How do you explain soul and spirit?
~Old Bear, Colorado
Dear Old Bear,
I see shamanism as the expression of spirit and soul--I might say that these are core to any shamanic (shamanistic) ways. Therefore, without an understanding of them, one can not understand shamanism. When I was young, I asked my teacher to explain them and their differences. I knew that I was working with them, but wanted to understand more about what it was that I was working with. He gave me some answer, but it was a long time later that I understood. While the way I describe them may not be correct, the way I describe them creates the paradigm that allows what I do to be predictable. So, since Old Bear has thrown this at me, I will speak on the subject. Please note that this is how I see it, not necessarily how it is.
The soul is feminine and holds our power. It is the blue-print for the structure around which the physical is created. It is the essence within the iron girders of a building. Without our soul, we begin to disintegrate, to fall apart physically. Without an intact soul, one develops auto-immune and similar disorders. The soul "lives in our bones" as the old ones use to say. It is within the realms of our soul that most go when doing drumming movements. A person travels from their earth soul (the place their attention is upon in the everyday mundane) into their underworld soul where their power is stored--where their demons are also stored. One might then continue their travel into their celestial soul where we connect with source and vision. In the course of one's travel, they begin in the cave of Bear going to Panther's lair on the way to Deer's forest. You could also say that the soul is the home (or creates the home) for spirit. I know spirit as the essence of Creator placed within all things. I too have used the example of "breath of Creator". Spirit is our awareness, which when embodied, creates consciousness. If Creator is the fire, then spirit is the sparks floating up into the air, ultimately to return. It is one's spirit that is sent off on travels and journeys. It is one's awareness.... If soul has a feminine aspect, then spirit has a masculine one. When we say that someone needs to be grounded, it is their spirit that is drifting off. This can cause difficulties as one's spirit should always remain tethered to their soul. Otherwise, another spirit can enter.
Going back to my allegory of a building, soul is the iron girders, the building itself is the body, and the people within the building are the spirit.
So, this is how I see it.
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