In the Season of Shadow Dance


There is a chill in the air (at least in the Northern climes) as Autumn hurtles down the long slide into Winter. This is the season of Shadow Dance, or Samhain, Sovvan, Blood Harvest, whatever you want to call it. For me this time always feels like that last gasp of energy to get everything done, but with a sense of beginning to turn inward. It is that liminality between outward activity and inward stillness that calls to the Shaman, the in-between where possibility is just as strong as reality.

The Shaman dances along the edge of two worlds, walking the paths of the Otherworld and bringing back wisdom to his tribe. Often we focus on that first part, the search for Gnosis. But that second part is just as important as the first. He needs to live in this world and be a part of it to understand the people he is serving. Without that grounding the pursuit of Knowledge is purposeless. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the Shaman as a mountain –top guru dispensing wisdom from on high, but I tend to see the Him more as the “ready to get his hands dirty” type.  Of course my image of the Shaman is also a bit rougher than most. I see Him as often in leather or rubber as in furs or robes. But I am called to the Ordeal Path…what else should I expect. He’s as likely to order me to do something as He is to smile and ask how I’m doing. He is the Trickster, the Sage, and the Master.  He is always ready to help when needed, thought the way He helps is rarely how we expect, and isn’t always pleasant.

I just finished a really interesting book called My Babylon, a mostly straight, slightly kinky tale of goetic sex magick.  It was a fun read for a couple of days. But more importantly it reminded me of one of the gifts of the Shaman. The protagonist in the story is a ceremonial magician who tries to create a succubus but gets way more than he bargained for. Throughout the book the character is constantly talking about the dedication and discipline required for his art. This got me thinking about how I apply discipline in my own magical practices, and if there were differences depending on my level of adherence to said discipline.  When I am doing some sort of daily practice I feel more connected and more confident in my abilities. When I let that slip I start feeling more isolated and powerless. To be able to walk among the worlds as the Shaman does requires practice and application of will.  Taking on the Saturnian roles of Constrictor and Teacher, He calls on each of us to find that balance point that grows into wisdom.

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