This booklet explores the role of the Shaman in traditional societies and the various methods by which one acquires that role.
The difference between the Scientist and the Shaman lies in the approach they take to discover the “Way of Truth.” Plato describes the prison of our perception as an “underground den” or cave in which human beings have been chained since their childhood, so that they can only look straight ahead. In front of them, on the wall of the cave, they see shadows of “all sorts of vessels and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials” which are carried by their captors so that shadows are cast on the wall by a fire burning behind them.
The scientists among the prisoners would be the ones who realize that they are only seeing shadows and who attempt to hypothesize about the means by which the shadows are created - how big the vessels and statues and figures must be and how far away from the fire they are in order to create the images on the wall. The Shaman would be the prisoner in Socrates’ allegory who is selected to be freed from his chains and brought int the presence of the sun itself.
Michael R. Dilts holds degrees in Linguistics from the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University. He was employed in the computer industry, working for Texas Instruments, Wang Laboratories and Apple, Inc. and has been awarded seven patents for software design as well as publishing over a dozen articles in journals and in the proceedings of technical conferences. At the same time, Michael was conducting a personal investigation of comparative religion and Shamanism, completing training courses with the late Michael Harner and with other instructors. Michael is currently a Member of Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies. He has also experienced initiation into several branches of the Western Mystery Tradition.