What is Shamanic Ecstasy and how does it compare with other forms of ecstasy?
From the Greek ekstasis, ecstasy literally means to be placed outside, or to be placed. This is a state of exaltation in which a person stands outside of or transcends his or herself. Ecstasy may range from the seizure of the body by a spirit or the seizure of a person by the divine, from the magical transformation or flight of consciousness to psychiatric remedies of distress.
Three types of Ecstasy are specified in the literature on the subject:
a. Shamanic Ecstasy
b. Prophetic Ecstasy
c. Mystical Ecstasy
Shamanic ecstasy is provoked by the ascension of the soul of the shaman into the heavens or its descent into the underworld. These states of ecstatic exaltation are usually achieved after great and strenuous training and initiation, often under distressing circumstances. The resulting contact by the shaman with the higher or lower regions and their inhabitants, and also with nature spirits enables him or her to accomplish such tasks as accompanying the soul of a deceased into its proper place in the next world, affect the well-being of the sick and to convey the story of their inner travels upon their return to the mundane awareness.
The utterances of the shaman are in contrast with those of prophetic and mystical ecstasy. The prophet literally speaks for God, while the mystic reports an overwhelming divine presence. In mysticism, the direct knowledge or experience of the divine ultimate reality, is perceptible in two ways, emotional and intuitive. While these three varieties of ecstatic experience are useful for the purposes of analysis and discussion, it is not unusual for more than one form of ecstasy to be present in an individual's experience.
However, it can be argued that, generally speaking, there are three perceptive levels of ecstasy.
The physiological response, in which the mind becomes absorbed in and focused on a dominant idea, the attention is withdrawn and the nervous system itself is in part cut off from physical sensory input. The body exhibits reflex inertia, involuntary nervous responses, frenzy.
Emotional perception of ecstasy refers to overwhelming feelings of awe, anxiety, joy, sadness, fear, astonishment, passion, etc.
Intuitive perception communicates a direct experience and understanding of the transpersonal experience of expanded states of awareness or consciousness. While the physiological response is always present, the emotional response may or may not be significant when intuition is the principal means of ecstatic perception. Some have argued that beyond the intuitive state there is a fourth condition in which the holistic perception exceeds mental and emotional limitations and understanding.
The ecstatic experience of the shaman goes beyond a feeling or perception of the sacred, the demonic or of natural spirits. It involves the shaman directly and actively in transcendent realities or lower realms of being. These experiences may occur in either the dream state, the awakened state, or both. Dreams, and in particular, lucid dreams, often play a significant role in the life of a shaman or shamanic candidate.
Ayahuasca, shamanism, and curanderismo in the Andes by Steve Mizrach
Shamans and scientists
Mazatec Shaman Maria Sabina
Saturday, December 15, 2007
ecstasy is the real "Old Time Religion," of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder... is no religion at all!" Jonathan Ott