Why is shamanism in all its varieties becoming increasingly popular? Why is this happening now?
In a nutshell we can say that as human beings we have an innate drive to develop into ‘all that we can become’, and that we have reached a point where a shift in consciousness and a change of our way of life is inevitable if we want to develop further – or even survive – as a species.
Our efforts over the last two millennia have focused increasingly on material reality, economic growth, consumption and scientifically orientated mental development. This has produced materially wealthy societies, but has neglected our inner and spiritual development. We have lost our connection to the Earth, to our souls and to the sacred within and without, and are deprived of deeper meaning and purpose.
The shamanic archetype, that knowing pattern deep within us, reminds us of how it felt when we were still focused on soul and spirit, embedded in a community and experiencing ourselves as an integral part of existence. It reminds us of what we need to come back to on our human journey if we want to become balanced and whole.
The price we have paid is much higher than can be outlined in the context of this book. The environmental devastation, the extinction of species, the destruction and uprooting of almost all indigenous cultures around the world, the cruelty of slavery, the religious crusades, the horrendous world wars and more tell their own story.
Even our much-hailed economic progress has now – in global terms – produced an inequality in wealth distribution on a scale never seen before, where 1 per cent of the world’s population owns 48 per cent of the world’s wealth. Even in developed countries that have a good share of the created wealth, we still pay a high price. We have reached record levels of so-called ‘mental disorders’, with depression and anxiety disorders leading the field, and loneliness and isolation following on behind.
The pressure to be ‘well adjusted’ to a soul-denying society is taking its toll. For me as a psychologist, it is not surprising that the suffering of the soul, which has not been catered for at best and negated at worst in contemporary society for a long time now, is ending up in the consulting rooms of medical practitioners, therapists and psychiatrists in the form of psychosomatic pains, diffuse emotional disturbances, hopelessness, disenchantment and depletion of energy as well as anxiety and depressive disorders. Jung warned that if we did not explore and nourish the psyche, we would not survive as a civilisation. He understood, as many more do now, that we would lose our souls in the process.