The four levels of human perception
The World of Shamanism
Another map I will use in this book consists of four hierarchically ordered levels of human perception:
· the physical
· the emotional/mental
· the soul
· the spirit
This ties in with the distinction between ’soul’ and ’spirit’ described earlier. There are slightly different animal representations of these levels in various cultures, but as the animals represent the energies of the levels, their appearance is of minor importance.
· The physical level is represented by the Serpent. It is our body, our instinctual knowing and our senses. This level guides us when the sensual and instinctual are required. It knows nature, danger and opportunity. It is also the level where we act physically in a physical world. It is the level of beta brainwaves, where our brain is active in an outwardly focused way in the waking state.
· The mental/emotional level is represented by the Jaguar. It is the level where we feel and think. The Jaguar is a great hunter, stalking its prey, planning its route and changing quickly when required to ensure a successful hunt. It represents our mental capacity, enabling us to plan, think, be emotionally involved and bring our visions and dreams to fruition in the material world. When we relax, go into a meditative state and focus inwardly, we enter the alpha state and can bring this level to our awareness.
· The soul level is represented by the Hummingbird, which is aware of our soul’s journey. This is the level we are on when we are on a profound shamanic journey or very deeply immersed in ceremonial work. Here we can create, have visions and encounter spirits. On this level our intent has great power and we are the energetic co-creators we are meant to be. We can experience this level when we are in theta — when we are in a deep trance state.
· The spirit level is represented by the Eagle. It is the domain of spirit, the realm where everything already exists in potential form. This is knowing on the highest level and in shamanic terms we do not need to change anything here, because the bigger picture is shown to us and all is well. We are at the level of ’Oneness’, of just Being. Some call it the level of enlightenment. Our brain sinks down into delta waves or even lower, to a state where we hardly exist but are one with the whole.
In shamanism we are asked to become aware at which level we are functioning. We strive to use our senses and instincts on the physical level, be aware of our mental and emotional capacities and states and use them wisely on that level, to dream and create on the level of soul and, on the spirit level, to become aware of our soul’s path and strive to expand our consciousness to reach the highest level of knowing.