The Obligations of A Shaman

oblige (v.)

c. 1300, obligen, “to bind by oath, put under moral or legal obligation, devote,” from Old French obligier “engage one’s faith, commit (oneself), pledge” (13c.), from Latin obligare “to bind, bind up, bandage,” figuratively “put under obligation,” from ob “to” (see ob-) + ligare “to bind,” from PIE root *leig- “to tie, bind.”

In spiritual work we are obligated to act with honor, respect and the highest degree of integrity. We bind ourselves to the ancestral spirits, Nature and the tribe. We speak for all sides yet serve the balance. It is not a matter of good or bad. It is truly a matter of balance between what should be or should not be.

Many people want to see the world as black, white or even something grey in between. None of these options are quite correct. There needs to be a night as much as there needs to be a day. A period of rest as much as a period of activity. Neither are greater than the other. Both are a requirement for life to exist.

This understanding comes over time to most shamanic practitioners. As ones compassion grows to expand beyond the confines of the heart space. Like the continual expansion of the universe, ones own universe from within should expand outward. As one expands, a balance of sorts begins to become apparent. Not only within yourself but as this expansion makes greater connection with all that exists both of this world and of the other. A vision of what is needed to bring balance begins to take form.

We tend to the health and joy of the people who come to us for help. Yet we also need to communicate with the spirits who may be part of the imbalance causing illness and disharmony. We obligate ourselves to be the scale upon which all is weighed. A voice between the worlds. The meeting point which must maintain the highest level of honor, respect and integrity for all sides.

At times we may be tempted to be overly judgemental about the actions or demands of others. We need to find the calmness within us as the storm rages around us. Taking into account that we have a higher understanding than most of those in our community. This furthers our obligation to be balanced without being drawn into a false perception of “right or wrong.”

Listen carefully to someone who comes to you for help. Many of us are very empathic which makes it challenging at times to maintain a calmness. We shall cover certain practices for this soon. Suffice it for now that you work to begin a new understanding. That is to say, to not be so quick to take sides but rather to closely listen with the intent to return the balance.

As you acquire more practice you will also face further personal challenges. One of these is to be respectful of each and every person whom you serve. Do not boast of achievements nor speak of others concerns who have confided in you. The temptation will often arise to tell others of what “you” have accomplished or how far more effective “your” spiritual work is compared to another spiritual worker. Do not do it!

Remember this, you are not the reason anything gets done. You are only the intermediary who the spirits are using to bring help and healing into this world. You are the scale of balance not the one who places anything on the scale. On one side of that scale is the person coming to you for help and on the other side is the spirit world. The scale only takes the measure from both sides in order to speak on what will bring balance. Once the balance has been achieved there is no need to speak on it further.

Of course, we take the lessons we learned forward with us in our practices. Yet we do not need to speak of such things with the people who come to see us. This is also part of the mystery. Part of the suspense on behalf of the person coming for help. This energy can further be tapped into for the work. Used, if you will, to seek answers for returning the balance.

Also, we are not only maintaining a level of confidentiality with those in this world but also with the spirits. People coming to us do not need to know everything we are being told or shown by spirit. Only that which is relevant to bringing to them help and healing.

Many of us who have been independently called by spirit have made the error of giving too much information. It is compelling at first to relay all the information spirit presents. I have made this mistake. Two things occur from this mistake. First, you end up going off in several directions instead of staying focus. This can lead to people becoming confused or doubting your abilities. Second, others may begin to perceive you as boastful or arrogant. Telling them their many secrets which spirit has revealed to you in order for you to affirm that you are truly going to be of service. Just tell the client a couple details revealed by spirit but restrain from going further unless spirit is demanding you pursue that course of action.

Let us conclude this section with a short summary about your obligations.

If you are sincere about being a spiritual worker then you must affirm that you have an obligation to the parties involved. You are obligated to maintain your composure so as to maintain the clients confidence. You are obligated to speak for all parties without putting forth your own prejudices. You are obligated to be respectful of all parties by maintaining confidentiality. You are obligated to serve those of this world as much as those of the other. You are obligated to maintain an honorable practice of service to those seeking help, healing and a return to balance. You are further obligated to your brother and sister shamans, of this world and the other, who have undertaken the same rites and commitments as you.

You can rephrase your obligations as you will but allow the aforementioned to be a guide. Be the eye within the storm, the fair balance, the honorable and respectable spiritual worker that brings health and joy within this world. Do the honorable thing. Respect yourself as well as others around you. In time you will find that being the balance also brings balance into your own life!

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