The Technoshaman

Just like the shamans of ancient tribal traditions, modern urban shamans may harness various physical objects as foci in their spiritual practice. These objects are called by different names.

  • fetish is an object inhabited by or used to channel spirits
  • talisman is an object blessed by spirit or imbued with certain properties that can bring benefit to the practitioner
  • totem is an object the shaman identifies with and is often a symbol of their tribe or clan

Ancient tribal shamans used objects common in their lives: animal parts such as bone, feathers, fur or teeth and carved stone or wood. A commonly recognizable example of such an object is the the Native American dream catcher. The urban shaman will find their own objects relative to their environment.

Some will still lean toward natural objects, finding their connection to spirit firmly based in nature. But some will fully embrace technology and create or adopt objects based on the digital lifestyle from which they emerged. A common example of this would be using their cellular phone as a fetish. Considering that it is their communication portal with the physical world, it stands to reason that it would be a practical focus for their spirit work.

The technoshaman is a type of urban shaman whose spiritual practice primarily recognizes human creations as part of the spirit of Earth: buildings, bridges, roads, big cities, transportation devices, computer technology. Where some tribal shamans used the skin drum to enter trance, the technoshaman uses EDM, pulsing LED lights, and even VR experiences to journey. Their practice is just as spiritual as any other, however.

The technoshaman will often incorporate bits of technology into their practice. They may keep digital dream diaries, attach pieces of found circuitry or other industrial items from bottle caps to magnetized hard drive discs to their clothing, and adorn a walking staff with light strips powered by small solar cells. They utilize tech and re-purpose it for their own spiritual value, much the same way that ancient shamans reused things from their own environment. These are not mere baubles or decorations. Each item holds meaning for them and is sacred to their relationship with spirit.

Even their spiritual worldview may be different. For example, many traditions use a tree to describe the spirit worlds: the lower or roots, the middle world is represented as the trunk, the upper world is the branches. But the technoshaman may find some other paradigm to reconcile their knowledge. They may see the spirit worlds as layers, similar to the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model. This has lower layers, such as the physical layer, and those progress to the upper layers such as the session and application layer.

The technoshaman is at home in their urban environment and can feel just as connected to spirit on a busy street as a nature shaman may feel in an isolated woodland grove. They identify their sacred spaces just like any other shaman in any other tradition.

And just like other shamans, they are a healer. Their methods will be their own, but their goals and results are the common thread that connects shamans in all traditions.

They are a bridge: a conduit through which spirit can more directly interact with the physical world.

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