I like to use the metaphor of a movie house to explain my cosmology. In it, there are:
- characters/scenery in the movie: what spirits inhabit and are “bound” to in order to gain a specific set of experiences.
- spirits watching the movie: our true selves which we often choose to forget about while watching the movie. We are bound to the experience until the movie ends. This means that, while it’s possible to take our attention off the movie, we can only observe and communicate with others outside of the movie.
- Other spirits: these are “unbound”, existing fully in their natural state. Unlike bound spirits, they have the ability to act freely. Upon death, bound spirits return to being unbound, until such a time that they choose to watch another movie.
Imagine that you and I go to the movies together and sit next to each other. When the movie begins, the lights go down and our reality is what is on the screen. I forget about you sitting there next to me. I identify with the character on the screen. This is a very special movie, though. It’s just one continuous show. In it, everyone in the room identifies with a different character and sees the movie from that perspective. While the character they identify exists, they are bound to it. Once that character dies, they can leave (or stick around and wait for their friends or pick a new character to identify with).
But why bind yourself to a tree or a rock? The experiences are different, but no less valuable. A tree experiences the world in it’s own unique way. Perceiving the surroundings in ways we cannot understand. A rock’s experience is one that can potentially last billions of years. Spirits that choose this experience know this. Time from that perspective is very foreign to us as humans, but it has value.
Sometimes, some of us lose focus on the movie and look around the theater. Those people remember who they are and see the room full of other movie goes. Everyone in the room (it’s a really big movie theater) is a character in the movie, experiencing it, unaware that they are in the theater for the time being.
The movie on the screen is the “middle layer”. It is the illusion we are sharing. The theater room we are all seated in is the “lower layer”, it is where we see the true spirits of all the things in the movie.
If I get up and walk outside the theater, I will see countless people going about the various things they do. This is the “upper layer”. Filled with spirits who are not bound to the characters in the movie.
Even though I walk outside the theater, I’m still bound to my character in the film, and I know I need to go back to it because, after all, I chose to come see it and every moment I’m out here, I’m missing out on the movie back there.
As a shaman, I use my awareness of the worlds and entities outside of the screen to ask for guidance and help on behalf of those focused on the screen. For example: suppose your cellphone fell off your lap while you’re watching the movie (the focused you watching the move, not the character. Yes, I know spirits don’t have cellphones. It’s a metaphor, go with it) . You are really caught up in the story though, so you can’t pull yourself away from it. Instead, your character feels worried sick about something they can’t really put their finger on. The shaman can talk to others in the theater or even go get someone from the outside to come search for it for you and put it back into your lap. These things happen outside your movie persona’s ability to perceive, but it makes them/you feel better.
Thus the shaman works with spirit to fix and recover things for us in the spirit realms while we are too busy to be able to do it ourselves. They do this to help us stay focused on what we want to learn or enjoy.