So here we are at the beginning of my featured series on what shamanism calls the 7 Demons – the destructive power that anger, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth and pride have on our ability to BE love in this world and access the full power of our light. It is important to know that what shamanism calls “demons” is very different than the Judeo-Christian version of “sins”. The reason this distinction is vital to our understanding is because shamanism isn’t a religion. It isn’t a cult. The definition of a cult from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is: 1. a formal religious veneration : worship. 2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents.
Religions are a system of beliefs that you are expected to believe, accept, and follow based on what you are told, rather than on what you experience. You are expected to simply…believe. The premise is for you to worship a detached god who is not within you, but rather somewhere outside of you. Many people conjure imagery of a god (often referred to as male) floating somewhere in the sky waiting to open up a set of floating gates if you believe what the dogma tells you to believe and do what it tells you to do. This God is often given human traits, personified to be human-like with human emotions. God gets angry. God punishes. God tells people to harm and kill others. God is watching you when you are being bad. God told people that they can’t be gay. The patriarchy has it down pat. Anything that threatens their power and control suddenly gets personified as coming from god.
You have to suspend a whole lot of awareness in order to accept and believe that the Creatrix of everything known and unknown…the life force of all that exists…the life force that created the cells in your body and mind, the life-force that created exploding stars, newly forming planets, spiders that weave webs in intricate designs, the galaxies, the black holes, everything we see and don’t see, know and don’t know, has been reduced to a man (or men plural in some religions) with a lot of time on his hands peeking into the egoic lives of humans, getting angry.
How do cults get people to suspend their own logic and awareness of the world around them? Fear, Shame and Guilt. Those are the core manipulation tactics used by cults.
Shamanism is the opposite. Shamanism offers you tools to EXPERIENCE the Divine within you. Shamanism leads you to the place within yourself where you have your own, very personal, very direct, experience of God/Goddess. You are asked to believe nothing. You journey and you come to trust yourself and your own direct experiences. Shamanism has nothing for you to believe….but everything to be experienced. Through shamanic practices, energy work, journeys and other methods, you experience the Divine and become less and less fearful with each new experience.
Shamanism allows you to trust yourself, and your experiences, and is the path to your own heart. And yes, plenty of shaman have been no different than preachers, priests and the lords of the information throughout history. Plenty of shaman have blasphemed the love of the Divine for their own greed, lust and gluttony, in similar fashion to what religious leaders have done to the love of Jesus, Buddha, and others by manipulating the most basic teaching – that of love – into a doctrine of fear and guilt and shame.
So what we are speaking of here with the seven demons is not a concept of fear, guilt or shame, but a concept of gaining awareness into where these demons come from and how you can overcome them. These demons come from an ancient need to ensure survival at whatever cost. Beliefs like “I need to get what’s mine before it’s too late” are steeped in our most primal self-preservation drives. These seven demons are found in the animal world too. Hyenas for example will gorge themselves on a kill until they can barely move. Similarly, a study done on reef fish in the Red Sea found that fish did not just trade parasites for skin cleaning; the cleaner fish also cheated on the deal. Rather than eating parasites, they actually preferred the nutritious protective mucus that covers fish skin, and were constantly tempted to take a quick illicit bite of it.
But as we evolve in our humanity towards our new brain, a brain increasingly able to shed the fear of death, we replace the belief in scarcity with the knowledge of abundance in our universe. We fully experience oneness with all of creation. By healing our wounds and bringing our shadows into the light, we are able to rise above the more base survival instincts. We collaborate rather than compete. We succumb to these demons when we are operating from our limbic (also called reptilian) brain, which is programmed with ancient patterns which cause us to have automatic reactions to both real and perceived dangers. When we succumb to these demons we create wounds that attract parasitic people who feed off of our wounds. And the cycle continues.
The first of the demons, anger, is an interesting one in today’s cult-ish world. We have the cult of the new age telling us “anger is bad we shouldn’t be angry we should always be nice”. Then we have the cult of the new-new age telling us the opposite “no, anger is GOOD, it’s your shadow, embrace your anger! If you’re not angry you’re fake!”. Those are both projections and as such, both miss the whole point.
If you haven’t healed your wounds of course you are going to experience anger. The more wounding you have, the more anger you have. Anger is a cover for fear, as fear is the foundation for all anger. If you haven’t looked at your shadow or healed your wounds, you are fearful and angry. You will be triggered by many things: political candidates, someone with more money than you, someone with more freedom than you, someone with more loving parents than you, someone with what you perceive to be a better life than you. You will be angry at all of the things that trigger your own shadow. You may be angry at someone who is leaving their husband, while deep down you are tragically sad that you are stuck in a dead end marriage. You may be angry at a nasty cashier at the bank, while you come home and yell at your kids. When anger is triggered you may act out anger on others physically or emotionally, yell, scream, hit, emotionally withdraw, kill, injure, and even start wars, or you will act out on yourself – eating disorders, alcohol, drugs, meaningless sexual encounters, workaholism, toxic relationships etc… Or you will repress your anger and make yourself sick with autoimmune conditions, heart disease, anxiety and panic disorders and digestive distress.
These are just some of the ways the demon of anger comes at you. A great way to know what is unhealed within you is to examine closely the things that make you angry.
Anger makes many people feel powerful. But genuine power is in the ability to BE peace when confronted by someone else’s anger. But if you don’t really feel peace you are faking it, and that anger will find you somewhere else down the line. Anger is neither bad nor good. But when you’ve healed your wounds and brought your shadow into the light you simply don’t have anger. You don’t have to “try” not to be angry. You simply, aren’t. You inherently know that there is nothing to be angry about. You see injustice and you look to heal more within your own self. The ego loves anger, and when you’ve placed your ego in its correct role as backseat passenger rather than driver, there’s no fulfillment in anger.
25 years ago when I first became vegan I used to be very angry at people who harmed animals. I was angry at cruelty. I was angry at abuse. Today, there’s no anger when I see abuse to innocent beings. There is a deep understanding that if it is something within my reality there is healing that can be done. I now have compassion for a person so wounded that they are moved to take the life of innocent beings. I have deep deep compassion for someone whose own life path has brought them to a place of violence, and lack of awareness of self. I have compassion for those who gossip, who backstab, who harm themselves and others, because I see past their anger straight to the transparency of their wounds.
In shamanism the angel of peace counteracts the demon of anger. Connecting with true peace allows you to detach from your self-righteous story long enough to see that another person’s behavior comes from her own pain. Peace gives you the understanding that there is no anger where your own wounds have been healed. The unhealed wound will become the fighter, the angry activist, the rager. Social media has been an incredible insight into the anger people have. Those that typically repress their anger can now lash out behind the guise of a social media profile. They can lash out at celebrities, they can gossip, they can spread racism and hate and judgment, while in their every day life pretend to be nice.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “I’m not REALLY that person” after they’ve been nasty, harmed someone else, screamed at their kids or their spouse, or caused harm in some other way. That is denial of the demon of anger. I once told my LifePath students, if you steal from WalMart, but not from Target, you are still a thief. You can’t say “no really, I’m not that person”. You may not be that person 24/7, but you are the person who acted in that way. That really IS you, it is just a part you wish to disown. Once you get to that place you can look at the why’s. Once you accept the parts of you that are angry you can begin to heal the wounds that made you succumb to the voice of the anger demon and the angel of peace will be on her way to you. Love and Aloha, LS