Sunday, February 15, 2009

Modern Shamans

A direct link to the above video is at

In The Shaman, we talked about the idea that shamanism deals with hidden forces, spirit worlds, and seeing things the rest of us cannot. From there, we moved to Terence McKenna, one of a great many visionaries from the latter part of the twentieth century who were interested in psychedelics as a way some have used for opening their minds up to those hidden patterns that create our reality - an idea that, for me, connects very much to trying to imagine how our reality could be shadows of extra-dimensional patterns and shapes.

By the time some are calling Terence McKenna a "modern shaman", it could be argued that we have moved beyond the proper definition of the word. Shamans, some people insist, are not part of the tribe, they are outcasts who in modern times might be the ones who end up in a psychiatric hospital under surveillance! While McKenna may not have been a "mainstream" figure during his lifetime, I think it would be stretching things to say that he was "not part of the tribe". We talked in that same blog about the ongoing controversy over whether the Native American visionary Black Elk should be called a shaman, when "medicine man" is the more correct term within his culture.

Shamans, Modern Shamans, Technoshamans...
With all that in mind, please accept my apologies if you object to the use of the word "shaman" in the broader definition I'm playing with here. When I think of the phrase modern shaman (an interesting pair of words to search for in google) I think of people who are blending modern viewpoints with ancient mysticism, sacred geometry with physics, spirituality with science. Another useful term that relates to all this is "technoshaminsm". In the wikipedia article on that word we see this:

Technoshamanism is a term used to describe various methods of integrating modern technology into shamanic practice (see shamanism). Methods of doing this include such diverse disciplines as synthetic drug use, modern psychotherapy, and raving.

Technoshamans generally embrace the view that mystical experiences are at least partially biological in nature; as such, they find the use of biological and mechanical means to influence and even induce mystical states and experiences perfectly acceptable. Technoshamanism is strongly related to the modern primitive movement.

Let's look at a few people I would call a Modern Shaman, using my admittedly very loose definition of the word:

Grant Morrison
Ever hear of author Grant Morrison, creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novel series The Invisibles? Here's an example of a successful creative individual who is completely willing to talk about the usefulness of psychoactive substances in his work. He has some very "out there" theories about the nature of reality, our relationship to the fifth dimension, how consciousness is participating in all of that, and how we are all connected together: ideas that readers of my blog and my book will recognize as regular themes, but I have to admit to being completely unaware of Grant Morrison's work up to now. Clearly, Mr. Morrison and I have been exploring many of the same ideas and I would now love to read some issues of The Invisibles... and some day I'd love to hear his reaction to my original eleven-minute animation. I warn you, the following video is laced with profanities and he begins by announcing that he's drunk, but keep watching: I think this is a worthwhile video, as Grant has a unique and intellectually challenging point of view.

A direct link to the above video of Grant Morrison speaking at DisInfo is at

Alex Grey
Alex Grey, on the other hand, is someone I've know about for a while: his website is at Alex is a New York artist whose work blends psychedelic imagery with archetypal images of the body and the spirit. Like Grant Morrison's ideas, Alex Grey's art portrays imagery that seems to be plugged into many of the same memes I've been exploring with my project: multidimensional geometries, auras, chakras, and a spiritual viewpoint that embraces our connectedness are all themes found regularly in the art of Alex Grey. Here's a trailer for a movie about his work called Entheogen:

A direct link to the above video is at If you go to you will see that Alex embraces the concept of technoshamanism, so he ties into all of this discussion very deeply.

The concept of sacred geometry comes up regularly in these discussions of the nature of reality and extra dimensions, but that's another blog for another day.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next - Astrotometry


C. Om said...

"It takes one to know one," so to speak. I would salute you as a modern shaman yourself, Rob. Not to stretch the definition of a shaman too thin, but I believe that your intuitive theories and writing have opened the door to the possibilities of supernatural realms and provides many answers.

Great stuff here.

Rob Bryanton said...

Woh, C. Om, I hadn't even considered such an interpretation. No, I'm just a lowly tour guide, trying to make sense of the maps I've been given, and explain what I've gleaned to the other folks on the tour. But thanks for your kind words of support, they mean a lot to me! :)


Anonymous said...

Great post!! What authors is he recommending?


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