Monkey See-Monkey Do Versus Deep Learning

Recent experience and reflection on past incidents reinforced that there is no substitute for classical, deep learning.

   I started this blog mainly because clients and people who hosted clinics and friends in diverse areas all asked what it is like to work as a modern shaman. I’ve shared some of the experiences of shamanic healing from the practitioner’s perspective.

  One thing popped up recently, however and it echoed to several years ago. It is the tendency to see what we do in our particular type of shamanic work and then to imitate it without the work, the background, or the understanding of its context in order to do it correctly.

   I know that, at first, this seems rather silly- a person sees a man with a backpack of sorts on his back jump out of the bay of an aircraft. Most of us would not assume that, merely by buying a parachute, we would know how to properly complete a free-fall jump. We might have seen a science documentary showing a surgeon’s removing a bone spur, but not only would we not think we had the background needed to do the removal properly, neither would we readily find a willing subject. 

   Yet it has happened enough times to finally get my attention. I think it may be rooted in our very contemporary American pandemic of narcissism and instant gratification. So what if that old codger had to study for a decade before he started doing this independently? I, Beebo the Great, can do it merely by watching him- can’t be much to it- and I’ll be able to do the same for my Reiki, massage, or QH clients….

  The first time, I was dating someone from the Mediterranean upper crust of Latin society, but who had gone and studied some of the healing and ceremonial practices of regional second nation’s peoples (remnants of the first nation’s people remain in isolated pockets such as at Terra del Fuego and are related to Australoids). She had a popular practice set up doing this and clinical hypnosis and NLP and was quite good at all of it. She asked me to work with her on a client who had been coming for six years and still had a recurrent cough that the client’s allopath could not resolve. (Tue allopath had sent him to a psychiatrist who diagnosed a nervous disorder, yet the Klonopin had not stopped the coughing.)

  In working on him, I rearranged the fibers of the body to reduce inflammation and resolve the neural ‘trigger’ that appeared to cause it. As with most successful workings, there was no spontaneous or miraculous turnaround but over the next seven weeks, the coughing reduced in frequency, went away, and never returned. She asked how I did it. I related that it involved manipulating the fibers of the Web of Wyrd. She asked me to explain this and said that there was nothing like that in the tradition that she studied. Several months later, right in front of me, she was telling another client how working with the fibers was an “old Andean tradition.” They seemed to have learned quickly, I later related to her, even retroactively…I watched how she applied this approach and how it did not take effect, lacking the backing or the understanding of our cosmology or map of the subtle bodies or much else- it was an isolated piece of practice, lacking context and with no reference to the system from which it was excerpted.

   In training, before calling on Gods or Goddesses to come help resolve a challenge for a patient, we had done considerable study on who They are. We had prayed, meditated, tried to actually get in touch with Them. I’m always surprised to see someone grounded in another faith suddenly report having had a conversation with Louhi or Ukko, or other of our Deities. It is as if you heard about having a great aunt or great uncle who lived somewhere else, but whom you were just now hearing about. Before you called him or her to ask for something, you would try to learn about them, and not probably keep your “fire insurance” (your Jesus Policy) in place, you know, just in case… where this other level of reality is ignored or taught you as ‘mythology.’ I hope that the divine Beings of Whom these people know so little, and that through the lens of Christian writers, are actually  Who they think they’re contacting.

   The second time I saw this kind of imitative behavior was when an apprentice removed what he thought was scar tissue that had followed an injury. Training was slow and structured and there were things that were done after a certain level in training was reached and guidelines were learned. In this case, he was working on  a knee injury. 

   Upon seeing the client, I was told that the work had taken place, but did not know the particulars, just that pain and instability in the knee remained. He had extensive training in physiology and anatomy, having studied another health curriculum and was genuinely trying to help.

   I saw an indentation, in this later reworking of the same joint, beneath the outer edge of the patella that coincided with what the client reported and Saw that some of the patellar ligament and lateral collateral ligament had been damaged in a fall and through repetitive use and had frayed. Portions of ligament had apparently formed a knot, visible on outside and the apprentice had removed them as scar tissue, rather than recover and reintegrate the inflamed tissue. 

   This is more due to the problem with doing anything like the very intense training (framed in current speak as “study and practice under teachers, study and practice, yada, yada, yada…”) which I had paid dearly to undergo- I’m going to have to look up the meaning of “yada” in the Urban Dictionary… Instead, we are calling our current, much simplified form of Tietajar training Teutonic Healing and trying to bring in the best elements of it with people who have already acquired a lot of the cognitive background or who, through diligent independent study are filling in the background themselves. 

   Shamanic Regression, which used to be done as a ‘fifth year project,’ someone is doing with a client in the second year of training. Fortunately, nothing went wrong with the regression.. I ended up hearing about the episode later and being able to give a briefing on guidelines only well after the fact.

   I do understand the pressures on all of us to make a living and maintain a certain lifestyle and only hope the condensing of years into months does not compromise what we offer the public. Right now, it’s fashionable to go get a past life regression or to find out why you don’t feel entertained at your job because your dad worked too many hours and your mom didn’t love you enough. I know how ‘sexy’ it must seem to market something like regression when there’s a demand for it and you’re charismatic, but a lot can go wrong in doing a regression. 

   I saw this firsthand when a new client came to me after having gone to a Quantum Hypnosis practitioner who was, previous to marrying her six figure husband, a waitress with a fifth grade education. He had gone back to a prior lifetime and re-experienced a trauma there and had not slept well for the year after that incident and prior to seeing me. She knew nothing about the history of the era to which the regression carried him and had no clue how to extricate him from reliving a painful end in that lifetime. Her “rope” technique had zero effect- only his convulsions, literally throwing himself out of the recliner in which he’d been sitting when induced and hitting the floor had brought him out of it- a classic example of the danger of shallow learning (six month online course).

   The third instance that happened was with a client last year, who had a lot of Orlagic ‘baggage’ from upbringing by a child predator mother. In one exercise, after several sessions, dealing with many physiological challenges and a few related to that upbringing, I employed a technique for removing the damages. Along the way, I had secured certain points, metaphysically, so that nothing could go wrong. I had sought Frigga’s guidance in protecting the still-vulnerable inner child who had been damaged for so very long. The technique worked very well and unfinished business with the recently departed mother was concluded, bringing relief to the client.

    She said it looked “so easy” that she did it with one of her sessions with the other therapy that she does, no guidelines, no precautions, just the outward actions, the observable experiences as seen from the perspective of the client, without any of the context or background. I don’t know the long-term consequences of this cultural appropriation, but hope that her client is okay.

   That background, that set of contexts, that submersion, not of occasional shared sessions or phone discussions often hurried through other pressing matters, is what makes in-depth learning. Deep learning was for me often just shadowing my Teachers as any of the three of them did what they did and listening as they explained what they were doing at the time and later debriefed on what I had seen for further depth. I also often followed by looking up a subject related to the Work that I’d just seen and/or prayer and meditation on the spiritual side of the healing.

   There is nothing in the monkey-see-monkey-do approach that reaches into the same deep learning that allows one the flexibility and resourcefulness of classical training. As much as I wish it were possible to replicate it, and, true, to some extent, we do learn by imitation -after we have learnt the background and context- we have no way to replicate that residential training here. All that we can do is muddle forward, give it our best, most sincere effort, and hope that the tradition will live on. 

   In the meantime, I’m reminding myself not to explain as much in a session with or where being observed by someone without the background, who’s simply trying to graft onto what she’s already doing the outer form of what he saw me do. The person who was invoking Saint Michael last month as a Catholic and today calls on Freyja or Tapio without ever having had a conversation with the God Tapio one of the trees in His forest, that person may not be communicating with whom he thinks he is and may end up being misdirected at the expense of his client. I have to say less and be careful lest our techniques, our heritage of the North, be misappropriated to the detriment of those who came to our imitators for help.

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