathed, unscarred, but in order to do this, you must never leave home, never experience, never risk or be harmed, and thus never grow."

In her article, Life as Kintsugi, Terri Windling writes about Nnedi´s book:

This passage from Nnedi's brave, wise book spoke to me especially, for I have long believed in living my life as a form of kintsugi. I, too, carry numerous scars, both physical and psychological, but I think of them as ribbons of gold. To be broken and then to be repaired, or to repair ourselves, can be a very powerful source of art. Of beauty. Of strength. Even of joy.

In another article on Kintsugi, The Beauty of Brokenness, Windling writes:

Artist Lunar Hine, who lives up the street from me, has recently discussed the concept of beauty that comes from brokenness, quoting Billie Mobayad:

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damaged and has a history it becomes more beautiful." 

What Mobayad is referring to is the ancient art of Kintsugi.

Related to this, as Tai Carmen explains, is the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, representing an "aesthetic philosophy that embraces authenticity over perfection. Characterized by asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity — modesty & intimacy — wabi-sabi values natural objects & processes as emblems of our transitory existence."

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic based on the beauty of imperfection and impermanence. Potters in Japan have historically translated this aesthetic into pottery, and they would repair broken ceramics by filling in the cracks with gold, thus highlighting the beauty of their brokenness. Rather than throw away broken pots or try to put them back together and hide their scars, those potters brought them to life again with delicate veins of gold.

Wabi-Sabi runs in opposition to beauty ideals in the West, which constantly seek and demand perfection, symmetry, and the kind of perpetual youth that can only be achieved via plastic surgery. So, Wabi-Sabi is the philosophy, the aesthetics, behind Kintsugi. Again we see how philosophy lies behind concrete manifestations.

4) The Roads of Life, by Karen Blixen

This is also seen in Karen Blixen´s storytelling. When Karen Blixen, after her time in Africa, was lying sick in a hospital in Copenhagen, she had lost her dream of Africa, she had lost her coffee farm, had got infected with syphilis from her husband Bror Blixen, and this illness had destroyed her sexuality, her possibilities for being together with men erotically, and for having children. And she had lost her beloved Denys Finch Hatton, who got killed in an airplane crash.

But now she began to realize, that this maybe also was God´s plan with her.

In Out of Africa Karen Blixen somewhere retells a small story, she was told as a child. She calls it The Roads of Life and gets it placed in such a way, that it tips one of her completely central ideas up in the light. It goes like this:

When I was a child I was shown a picture, -- a kind of moving picture in as much as it was created before your eyes and while the artist was telling the story of it. This story was told, every time, in the same words.

In a little round house with a round window and a little triangular garden in front there lived a man.

Not far from the house there was a pond with a lot of fish in it.

One night the man was woken up by a terrible noise, and set out in the dark to find the cause of it. He took the road to the pond. Here the story-teller began to draw, as upon a map of the movements of an army, a plan of the roads taken by the man.

He first ran to the South. Here he stumbled over a big stone in the middle of the road, and a little farther he fell into a ditch, got up, fell into a ditch, got up, fell into a third ditch and got out of that.

Then he saw that he had been mistaken, and ran back to the North. But here again the noise seemed to him to come from the South, and he again ran back there.

He first stumbled over a big stone in the middle of the road, then a little later he fell into a ditch, got up, fell into another ditch, got up, fell into a third ditch, and got out of that.

He now distinctly hear that the noise came from the end of the pond. He rushed to the place, and say that a big leakage had been made in the dam, and the water was running out with all the fish in it. He set to work and stopped the hole, and only when this had been done did he go back to bed.

When now the next morning the man looked out of his little round window, -- thus the take was finished, as dramatically as possible,-- what did he see?—

A stork!

I am glad that I have been told this story and I shall remember it in the hour of need. The man in the story was cruelly deceived, and had obstacles put in his way. He must have thought: "What ups and downs! What a run of bad luck!" He must have wondered what was the idea of all his trials, he could not know that it was a stork. But through them all he kept his purpose in view, nothing made him turn round and go home, he finished his course, he kept his faith. That man had his reward. In the morning he saw the stork. He must have laughed out loud then.

The tight place, the dark pit in which I am now lying, of what bird is it the talon? When the design of my life is complete, shall I, shall other people see a stork?

Infandum, Regina, jubes renovare dolarem. Troy in flames, seven years of exile, thirteen good ships lost. What is to come out of it? "Unsurpassed elegance, majestic stateliness, and sweet tenderness."

In Out of Africa Karen Blixen writes:

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?

So, when Karen Blixen was lying in her sickbed, and after having realized, that this maybe was God´s plan with her - she made a pact with the Devil, that she from now on could change everything into stories. And in her stories, and in her following life as a storyteller, she realized the dreams she had had as a young woman.

All her following stories, for example Seven Gothic Tales, are reflections of her own experiences with destiny. They are all about how to find the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life - God´s plan with you - and about people who live in accordance with these golden power lines, and about people who don´t live in accordance with them.

These themes continue in Karen Blixen´s storytelling ever after. There are clear shamanic elements in her life. She often referred to herself as a witch, since she considered a witch as someone who has contact with the deep, ancient secrets and powers.

5) The Four Philosophical Hindrances and Openings

I work with four philosophical openings in towards the Source:

1.    A rational, where you examine the validity of your assumptions, conceptions and values, and search for coherency between your thoughts and your lived life. 

2.    A life-philosophical where you are present in the Now, and hereby achieve that self-forgetful openness and absorption in the world, which is a condition for love, spontaneity, joy of life and wisdom. 

3.    An existence-philosophical, where you in your opinion formation and identity formation are yourself, live in accordance with your own essence, and thereby achieve authenticity, autonomy, decisiveness and power of action.    

4.    A spiritual, where you aren´t identified with your lifesituation, and where you, independent of religious or political ideologies, live from something deeper: the Source itself: the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

Today we see a tendency to, that many meditation teachers (and other spiritual counselors) have forgotten the philosophical aspects of the meditation process, and have made the merely supporting exercises (for example concentration, visualizing and so on) to the central aspect. For example, this is to be seen in the so popular confusion of spirituality and psychology/psychotherapy, where they believe, that realization and ethics are coming automatically through psychotherapy, and by sitting and concentrating on some kind of object, or by visualizing something. But when the philosophical aspects are left out you create breeding ground for a lot of different kinds of spiritual self-deceit. This is because an important part of the opening in towards the Source is the realization of what hinders this opening. Unless you understand, for example, the Ego´s, fundamental nature, you can´t recognise it, and it will deceive you to identify with it again and again. But when you realize the hindrances in you (for example through the question Who am I? as Ramana Maharshi did it) then it is the Source itself - the Good, the True and the Beautiful - that makes the realization possible.

Again I work with four philosophical hindrances for the opening in towards the Source:

1.    A rational where you take your assumptions, conceptions and values for absolute truths (hereunder relativism!), and hereby end up in a contradiction between your thoughts and your lived life.

2.    A life-philosophical, where you are circling around your own past and future, and hereby create a closed attitude, inattention, absent-mindedness and ennui.

3.    An existence-philosophical, where you in your opinion formation and identity formation strive towards being something else than what you are, where you imitate others, are a slave of others ideas and ideals, and where your actions are characterized by irresoluteness and doubt. 

4.    A spiritual where you are identified with your life-situation, are dependent on religious or political ideologies, and where you hereby exist on a future salvation. 

You may say that these four hindrances constitute an actual malfunction in the human mind. And it is this malfunction, which is the cause of the ignorance about the Source of Life. Ignorance is again the cause of suffering. It creates the painbody. In this way meditation becomes a practice, which seeks to correct this malfunction. And therefore the two main concepts in meditation are suffering and ignorance.

The wisdom traditions have always claimed, that the act of realization is one of the two most important ways in which the opening in towards the Source can happen. The other way is the ethical practice, the training of compassion and love. The painbody can only be healed with compassion.

In The Beauty of Brokenness, Terri Windling writes:

I am often astonished by the beauty and strength that can arise from our own brokeness -- from wounds, and scars, and the scratch of the brambles as we journey through the deep, dark forest.

"The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling," wrote the Irish philosopher John O'Donohue, "a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart.

"It must also be said," O'Donohue continued, "that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place."

It seems to me that this is precisely what so many traditional fairy tales are all about: the transformation of a wounded soul into a hero, the transfiguration of great calamity (a spell, a curse, the loss of home or fortune) into a new life of potential and promise.

We emerge from the fairy tale woods (if we emerge at all) with the "magic" of strength,  fortitude, and compassion; we're broken and then mended with gold.

"Donkeyskin" by the contemporary Russian illustrator Nadezhda

Beautiful not despite the scars we bear, but because of them. And all they represent.

6) The Painbody

"Buried Moon' by Edmund Dulac (1882 - 1953) 

Feelings are the body´s reaction on the mind (the thoughts). Feelings arise where the mind and the body meet. They are reflections of the mind in the body. Feelings can also be a reflection of a whole thoughtpattern. A thoughtpattern can create an enlarged and energycharged reflection of itself in the form of a feeling. This means, that the whole of the thought´s past also can create a reflection of itself in the body. And if this past is filled with pain, then it can show itself as a negative energyfield in the body. It contains all the pain you have accumulated in the past. It is the sum of the negative feelings which you have ”saved together” through life and which you carry. And it can nearly be seen as an invisible, independent creature. Therefore we also could, as H.C. Andersen does in his fairy tale, call it the Shadow.

The painbody is the inner demon, or the devil in the heart. Some painbody´s are relatively harmless, some are anxietyfilled, depressive or angry, others are directly malicious and demonical. They can be passive or active. Some are passive 90% of the time, others are active 100% of the time.

The painbody is the expression of suffering itself.

And the painbody is, through the inner evaluating ego, which the painbody is constructed around, connected with the more dangerous dephts of the astral plane´s collective history, which also are a kind of dark, ancient inertia, which opposes any change of the ego. The energies found here are unfathomable, and when you direct them into your painbody, you are really facing problems. That is what is happening in a spiritual crisis.

That is also the reason why you, through psychotherapy, can´t heal Man from the ground. In order to heal Man from the ground you need to go into a spiritual practice. It is only within the religions and their spiritual traditions they have knowledge and names for the more dark sides of the astral plane´s collective history. The West has very precisely called this factor the original sin. The East has called it negative karma. The concepts indicate, that the inertia projects beyond the personal history (growing up conditions, traumatic bindings, painful experiences etc.) and far down into the collective inherit-backgrounds of history (genes, environment, society-ideals, the archetypes and the primordial images of the dreams, fantasies, fairy-tales, myths, and finally: instincts inherited from the animals). It is a factor, which lies in the evolution itself, in the genes, in the collective subconcious, in the collectice history.

When therefore psychotherapy requires a change, then the instinctive survival-preparedness in us reacts and protests. Man has survived on willfulness and a consciousness-structure, which mental and psychic sign is Egocentredness. The bigger Ego, the bigger survival chance.

Seen from a spiritual perspective, this instinctive survival strategi (the ego) appears as a resistance, an invincible inertia: original sin, negative karma. You can´t, by therapeutic strategies, free the consciousness for its attachment to this inertia. You can therefore not dissolve or dilute or convert the original sin through psychotherapy. Only the intervention of the Source (God, Christ, Buddha, the enlightened consciousness) can basically help Man with a transcendence of the negative karma of the original sin. But in order to, that a human being should be able to receive this help from the Source (the golden gift of grace), then this requires an eminently precise and profound preparation. And as part of this preparation serve the true spiritual practice within the religions.

You must therefore have a religion which fits together with your cultural roots, as well as a metaphysics (philosophy) that points towards something greater than yourself. This creates a direction in your mind; it creates the power lines in which higher energies can travel.

7) The Song of Creation

Your thoughts are words and images, which work in the river of time. It is Heraklit´s River.

As the Indian philosophy claims, then this stream not only contains your personal history, it also contains a collective and universal history – together a history, which consists of images. These images are form-formations of energy, creative up-tensions, a kind of matter, though on a highly abstract plane. These images exist in other words in the actual movement of the matter, and therefore not only in your mental activity, but also outside you in nature. So, your thinking rises from an endless deep of images, which flow in the actual movement of nature.

The Indian philosophy claims, that the movement of time in itself is a negation-power (Asat, Avidya, or Shabda-Brahman, the self-sacrifice). In Christian terms this would be called Logos or the Christ principle. Time is one great negation (self-sacrifice) of the Now´s unmoved being (Atman), which is the unmanifested, the actual source: the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Or said in Indian terms: a sacrifice of pure being (Sat) pure consciousness (chit) and pure joy (ananda).

In Western theology the Good, the True and the Beautiful is God. In Indian philosophy God is called Brahman. God is the nondual reality or Wholeness. The only thing that can be said to be nondual is the Wholeness. According to the Taoistic teaching of Yin and Yang there isn´t anything beyond the world. You can´t see the world from outside. You are in the world and you can only describe something from its opposition. What is the good? This you understand if you know what the evil is. You can´t say anything about the world as a whole, because you can´t put the Wholeness in opposition to anything. The Wholeness is therefore the indescribable (Tao). It is an absolute Otherness in relation to the known.

The negation-power is in that way the power behind the world´s manifestation. Logically speaking, then the concept of negation probably is the best concept to describe why the ultimate, absolute truth can´t be reduced to something particular. The negation principle (the Christ principle) is an impossible logical principle to escape from, especially when speaking about reductionism. But when moving from the negation-principle towards the manifestation of the world we need to use other concepts.

Indian philosophy claims that the manifestation of the universe thus has arised on the background of a mighty universal vision (Mahat or Mahat Atman – a vision of beauty), which originates from past universes. It is compared with the experience of objectivity when you awake from a deep sleep an early summer morning with singing birds. All religions have concepts of this great vision: it is the Dreamtime of the Aboriginals, God´s words in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Pythagoreans´ Music of the Spheres, Plato´s world of Forms, The Bardoworlds of the Books of the Dead, The Anabasis of the Mystery Cults, The Image Galleries of the Alchemists, the Akashic Records of the Occultists. In Indian philosophy it is also called the causal body (karanadeha), or, as in Christianity, the spirit in the symbolism of body, soul and spirit.

In this way, the future arises, and an outgoing creative movement; a movement, which can be compared with what they within science call The Big Bang (but it is not the same). In the outgoing movement, the great vision becomes, because of the negation-power, shattered in many images, which now become a kind of memories about the great vision; signs from Eternity. In this way, the past arises, and a longing back towards the origin, the unmanifested. And then a destructive backmovement is created. This longing and backmovement are the background for life seen as a Quest, or a Pilgrimage.

In that way, the movement of time consists of two universal movements, which we could call the outgoing movement and the backmovement; future and past, creation and destruction. These two movements are reflected throughout the universe in a multiplicity of different lifecycles; they are Samsara´s wheel of up-cycles which are followed by down-cycles and vice versa (for example life and death, success and fiasco, joy and sorrow) – all this which lie behind the law of karma and rebirth. In Western theology: original sin. This universe is for example considered to be a reincarnation of a past universe, the same way as a human being is considered to be a reincarnation of a past existence.

So the images in the movement of time is shattered reflections of the great vision of the universe, and are background for the manifestation of the holy scriptures of India, the Vedas, which are claimed to have been ”heard” by wise men (the so-called Seers) in the dawn of time, and by word of mouth delivered over oceans of time. They are shadows, dreams, masks, mirrors, fables, fairy-tales, fictions: signs from Eternity. The Vedas therefore both include the most sublime and difficult available philosophy, as for example in the Upanishads, and good folktales as Ramayana and Mahabharata (with the famous Bhagavadgita), which with its clear ethical messages is told in village temples, to the children as bedtime stories, and which is inspiration for great poets as Rabindranath Tagore.

This is a description from Indian philosophy which I philosophical seen find very satisfying. In Western theology the great vision would be the same as God´s word, or said with the Pythagoreans: the Music of the Spheres. Musica universalis (literally universal music), also called Music of the Spheres or Harmony of the Spheres, is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of music. This "music" is not usually thought to be literally audible, but a harmonic, mathematical or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal to thinkers about music until the end of the Renaissance, influencing scholars of many kinds, including humanists. Further scientific exploration has determined specific proportions in some orbital motion, described as orbital resonance. This musical metaphysics is quite central in Tolkien´s philosophy, as we shall see in the following.

8) The Song of Healing

Art by Sulamith Wülfing

Art, music, poetry and storytelling are the means where we try to let the song of creation work through us. We can use magic chanting to sing open the doors to the spirit realms, to sing pains or illness away, to sing stronger the bonds between ourselves and the tree in our backyard, to sing thanks to the dawn or the car running smoothly, to sing blessings for a newborn child.

The healing potential in singing is immediate and great, both for the singer and the one being sung over. Basically it only requires that you allow yourself to be moved by your purpose…and open your mouth. The Netsilik Inuit Orpingalik put it like this: “Songs are thoughts, sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces and ordinary speech no longer suffices”.

In her article, Songs of Enchantment - The Legacy of the Seiðr Tradition, the Danish shamanic teacher, Annette Høst, writes:

In the new seiðr and other shamanic rituals I listen to the singing pouring from modern people when they are moved and opened by the song. Usually they have no “song training” but in their voices I hear echoes of the old song traditions, I hear the most heavenly harmony, the irreverent cackling of old hags, the coarse calls of ravens blending into a full sweeping wave of Song.

In Tolkien´s Middle-earth, the elves of Rivendell are famous for their singing. In the Christian story of creation, the New Testament tells us that in the beginning, there was the Word. In Tolkien´s spin, we are told that in the beginning, there was the Song. Before writing The Hobbit, Tolkien laid out the origins of Middle-earth and how the happy elves found a home there. Though The Silmarillion was first published in 1977, four years after Tolkien´s death, it contains the history behind Middle-earth that Tolkien had been working on for much of his adult life. As it begins, the creator of the world, Ilúvatar, made the Ainur, or Holy Ones, and gave them the power of song. The voices of the Ainur, like innumerable choirs and musical instruments,

Began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went into the Void, and it was not void.

Both elves and men (Quendi and Atani) were created as important players of the world´s symphony. But though the race of men will do great things, Ilúvatar proclaims, it is the elves who “shall be the fairests of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world.”

The highest of the “guardian angels” in The Lord of the Rings is Elbereth. At the most critical juncture in the Quest, Sam is inspired to invoke her by name, “speaking in tongues” (language is always the clearest indicator of importance in Tolkien):

A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O menel palan-diriel,
Le nallon sí di-nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos (LOTR, p. 712)

This translates as: “O, Elbereth Starkindler from heaven gazing-afar, to thee I cry now in the shadow of death. O look towards me, Everwhite.”

Human beings have two aspects: an energy aspect and a consciousness aspect. Seen from the energy aspect lawfulness rules: your body is subject to the physical laws of nature, your psychic system is subject to the lawfulness of the energy fields and of the energy transformations. Seen from the consciousness aspect, then a human being seems to be akin to the Wholeness, to be transcendent in relation to these laws (a human being is created in the image of God). A human being is an unfolding of the Inner Side.

Human beings are in that way, seen from the point of view of the ordinary ego-consciousness, inserted in two dimensions: 1) a continuum, which streams are subject to laws (the Outer Side); and 2) a discontinuum, for which leaps laws not seem to be effective (the Inner Side). The Wholeness, your spiritual essence, or Soul, is normally the discontinuous aspect; normally, because this is of course seen from the point of view of the ego-continuum. Seen from the point of view of your Soul, then the ego-continuum, with its sleep and awake, life and death, is the discontinuous aspect, and the Soul the continuous aspect. But the parts, the Ego and its evaluations, is normally the continuous aspect.

When your Soul begins to dream and the continuum of the Ego-consciousness breaks and expands in a discontinuum (into the superior continuum of the Wholeness – the Inner Side, or your Soul), then the cosmic structure-pattern changes. Instead of mere compensatory karma (personal and original sin), a progressive karma (divine providence) will now be effective. That, which you through existential achievement have reached of spiritual contact in one life, will form a progressive karma, an opening for special providence.

In theology, divine providence, or just providence, is God's intervention in the world. The term "Divine Providence" (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God. A distinction is usually made between "general providence", which refers to God's continuous upholding the existence and natural order of the Universe, and "special providence", which refers to God's extraordinary intervention in the life of people. Miracles generally fall in the latter category.

The process of your Soul, your process of awakening, will leave progressive karma and special providence along through the various incarnations. What you spiritual have reached to realize in one life, will in the spiritual energy be there in the next life, or in the dimension of your Soul (the Inner Side).

If your Soul is sleeping, the spiritual energy is quiet. Without traceable activity. A human being can live a whole life, yes, life after life, in absolute sleep.

If you however existentially begin to seek, to seek the spiritual, the divine, to seek love, if you choose to use your energy and your life in that way, then the spiritual energy will begin to vibrate, to become active, to sing. Only the images, which have achieved to imprint themselves in the spiritual energy, in the Inner Side, will be transferred as progressive karma and special providence. Your Soul will remember its dreams from life to life. And your Soul will remember and accumulate the glimpses of being awake, it might have experienced. These, the dreams and awake moments of your Soul, are the progressive karma and special providence.

This is what is meant with, that people are born with different levels of spiritual development.

Concerning the progressive karma and special providence it applies, that each new life, in a quintessence, repeats the crucial stations on the development path of the Soul. The place, where you can find your own progressive karma and special providence, if such is available, is therefore in the life, you have lived, in the history of your present life. It lies as an invisible script underneath the history of your actual life. It is the golden dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life.

In the inexplicable events in your life (synchronicities), in the rows of moments of spiritual longing, in the fateful incidents and actions - in them are contained the progressive karma and special providence. In the history of your Soul there is a map. This map shows the dreaming tracks and the songlines in your spiritual work of art. This map is a universal image. It lies in the Inner Side of the world.

There is no doubt about, that Karen Blixen, though not fully conscious, had a sense of this map. All her books are about destiny seen in this way; they are about people who either live in accordance with this map, or in discordance with it.

This map, this universal image was, what she referred to as the ”ancient”, the ”original”, and which she always was seeking as authenticity, autonomy, possibility, freedom and adventure. And a universal image is of a holographic nature, therefore it contains all other images, personal, collective and universal, and therefore it contains the golden dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life. It is the cause of all healing.

You can live a whole life with this key lying in your own actual, spiritual biography in the Inner Side. It requires work to find it. If you through development, through training, expand your consciousness to the spiritual dimension, then this invisible script will be made visible, the golden dreaming tracks and songlines in the progressive karma will be found. You will be able to hear, and creatively reproduce, the song of healing.

Tools for Becoming a Storyteller:

Meditation and The Philosophical Diary

The Storyworld Cards

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers by Christopher Vogler

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Basic related text:

Storytelling as a Spiritual Exercise

Other related texts (in the order they appear):

Meditation as an Art of Life, by Morten Tolboll

The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, by Morten Tolboll

My Life as a Vagabond, by Morten Tolboll

On Artistic Inspiration, by Terri Windling

The Artist as Shaman: Madness, Shapechanging, and Art
in Terri Windling's The Wood Wife
, by Mary Nicole Silvester

Shamanism in Art, by Rhonda Davis

Artists as Shamans, by Brainard Carey (YouTube)

Artist as Shaman, part 2, by Brainard Carey (YouTube)

The Artist & Shaman, by Robert Venosa (YouTube)

Philosophy of Mind, by Morten Tolboll

My Friend in the Woods, by Morten Tolboll

What is dream Yoga?, by Morten Tolboll

The Beauty of Brokenness, by Terri Windling

References used in the chapter “The Artist as Shaman”:

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Coming of the Fairies. 1922. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1979.

Eliade, Mircea. Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries. 1957. Trans. Philip Mairet. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960.
-----. “Shaman.” Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural. Vol. 19. Richard Cavendish, ed. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1970. 2546-2549.

Heaney, Seamus. Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983.

Jones, Leslie Ellen. Druid, Shaman, Priest: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism. Enfield Lock, Middlesex, UK: Hisarlik, 1998.

Kehoe, Alice Beck. Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland, 2000.

Larsen, Stephen. The Shaman’s Doorway: Opening the Mythic Imagination to Contemporary Consciousness. New York: Harper & Row, 1976. William A., and Evon Z. Vogt. “Six: The Purposes of Shamanism: Introduction.” Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. Fourth Edition. William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt, eds. New York: HarperCollins, 1979. 301-302.

Mynne, Hugh. The Faerie Way. St Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1996.

Phillpotts, Beatrice. The Book of Fairies. New York: Ballantine, 1978.

Picknett, Lynn. Flights of Fancy?: 100 Years of Paranormal Experiences. New York: Ballantine, 1987.

Rasmussen, Knud. “A Shaman’s Journey to the Sea Spirit.” Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. Fourth Edition. William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt, eds. New York: HarperCollins, 1979. 308-311.

Shweder, Richard A. “Aspects of Cognition in Zinacanteco Shamans: Experimental Results.” Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach. Fourth Edition. William A. Lessa and Evon Z. Vogt, eds. New York: HarperCollins, 1979. 327-331.

Smith, Paul. “The Cottingley Fairies: The End of a Legend.” The Good People: New Fairylore Essays. Peter Narváez, ed. Lexington: UP Kentucky, 1991. 

Windling, Terri. The Wood Wife. New York: Tor, 1996. 

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