Ecoshamanism: Reconnecting with Nature on Multiple Levels
For those of you who are searching for a way to live a balanced, sustainable life with the natural world, one that doesn’t require you to live like a hermit and one that works within the parameters of the twenty-first century, James Endredy’s new book, “Ecoshamanism: Sacred Practices of Unity, Power, and Earth Healing,” might be just the guide book you’ve been looking for. Have no fear though -- there’s no need to run off and learn the shamanic techniques of a faraway tribe. Endredy himself has done just that for over twenty-five years and his book will provide you with the tools that you need to reconnect with nature on a level that you might never have imagined.
The real work is simply to learn how to “encounter [the] natural world in which we live -- here on our own soil, with the sky that’s above our head, with the water we drink and the food we eat.” Endredy teaches his readers to do just that by listening to the guidance of their inner spirit, not just during “special moments of enlightenment and peak experiences” of their lives, but on a daily basis.
Granted, the term ecoshamanism might seem redundant to those who are familiar with the ways of a shaman. For those who are new to the topic of shamanism though, “it is the lifestyles, ceremonies, and rituals steeped in reciprocity with the natural world that provide a shaman with his or her ability to see and feel the imbalances within both individual organisms and ecological systems. It is through this relationship of giving and receiving that the shaman discovers ways to restore the delicate balance necessary for health and happiness when discrepancies arise.”
On a grand scale, Endredy describes ecoshamanism as a “practical and holistic form of modern shamanic technology.” On a personal level, it’s an ever-evolving, ever-expanding project at the mental, physical, environmental, and spiritual level of consciousness. In modern day terms, it’s “a breath of fresh air at the bottom of a landfill [and] the light of nature in the eye of the steer on its way to Burger King.”
Throughout this part-explanatory/part-experiential book, Endredy clearly makes the distinction between the beliefs and practices of ecoshamanism, classical shamanism, and modern neoshamanism, as well as the likes of urban shamans, corporate shamans, and others who have little if any experience in reciprocating with nature, or worse, who live a lifestyle that’s harmful to the natural world. While he describes his task as one of “help[ing] bring the spirits back to the island of humanity,” he believes that to accomplish such a goal he needs to teach his readers about the transformation of lifestyles and worldviews that will lead them to “where the path of the shaman begins.”
The journey to such a path and beyond is an enjoyable adventure with the more than fifty ecoshamanic practices and counterpractices that Endredy presents. From such “counterpractices” as “seeing in systems,” fasting, creating cognitive maps, and relating to the elements of earth, water, air, fire, and spirit/space, to the practices associated with ecoshamanic ceremony, ritual, chanting, and rites of passage and initiation such as dancing, working with deer, communicating with trees, and taking care of the scared flame, this book reads and feels like a field guide for the natural soul.
If there’s any truth to the notion that “the beginning of [the] journey starts at the end of the known road,” I’m ready to pack my bags and head on out into the unknown. After reading James Endredy’s “Ecoshamanism: Sacred Practices of Unity, Power, and Earth Healing,” I realize though that there’s no need to travel any further than my own back yard to see the world in an entirely new light. Clichéd? Perhaps. Personally gratifying? For me -- yes. World sustaining? I certainly hope so.
Donna McLaughlin Schwender is the “soul proprietor” of One-Eared Dog, Ink. As a freelance writer living in upstate New York, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.