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HudsonGray  HudsonGray is offline
Join Date: 26 Apr 2002
Location: I childproofed my house but they still get in.
Posts: 5,162

Well, the common theme in shamanic learnings are that the new person go into a meditation where they meet their spirit guides, but they have to arrange with them what payment the guides want, in advance, for doing the guiding through the learning (this part kept me from focusing on being a shaman & pushed me to do solitary eclectic research). Well, the very first serious journey the new to-be shaman does is follow the guides to a deep place. They literally tear the skin, flesh & everything off him, till it's just bones, then take the bones apart & they're shuffled on the floor.

This state of 'non-being' is really impressed upon the newbie, the guides then re-assemble the bones (a figurative restructuring of thinking & purpose to someone who wants to be a shaman, you're rebuilt from the ground up) and the flesh & skin do NOT come back on. They take the skeleton shaman through several journeys, showing him/her the levels of the spirit world (called underworld or above world, depending on the culture), and then when done (they protect him/her through all this) the shaman puts his own flesh & skin back on & comes out of meditation. Usually pretty shaken, I'd imagine, since he's not told about any of this in advance.

The picture on the card shows someone in meditation, with the skeleton behind them (the robe is unnecessary in this context), the spirit shaman is on the 'other side', be it underworld or above world. Snakes are key elements for knowledge being imparted, and can be spirit guides also. Snakes are supposed to function between worlds & can easily travel there. In Central and South American shamanic teachings, the giant snakes have huge amounts of knowledge. I'm not sure about North American shamanism, but they also feature snakes in Asian/Russian shamanic journeys.

So the picture, to me, does cover a huge amount of that first journey on a new life, the destructuring of the person, the guides, the different levels, the fact that you return VERY changed, and have died a sort of death to achieve it all. (There's more to it, but this is the condensed version, I've got a couple books on worldwide shamanism & this journey is very cross-cultural, so it's probably very old & passed down through different ethnic groups--the Inuit have tales of "Bone Woman" that fall into this too, though she was an undersea spirit).
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