Remembering Tribal Jewish Shaminism

In the ancient beginning was the Void–a place of No Thing, No Thought, No Emotion, and No Movement. It existed at the edge of Creation. From this Void the Source of All Powers began to manifest and radiate its light. And what a light! Illuminating the dark areas, shining into the deep waters; breathing life into all beings—animals, grasses, flowers and trees. Breathing spirit inside each of us; shining the light on our own awakening life and vision. It is from here that thoughts and feelings are born; and consciousness gives way to all new starts….as within, so without.

From this place of realization that comes from deep within the Void, we can envision our dreams and breathe life into our own creations by using our senses to experience them as manifest. By moving through the Void and into the World. From Nothing to Something. From Formless to Form. From the essences of the animals to the essence of becoming human beings who are comprised of all the essences of all other life forms.

This Void is a place of mystery, of things hidden, unknown, and sometimes perplexing. To dream or journey shamanically into this place allows you to access a piece of the mystery; hearing and responding to a call so unconscious, so deep within your soul, you’re not even sure you hear its sound calling you…and when you do, you’re not sure how to respond. Possessing no clue, yet still compelled, you push that sound forward, gestating it, learning about it, discovering how to communicate it, and finally making it manifest into the clear light of day.

I was raised a secular Jewish woman, which meant a focus on humanitarianism, rather than focusing on prayer and God. I felt Jewish culturally but disconnected spiritually. So I studied Buddhism and indigenous shamanism. Studying tribal Judaism I finally found my clarity. In my shamanic healing and teaching practice I had embraced the ancient Jewish purpose of Tikkun Olam: ‘healing the world’; the very word “shaman” means “healer”. In fact, the more I practice a shamanic life, the more Jewish I become!

Thus I remember and honor tribal Jewish shamanism; connecting experientially, and directly with the ancients, and discovering how truly shamanic this ancient religion was before inquisitions, Crusades, and pogroms drove much that was magical, mysterious, and profoundly shamanic deep underground–creating a real world void in knowledge about the true spiritual essence of a deeply magical religion, now almost 6,000 years old.

Just how shamanic is tribal Judaism? Even a brief glance at the number four, so sacred in shamanism, shows synchronicity. The winds of the four directions are the messengers of the Creator swirling together to become the primal breath that animates all of Creation. These four winds spiral us deeper and deeper into revelatory awareness and closeness to the mystery of being, and Source of Powers. These are the four spirit elementals of the Sh’Chinah or the feminine manifestation of the Creator. We know them as Rafael, Gavreel, Meechael and Uriel. We begin to learn their qualities of Healing, Balance, Reflection, and Vision.

There the four Merkavot—vehicles of divine manifestation, known as Still Beings (stones and minerals), Sprouting Beings (plants, trees), Wild Beings and Talking beings. There are the four Life Beings—similar to the medicine wheel—Eagle, Bull or Buffalo, Human, and Lion. It continues this way, culminating in the four worlds of consciousness known as the Sacred Walk, connecting us to the very magic of being: Animation, Formation, Creation, and Emanation.

And then there is what Jewish life has long been known for, miracles! We tend to minimize that miracles are real; but ancient tribal Jews embraced them as the ultimate connection with God. The parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus story, Moses’ vision quest on Mt. Sinai where he saw the burning bush, and heard God’s voice. From the miracle of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, to the miracle food Manna falling from the heavens, to the miracle of Hanukkah, where the lamps burned with oil for 8 days, when there was only enough oil for one. Magic and mystery abides.

The use of the drum, healing herbs, and the primal sound of the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) are even more examples. Shamanic ecstatic dance has long been a part of tribal Judaism, and continues to be an integral part of Jewish Hassidim today.

Remembering tribal Jewish shamanism gives us the opportunity to reflect on the power of this ancient lifestyle to positively inform our modern world with spiritual and humanitarian needs and deeds.

Article source: Winkler, Gershon, Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism, North Atlantic Books, 2003

Frannie Rose Goldstein

Frannie Rose Goldstein has a shamanic healing and teaching practice in Southfield called Follow Your Heart. Additionally, she is a Reiki Master, Water Pourer, Numerologist and workshop facilitator. Visit www.followurheart.com for upcoming events on Jewish Shamanism and more. 248 252 0373. [email protected]

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