Spirit Hacking: Shamanic Keys to Reclaim Your Personal Power, Transform Yourself, and Light Up the World - Shaman Durek 2019
Even though the medicine woman told me I was going to die two days before it happened, it still shocked the hell out of me when I actually did. I mean, it was hard enough for a robust twenty-seven-year-old man to wrap his mind around his mortality while training with shamanic elders in the jungles of Belize, but when the seizures kicked in, and my organs started shutting down, and my dead grandmother appeared in the hospital room, and told me to relax into the pain, and to let death take me—well, that’s the kind of experience that really knocks you on your ass, know what I mean?
Dying was one of my rites of passage as a shaman—another brutal initiation that wrecked my body, and annihilated my ego, and flooded my consciousness with sacred teachings, and lessons, and insights, and illuminations that completely shifted my understanding of reality. The experience left me very raw, and very humble. It strengthened my powers and fortified my devotion to Spirit, thereby allowing me to be of greater service to humanity, and of greater service to the planet—but only after I came out of the coma, and healed the brain damage, and taught myself to walk again.
It’s not like I hadn’t already been studying shamanism and practicing shamanism since the ancestors first started coming to me when I was a kid. Still, when I died, everything shifted. When I died, the mark of the shaman was indelibly etched inside my body, mind, and spirit; because, despite all New Age fads to the contrary, you don’t become a shaman because you went to Peru, bought a poncho, sang some sacred plant songs, and learned how to mix a booming batch of ayahuasca. You become a shaman because the spirits choose you to be a shaman.
Shamans have been an integral part of every tribe and every culture since the first humans walked the Earth. The word “shaman” means “one who knows.” Shamans gather their knowledge by traveling between dimensional planes, acting as ambassadors between the physical world and the spirit world. Shamans utilize a vast array of spiritual tools and techniques to communicate with spirits, and ancestors, and elements, and all sorts of unseen energies, entities, and intelligences in service to the health and well-being of everyone in the tribe.
Shamans perceive reality through an expanded perspective that acknowledges the life force, the sacredness, and the divinity in all earthly life-forms, including those in the animal kingdom and in the plant kingdom. Shamans are bound by neither third-dimensional constraints nor the five senses. No one is, really. But most humans are programmed to reject their extrasensory capabilities, and to reject the existence of nonmaterial reality, and to reject the spiritual realms altogether. But mostly, humans are programmed to reject their own power, which has a lot of people stubbornly beholden to a very narrow, very limited material experience of reality as perceived through the standard-issue five senses.
Because shamans perceive reality beyond this third-dimensional construct, shamans understand that everything is animate, and that everything has intelligence. That’s not to say that everything has the capacity for complex cognitive exchange. Let’s not be ridiculous. I’m not going to have an in-depth conversation about Shakespeare or quantum mechanics with a sycamore tree. But trees stand tall, and trees have deep roots and a lot of wisdom to share in their own way. Shamans utilize spiritual tools to access certain doorways of perception that allow us to communicate and share relationships with these other intelligences that share the planet with us.
THIS IS NOT AN AYAHUASCA THING
These days, people confuse shamans with people who name themselves after their spirit animal, and wear beads, and burn palo santo, and give people plant medicine. I can’t tell you how often it happens that people hear I’m a shaman and just automatically assume I get people high, meaning that I work with psychedelic plant medicine, which I do not.
In fact, there are many different types of shamans. There are root shamans, who work specifically with root medicines, and root spirits. There are water shamans, like in Indonesia, who work only with the water element, and the water spirits. There are shamans who work with animals, and who administer the toxins that they extract from them. And yes, there are shamans who work with entheogenic plants—meaning, plants that open up certain doorways of perception that allow people to commune with Spirit—plants like peyote, and iboga, and San Pedro, and ayahuasca.
Now that plant medicine is trending, and ayahuasca is the new black, you have all these people spending their weekends wearing white, and drinking psychedelics, and puking into Tupperware bowls, and having their minds blown. They come out of a ceremony, all wide-eyed and radiant, with these beatific smiles, and this incredible love for humanity and for the planet, and this profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings. Then, they tell their friends about this amazing mystical experience, and they get all this spiritual street cred, and all this social cachet; and then two weeks later, someone cuts them off in traffic, and all their holiness goes right out the window as they flip the person the finger, topped off with a hearty “fuck off!”
People are not using plant medicine in the right way. Traditionally, shamans give people plant medicine to activate certain doorways, and certain awarenesses, and certain perceptions, not to give people something to check off their bucket lists, or to brag about at dinner parties, or even just to take them on a wild-ass ride. Plant medicine exists to show us what is possible when we engage beyond the false limitations that we have allowed to shape our reality. But plant medicine is only an entryway; it is not a place to hang out.
A lot of people confuse plant medicines with the states of consciousness they induce, and then they develop dependencies upon these medicines, as though they are the only way to access these states, and as though these states do not already exist inside them and cannot be accessed at any time. This is very limiting for those who then become reliant upon these plant medicines and these shamans, whom they place on pedestals, and worship like golden calves.
BE YOUR OWN DAMN GURU
Shamans are not gurus, and shamans sure as hell aren’t perfect. So many spiritual teachers make it seem like they have it all figured out, like they’re these higher luminaries of perfected human embodiment who never trip, never fart, and never get down on themselves. It’s bullshit. If you’re in a biological spacesuit—which is what I call the body—then your shit’s getting fucked up on some level. I mean, we’re living in duality, peeps! That means that we are dealing with real darkness, and with real challenges—all of us. Sure, I might be more adept at dealing with the darkness, and with life’s challenges, because I have all these shamanic tools to support me—not to mention the spirits and the ancestors—but that doesn’t mean I don’t get affected by the same challenges that afflict the rest of humanity. It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry, or that I don’t ever act out of character, or that I don’t engage in patterns that run counter to my best interests. I’m just as human as everyone else.
But people love to worship their golden calves, and so they are quick to place shamans on pedestals. It’s really annoying. If you’re going to put me on a pedestal, then you’d better climb onto your own version so that we can see eye to eye, because I’m not going to strain my neck to talk down to you. Either show up as my equal, or don’t show up at all. I’m not here to be your guru. Be your own damn guru.
I am what is known as a spirit shaman. Spirit shamanism is one of the oldest shamanic traditions on the planet, which is why our rites of passage are generally so intense (aka: I literally died, remember?). Spirit shamans don’t rely on medicine, or plants, or on any earthly tools to do our healing. We go directly to the source. We go to the spirits themselves.
Every life-form on the planet has a spirit. Spirit shamans cultivate relationships with these spirits to facilitate clear communication in times of breakdown or imbalance, so they can determine what adjustments need to be made in order to restore harmony to the being, or the situation.
When the ancestors came to visit me when I was a kid, and started to train me in the ways of shamanism, they mostly took me to different realms so they could introduce me to the spirits, so that I could start to cultivate my own relationships with them. So much of my shamanic training involved networking with the spirits—just getting to know them, and learning their energy, and offering my support to them in their realms, just as I would learn to call upon their support to help the people in this dimension.
Instead of relying on a plant, or a drum, or a breathing exercise to tap into the spirit realm, spirit shamans pretty much live there 24-7. When I’m working with people, and I open myself up as a vessel to the spirit realm, all kinds of different beings and energies come through me. So, in any one given session, I might sing, I might dance, I might speak in tongues, I might make shapes or mudras with my hands. I might pray in a language I’ve never studied. I might channel an African elder, or an Asian monk, or an Aboriginal tribesman, or a Tibetan rinpoche. Shamans are equal opportunity spirit vessels. We don’t discriminate against other cultures, or religions, or traditions, or dimensional entities. We’re very evolved.
JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT HIP TO IT, DOESN’T MEAN THE SPIRIT WORLD ISN’T A THING
A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their minds around what I do and how I engage reality. They don’t have a context for spirits, or for unseen energies, and they don’t have a framework for other-dimensional realms of perception and existence. You can’t really blame them. It’s not like they teach us this stuff in school. Children are only taught about material reality as it is perceived through a very limited, third-dimensional lens that accesses only a tiny portion of the whole picture. But just because we have not been taught about the spirit world, and just because we don’t yet know how to perceive the spirit world, or how to navigate the spirit world, doesn’t mean the spirit world isn’t a thing. It’s just means we haven’t educated ourselves yet.
MY LINEAGE IS MYSTICAL AF
My great-grandmother Mamal started visiting me in my dreams when I was five. But my mom says it was clear by the time I was three that I wasn’t like the other kids, because I used to go up to strangers in the grocery store and give them hugs while breaking down all their issues, and telling them that I loved them. Even though my traditional shamanic powers come from my father’s side of the family, my mother comes from a long line of Norwegian oracles, as well as Native American medicine men/women. She is no stranger to the spirit realm, and she said that my spiritual powers started to make themselves known early on.
Mamal was a powerful medicine woman from Ghana, where she worked with spirits, and herbs, and music, in service to her tribe—a mix of Mende, Yoruba, and Bantu traditions. When the slave traders infiltrated the African tribes, Mamal fled to Haiti where she studied hoodoo and became a spiritualist before ending up in New Orleans. Mamal’s shamanic powers are legendary in my family, and I’ve heard countless stories of her miraculous healings. My father told me that when he was a kid in New Orleans, people used to line up around the block to see her. Mamal would lay them down on a wooden table that stood in the center of her healing room. She would rub oil and various herbs into her hands, while praying and singing. Then, she would spit into her hands, and rub them together, while waving them over the person’s body and chanting to the spirits. Mamal would sing and dance, all while rubbing her hands, and rubbing her hands, and rubbing her hands. Then she would smack the person, and she would keep smacking them; and with every smack, the person would shake, and the person would cough, and sometimes, the person would throw up into a metal bucket that Mamal kept under the table, and then they would be healed. It didn’t matter what the sickness was, this was Mamal’s technique, and—apparently—it worked wonders to heal any imbalance that presented itself. Granted, it was a different time. You can’t just go smacking people healed these days. That kind of thing doesn’t fly anymore.
My mother is a powerful seer and a fountain of wisdom. Ancient Viking spirituality runs deep in her roots. Rejected by her stepfamily early on because they were black, and she was white, my mother spent the bulk of her childhood apprenticing to a woman she referred to as her spiritual mother—a Romanian gypsy who started training my mother in the ways of seeing, and knowing, and working with energy from the time she was eight. My mother says she knew that I was going to be a powerful shaman while I was still in her womb, because my ancestors came to her while she was pregnant and taught her all these chants and spirituals that she’d never heard before but that she sang to me constantly, between prayers. She says my ancestors also guided her to place certain power objects in my nursery—drums to teach me the musical ways of the Mende tribe; feathers to teach me to fly, so that I could always lift myself above the mundane world; and a special blanket that was woven in Africa, that she says I used to kneel on to pray and to meditate when I was just a toddler.
Given how deep and how diverse these spiritual powers run in my bloodline, I didn’t think it was weird that dead relatives and strange spirits were showing up in my room at night, and speaking to me, because I thought everyone was having that type of experience. That is, until I was ostracized as a freak by kids who were not, in fact, having those experiences and who excluded me, and bullied me accordingly.
A lot of times, when I mention spirits, people think of ghosts, or ghouls, or see-through entities levitating above the ground. But that’s not how spirits show up. Spirits look exactly like regular people, except sometimes their clothes and accessories give them away. That’s why it was so disconcerting as a kid, because I’d wake up to see an African man wearing a crown of stones, and a red velvet cape, just sitting in my chair, staring at me. Or I’d walk into my room to discover a Viking draped in animal pelts throwing bones on my floor, while a Native woman stood behind him, pointing to the formations they were making on the carpet, trying to teach me the ways of divination. I’d figured out that other people couldn’t see the spirits, except for a handful of folks in my family who followed the old ways, but I didn’t myself know how to deal with them.
At a certain point, my powers were getting stronger and stronger, and I knew I needed to start training to be able to navigate these realms, and deal with these experiences that I was having more and more of. I was seeing colors around people’s bodies. I was starting to feel other people’s emotions and hear other people’s spirit guides, which was getting noisy, and distracting, and overwhelming. Not to mention I started seeing these swirling balls of light that would disappear into the walls in different parts of my house. They were spirit portals, but I didn’t know that then. I was in elementary school. I didn’t know what a spirit portal even was, let alone how to make sure it was properly sealed.
I told my dad that my powers were getting more intense, and that it was time for me to start my training. He asked if I was hearing the ancestors’ voices, and if they had started asking me to do things for them. When I told him that yes, the ancestors were asking me to do a lot of things, my father told me that he used to hear the ancestors’ voices, too. That’s when the beatings started, and that’s when my grandpa Leon started calling me the devil’s child.
That Time on the Playground …
When I was very young—around seven or eight years old—I was playing with some kids at recess, and all of a sudden, I saw this one girl throwing up blood while all her hair fell out. It scared me so much, I started screaming, and screaming, and screaming. It became this ordeal, and the girl and I were taken to the principal’s office, where we had to wait for our parents to come get us. When our parents arrived, the principal kept pressing me to explain why I was screaming so much, and I finally fessed up, and told them what I saw, at which point both the mother and the little girl started to cry.
“My baby has leukemia!” the woman sobbed.
My father leaped to his feet, grabbed my arm, and said, “We have to go now,” and rushed us out the door, practically dragging me across the parking lot to his truck.
“You are drawing attention to yourself,” he growled once we got inside the cab. “People will find out about your powers. You cannot use them. Those powers are bad. You must shut them down.”
Because we come from a long line of shamans, both my grandfather and my father knew the kinds of hardships the shamanic path entails. My dad used to apprentice for his grandmother (Mamal) and for his aunt—both of whom practiced shamanism in New Orleans. So he had witnessed firsthand the trials and tribulations I would have to endure if I was to choose to step into my power. He knew that I would be shamed and ostracized for being different. And, though he would never admit it, he was terrified of the powers that he himself had suppressed his whole life. It didn’t help that, according to my father’s religion, I was evil, which was why he tried as hard as he could to beat my powers out of me. I spent the bulk of my childhood bloodied and bruised, and told—repeatedly—that I was evil, and that I was a curse from the devil.
But the ancestors kept insisting that I needed to start my training, and I was literally being inundated by spirits day and night. So my mother (who had divorced my father and moved to New York when I was three) stepped in on my behalf, and demanded that my father allow me to start training in shamanism, and in the ways of Spirit.
SHAMAN TRAINING: THE EARLY YEARS
That’s when the ancestors started sending teachers and mentors and healers and elders my way; and that’s when I started to learn how to navigate the realms of Spirit; and that’s when I learned that those spinning vortexes in my house were spirit portals, and figured out how to seal them shut. Some of my teachers were incarnate, and some of my teachers were spirits. This is part of what makes shamanism so unique—our training and practice take place in the realms of the physical as well as in the realms of Spirit. So shamans learn from physical teachers, and shamans also learn from spirits, who come at nighttime, in many forms. The spirits might come as a Native American chief, or as an Egyptian temple guard, or as a woman with the body of a snake who shakes you out of your sleep to bring you a message, or to teach you a prayer, or because it’s time for you to learn to summon the wind, or to make an offering to a tree seven blocks away, even though it’s two o’clock in the morning and it’s pouring rain outside.
The spirits would often work in tandem with physical teachers. I remember one time, a girl I went to school with invited me over to her house after school. Her mother, Diana, was a witch, and she said that my ancestors had visited her and asked her to train me in the dark arts—not because they wanted me to practice them, but so that I would know how to protect myself when I came across them. Diana gave me books to study, which I hid under my mattress, lest my father and stepmother beat me for having them.
My aunt Hazel, who practiced the old ways from Haiti, would teach me on the sly, because she knew how much my father feared the family powers.
“Don’t tell your father,” she would remind me at the end of our visits.
Aunt Hazel taught me how to ride my breath into the spirit world, where I would connect with the ancestors and the spirits who are still teaching me new things to this day. I remember the first time I rode my breath into that realm. I met a spirit who instructed me to wake up at 4:00 A.M. and go to a place where there was mud, and water, and birds. I set the alarm and snuck out of the house, and when I got to the park with the mud, and all the rest of it, the spirit was waiting for me next to about a half dozen dead birds on the shore of the pond. The spirit told me to bury the birds, and to trace circles around them with a stick, and to sit there and meditate on bird energy. As I did, the birds flew up out of the earth from where I buried them, and went right into my body, infusing me with their energy. That experience taught me how to navigate the spirit realm through flight, while changing the way I perceived things in this realm by expanding my vision considerably.
Unfortunately, my father was waiting up for me by the time I got home with mud-caked shoes, and dirt under my fingernails; I endured yet another beating for sneaking out, and practicing the powers he kept telling me to shut down.
SHAMAN TRAINING IS SUPER DIVERSE, AND EXTRA INCLUSIVE
Because spirit shamans work with spirits from every culture and every tradition, all over the world, and across all timelines, spirit shamans must study other peoples’ cultures, religions, and philosophies, in addition to their own tribal lineages. I continue traveling the world, studying other cultures, and other religions, and other shamanic traditions. I am always learning, and I am always training, and I am always stretching myself.
My family comes from the West African tribal traditions, as well as the Toscuran and the Scandinavian. So, of course, my ancestors have trained me extensively in those practices and beliefs. I have also trained in Native American shamanism with the Lakota and the Cherokee tribes. I’ve trained in Haitian shamanism, and Nigerian shamanism, and Hawaiian shamanism, as well as in the Cuban babalawo, and the African Kuba mystical traditions. I studied Judaism and Kabbalah with rabbis in Israel, Sufism in Turkey, and Christianity, Catholicism, and Christian mysticism throughout Europe. Plus, I have spirits from all kinds of cultures and traditions and religions and mystery schools who train me, and who advise me, and who work through me—spirits from the Maori tribe, elders from Valhalla, and spirits from Angola, and Thailand, and Vietnam.
My shamanic studies haven’t necessarily been linear or logical. For example, it wasn’t until I went to Israel to study Jewish mysticism that I really understood the symbolism in those books about black magic that Diana had given me as a child. It was through my studies of Hebrew and the Torah that I understood the codes that were hidden in language, and the power of those codes to create, and to destroy, and to transform.
While I was in Israel, I almost got run over by the number 4 bus. As the bus careened toward me, a Hassidic man pulled me out of the way and threw me against the window of a travel agency. As I collected myself, and shook off the scare, I saw a poster in the window that said VISIT TURKEY, and I knew that Spirit wanted me to go there. In Turkey, I met a Nigerian shaman who took me into the forest to participate in a powerful ceremony, during which I met a Kuba spirit who taught me many things, and who still advises me in my healing sessions, and in the dreamtime.
So, a lot of my shamanic training and immersion comes from following signs and availing myself to the wily ways of Spirit, which aren’t as cut-and-dried as, say, your average university curriculum.
THAT TIME I DIED FOR FOUR MINUTES
Two days after I left the jungle and was told I was going to die, I woke up in the middle of the night to find a spirit sitting on top of me, reaching into my body. The next thing I knew, I was strapped to a gurney in an ambulance with my friend Marcus sitting next to me, looking all kinds of freaked out.
“What’s going on?” I wheezed.
According to the paramedic, I’d had five seizures in a row, which was strange, given that I wasn’t epileptic and that I’d never had even one seizure before in my life. I had two more seizures before we got to the hospital. I realized that it was really happening, and that I was dying. I was terrified.
A luminous woman walked into my hospital room just as everything started to glow and turn into liquid.
You’re going to feel a lot of pain, she said. Don’t fight it. Just let go.
She disappeared just as the pain kicked in, and what felt like a thousand flaming knives started stabbing every square inch of my body. Apparently this is what happens when your potassium levels skyrocket to 10 mEq/L and all your organs shut down, and you’re a sixth-generation shaman. One by one, my organs went off-line while I just kept right on convulsing. When my lungs gave out, I started hitting my throat with my fist as I struggled for air. The doctors rushed to give me a tracheotomy, but I still couldn’t manage to get any oxygen, because my lungs were no longer operational.
Beloved child, I heard the woman’s voice say, let go.
Marcus told me later that, while I was being drawn toward this soothing voice and this luminous light, and this peaceful energy, the doctors and the nurses were struggling to hold down my herky-jerky body, and to push my eyeballs back into their sockets.
Let go, child …
That time it was my grandmother’s voice. That’s when I stopped fighting, and I let go, and I died.
Everything became very clear, and very expansive. I went from seeing just the ceiling above my head, to seeing the entire hospital room, and then the entire hospital, and the parking lot outside, and then the whole block, and then the whole city. Then my grandmother was with me, telling me to relax into the pain, and telling me it was all okay. Then I was floating in a black ocean, infused with love and energy. I realized that I was in my mother’s womb, and I watched her give birth to me, which was bizarre, because I wasn’t used to perceiving from both the inside and the outside at the same time.
I then simultaneously watched and experienced my entire life. I was with every person I’d ever known. I saw everything I’d ever seen. I relived every fight I’d ever gotten into. Not only did I live through my whole life, but I also saw how my every action impacted all the people around me. The images and the memories kept flooding my mind until I reached the point where I could accept it all, and let it go with love. That’s when I was released from this plane altogether.
I melted into an incredible bright light that was pure love, and I knew I was home. I found myself on a beach without a body. The luminous woman reappeared and gave me back my hands, but without the bones, and asked me if I had any questions.
“Lots,” I said, and then proceeded to grill her about the situation here on planet Earth. I asked why people hurt each other, and why people suffer, and why we have borders, and why we have disease, and why we have war.
For every question I asked, the answer was always the same: malfunction in thinking.
I was officially dead for four minutes and twenty-five seconds, but the time I spent on the other side felt like at least a couple dozen eternities. After a while, and many conversations with many different spirits, another being came to me and told me that I didn’t have to stay, and that I could go back to my Earth life if I wanted to. As much as I wanted to stay on that love beach, with my bone-free hands, and the sky that made happy sounds whenever I looked at it, I knew that I had to go back to Earth, to teach the people what I’d learned.
I walked into the water and was swallowed up by deep space, which I was now shooting through at warp speed. I stopped just above Earth and hovered for a while before I dropped down through the atmosphere, and through the ceiling of my hospital room, where I saw myself lying beneath a sheet, with a giant hypodermic needle poking out of my chest, and defibrillator paddles shocking the shit out of me. As I came back into my body, I felt a rush of pain, and I gasped loudly, just like people do in the movies when they’re brought back to life. I reached to pull the tube out of my mouth but realized I couldn’t move my hands, or my arms—not because my bones were still missing, but because I was paralyzed.
I spent the next two months in a coma. When I regained consciousness, I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t move. I was told that I had brain damage, and that I would never walk again. My kidneys were in such bad shape that I spent the next eight years of my life on dialysis—an experience that forced me to walk through the fires of human suffering, and human hopelessness so as to allow me to understand others’ pain in profound ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to tap into if I hadn’t gone through it myself.
The road to recovery was long and painful. The spirits came to me in the hospital. They explained that the brain is a conductor, and that mine was transmitting faulty messages. They explained that if I wanted to recover, and if I wanted to heal, I needed to start thinking with my expansive soul and not with my limiting brain. I took their words to heart and worked diligently, every day, to heal my body with my thoughts, and with my words. I beat every odd, and I proved every doctor wrong, and I experienced a full and complete recovery, all because I trained myself to think properly.
While I was dead, and while I was hanging out with the spirits on the beach, they showed me this extraordinary moment in human history—this planetary initiation that we, as a global citizenry, are navigating right now.
Many shamanic, tribal, and indigenous traditions have prophesied about this epic transitional time for our species. They call it the Great Upheaval—the dark point before dawn—that threshold moment where humanity is forced to wake up from their slumber, and their separation, and their destructive ways, and to choose to consciously evolve the species and the planet, or to perish.
I call it the Blackout. Blackouts are pivotal moments that demand quantum leaps in evolution to ensure the species’ survival. They are sink-or-swim junctures that present themselves when planetary conditions reach extreme levels of imbalance, and when large swaths of the population have become stuck and stagnant in their ability to recognize the tools and the knowledge they already have inside them, and to make dramatic and necessary shifts in service to the survival and the adaptation of their species.
The Blackout is here to shine a light on everything that is broken, imbalanced, and out of alignment—not only within ourselves, as individuals, but also within the world at large. We are currently navigating a period of great disconnect that has us bearing witness to disruptive weather patterns, large-scale natural disasters, and tremendous amounts of social, political, cultural, and technological upheaval.
The Blackout is a crossroads. It is a time for human beings to look at the mess we’ve made of our planet, and our systems, and our society, and to make the shifts we need to make if we are to survive, and to level-up. We are teetering upon the edge of a remarkable shift that is poised to alter humanity’s trajectory, and humanity’s MO, in some pretty giant ways. The Blackout is inviting human beings to decide whether we are going to continue to think against ourselves and continue to steer the planet into darkness; or if we are going to wrangle our thoughts for the supportive, and take responsibility for ourselves, and for our situation here on planet Earth, and embrace the light. This decision is both personal and collective, because the only way we can change the world is to change ourselves.
SHAMANISM TO THE RESCUE
It is the shaman’s task to venture into the dark places most people avoid. And it is the shaman’s task to embrace that darkness as a means of investigating the human condition, and a means of understanding the nature of the things that humans grapple with. The shaman’s connection to Spirit is what allows us to brave the darkness again, and again, and again, because it is that connection which allows us to know we are always, always safe. This is the function of the shamanic initiation. To obliterate the shaman again, and again, and again, so that the shaman learns—not by indoctrination, but by experience—that he cannot be obliterated. But most humans do not endure these rites of passage, which means that most humans do not have this connection to Spirit, and so most humans do not experience the feelings of enduring safety that come along with it, even those who claim to be religious or spiritual.
I have compiled the spirit hacks in this book to help you develop this kind of connection with Spirit, and to help you to cultivate this same sense of safety that I have cultivated through my experience with the spirit world. By regularly applying these tools in our individual lives, every one of us will be able to navigate the world with confidence, and with love, while inspiring and educating others to do the same. Then, before you know it, we’ve generated this giant self-correcting spiral that’s lifting and shifting the world, one lit leader at a time. So many people are so busy, and frantic, and stressed out, racing to figure out intricate, complex solutions to all the planet’s ills, that we’ve lost sight of the real solution: for the world to get better, the people living in the world must feel better. This means feeling more safe, more whole, more fulfilled, more nurtured, more connected, more empowered, and more authentic. This is what these spirit hacks are for.
Because shamanism is inclusive, and expansive, and relational, and quantum, it is uniquely positioned to offer humanity a pretty massive array of poprocks integrative tools found both in nature, as well as in our own human operating systems. My vision is for humanity to utilize these tools as a means of adapting, and evolving, and thriving throughout the Blackout. These tools have been handpicked and carefully curated to support you in becoming a greater and more powerful version of yourself, while living and thriving in harmony with all life and getting lit AF.
SHAMANISM IS NOT RELIGION; IT’S A LIFESTYLE
While the spirits have chosen me to be a shaman, and while I have endured the rites of passage, and have undergone the training that being a shaman entails, shamanism is a lifestyle choice that is available to everyone.
Shamanism is not a religion. It’s not about rules, or sin, or hierarchy, or punishment; and it’s not about rewards, or righteousness, or austerity, or a heavenly afterlife. Shamanism is not about placing figureheads between you and God, as though you need anyone else to connect you to your own divinity. As a shaman, I am not here to stand between you and Spirit, and I am not here to tell you how to live your life, or how to be a spiritual person. I am here to empower you to cultivate your own relationship with Spirit, and I am here to help you empower yourself by teaching you spirit hacks that will support you in lifting and shifting, and living giant.
Shamanism is a way of perceiving life in a more expansive, engaged, loving, inclusive, impartial way. What you hold in your hands is not a religious text or rule book. This is an invitation to take a sacred journey into the depths of your spirit, and to go on discovery, and to step into the unknown, where you will connect with that infinitely loving, limitless power that resides inside each and every one of us, and you will learn to cultivate that power, and you will learn to harness that power, in service to the evolution of this planet, and this species, and yourself.