Parking your Crystals
The other day I happened upon this newsletter called the Shaman Papers. It talks about issues relevant to the modern shaman such as the magical power of rocks, clever things to say to your friends and most hilariously, a psychic friends network. I wouldn't really consider myself to be a "believer" in "magic." When I think of shamans all that comes to mind is dudes who sit around all day wearing robes and licking frogs, or that one episode of the Simpsons with the talking coyote. I decided to look up the editor/creator of this newsletter, Grey Fox, and give him a chance to convince me that spirit animal friends are real.
Vice: You’re a shaman, what is that all about?
Grey Fox: Well there are all kinds of spiritual healers. You take the word healer in the broadest sense; people who do psychic readings are healers, people who do energy readings, aura cleansings, chakra work, herbalists, and what not. What makes a shaman different, from all the other spiritual healers, is that we work in an overt state of consciousness.
So, you do lots of drugs.
That’s what people usually think. But actually, in most shamanic cultures they do not use drugs to obtain an overt state of consciousness. Usually we do some kind of sonic driving, which involves beating on a drum, or rattling. As far as I know from studying anthropology, shamanic cultures that use drugs are a minority. Some Native American shamans use peyote, the Native American Church for example. Most shamans that I know of or know personally don’t use drugs for the shamanic experience because they tend to be illegal. It’s also very unpredictable and very dangerous. I tend to discourage people who get into shamanism from using drugs even though it’s easier and it’s more effective than sonic driving. It’s the people that say “Oh I’m using drugs because I want to be more spiritual” cause usually that’s bullshit. When people want to use drugs just to get high and have a good time, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t try to give that a spiritual overlay.
When did you first learn you were magic?
Psychic powers run in my family. My grandmother had a number of psychic brothers, my mother had them too and I discovered mine at about seven-years-old. We just moved into an apartment and my dad was at work and I saw this guy standing at the doorway in the apartment and I said, “mom who’s that man?” And she said “what man?” because there was no one there. My mom took it seriously and it turned out that I was describing a previous tenant of that apartment who had hanged himself in that doorway. In some cultures a shaman is a hereditary position in the tribe, in others it’s a calling. In the late 80’s I had a high paying, corrupt, political job. I was smoking too much, drinking too much and my life was kind of a mess. I just started having spontaneous visions.
So you had drug induced visions and became a shaman? Didn't you kind of just say that you were against that...?
Well yeah, I just flashed. That was some kind of power trying to tell me that I had to kind of clean my act up. I gave up my job, abandoned my townhouse full of expensive furniture and just drove up to Alaska and moved into an eight-foot-wide trailer with no electricity or running water. And right around the same time, I formally did the paperwork and the genealogy and joined the Muskogee Nation. I changed my name to Grey Fox. Apparently what I was going through is known as a traditional shamanic initiation period in which you kind of have to be broken and then you have to kind of put yourself together, die or go crazy. Those are pretty much your three options with a shamanic initiation. I also found out that it was traditional for shamans to take the name of their power animal. I didn’t know at the time I was following kind of a traditional path. I thought I was the only one. But there were other shamans. I joined the Shamanic Circle of the Harner Foundation and I actually founded a newsletter about Shamanism.
Yeah, I was reading something about being on a mountain and turning rocks into magic healing stones in one of those newsletters. How did you discover that on certain days mountains plus rocks equals magic?
Just off hand I don’t even remember where I got that from. When I was publishing the Shaman Papers I would get various books through the mail. I read like half of those books every month. You gotta understand I was reading dozens of books and this was like 20 years ago. So offhand I really couldn’t tell you where I picked up that little tidbit from.
So if I went up on a mountain on the summer solstice and stuck a stone on a rock for a week would it become magic for reals?
You go up on one Solstice and you park your crystals some place. You would want to do some kind of little ritual, make a little fire or whatever, just to say hi to the local spirits. Then you go back six months later and you retrieve your crystal.
That doesn't sound so hard. Have you ever seen the Shamanic world? Is it all misty?
It looks different depending on the purpose of the journey. Say I’m doing an energy release (that’s another world for exorcism) and I need to get in touch with a disembodied spirit then basically I go looking for them in the spirit world. And it’s usually in a kind of cave, a dark place. I find ‘em and I just deal with them. They just try and hang around, nine times out of ten they aren’t malignant they are mostly just scared or confused. So what you just explain to them is, "hey you’re dead and you’re not going go to hell." So then I get it away and then everything is cool.
What’s like a heavy-duty shamanic ritual you used to do? Any animal sacrifices in sweat lodges or something?
Well, offhand I don’t know of any shamans that sacrifices animals. That’s just inhumane, that’s just cruel. Doing soul retrievals and as I mentioned before, doing energy releases. A soul retrieval is when a person has lost their vital energy, their chi, which is what is known as the soul. And you have to go on a journey, locate the soul energy, bring it back and restore it to the person. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
Sounds heavy. So can you bestow some shamanic pearls of wisdom upon us mere mortals?
Be kind. Be gentle. Be fearless and the hardest thing of all, be forgiving. If someone hurts you, if someone offers you an insult the only sane response is forgiveness. This is enormously difficult. But it is possible and it is the only way to achieve peace of mind. To me, peace of mind is just about the most important thing there is. I don’t care much about money; everything I have on my body right now is stuff someone threw out. I don’t care about driving a fancy car, the car I drive is 20 years old. I do care about having peace of mind, I care about integrity and I care about having self-respect. You know that has kind of a peripheral association with shamanism but it’s all about spirituality and shamanism is one of many many spiritual paths that are available for anyone that chooses to go after them.