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Shaman of the Pima and Papago

River of SorrowThe shaman of the Pima and Papago served multiple roles for his people. He was the diagnostician, public séance master, and magician. He worked in the realms of the lower, middle, and upper worlds. These worlds may be associated with the modern-day psychological worlds of the sub-conscious, conscious, and super-conscious. He was able to traverse the entire spectrum; going to other worlds and seeing and being on the same plane with spirits, animals, and other supernaturals. He not only saw those worlds, they were reality for him.

Shaman was responsible for the connection between the spirits and the now living. He was the conduit; the tube through which the worlds connected passed through him. He could converse, see, and be in all the worlds. He called upon spirits in the higher and lower worlds to speak to him and tell him what they desire. Often a homosexual, he didn’t just know the landscape of the metaphysical; he lived it.

In his life experience of the 18th and 19th century, the shaman encountered many present-day dilemmas. He became a scapegoat for the disease of the whites that killed many people (vioxx). He was persecuted as many as seven times for epidemic sicknesses in a 70-year period (Pfizer). He, at times, became the cause of a problem, as opposed to being the solution.

The shaman in Pima and Papago culture was therapist, diagnostician, and metaphysical guide. He used smoke, dream, and vision to diagnosis illness. Over the last century, shamanism has survived and made a strong comeback. The shamans have moved from a place of “doing the public good”, to one of “private practice”. They have shared a history of doing good, doing bad, and looking out for themselves with psychological therapists, doctors, and metaphysicians. While the latter suffer monetary and material penalties, shamans often paid with their lives.

Knowing and diagnosing internally as shamans, has become, in the Western world, performing every empirical test now available to man. That is because cultural differences result in different outcomes. The shaman paid with his life; doctors and therapists pay with their wallet. Ultimate outcomes are now weighed as monetary, not life-threatening. And our cultural values of the shaman, as opposed to the psychological therapist, the MD, and the metaphysician, are all one. We just choose to separate them by virtue of the culture we adhere to and the consequences we apply to them. While different, they are all one, and they all serve the same purpose; they allow us to see ourselves as victims, because of a symptom, or “a strength”, and make us feel better about ourselves even though we are sick. Perhaps we should get back to the “real” world, the melding of the lower, middle, and upper worlds that the Creator gave us. Then the shaman can return and have an impact in today’s western world.

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