This concept isn’t that far-fetched. At least once a week more than 3 billion people meet to learn about spirit worlds, supernatural and paranormal beings.
So, is the spirit world of the Shaman real or imagination? If it is just imagination, how does that differ from reality? After all, everything we experience is the mind.
The important question is, are these worlds real or imaginary? What qualifies as real? Or, is there a distinction between ordinary and non-ordinary states of reality? What are the boundaries of reality? Our dreams also take place in non-ordinary reality. Are they just imagination, or is the experience part of our reality?
Is The Spirit World of the Shaman Real?
Robert Anton Wilson would probably say yes, and no.
We think this is reality. But in philosophy, that’s called naïve realism: “What I perceive is reality.” And philosophers have refuted naïve realism every century for the last 2,500 years, starting with Buddha and Plato, and yet most people still act on the basis of naïve realism.
Now the argument is, Well, maybe my perceptions are inaccurate, but somewhere there is accuracy, scientists have it with their instruments. That’s how we can find out what’s really real. But relativity, quantum mechanics, have demonstrated clearly that what you find out with instruments is true relative only to the instrument you’re using, and where that instrument is located in space-time. ― Robert Anton Wilson
So, we are back to our original question. Are the spirit worlds of the shaman real?
The answer depends on how you determine reality. Some people distinguish normal reality from non-ordinary reality. They say non-ordinary reality is just imagination. It isn’t real But, But, ask those same people what they think about dreams.
When most people dream, they don’t know they are dreaming. So, when they dream it seems real. Dreams are proof of that they experience non-ordinary reality. Are our dreams any different from the experience of the Shamanic Journey?
If we consider non-ordinary reality, then there are many realities. Everything we experience happens in the mind. So yes. Our experience IS reality because we are shaping it. And, no because there isn’t one reality but an infinite number. In that sense, the landscapes of the Shaman are real. It has been a common experience and reality for eons.
The magical athletes of the spirit world are the Shaman. They travel to the spirit worlds of the upper, middle, and lower earth. And, they gladly guide us along to find answers and healing.
It continues to be a collective perception for those who practice it today. The experience of the Shamanic Journey is universal. No matter what you call the journey, the experience is the same no matter the culture. The premise of the spirit world seems to be a collective reality. So, to the question, are the spirit worlds of the shaman real? We would say yes.
Science Validates Shamanic Consciousness
Wow, didn’t expect this. This journey is a separate state consciousness. The shamanic journey is the key process of Shamanism. This “spiritual technology” opens a doorway to a unique state of consciousness. Michael Harner (1) is an anthropologist and author. He calls this state, “The Shamanic State of Consciousness” (SSC). In this state the brainwaves are the theta-wave are around 4 to 7Hz.
SCC is similar to another non-ordinary state known as transcendental consciousness. SCC can heal the mind, body, and spirit. Or, just to explore. It is one of the primary “spiritual technologies” of mankind transcending all cultures. It’s another one of our default states of awareness just like waking, sleeping, and dreaming.
Bottom line. The Shamanic Journey is repeatable and scientifically verifiable. So, is the spirit world of the Shaman real in scientific terms? The answer is yes. This leads to the next logical question.
Is the Mythology of Religion Real?
Are the mythologies of religion also real? The faithful followers of all religions believe that their mythology is real. Most would hesitate to call their beloved religion a form of mythology.
One man’s myth is another man’s religion. ― Joseph Campbell
To answer this question we first need to ask if the mythology of religion is a universal, or collective perception? Well, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. Every religion has its unique mythology. There isn’t one singular universal mythology. Religions tend to evolve, mutating, and being shaped by culture. There are two major groups of religious mythology, Western and Eastern.
Western mythology is the Abrahamic religions (2). These are Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These belief systems are the rebranding Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mystery religions.
The focus of these mythologies differs greatly from the indigenous traditions behind Shamanism. The focus of Shamanic practice is healing, mind, body, and spirit. The focus of Western religion is on doctrine and the afterlife. Their doctrines contain stories about those who walked spirit worlds. But it contains no processes to replicate this journey. For the most part, only the “god-like” or avatar can travel to these dimensions. Only in death can we finally test the promises of these mythologies.
If we look at the Eastern Traditions, (3) we see that they focus on exploring and developing consciousness. Eastern religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Animistic Indigenous Traditions. Here we find mythologies “built around” the development processes. But these traditions keep the knowledge of both mythology and practices intact. In these systems, we see the Anthropomorphic forms (4) used extensively to symbolize and describe the use of these techniques.
The bottom line here. Religion and mythology aren’t a collective illusion, but a selective cultural and often a private one. Historical validity is equivalent to fiction, albeit spiritual fiction. So, is the make-believe of religious mythology real? Is it as valid as any illusion of reality? Isn’t it just another of the infinite possibilities?
So, if all fictional stories are real, then so are the stories about Harry Potter. No, if fiction is just fiction. But, sometimes fiction holds some truths. Some traditions hold processes for expanding awareness and opening the doors of consciousness. You just need to look in the right places. Even Harry Potter has some gems of wisdom.
Are All Spirit Worlds Real?
Is the spirit world of the Shaman real? If you take the Shamanic journey, or what some call a guided meditation, you will experience this dimension for yourself. This is an experiential proof. Scientific proof is available by measuring the changes in human physiology during the journey.
So, there is experiential and scientific validation for the existence of non-ordinary reality. It is a measurable state of consciousness and a universally repeatable process. It is as concrete as the other default state of non-ordinary reality we call dreaming.
The answer to our follow up question about the mythology of Western religion is probably not. These mythologies are just stories. There might be some nuggets of wisdom if taken as metaphors for something like the Shamanic Journey. But there are no proofs for the mythology as being factual.
Some Eastern traditions contain the process like those of the Shamanic Journey. Some also contain methods for expanding awareness and opening the doors of consciousness. And, some mythologies do not. The spirit worlds of the Shaman are perhaps as real, if not more so than the mythologies created to describe those who journey.
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(1) Michael Harner, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) Eastern Traditions, Wikipedia
(4) Anthropomorphic forms, Wikipedia
(5) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia