One of the things that inspires me so much about the people involved in the New Age community is the undeniable sincerity and unpretentious good humor displayed by many of its members. But many of us (myself included) who openly acknowledge the shift in human consciousness occurring in this New Age find it difficult to reconcile our relationship with the greater web of life while living within modern society. I believe this is because Homo sapiens have created a worldview that I refer to as the “island of humanity.” Within this view of reality humans are the most important species on the planet and thus are justified in their control and domination of all other living beings. On a personal level, I have spent the majority of my life trying to understand how we arrived on this island and, more importantly, how to get off it.
As a small child growing up in rural Pennsylvania, my mind hadn’t yet arrived on the island. Listening to the voices of the wind and the birds, running through fields with deer, talking to trees, swimming with fish and frogs and turtles, and lying on boulders with sunbathing snakes were simply normal activities that made up my view of the world in those moments. Little did I know that in those moments of direct interaction and communication with the more-than-human world, I was actually experiencing an altered state of consciousness compared to those that were already trapped on the island. Back then, in my view of the world, people were just one small item within an incredibly diverse and magical community of creatures and living beings.
Growing up changed all that. Talking with trees and listening to the messages of the wind weren’t exactly part of my school’s curriculum, and those activities didn’t have booths at the job fair. So, like most of us, I left the magical world I discovered as a child and slowly made the trip over to the island where the rest of the adults lived. But then at the age of fifteen my best friend and companion on the island passed away after losing a battle with cancer. He was my father, and his death rocked my world so deeply as to set me on a life-long quest to answer my burning questions about life, death, and what it means to be a human being. I became a spiritual seeker and nothing was going to stop me.
So much for youthful enthusiasm. While embroiled in the responsibilities of family and career, battling addictive behaviors and succumbing to the diversions of modern technology, I have been stopped in my tracks many times along the way. But during this journey I have also discovered my path with heartmy true callingand that is what I have been asked to share with you here.
As I look back at the greatest turning points in my spiritual search, I realize that near-death experiences, spending long periods of time in the wilderness, changing my daily habits toward a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle, and experiences living and learning with indigenous cultures have brought me to where I am todaythe topic of ecological shamanism.
Combining my experiences with indigenous shamans with practices of sustainable lifestyle is what eventually provided me with the resources to build a bridge from the island of humanity to the mainland of holistic reality and unity with the spirits of the natural world. But as I looked back from the mainland at what was happening on the island, I was so repulsed that I wanted to tear down the bridge and never return. Well, the spirits of nature had other things in mind and instead they put me on a mission to learn as much as I could on the mainland and bring it over to the island. That was fifteen years and two books ago. Now I have been given a new mission: to help people on the island construct their own bridges and make the crossing back home to the mainland. That is the goal of Ecoshamanism.
Bridges are constructed with tools, solid materials, and hard work. With Ecoshamanism I offer time-tested tools and materials that many people have already used to make the crossing, but only you can provide the work. The work I propose can be challenging; it’s not easy to step out of our comfort zone and alter our view of reality. But comfort and reality are simply states of mind, and the people of the New Age already know this. That is why so many people are now leaving the cruel island for a more holistic way of life. I sincerely look forward to meeting you on the mainland as together we co-create our New Worlds of Mind and Spirit.