Current Update as of March 26, 2006
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
Our world appears to be shrinking all the time. We can span the globe in a matter of hours and access information in a matter of seconds. Places that used to be distant and remote are now familiar. Boundaries have been crossed, barriers crumbled. The more we are exposed to differences, the more obvious similarities become, and just as a journey to another country can reveal that the only differences between people are superficial, a journey to another reality can do the same. On the surface, remote viewing and shamanic journeying would seem to have little in common. After all, one is an ancient spiritual practice, and the other is a twentieth century military technique devised for gathering secret information. And yet, as I explored and practiced both, I found them to overlap and to be speaking to me in the same language.
We live in what
viewing is a term coined in the early 1970’s by Russel
Targ and Hal Puttoff
at the Stanford Research Institute in
Remote viewing is not limited by space or time. A
remote viewer can enter places or things that would be physically
impossible to access under normal circumstances, such as the core
of a nuclear reactor. The viewer can also move forward or backwards
in time. For example, Joe McMoneagle,
a long time STARGATE operator, went back in time to just before
Remote viewing can be practiced at any time and for
any purpose. On a mundane level, one can view ahead to find a
parking space for example. For the purposes of STARGATE, however,
the remote viewer had no idea where or what he was viewing. He
was simply given a directive such as a set of coordinates, a date,
or a time and told to report back the details of what he saw.
This was done through a combination of speaking, writing, and
drawing, and the entire session was recorded.
There is no magic trick involved in remote viewing, and there is no one particular way to enter into the appropriate state, although practices such as meditation and focused breathing help. In the developmental years, researchers explored various techniques to facilitate bringing about an altered state. One of these is Hemi-synch technology which is based on sound and its abilities to create vibrational states. Certain frequencies were shown to bring about altered states of consciousness, the effects of which have been compared to those of rhythmic native practices like chanting and drumming. Skip Atwater, one of the military personnel involved in STARGATE, described his experience to be like going though a straw, coming out the other end, and finding himself in another world. This very striking description is one that has very immediate similarities to the experience of a shamanic journey.
Shamanic journeying is the practice of entering an altered state of consciousness and traveling through different planes of reality for a specific purpose, usually to serve, help, or heal members of the community. A person who undertakes this journey is called a shaman. As with remote viewing, the body remains where it is in time and space while the awareness leaves. Shamans are a bridge between the human and spirit world and have been evident in human history for tens of thousands of years.The shamanic state is traditionally brought on by the type of rhythmic chanting, rattling, or drumming on which the hemi-synch technology is based. The shaman enters the other worlds through various “doors”. One of the most common of these is through a tunnel, a cave, or a hole in a tree. Once the shaman moves through the entrance, he finds himself in another world in which he can access knowledge and wisdom.
There are three worlds through which the shaman journeys; these are an upper, a middle, and a lower world. Each world is different and has an infinite number of levels within it. To safely navigate these worlds of non-ordinary reality, the shaman must first make contact with his spirit guides. In traditional shamanic practice, these guides appear in the form of animals. The animal spirits give protection and guidance. Because they inhabit these other realms, they can help the shaman in navigating unfamiliar worlds and in retrieving information. The shaman and his animal guide will have a real relationship that will build and grow over time.
The upper and lower worlds can appear quite different to the world we inhabit in ordinary consciousness, but the middle world is similar. It is very like our world here but as it is in the spirit world. This is the place through which the shaman can journey to discover something about this world here and now, to find lost objects, to heal, and to work to help people who are in comas by communing with them on a soul level.Over the past year, as I practiced both shamanic journeying and remote viewing, the lines between the two began to blur for me. First, I noticed distinct similarities in my middle world experiences, and next my spirit guides started turning up in remote viewing sessions to help me with my tasks. This latter was unexpected, and at first I was convinced that I was doing something “wrong”. The more I relaxed, however, the more it continued to happen, I began to suspect that despite the two practices having different names and purposes, there were some fundamental similarities.
Neither remote viewing nor shamanism is a religion, rather each is a system or technique that can be explored and mastered. Each serves useful and practical purposes and can be used on a daily basis. Each involves accessing other worlds through an altered state of consciousness that is brought about through discipline and ritual. Neither the viewer nor the journeyer are limited by earth, time, or space into where they go, what they see, and what information they retrieve. Each can receive information in different ways depending on the skills of the practitioner. Each faces the same danger of misinterpreting information. Each needs to have a reason or a mission, and each is in control and can return to ordinary consciousness at any time.
Both shamanic journeying and remote viewing are “new” names that have been specifically chosen because of their lack of previous associations. In the 1970’s, early experiments into remote viewing were being carried out using acknowledged psychics, but the general lack of trust in anything paranormal and non-scientific in governmental and scientific circles caused a problem for the credibility of the research group. The military and the CIA would not comfortably accept intelligence information obtained through psychic means, and so the team had to come up with a new name that would be acceptable, thus, the term remote viewing was born.
The word shaman, although not new, was chosen because it was relatively free of associations in the western world unlike other terms that have been used to describe a similar person such as witchdoctor or medicine man. The word itself is very old and was first identified with indigenous Siberian people. Michael Harner popularized the term in the 1970s in his book The Way of the Shaman. A professor of anthropology researching native cultures, Harner recognized that despite being cut off from each other for thousands of years, native cultures shared distinct similarities. One of which is the existence of a person whose role was to act as bridge between the worlds of ordinary and non-ordinary reality for the purpose of helping the community. Despite having different names the purpose of such people is basically the same, and their stories go back at least forty thousand years.
Both remote viewing and shamanic journeying require discipline. To ensure credibility for the practice of remote viewing, the STARGATE team developed a rigid protocol to make their experiments and exercises as scientific as possible. All remote viewing activities were carried out in a carefully controlled environment. Each session involved a viewer and an interviewer, neither of whom had any prior knowledge of the targets. At an arranged time or after a specific directive, the viewer began to focus and then to report or draw whatever he or she was feeling or seeing to the interviewer. Everything was recorded. The session was evaluated later, often with the remote viewer receiving little or no feedback. Following established protocol under laboratory conditions is one of the defining characteristics of remote viewing; this is what separates it from other paranormal or psychic practices that have no such checks and balances.
The shaman is disciplined and carries out a ritual to aid in the altering of his consciousness and transition to other worlds. In addition, he needs to have a specific goal in mind when embarking on a journey. The consciousness shift is usually brought about by some kind of rhythmic beat using a drum or rattle. The shaman travels through an opening into one of the three worlds where his spirit guide will meet him. Wherever the two journey, the shaman must be careful to return to awareness by the same route he left. The return journey is likely to be much faster than the outward journey, but it is an important part of the process. Once back in ordinary reality, the shaman needs to take care to ground himself. This can be done with a rattle, through breathing, or by physical movements like stamping the feet.
Both remote viewers and shamans receive their impressions in a variety of ways depending on the sensitivities of the individual. Some see scenes very clearly while others receive only a general impression. Some are aware of textures or smells. Some hear information. Others simply experience a sense of “knowing” about the target. Each method is equally valid; it is the information gathered that is important, not the way in which it makes itself known. The danger for both the remote viewer and the shaman is in trying to interpret any information received. Our human tendency is to make sense of and categorize things, but that can be counterproductive in the world of the paranormal. Images, words, numbers, and fragments of details that might make no sense to the person receiving the information, might make perfect sense to the person for whom the information is meant.
The most significant differences between remote viewing and shamanic journeying seem to be related more to the intention rather than the activity itself. Whereas remote viewing has been mostly used for gaining tactical information, shamanic journeying has profound spiritual associations. It is used for physical, emotional, and mental healing, as well as for soul retrieval. The practitioner’s awareness of connection with the Divine is an essential element of the Shaman’s path, as are his guiding spirits. Remote viewing, in its current state, does not depend on these elements and seems to be more restricted to the middle world. The deeper significance of this lies in the fact that it is the upper and lower worlds that offer greater spiritual guidance and insight.Although remote viewing was devised primarily to gather intelligence information, a common theme that emerged from the long-time viewers is one of the ethics and future of the practice. How, when, and why should remote viewing be used? Many of those who were actively involved through the STARGATE years are of the opinion that the true future of the skill should be for self-actualization and personal growth as opposed to Espionage. One of the natural by-products of traveling to other places is that it makes us question the way we live our own lives, our perceptions, value systems, and our own reality. If this is true about a journey on the physical plane, surely it has to be equally true about a journey on the non-physical plane.
Just a simple rewording of a sentence or reframing of an intention can make all the difference with remote viewing. For example, a typical remote viewing exercise might involve posing a question such as,
“Show me something that will happen in my work place tomorrow.”
This gives a specific date and location. Something will turn up in a viewing session. Interesting as this may be, however, what purpose does it really serve? If, instead, one were to ask,
“ Show me something that will cross my path tomorrow that will help guide me to my true vocation in life”, then one is dealing with an entirely different dimension of experience. Such a simple change in a question can produce results that will surely aid in personal growth. What has changed is the intention behind the activity, not the activity itself. Intentions are powerful things! If we practice remote viewing with responsibility and a higher purpose, we can surely become co-creators of our own spiritual progress.
The practice of shamanism is no longer limited to one chosen person in each community but is open to whoever is interested in pursuing it. There are many avenues the interested person may follow, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies being only one. Its purpose is to revive ancient practices that enrich and empower people’s lives on a daily basis, to honor the past, and to honor the power that each individual person can access in the present by simply going within and consciously reconnecting with the world of Spirit. By becoming our own shaman and opening up our own connection to the Divine, we reclaim our ancient power and birthright. We reclaim the ability to grow.
There are many terms that fall under the umbrella of psychic functioning; Remote viewing and shamanic journeying are only two of them. Edgar Cayce claimed that we are all psychic, and, indeed, psychic abilities are considered to be a natural by-product of spiritual development in Buddhist and yogic teachings. Although the spellings may not be the same, the essence of what is happening is. Remote viewing is not a new skill; it is simply a new name for an ancient practice. Likewise, the worlds of the shaman do not exist exclusively for him. They are the levels of non-ordinary consciousness that have always existed. They are the worlds at which the psychic and the mystic have and do function. Maybe the spiritual aspect of remote viewing is not only the key to its future, but also the key to connecting the modern to the ancient, the scientific to the religious, and the sacred to the profane.
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