Is Shamanism controversial? Apparently so, to some people. I've recently been re visiting a great documentary by Terry Macy and Daniel Hart, from 1996 "White Shamans and Plastic Medicine People." This documentary is about white folks pretty specifically white folks in the United States of America who've received little to no Tribal teachings about sweat lodges, the medicine wheel, and Shamanic healing, and turn around and try to share this information with the rest of the world (or at least Americans). Many indigenous people find this to be just another exploitation by the ruling class of what tribal people hold dear, and speak out soundly against the practice. Part of the message behind this documentary seems to be that this form of exploitation applies most especially to people who do this for fame and profit. This is a very good point and certainly one worth reflecting on. People have literally DIED from going into sweat lodges that were poorly conceived, and in sweats that were not handled correctly.
It does make sense that if someone decides to adopt a tradition or practice they haven't been well trained in, and then they turn around and try to teach it, they are not only being disrespectful to that tradition but their mishandling of this ancient knowledge can lead misinformed followers into many problems on the path to the truth they are trying to find in the spiritual practice, some may even say it could have an ill effect on that person in particular's soul or spirit .
One of the ideas expressed in Macy and Hart's documentary that I found worthy of note was the idea that wisdom for the good of people should be given freely to help other people, other souls, not made into a commodity that can be bought or sold, because that cheapens it, and takes its magic away. Another idea is that money is just a material exchange of one's energy and effort, or a form of gratitude for help that was offered. Understandably, there are expenses that need to be met in a culture that is built on currency exchange, but is being a spiritual leader really something a person should get rich for doing? Think about the cost, the insult, doled out to others who did not get rich or famous in the process referred to above, then decide.
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