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Disaster Shamanism and the Vicissitudes of Power

Updated on January 4, 2014

What is Disaster Shamanism?

“For what one needs in this universe is not certainty but the courage and nerve of the gambler; not fixed conviction but adaptability; not firm ground whereupon to stand but skill in swimming.” -Alan Watts

“Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying, and human existence is indistinguishable from an absurd vegetation.” -Simone De Beauvoir

Disaster Shamanism is a form of post-modern shamanism that uses heyoka tactics. The main task of a disaster shaman is to visit local and non-local environments that have experienced disasters (natural and/or cultural) and do what it takes to help philanthropically (not necessarily monetarily), using shamanic and psychoanalytic tactics, while responding as a healer within a Eco-psychological, shamanic cosmology.

Disaster shamans are New-heroes who realize that the only thing that trumps moderation is volition. It is for this reason that disaster shamans choose to “listen” to nature over culture. They listen to nature in order to figure out how to live moderately so that others may moderately live. They use a nature first, culture second, approach so as to avoid the smokescreen of aggrandized human opinion, and to get through to the healthy/unhealthy cosmic order: a language older than words. They use this knowledge to holistically heal any and all ecological, psychological, and cultural environments.

Disaster shamans are preeminent guides for escaping the Pyramid of Civilization and they are skilled in the art of re-wilding and diagnosing nature deprivation. They bring balance and tonality to an otherwise atonal world by using peaceful resistance and civil disobedience to accentuate where modern-man has become excessive. They harness the power of healthy, global change with the concepts of Eco-moral Commitalism and Eco-moral Tribalism.

The many make one lifetime into less; the wise make one lifetime into many.

Disaster shamans are intent upon making their one life into many. They do this by standing on the soldiers of giants (ancestors). They do this also by devoting themselves to a nomadic lifestyle, one that expands horizons and blurs the lines drawn between cultures. They live “horizonally” like James P. Carse's Infinite Player, understanding that boundaries can, and must, be transformed into horizons.

The diatribe of the Disaster Shaman is: go forth and simplify. They do this with courage and gusto, realizing that wisdom begins first with nature, the best of guides; and second with pain, the worst of guides. Disaster shamans subsume cowardice by assuming a heroic posture toward life. They understand that fear is natural. They accept fear for what it is, embrace it, and then transform it into courage.

Disaster shamans take it upon themselves to develop what Ivan Illich called “tools of conviviality” by courageously living their destiny as opposed to merely going through the motions of living the destiny handed down to them. They are human catalysts and proactive agents of change. A disaster shaman is a New-oracle come to tell the old-oracles that they have failed.

“People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved, and people are being used” -(Anonymous).

A disaster shaman realizes the chaos of the modern world. The Hopi have a term for it: Koyanasiquatsi, life out of balance. To this extent, disaster shamans are forces of nature first and people second. They understand that we live at a bifurcation point in human history and they work toward regaining balance by teaching – through détournement and social gad-flying– relationship-based love in a materialistic world. They take it upon themselves to create new ways of communing, by polarizing communities and implementing creative alternatives to outdated, unhealthy modes of living.

Disaster shamans are the architects of advanced sustainability, the threshold guardians of a new eco-enriched society of eco-moral people. Disaster shamans do not wait around for the right moment. They adapt to the ebb and flow of life's ups and downs and overcome vicissitude through imagination, practical will and radicalized action, realizing that the right moment is always now.

A disaster shaman teaches how to become a hero over power, as opposed to simply being a hero with power. Carrying the banner of a New-hero, disaster shamans have perfected the art of hero expiation; what I call Capital Munificence. This is applied commitalism with emphasis on the expiation and redistribution and reciprocity of wealth. Disaster shamans bring the secret to such power to disaster situations and “heal” through teaching the people how to get power over power, how to transform false power into true power, and then how to expiate that power.

They have perfected the art of Ideal Foolishness (Heyoka), or Foolish Ideology. Indeed, it is the call to arms of the Disaster Shaman. Their way of hypocritical art bridges the gap between science and spirituality by showing a child-like trust and hope for the human condition, that leaves open the realm of mystery and enchantment, while also explaining the infinite fabric of reality through scientific-mythology.

In order to prevent megalomania from the creative individual becoming too full of his own meanings, disaster shamans turn the tables on creative self-annihilation by the expiation and mockery of their power and a healthy laughter at their illusions. They disclose the world with the purpose of freedom and further disclosure. By that same action they attempt to free others from enclosure to disclosure. Disaster shamans find the exigence which is common to all men and women: the will to freedom, the will to power, and the will to conquer both so as to make compassionate action manifest. Disaster Shamans are willing to die in order to bring water to the Wasteland.

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (Providence) is a mask worn by a disaster shaman. It represents rebirth and renewal in the face of death and disease. In this capacity disaster shamans have dedicated their lives to spreading the seeds of self-actualized love, open-mindedness, and progressive sustainability. They have devoted themselves to planting gardens of heroism in the humus of war, hate, close-mindedness, greed, and anything left behind by the original four horsemen: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death; or anybody caught up in any kind of unsustainable, unhealthy, violent, stupid, immoral or mass-destructive social system. They teach the concept of “right & wrong” as the natural dictation of “healthy & unhealthy” rather than the human opinion of “good & evil.”

They will show the world that they have squeezed every last drop of slave's blood from their mind, body and soul; knowing that, had they not done so, had they not challenged the entire notion of slavery, they would have just become a new prisoner, boss, master or CEO in a violent, exploitative, dog-eat-dog system. But if all the blood is painfully squeezed away, then a free person emerges.

They are Martin Luther King Jr.. They are Crazy Horse. They are Geronimo. They are Gandhi. They are Christ. And not even death can stop those who are free.



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    • -Z- profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary Z McGee 

      7 years ago from Everywhere, USA

      Alex: I very much agree with the Loki prospect. And yes, yes, yes, regarding the quantum theory/relationship duality. I discuss that very subject in the first two sub-arts of the Seven Epiphenomenal Postulates of the Infinite Player. A subject I will be elaborating on more in the future.

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      7 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      A Dionysian chameleon cloak would sounds fun but the last few years I suspect Hermes or Loki would be a more likely candidate for the spirit of the age.

      Funnily enough a relationship based reality perception is what one finds in Quantum theory and even relativity.

    • -Z- profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary Z McGee 

      7 years ago from Everywhere, USA

      Alex: Thanks for reading. Whom does the Holy Grail serve? I think it serves those who are "thirsty," whether they realize they're thirsty or not. And thanks for noticing the pun, intended.

    • -Z- profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary Z McGee 

      7 years ago from Everywhere, USA

      Hubber: Thanks for reading. Regarding bifurcation, I think we have come to a point in human evolution where our rigid Apollonian armor is melting into a more interconnected Dionysian chameleon cloak of sorts. Basically meaning that we have come to an existential threshold where the old ego-centric, ownership-based perception of reality is giving way to the new eco-centric, relationship-based perception of reality.

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      7 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Parts of this resonated with me. You mix so much though. Bringing water to the wasteland left me thinking "who does the grail serve?". And tonal and atonal is a lovely pun if you read Castaneda.

    • hubber088 profile image


      7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Interesting. I especially liked the first two quotes. What does it mean to be living in a bifurcation point in human history?


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