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The Age Of Electronic Shamanism
by Serge Kahili King

A very subtle, quiet, and pervasive revolution of sorts is in progress all over the world right now. It's happening in homes, schools, and offices with the help of computers, game systems, and electronic devices of many kinds.

What is quite remarkable about this revolution is that most of the people involved in it aren't even aware of it. They are conscious participants without being conscious of participating.

Let me increase your awareness of this revolution by relating it to some of the practices of shamanism, a general term for using the powers of the mind and the forces of nature to increase knowledge and influence material reality. Some of the things I'll discuss are practiced by people who would not think of what they do as shamanic, but using shamanism as a basis makes the discussion more simple and clear.

Let's begin with telepathy, usually defined as mind-to-mind communication with someone or something in the absence of physical contact. Modern scientists love to debate its existence, but virtually any group of three or more people willing to talk about it will have personal experiences with telepathy to share, whether with another person, an animal, or something else. In addition, every culture in the world has stories of telepathic experience as part of its lore. Scientists tend to deride these accounts as being "anecdotal,' meaning based on personal experience rather than research, but personal experience of telepathy is as real as personal experience of love, and research does not make it more real.

So, let's take a closer look at telepathy, the experience of knowing the thoughts and/or feelings of someone or something at a distance without a physical connection. In many shamanic and other cultures this is accomplished on purpose with the help of physical tools, like crystals, pendulums, and patterns formed by symbols of various sorts, such as Tarot Cards, I Ching coins, or the knuckle bones of sheep. In modern times the same thing is being accomplished with the help of radio, television, computers, and cell phones.

I can hear some people crying, "Wait! That's not the same thing. Those things are physical!" And I reply, "Crystals, pendulums, and symbolic patterns are physical, too." And these people cry out again, "But radio and television waves, electromagnetic fields, and microwaves are also physical, and they can be measured." And I reply, "It's time you learned that those waves and fields you just mentioned are no more physical than what we might as well call 'telepathic' waves and fields."

The fact is that radio and television waves, electromagnetic fields, and microwaves cannot be measured directly. The only measurements that can be made in relation to them are measures of the physical effects they produce on devices designed to respond to them. The waves and fields themselves are as non-physical as anything can be. Furthermore, let's examine what actually happens when you listen to a radio program, for instance. Someone speaks into a microphone. Something in the mike vibrates in response to the sound wave pattern, and this vibration generates a non-physical electrical signal that somehow retains duplicates of the original voice patterns. More physical equipment processes this signal and converts it into non-physical radio waves of a certain measured frequency that also somehow retains duplicates of the original voice patterns. These waves are broadcast from the station in, apparently, a 360-degree, three-dimensional ripple. The antenna of your radio, attuned to that particular frequency, converts the radio wave to an electrical signal that eventually stimulates the vibration of a membrane of some type that generates sound waves carrying duplicates of the original voice patterns to your ears. Amazing, isn't it?

Now, the brain can be considered as an organic device designed to respond to telepathic waves and fields, which would include the conscious awareness of thoughts and emotions from others without the use of eyes or ears or mouths or gestures. And just as a radio cannot pick up a station it isn't tuned to, so a brain does not pick up thoughts and feelings it isn't tuned to, either. A thought or a feeling is broadcast out in all directions from someone or something, maybe using a brain and maybe not. Assuming your brain is tuned to that particular telepathic frequency, something in you picks up the signal and converts it into electrical impulses retaining some degree of duplication of the original source pattern and these go to various parts of your brain, depending on the content of the pattern, where, again depending on the content, you end up with some kind of sensory, emotional, or kinesthetic awareness accompanied by measurable chemical and physical changes in your body. Because most people are not used to tuning their brains to telepathic input, there can be a lot of distortion in the final interpretation of the signal. That's why physical devices like crystals, pendulums, and symbolic patterns can be useful in keeping the reception closer to the original pattern, by converting the input into visual and kinesthetic output. I think we still have a long way to go in developing more accurate devices for receiving telepathy, but then early radios weren't so great, either.

This is all leading up to my contention that the electronic devices that we now use to transmit thoughts and feelings are not, as some think, leading us away from the development of our natural telepathic abilities, but are instead serving to subtly train us in those abilities, especially as they become smaller and more efficient and more accurate. They are helping to create a subconscious expectation of how easy it is to communicate with someone halfway around the globe, so much so that fewer and fewer words are becoming necessary to communicate our thoughts and feelings. Just think about the fact that a simple emoticon like :) can make you feel good, and a few letters like AOS can, if you are a teenager, let you or your friend know that an adult is at your shoulder looking at what you are doing, so be discreet (AOS = Adult Over Shoulder). Adding to this effect is the now standard 5-second clip used in advertising. You often hear that it's because the attention span of the audience is getting less, but since people still watch much longer segments in normal programming, it is actually increasing people's ability to get more information from less input.

Another electronic technique is training people to absorb more information from what at one time would have been an overwhelming amount of information. Here I'm speaking of the common practice of many television news programs, especially those devoted to financial news, of presenting multiple, simultaneous inputs of information. CNBC, for instance, will have one or more people speaking as two lines of type at the top of the screen give current market results for stock funds and commodities, while two lines of type at the bottom - one moving faster than the other - give current quotes of various types of stocks, and another small screen above those two displays information or news that may or may not be related to what the speakers are saying. Since our brain is constantly receiving far more information that we are usually consciously aware of, this may be helping to prepare us for paying more attention to telepathic input that we would usually ignore.

I have emphasized telepathy up to this point, but practically every shamanic skill is being practiced by more and more people today without them fully realizing it, especially by those many millions who are joining virtual worlds through a computer connection. To demonstrate my point, I will use only one such world as an example, that of Second Life. For those not familiar with this kind of experience, the standard operating procedure is to use your keyboard and a mouse to manipulate an "avatar," meaning a digital character that represents you in a virtual three-dimensional environment.

In a typical Second Life session, here are some of the shamanic skills you are likely to engage in:

  • Telepathy: this is usually done by "instant messaging" someone who may be anywhere in the real world.
  • Clairvoyance: you do this with a "camera view" that lets you see things around corners and far out of the line of sight of your character.
  • Levitation: whenever you wish, in most virtual locations, you can leap into the air and either float or fly to a destination of choice.
  • Astral Travel: just open a map, choose a location, press a Teleport button, and "whoosh!" you're there faster than a Star Trek transporter could take you.
  • Shape-shifting: as you will it, you can change your body shape, your skin, your eyes, and your hair to suit your own fancy. You can even turn yourself into an animal.
  • Materialization: with a beam of energy projecting from your avatar's hand, you can cause a wide variety of fundamental shapes to appear out of nowhere, and then you can turn them into houses, boats, planes, clothing, jewelry... nearly anything you want.
  • Healing: this is one of the most amazing effects, because the results produce actual changes in your living mind and body. To understand this, you have to realize that we all have a subconscious tendency to mimic the state or action of anything we put our full attention on. One of the ways this tendency is used in Real Life is to have athletes watch videos of experts in their field, and then practice what they've seen. Experiments demonstrate that the performance of the viewers increases significantly after the viewing. Another way, used in many, many areas of Real Life, is to imagine vividly what you want to do or be, and then do it or practice being it.

    Back to Second Life. When you immerse your avatar in a steaming hot tub, your physical body begins to relax. When your avatar meditates in a forest or a temple, your real mind and emotions calm down. When your avatar stands in a field of energy, your real body feels energized. In some cases, when another avatar uses healing touch on yours, or gives your avatar a massage, your real pain can go away.

If we look at this phenomenon with the concepts of Rupert Sheldrake, hundreds of millions of people all over the planet are generating and sustaining behavioral and mental morphic fields that will make it easier and easier for more and more people to begin expressing shamanic talents and abilities that are usually associated with legends, fantasy, or science fiction. The talents and abilities area real, however, even though up until recently they have only been practiced by a few. Now, however, millions and millions of people are involved, and the training of the whole human race has begun.

Will this revolution happen easily? Most probably not, because so many people's lives are based on fear. The most common potential areas of resistance are these:

  • Fear of anything electronic or electromagnetic. This is based on ignorance of how such devices work, and many people don't want to learn.
  • Fear that people will become addicted. This is based on ignorance of what addiction is. People of very low self esteem can become addicted to anything at all that brings them any degree of pleasure. If you take one source of pleasure away from them, they'll simply find another.
  • Fear that people will become so dependent on electronic devices that they will lose their natural abilities. This is based on ignorance of human nature. Human beings are tool-using creatures. We always have and we always will use tools to enhance our natural creativity.

I just remembered a story I was told a number of years ago about a white Australian and an Aborigine who were hiking together in the Outback and got lost. The white Australian said to his companion, "Hey, why don't you use some of those powers you're supposed to have and get us some help?"

"Okay," said the Aborigine, and he pulled a cell phone out of his back pocket and called some relatives.

"Wait a minute," said the white Australian. "I thought you people were able to communicate with your minds!"

"Oh, sure, we can do that," said the Aborigine, "but this is so much easier!"

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