Spirits abounded. Tigers preyed on flocks and herds, were seen to have power, and adopted as totem. Snakes, a phallic symbol through all ages and cultures, symbolised fertility. That they liked living in dark places such as graveyards gave them a connection with death: they occupied the two extremes of the human spectrum. Snakes also kept Rats away and Rats were seen as resilient survivors. Rabbit also stood for fertility and Turtle for longevity, making a connection with the ancestors.
The Snake people overcame other tribes, their totem swallowing Bird and growing claws, Cow and growing horns, and Fish with scales and tail, uniting the elements of above, below and within to form Dragon, a creature with knowledge of the seasons, that slept through the winter and when snow melted and plant life sprouted, rose to heaven whence it hurled summer lightning and thunder.
The Dragon’s connection of Earth with Heaven led to its dominance, a symbol of divine power. Whoever had the approval of Heaven had dominion over Earth.
The shaman kings began as leaders talking to heaven. The legendary Yu, son of the Bear, changed the course of the river to split the land. Shape-shifter, sky-dancer and traveller in the underworld, he stepped lightly in all realms and discovered the pakua, the first representation of the medicine wheel: the pattern on the shell of a tortoise.
Their influence was restored at Court under the Western Han as religious and magical Taoism, especially of the Fang-Shih who developed Inner Alchemy and Feng Shui, but the next dynasty, the Eastern Han saw the last of the court shamans replaced by scholars and civil servants.
Under the Eastern Ch’in, the Lady Wei, daughter of a Celestial Masters priest and herself a priestess, founded the Shang ch’ing school of Taoists to revive and sustain the shamanic practices of ecstatic flight and journeying. A former librarian at Court collected and collated Shang ch’ing scripts, wrote and practised inner alchemy and founded the monastery on Mount Mao-shan, still there today.
The Shaman became the Healer in the community and, particularly in the Taoist tradition, is known only to the community, unknown in the Outer World. This secrecy stems from the days of the Buddhist persecutions. As Healing Warrior, the Shaman mediates with, or combats, Spirit, by taking into her or himself the energies, to heal and to seal.
31st January thru’ 3rd February Learn more and sign up for Taoist Shamanic Healing with Kris & Anamarta. All Welcome, no pre-requisites: Kentish Town Studio, 141-145 Kentish Town Road (Side Entrance in Castle Place), Camden, London NW1 8P
Read How to become a Taoist Master Practitioner with a click here
Click for the full Calendar of Courses, Dates, Locations and Costs