Seeing in the Dark

Claim your own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age

Inner Power Book Cover Seeing in the Dark is available from


The world is changing.

Environmentally, we are seeing increases in the frequency and magnitude of storms. Earthquakes are prevalent and devastating worldwide. The ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising, and more arable land each year either disappears or becomes barren.

Sociologically and culturally, we are seeing an increase in extremes and a shrinking of the middle. Wealth is concentrating in the hands of the very few and poverty is increasing among the masses. We are experiencing a social divide in opportunity which further stratifies the division between the haves and have-nots.

Technologically, we have automated ourselves to the point where very few know how to manufacture or produce the vast majority of what we consume. It is significant that we have a new generation of computer technology every three months, while most of us would be stymied should we be required to manufacture a paper clip from raw materials.

We have also become a species who has lost its inclination for self-determination. We allow ourselves to be told how to act, what to do, what to want, and even who or what to love. The mainstream religious practices are fundamentally exclusive, rather than inclusive. That is, they posit an idea that if you do not believe as they do, your soul will be denied reward of any kind, because theirs is the only way.

In essence we are a tribal species who have just enough out-of-control technology and little enough wisdom so that we are capable of doing some real damage.

And we are.

So, in the midst of devastating change, what can we do? Well, if the world trend is to isolate and become more dependent on a tenuous infrastructure, and that’s not working, perhaps we should consider an alternate point of view. Maybe the answer is to become more connected, more self-reliant, and unswervingly responsible for ourselves.

What kind of paradigm, model, or philosophy can provide that? If everything changes, where can we look to find an immutable constant that has weathered the ravages of time?

The answer to that question is Shamanism. It has even survived evolution.

In 1972, two French archeologists unearthed a 50,000 year old Neanderthal burial site in Southern France. At this site, called the Hortus site, they found the body of a man wearing a leopard hide, complete with claws and tail. There were no other leopard bones in the grave. The only cultural comparison we can see in the archeological or anthropological record is that tribal shamans in certain cultures are known to wear animal capes in their rituals. They are buried with these magical garments. It is widely accepted among scientists that the Neanderthal man found at the Hortus site was a shaman.

This and other evidence demonstrates that shamanism has been around since before people were even people. It outlived the Neanderthal and has flourished for tens of thousands of years to the present day. If it has been able to survive that long, it must have something of value to offer those who practice it. Certainly, if shamanism can endure through all the changes of the last 50,000 years and even the death of an entire species, it can help us during these times of change.

The reason shamanism is so effective is that it is a point of view, a lifestyle, rather than a doctrine. It is experiential in nature and teaches us that we know, on a very fundamental level, who we are and what we need to do to take care of ourselves. It provides a way of self-examination and natural connection that can help us find our way, even when we are lost or confused. It is possible to believe anything you want to believe and still be a shaman. You can embrace any God, prophet, or savior you desire and shamanism will still work for you. Why? Because shamanism teaches us how to live in the world, in harmony with all of creation. Its over-arching tenet is that we are all connected, and because of this we can rely on ourselves to fulfill our destinies. More than that, we can use the principles of shamanism to do the personal work that will ultimately allow us to choose an alternate course for this world.

Hindu scholars say we are at the lowest point of the darkest age of a repeating cycle that began 12,800 years ago when our summer solstice sun aligned with the Galactic center. They claim we will begin our ascent back to light when the winter solstice sun aligns with the Galactic center in 2012. Coincidentally, this is when the famed Mayan calendar ends, and when several of the most prominent modern alchemists in America and France believe the dimensional door will shut, leaving only those on the planet who will continue their spiritual evolution back to the transcendent light.

Guess what? All of this speculation is nothing more than an abstraction. None of it matters even one little bit.

What matters is if we can find a way to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others. Sitting alone in the dark wringing our hands about what is coming only helps to manifest that which we dread. The key to the coming age is to remain engaged, get out into the world, do substantive work to initiate change, and find those who can pick the necessary agreements to precipitate a new reality. That is the essence of shamanism.

Before we delve into the techniques associated with engaged shamanism, it is important to think about what it means to be your own shaman. To become your own shaman entails embarking upon a power path of unveiling and cultivating the sacred and spiritual in your everyday life and in the modern environment and culture in which you currently live. To effectively utilize the practices of shamanism you do not have to move into the wilderness or desert, don a leopard cape or a feathered headdress. You do not have to practice someone else’s ceremonies and rituals or pray at their sacred sites. In fact, this is adamantly discouraged unless you are taught by, and given permission to perform these practices or visit these places from, a reputable person of that culture.

Modern shamanism is not a practice of taking or borrowing someone else’s religion or spiritual beliefs, nor does it involve copying the ways of the Mexican Nagual, the Lakota Medicine Woman, African Dagara Healer, or Peruvian Shaman. There is no need to imitate. The practice of shamanism is intimately personal and unique to every individual practitioner. No places, cultures or peoples own these universal energies or the practices that access them. Animism, the Web of Life, Spirit, and sacredness are omnipresent; they are everywhere, in everything, and belong to everyone. Your personal home-made Spirit-directed ceremony can be just as effective as a traditional cultural ceremony when practiced with heart, focus, energy, and right intention. To effectively practice shamanism in our culture and modern environment we need only wake up to our awareness of self, life force energy and Spirit and reap the rich experiences available to us right here, right now, and make a difference in the world around us.

The beauty of shamanism is that it is universal. The practices and principals can and are being applied around the world in many diverse cultures. Though shamanic practitioners may choose to learn from teachers of different backgrounds, they must ultimately incorporate their learnings into their own personal practice in their own culture and environment. Shamanic practices are a gift to all people from Spirit, not only the indigenous people that have bravely risked their lives to keep this powerful way of living alive. We are all benefactors of this Spirit gift.

Michael Harner, noted luminary and grandfather of the Neo-shamanic movement, notes with great insight that no matter how far we may be removed from our ancestral roots, we are all indigenous people from one place or another on this earth that has or has had shamanic roots. Shamanism isn’t about doing what the native peoples do exactly like they do it. It is about connecting with Spirit and one’s self using practices that help one follow a balanced personal path.

No matter what is on the way, no matter what changes, cataclysms, devastation, joy or boredom we must face in the coming age, what happens is for us to determine. Our destiny and the destiny of the world and its inhabitants are in our hands. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Many people come to shamanism to experience this on a personal level. It is this great contribution of shamanism that it provides us the means to do just that.

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Morning Prayer to the Four Airts

I give thanks that I have risen again today
and to the great Rising of Life Itself.

As the sun brightens up the sky and earth,
may my soul be bright with gratitude
for all the good things in my life.
May I be generous in sharing these with others.

I give thanks that I have risen again today
and to the great Rising of Life Itself.

As the trees, rivers, animals and everything sing their songs of life,
may my soul sing the song of my heart.
May I sing it gladly whether in joy or in sorrow,
and may it help me find humor and laughter in the day.

I give thanks that I have risen again today
and to the great Rising of Life Itself.

As the sun crosses the sky to where it will set in the west,
may my soul proceed on its journey through life.
May I keep the vision of my life ever before me and may I have
faith that my life has meaning.

I give thanks that I have risen again today
and to the great Rising of Life Itself.

As everything in nature strives to live and survive,
may my soul be strong in its struggles.
May I meet adversity with courage and hope.

I give thanks that I have risen again today
and to the great Rising of Life Itself.

As the earth spreads out from me to the horizon,
may my soul expand to embrace it. May I speak the truth of the land and take responsibility for my life.

~Written by Tom Cowan based on a 19th century prayer from the Scottish Highlands!