A GUIDE BOOK TO THE FIRST BASIC LEVEL OF THE OPERATIVE TRAINING OF THE PROVISIONAL INSTITUTE OF ASTROSHAMANISM
Copyright © 1996, 2010 (9th edition), Franco Santoro, www.astroshamanism.org
Greetings and thanks for your interest in the First Basic Level of the Operative Training.
The aim of this Introductory Lesson is to provide an overview of the First Basic Level of the Operative Training and ideally to answer some questions you may have regarding this work, bearing in mind that you are invited to contact me if you have further queries.
Once you have read this text you can consider the Work Guide at the end, and see if you would like to start the preliminary part of the training, employing the practices presented there. Once you have completed the Work Guide, if you feel this training is right for you, and you decide to take it, please contact us so that we can provide further details and literature.
I hope this material will be useful and inspiring for you.
Franco Santoro, Provisional Institute of Astroshamanism
PRELIMINARY NOTES ON THE GUIDE BOOK AND TRAINING
A Guide Book to the First Basic Level of the Operative Training of the Provisional Institute of Astroshamanism acts solely as an auxiliary and transitional tool of support for the experiential teachings given during the Training. The Guide Book, as such, does not describe the entire contents of the Training and cannot be used to provide complete understanding on the topics covered. The language employed and any omission or fault are those of the author and do not necessarily relate to the teaching of the tradition to which this work refers. The basic assumption here is that to make this tradition manifest through intellectual or literary expression is a most forlorn and preposterous enterprise.
THE FIRST BASIC LEVEL OF THE OPERATIVE TRAINING IN ASTROSHAMANISM
The Operative Training in Astroshamanism is a complete ongoing system of teaching devised for training healers and shamanic practitioners in accordance with an initiatory tradition here strategically defined as the Provisional Order.
The basic intent of this tradition is to foster the reawakening of our original multidimensional nature and the gradual release of grievances based on the perception of separation. In this context initiation is a process that involves implanting a seed which will grow according to one’s investment of energy and natural disposition. This development stems from the essence of most mystery (from the Greek myein, to keep silent) and esoteric (esoteric from the Greek esotero, inner, further in) traditions (from the Latin tradere, handing down, transmit). The main trait of these traditions is that they all emerge from a basic experience of oneness and the interconnection of all existence, seen and unseen. Another feature of their mysteries is that they cannot be thoroughly verbally communicated by one human being to another. Although esoteric texts, verbal teachings and spiritual masters play a significant role in providing the tools and itinerary to access basic information, the actual mysteries are revealed to the initiates through a direct experience of their multidimensional nature and connection with spirit guides.
Each Mystery tradition had Lesser or Outer Mysteries, involving religious practices and common doctrines open to anyone. There were also Greater or Inner Mysteries, to which admission was gained by undergoing an elaborate process of initiation and transformation. The major focus of the teachings of the Outer Mysteries was concerned with the development of the personality and the integration of its various components. These aspects are still widely promoted in the current societies through various psychological or religious systems.
The Inner Mysteries entail a shift of orientation aimed at unveiling the connection with your Spirit Guide, or Core Multidimensional Identity (CMI) or the part of you which is at One with God, and the web of life, while grounding the related awareness into daily life. This involves moving from the personality level of manifestation, where we take responsibility for ourselves as separated entities, to the soul and multidimensional level of manifestation, where we identify ourselves as part of the whole. The re-alignment with the Core Multidimensional Identity (CMI), the switch from the perception of separation to the reality of unity is, as we see it, the primary function of a Mystery School, and is the essential aim of the Operative Training in Astroshamanism.
The Operative Training in Astroshamanism consists of three independent levels of initiation (First, Second and Third) and is accompanied by specific literature and manuals.
The First Basic Level comprises 144 hours of intensive teaching with a flexible structure that can be tailored to fit individual needs and situations, including the alternative of a home-study course. Previous participation in an astroshamanic workshop, an individual session, and a specific interview with an Astroshamanic Training Mentor are a prerequisite for attendance.
Before deciding to join the Training, applicants are invited to acknowledge their current life situation, purpose and learning potentials in order to verify whether this step can truly serve them. Entry into the Training also ideally requires that intuition or specific individual guidance proves that this work is appropriate.
The Training is formally presented in monthly lessons taken from A Provisional Guide Book to the First Basic Level of the Operative Training in Astroshamanism, which constitutes the original text designed for the First Basic Level. Its content is periodically revised and may also vary according to the Trainee involved.
Astroshamanism (Book 1): A Journey into the Inner Universe is a supplementary and optional general text. The purpose of both books is to act as auxiliary, purposefully incomplete and transitional tools of support for the energetic transmissions and experiential teaching given during the Training.
The Guide Book is arranged in lessons with practices and exercises. When you receive a lesson, unless otherwise indicated, the suggested process is always the same. This implies reading the text and also doing the practices and exercises described in the Work Guide at the end of the lesson. The function of these practices and exercises is to ground the major topics of the Training and allow the embodiment of the work. They are also aimed at helping you to align with the natural cycles, the dynamics of the Earth, Sun, Moon and planets, promoting attunement with your Spirit Guide.
The exercises are not meant to test or quiz you. Practices and exercises are highly recommended, yet they constitute a requirement only if First Basic Level Credential is desired (Corporate Trainee). The First Basic Level may also be pursued and completed without receiving Credentials (Delegate Trainee). In this latter case an alternative curriculum may be arranged aimed at supporting and developing a specific project. Whether the choice is to be a Corporate or Delegate Trainee, the teaching programme will adapt to individual needs and potentials.
We suggest reading or considering each lesson three times. This is a way of honouring the three Levels and Worlds, and allowing a balanced distribution of information and experience. We also encourage setting aside some time to regularly connect with your Spirit Guide. This time is going to be a recurring practice. The exercises of the lessons are important for the advancement of your year’s journey, yet they should not be used as a substitute for this regular, and preferably daily, practice.
The information given in the Training covers a large amount of material. According to your level of experience, your understanding and response is likely to be different. Sometimes the information will be familiar and obvious, while at others you may find yourself puzzled or overwhelmed by what is presented. Do not allow the apparent consistence and complexity of this work to overpower you! You are already connected and have experienced the value of the relationship with your inner world. Walk, then, in gratitude and this will shorten your learning time by more than you could ever imagine.
We invite you to read the text and be open to the insights you receive. As you do that, please bear in mind that it is not necessary to mentally comprehend everything or to agree with all that is written. The aim is not that of accumulating information or providing intellectual knowledge. It is to offer a strategic foundation aimed at supporting your experience. Most information works on subtle levels and what is really important may come naturally in future lessons and through your shamanic experiences. We trust that you will get the whole picture or what is truly essential when you complete the year.
The curriculum of the Training has a specific structure and there is a certain amount of work to do. At the end of the journey, the energies of each of the 12 Sectors and four Directions of the Sacred Circle will all be explored. The First Basic Level has to do with building a foundation for the spiritual journey and for the reawakening of your multidimensional nature. According to astroshamanism, the existence of a stable container is essential for the energies beyond ordinary perception not to get lost or misused. The information, tools, and practices that are shared in the Training serve this purpose.
For the first three lessons, including this Introductory Lesson, the work is preparatory. After this initial stage, the Trainee can start the exploration of the 12 Sectors and four Directions.
One of the purposes of the journeys in the Sectors is to activate tools of power, develop potentials, release grievances, make agreements with Spirit Guides, planetary forces, Totem Spirits, etc. and recall significant lost memories. The practices and exercises related to the Sectors are devised to accompany you on a quest for treasures and powers that lie dormant within. This process strategically unfolds through recognising, retrieving and expressing each of the 12 basic archetypes (Totem Spirits or Archangels) through our physical as well as emotional, mental and spiritual body. This work involves learning a multidimensional language and requires patience, constancy and attention mixed with sacred playfulness and adventure.
The programme of the Training will include significant experiences with shamanic states of consciousness as well as relevant opportunities to ground the work in ordinary reality. Participants will learn a wide range of shamanic techniques and directly explore the astroshamanic cosmology as it is reflected in their inner and outer life. They will receive initiation in specific healing and ceremonial practices according to each Sector of the Sacred Circle, integrating their shamanic experiences with information drawn from astrology and other esoteric sources.
The First Basic Level covers the following areas: astroshamanic voyaging and cosmology, Sacred Circle, Intent and Function, AstroshamanicHealing, Spirit Guides, Totem Spirits, shamanic forms and detectors, spirit medicines, sacred tools, trance dance, totemic postures, dream-work, exploration of the 12 Sectors, astroshamanic chants and planetary scales, an outline of astrology and its application to astroshamanism, elements of astroshamanic healing and soul retrieval.
To assist you during the training you are offered an Astroshamanic Training Mentor. To your Mentor you send your reports or exercises, as they are described in the Work Guide of each lesson. Your Mentor reads your monthly exercises, without commenting on them or giving feedback, unless you specifically ask questions. If you have questions, you need to ask them directly and the Mentor will reply or comment. Also your Mentor is at your disposal for anything you may need to share or ask regarding the work and your experience. You can contact your Mentor by e-mail, telephone, Skype or any other conveniently agreed mean of communication.
You can also have a Tutor personally allocated to you. Tutors are advanced Trainees who are available for you if you wish to share your experiences. You can apply for a Tutor by writing to your Mentor. Some Trainees find it useful to connect with their Tutor and Mentor from time to time, or even like sharing with more Trainees and members of the astroshamanic network, others prefer a more solitary path, doing without a tutor and limiting their interactions only to the monthly reports sent to the Mentor.
It is also possible to accompany the course with workshops, regular individual sessions and other training modules offered by your Mentor or the wider Astroshamanic Network.
PROVISIONAL ASTROSHAMANIC NETWORK
When you join the Training you also become a member of a world wide community, the Provisional Astroshamanic Network, which includes groups and individuals in all six continents and over twenty countries. The way you decide to interact with this network is entirely up to you.
The aim of the Provosional Astroshamanic Network (PAN) is essentially sharing experiences inspired by astroshamanic and spiritual healing work. Members have the opportunity to reference elements and practices of astroshamanism, including participation in workshops, training, group or individual experiences, use of literature, or any other significant aspect of astroshamanism.
The intent of PAN is also to allow circulation of visions, honourable intentions and experiences, in order to promote acknowledgment of our multidimensional nature and its integration in daily life. The aim is to inspire and support each other, learning more together. We can also discover significant similarities in our experiences, promoting cooperation and breaking through the isolation, fear and shame that often surround non-ordinary experiences.
At Casale in Lunigiana (Merizzo, Massa, Italy) and Findhorn (Scotland) we run regular courses and events, which are significant opportunities for Trainees to work together. We also hold workshops and gatherings specifically designed for members of the Provisional Astroshamanic Network.
There may be also local astroshamanic groups in or near the area where you live. You are welcome to connect with them and participate in their activities, whenever you wish. For an updated list of such groups, please contact your Mentor.
In the Provisional Astroshamanic Network we also offer audio individual and group sessions, including courses and advanced workshops, delivered via audio-conference calls which support various callers simultaneously. With this technology each participant, regardless of their geographical location, can join in the session, ritual or course, simply connecting with the audio-conference leader and all the other participants at the designated time.
We also run several pages online, such as:
THE BASIC AGREEMENTS
The Basic Agreements for the First Basic Level of the Training involve accepting and honouring the requirements and defining the course fees. The requirements for the First Basic Level of the Training are given below. I invite you to check whether it is honourable for you to accept them. If the answer is yes, then we can define the course fees. If you cannot accept the requirements, there is still the possibility of receiving teachings in an alternative way. In this case you can contact your Mentor and explain your situation.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE FIRST BASIC LEVEL OF THE TRAINING
· Employing the practices and tools provided with the lessons only for individual use and not utilising them for working with others (unless this is agreed with your Mentor). Keeping with care the literature provided with the Training, without lending, selling, quoting, photocopying or making it available to other people, unless you receive written permission from the Author (Franco Santoro).
· Reading, doing the practices, writing the answers to the questions and a synopsis for your Mentor, sending one copy to the Mentor and keeping one copy for yourself (only if you wish to receive Credentials).
· Asking the Mentor for further explanation if instructions are not clear.
· Avoiding any kind of hallucinatory substance during the main practices, and also for at least 3 hours before and after.
· Committing to come back to the ordinary reality after all astroshamanic journeys or experiences.
· Being transparent and asking for support or help from the Mentor if difficulties or situations of grievances arise.
· Being confidential about the sharing and what happens in the workshops or sessions, or about what is written in letters.
· Contributing a mutually agreed fee or service to the Mentor (see Training Fees).
· Honouring any further agreement decided with your Mentor.
· Having a completion session with your Mentor at the end of the Training.
· Having a minimum of two individual sessions (distant or in person), excluding the completion session, during the course of your Training. Further individual sessions are recommended, though they are not included in the Training Fee.
· Taking part in at least one one-week workshop, or two week-end workshops. This applies only if you wish to receive Credentials and is not included in the Training Fee.
Upon completion of the Basic Agreements, you will receive Lesson One. Once you inform your Mentor, you will be sent Lesson Two. Completion of both lessons is not based on a specific time. It takes the time you need, though the suggested time is one month for each lesson. When you have finished Lesson Two, then you can contact your Mentor and start the voyage through the Sectors. At this stage you will receive the first lesson related to the Sector of the month. For example, if you start the journey on 20 July, you will commence with Sector 5 (Leo).
If you decide to join the Training, you will receive a total of 15 lessons. The first two lessons (Lesson One and Two) usually take an average of one month to be completed, and you are invited to let your Mentor know when you have finished one lesson, so that you can receive the literature for the next lesson. Once you have concluded Lesson Two, you can inform your Mentor, who will provide online access send you the other lessons monthly for the next thirteen months (online, or as a document by e-mail or, upon request, in printed form). You will also send to your Mentor a brief report following the indication given in the Work Guide for each lesson.
Besides the material that you receive, you may write to your Mentor with your experiences or with any questions you may have about the training. At the end of your training you will have a completion session with your Mentor.
Training fees are usually arranged per lesson, with the Trainee giving a quarterly donation. Also monthly donations, payment in full and alternative agreements are possible. The Training Fee is based on an income related system aimed at ensuring that the programme is accessible to individuals with diverse means, and also at supporting the Bursary Fund and astroshamanic work in general.
The income related pricing is on a sliding scale and you can choose the low, medium or higher price below based on your personal income.
Very low income: monthly £ 40 x 15 lessons.
Medium-low income: monthly £ 50 x 15 lessons.
Medium income: monthly £ 60 x 15 lessons.
High income: monthly £ 75 x 15 lessons.
Applicants who cannot afford the low income amount can apply for a Bursary.
The cost for each additional individual session is £ 40.
Contributions to the Bursary Fund are welcome.
All fees are in British Pounds. We also accept payment in Euros, US Dollars and other currencies.
We prefer payment by bank transfer or Paypal. When you are ready to join the Training, please contact us to receive our bank details or further information regarding payment.
The fee covers the following:
the monthly teaching material of the lessons,
the assistance of the Rector and Mentor during the Training (they can be contacted in case questions or difficulties arise)
four individual consultations (one for every trimestre) and a completion session)
the final initiation ceremony and the completion medicine tool
enrolment as training member of the Institutum Provisorium (which may allow reductions ofnvarious services and goods) and the Astroshamanic Network (which offers the possibility to connect with other trainees or associates)
participation to online group meetings, such as the monthly teaching and convivium event held by Franco via Skype and other training group meetings
a 20% reduction on seminars (excluding costs of board and lodging) and further sessions
Note on gender: To avoid the clumsiness and overemphasis of opposite polarities inherent in the use of double personal problems like he/she, her/him, etc., unless I specifically refer to a female creature or goddess, I use the generic terms he, him, his to indicate human or non-ordinary beings in general, both male and female. This is a makeshift option due to the fact that in the English language there is no appropriate singular personal pronoun that applies equally to men and women. Therefore I would like to make clear that in the context of this Guide Book the forms he, him, his are meant to be inclusive and could be replaced by she, her. Another area of linguistic inadequacy involves the usage of first, second and third person or plural and singular form. These differences in forms and persons constitute the major pillars of modern languages based on the illusion of separation. It is almost impossible to avoid these languages or deny their existence and still live on this planet. This is also not necessary as their compassionate usage can support the release of their underlying thoughts of separation and unveil the true perception of unity.
This work is the attempt to bring light into the apparent darkness of the ancient origins of a wonderful remembrance, so as to allow the emergence of what has for long been there, undisturbed, in an oasis of velvet and dark clouds. Its aim is to acknowledge the reality of that remembrance, awaken its energy, establish a regular connection with it and allow its growing emanation within and without. It is a journey in the inner and outer world supported by the adherence to the INTENT and FUNCTION. The Function is the total alignment with the divine will of existence and represents the maximum achievable purpose on the human level. The Intent is the specific application of the Function: the creative contribution, apparently individual, connected to the realisation of the divine will. The Intent is to be connected to the Function.
– Ur Kraab
You are about to embark on a journey which can help establish a solid relationship with your deep authentic nature and the Core Multidimensional Identity that lies beyond the narrow perception of our ordinary awareness. You are initiating a splendid path of retrieval of ancient memories, a voyage that will uncover the reality of your true self and of all other possible selves.
You are going to be reminded about the glorious being that you were, are and will always be. It does not matter what circumstances brought you to this starting point or what happened in your past or is happening now. What counts is your availability to answer the calling and move on. The work that you do in this respect is a most precious gift that you give to yourself, the world, the universe and all your relationships. This is veritably the best way to serve.
It is not relevant how, where, with what or whom you decide to live. What is indeed essential is that you discover and fulfil your true Intent and Function. It is through accepting and honouring the above that you will see and be That Who is you. You have abundant support, love and blessings whatever your decisions on the path may be. Refuse to be sidetracked by detours and illusive thoughts or obligations. You are here only to find your way home. You are fully entitled to explore all that you genuinely perceive to be your sacred journey. Give permission for your Guide to be with you and direct you in this major ecstatic enterprise.
Astroshamanism is based on the awareness of the existence of an ecstatic and united dimension that lies beyond the illusions of the ordinary perception of reality. The certitude that human beings, through the progressive release of their separated and grieving identities, can have unlimited access to this dimension, constitutes the experiential essence of this work.
Astroshamanism considers two basic models of reference: the Sacred Circle and the Epic of the Sacred Cone.
The Sacred Circle and its various applications – astrology included – represent the general structure of Astroshamanism. Its purpose is to achieve balance, integration and unity through a process of circular learning that refers to the inner cycles of the Earth and the universe. Each lesson and experience is repeated in different ways and from various perspectives until it is totally learned. When this occurs, a shift to a new level of perception takes place: the circle ceases to rotate along the same circumference and opens up to a spiral movement to start a new cycle of transformation.
The Epic of the Sacred Cone constitutes a mythic and strategic shamanic transposition of the former models. It includes information – in the form of messages, visions and practices – derived from the work with a specific shamanic lineage and mystery school, which I identify here with the term Provisional Order. The related teachings represent the original reference of Astroshamanism. Their basic intent is to foster the process of forgiveness and release of grievances through a relationship of exchange with specific multidimensional realities.
The image of the cone includes both that of the circle and the triangle. It describes a spiral circular movement that, starting from an emanation point, creatively develops ad infinitum. This represents the progressive de-manifestation process of this universe, the ascending movement of matter toward the reality of spirit, the abandonment of the illusion of separation created by the ego and the journey back to unity. This process does not occur by escaping or transcending the physical dimension, but through using it as a teaching device to fulfil our true Intent and Function in this plane of existence. The present Training is homage to this vision.
We invite you to find a peaceful time and space to read this text. When you are there, please, bring your attention to your breath and connect with your Guide or with the deepest Centre of your being (by whatever name you call That). Feel the subtle link between your breath and your Guide. Keep it throughout your reading. Do not allow it to waver in the face of distracting ideas or of words and signs found in this text. We would suggest taking one deep conscious breath at the end of each period or paragraph. If you wish, you can start to do it now as the following sample invocation unfolds.
Behold Spirit Circle, Guide, Great Force of Love and Ecstasy That Moves Through All. I call upon the 7 Directions and 12 Sectors. I acknowledge their divine nature and allow them to be one again in Love and Ecstasy. I claim this work to serve in accordance with the Highest Good and my Intent connected with the Function. Kahesha Opa!
ASTROLOGY AND SHAMANISM
When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female, when you make eyes replacing an eye, a hand replacing a hand, a foot replacing a foot, and an image replacing an image, then you will enter the kingdom (The Gospel of Thomas, saying 22, in The Secret Teachings of Jesus, translated by Marvin W. Meyer, Vintage Books, New York, 1986, p. 24).
There is a world of happiness where there is no difference between things because there is no one there to ask about the difference. But that is not the world of men. Some men have the vanity to believe that they live in two worlds, but that is only their vanity. There is but one single world for us. We are men, and must follow the world of men contentedly (from Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time, Penguin, 1998, p. 18).
“Quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius; et quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius” (As above, so below. As below, so above. So that the miracle of One be accomplished). This quotation comes from the Tabula Smaragdina (Emerald Tablet), one of the most revered documents in Western occultism. This legendary phrase attributed to Hermes Trismegistus is believed to represent the key to all mysteries. The message also defines the cardinal principle of astrology, shamanism and all ancient mystery schools. Briefly, it means that Heaven and Earth reflect each other, that whatever exists within and without, from the tiniest particle to the largest galaxy, embodies the replication of the same system.
The basic assumption of astrology, shamanism and all major Mystery traditions is that there is no separation: the inner and outer worlds are the reflection of the same whole of which we are all part. Although it is, both spiritually and scientifically, indisputable that the ultimate reality of the universe is the unity of all of its parts, most of mankind does not seem to be aware of this experience. Human beings continue to hold the belief that they exist as separate entities. The investment in this creed is so rooted and widespread as to manifest an articulated collective hallucination that reveals itself in every feature of human life. The structure of this hallucination I define as the ego.
“What is the ego?” says A Course in Miracles  “Nothingness, but in a form that seems like something. In a world of form the ego cannot be denied for it alone seems real. Yet could God’s Son as He created him abide in form or in a world of form? Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so” (ACIM, Clarification of Terms, p. 81).
In Tibetan the ego is called dak dzin, meaning “grasping to a self”, which refers to the false self of the ego and is not our true Identity or Self. “Such grasping is futile from the start and condemned to frustration, for there is no truth in it, and what we are grasping at is by its very nature ungraspable. The fact that we need to grasp at all and go on and on grasping shows that in the depths of our being we know that the self does not inherently exist. From this secret, unnerving knowledge spring all our fundamental insecurities and fear.”
The basic feature of the ego is its hallucinatory identification with the physical body perceived as a separate entity. This counterfeit identity reflects in the visible body meant as a collective and conventional conceptualisation of who I am. I have identified myself with the body and have lost the awareness of my original nature. As a result, I do my best to defend and preserve this separated notion I have mistaken for myself, regardless of my authentic essence. Indeed, this “I”, far from being a coherent idea, is a collection of buzzing and pugnacious provisional selves, each of which rules for a few minutes, putting out of sight my innermost nature.
“This world you seem to live in is not home to you. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognise the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.”(ACIM, W 339).
In a distant and unidentified sphere of time and space, something happened that generated a shift from the awareness of unity to the illusion of separation. “Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects” (ACIM, Text, p. 586-587). This mad idea is that of thinking of living as separate entities, whereas its real effects are the ego and all the grievances that are perceived in the world. Yet the memory of my authentic nature has never abandoned me. Although concealed by thick clouds, my original Self has continued to whisper through the obscure corridors of the mind, employing all kinds of tools to remind me of my true matrix of unity.
According to the Orphic tradition, in the beginning a cosmic egg, representing unity, split into two halves that became the model of all polarities. Following this separation, the immediate impulse that developed was the drive to reunite what was separated. As a result, Eros hatched from the egg and love was born. The perception of dualities, male and female, spirit and matter, good and evil is the by-product of the process of separation itself. Here human consciousness is the result of the adherence to a reality based on polarities. “Light and darkness, life and death, right and left, are siblings (that is, mutually dependent); it is impossible for them to separate. Accordingly, the good are not good, the bad are not bad, life is not life, death is not death. So each will be dispersed to its original source. But things that are superior to the world are indissoluble: they are eternal.”
Astrology, in its purest and uncontaminated expression, had been originally conceived as a tool to remove the blocks to the perception of unity. It is an educational device aimed at exploring how the many arose from the One. Astrology considers the illusory situation in which mankind has relegated himself and operates so that the miracle of One be accomplished. In other words, as I have produced the world I see as real through the belief in separation and the identification with the ego, astrology starts from this distorted perception to gradually lead me beyond it. Astrology employs different symbols and categories that, whilst appearing separate, are part of one single unity: that of the zodiacal circle. In order to make itself understood to human beings, astrology uses a language which is familiar for them: the dualistic language of the ego. This situation has caused various misunderstandings and controversies in dealing with astrology also because its language has often been used as a camouflage in times of severe persecutions.
During the years of the great witch hunt and decimation of shamanic cultures in the western world, one of the few possibilities of survival left for shamanic healers was indeed to hide behind the language of astrology or alchemy, as these were widely practiced by the physicians of the time and were not regarded as heresies. This was the case also in much earlier times and in other cultural contexts. Since it was dangerous to practice shamanism, astrology developed as a covert alternative.
Astrology was originally meant to map the access to alternative realities. It managed to survive for it detached itself from the direct experience of journeying and focused instead on the map itself interpreted in accordance with the prevalent beliefs of the environment. Whereas shamanism was about establishing relationships with other dimensions and spirits, the dominant spiritual attitude was that of depending upon a physical authority and a set of codified spiritual rules. This was one of the major causes of a clash with shamanism: the fact that it did not need the mediation of a physical religious authority. Astrology ended up being domesticated and employed to support the consensus reality of the prevalent culture. The religious and political establishments were tolerant and even supportive of astrology. Astrology was one of the main topics in all medieval universities, like that of my natal town Bologna, the oldest surviving university in the world. The practice of astrology was allowed and encouraged. However, there was an exoteric and an esoteric astrology. The latter was accessible only to a restricted minority. It was a clever disguise for shamanic healers. In order to safely continue their practices some shamans opted for the identification and camouflage provided by astrology. In this way they were able to continue their work without danger of punishment. Yet the disguise of this astrology continued for too long and caused further separation from the original shamanic connection even for those who were supposed to be aware of the disguise itself.
Astrology is based on the identity of cause and effect or subject and object. Due to this equality, its interpretative structure has changed according to the prevalent culture and spirituality of each time. In the last centuries, the left hemisphere of the brain, analytical and verbal, has prevailed over the right side, intuitive and imaginative. Astrology, in common with other approaches, has become too abstract and theoretical, and has forgotten that the original relationship with the stars and planets was experiential and alive. Astrology includes the outer and inner universe: it is like a huge geographical map able to describe all kinds of realities. It represents, in the words of Jung, “the sum of all psychological knowledge of humanity”. This is extremely stimulating, but excessive attention to the map and its details caused us to lose sight of the reason for which the map itself had been created: i.e. effectively to go on a journey. The map is not the territory just as the menu is not the meal.
The effect of this misunderstanding is that of separating the map from its pristine meaning. Consequently, its symbols petrify and assume a rigid solidity, a separate autonomous identity cut off from any connection with the essence that they originally described. As a result the astrological symbolism has become virtually incomprehensible for most contemporary men. Since the capacity of accessing what exists beyond the symbols has been lost, the maps have solidified. They are in a fixed state, while the actual territory is fluid and continues to change form.
Astrology was once regarded as a most sacred and reputable science. It had nothing to do with casting horoscopes or the way this subject is currently approached by most media. Rather it was a mapping system and a precious symbolic tool for conveying information about the multi-dimensional conditions of specific situations and environments. The astrology to which I refer here is an experiential astrology. As such it employs tools that translate the zodiacal symbols into direct experiences. The astrological chart is not interpreted or analysed, but reveals itself through emotions, movement, dance, sounds, visions and situations aimed at waking me up and connecting me with my true nature. This astrology represents the way back to the primeval origins of astrology meant as a shamanic tool of communication with the universal forces. Its aim is to relate with the roots of our authentic spiritual traditions and to integrate in the present times all the heritage of knowledge from which I have separated myself.
According to conventional history, astrology developed in Mesopotamia from 3000 BC. The most ancient archaeological materials in all parts of the planet prove however that, no matter how far back I go in human history, astrology has always been there. The astrology of the past did not deal with the personality or the individual. These currently popular words did not make any sense in those times and were missing from ancient vocabularies. The same applied to concepts such as “you”, “me”, “him” or “her” and not to mention past, future and present verb tenses, conjunctives, possessive pronouns. All these and many other contemporary human terms constitute the sets of the multi-dimensional game that presently incorporates our consensus reality. They developed to the extent that the original plane that invented the game and still plays it, started to vanish from our sight. Modern astrology is what is left. Yet astrology was meant to be a study of energy patterns and was expressed collectively. In those times it was not necessary to get involved with complex mathematical calculations to approach the mysteries of the universe. The stars and the planets were not far away and high above: their energies were accessible here on this planet, and human inhabitants could freely sense them in their bodies, minds and hearts. They had a direct relationship with the planets and stars, they perceived them everywhere and in everything, they were the stars themselves.
“For us, astrology is a mathematical science; for them, it was the intimate knowledge of living energies, as they were aware of the cosmic forces that animate each being. This approach towards planetary forms is the basic key of all ancient thought, of symbolism, religion and mythology”. A basic key has been lost after the disappearance of the traditions of the Mythic Age, and with the simultaneous expansion of the ego thought system based on separation and individualisation. Trying to understand astrology through the belief systems that developed after that Mythic Age, can hardly allow me to know its essential message. Unfortunately no clear documents from those early times seem to be available. That time, far from having actual historical roots on Earth, could easily correspond to the remnants of memory of a dimension which lies beyond my ordinary perception. This makes it pointless to look for it through archaeological research or interpretation of ancient esoteric texts. What is indeed available to everybody is the possibility of connecting with that dimension through an experiential exploration of its domain.
“Always we want to learn from outside, from absorbing other people’s knowledge. We already have everything we need to know, in the darkness inside ourselves. The longing is what turns us inside out until we find the sun and the moon and stars inside”.
In the cosmology of early Christianity and many esoteric teachings, stars and planets are the inherent components of human beings. They constitute the buffer area to the full presence of God, who is described as beyond, or even unaware of, our human universe. The starting point is the void or, as Dionysius the Aeropagite calls it “the dazzling obscurity of the secret silence”, a space of unmentionable peace, a soundless vastness from which everything arises and returns. Out of this immanent and vibrant nothingness, a divine spark emanates, descending into the mental or angelic realm of the galaxies and stars, and then into the spheres of the planets. At each step this light is weakened and fragmented, until it reaches the Earth in its ultimate form. In this context the planets are the major shapers of this form, which eventually emerges as the human psyche or soul.
“Astrology, is like the ruins of an ancient and majestic building that existed a long time ago: it was a complete science once, which was lost …. Many times it happens that truth is at hand, and then it is lost. Astrology was one of these great truths. It was once known, then it was lost. And now there are complications in building it again”.
A basic part of the work of inner exploration of astroshamanism is that of retrieving this ancient wisdom in the light of my perception of the present time. In this context it is necessary to employ and integrate all that experiential information which has been cultivated during the times when astrology and shamanism were one. In those times the stars were associated with the gods and goddesses, angels and Spirit Totems and physical life was perceived as a provisional reflection of this underlying matrix. In this context the star constituted a representation of our authentic nature.
“When the Creator had compounded the whole he divided it into as many psyches as there are stars and allotted each psyche a star. And the one who lives his appointed time well will travel again to this state and live a blessed life according to his true nature.”
Similarly, the early Christian regarded the star as the fundamental nature of Jesus, which descended from Heaven to Earth, and considered human beings as fallen stars provisionally imprisoned by their identification with the body.
“The Gnostics believed that human beings … carry with them from the beginning a higher element deriving from the world of light, where dwell the unknown Father and the heavenly Mother.”
Astrology is undoubtedly the most ancient form of symbolic language, whereas shamanism is the oldest and most widely practised method of healing. In all parts of this planet and in all ages there is evidence of shamanic practices. Shamanism is an academic term created by anthropologists in order to describe a widespread methodology of healing. The word shaman comes from saman, the Russian transliteration of a term used in Siberia and which means somebody who sees in the darkness. This term has been adopted by scholars to identify a human being who, by his will, is able to enter into an altered state of consciousness to connect with realities that are alien to ordinary human beings and use this connection to gain wisdom, ecstasy, power, or for healing purposes.
In engaging in their activities shamans move between a so called ordinary state of consciousness (OSC) and a shamanic state of consciousness (SSC). Obscurity, either provided by the night or purposely induced, constitutes the ideal setting for shamanic practices. “In darkness the distractions of ordinary reality lessen their impingement on consciousness, making it possible for the shaman to focus on the aspects of non-ordinary reality essential to his work. […] Shamanic enlightenment is the literal ability to lighten the darkness, to see in that darkness what others cannot perceive”. Yet, differing from mystics or other advanced beings on the spiritual path, shamans do not aim at enlightenment for its own sake. Their main purpose is that of moving into other realms and then coming back to help their community.
In shamanism, as with astrology, there is no separation and everything is perceived as part of the same unity. The chief trait of shamans is their clear perception of that unity. They are very familiar with states of consciousness that allow visions and explorations of the dimensions which exist beyond the physical reality. In order to go to these spaces, shamans use various tools and receive the support of Spirit Guides (also called guardian spirits, power animals, spirit allies, tutelaries, angels, etc.). The relationship with these beings is one of the main characteristics of shamanic culture and represents the basic work of astroshamanism.
Astroshamanism relates with a perspective that is beyond the ordinary mind. The basic assumption here is that what I perceive in the ordinary reality is simply a fragment of the whole reality. In this context the ordinary reality is the result of another reality, which shamans explore to get understanding about what apparently happens here. They journey to original dimensions and perform their healing work there. The ordinary reality is viewed as a kind of screen. Hence there is no point in trying to change the screen since the images come from another source that is the original dimension or projector. Shamanism employs various methods that may serve contradictory purposes. The authentic nature of shamanism, as I see it, is that of operating as a healing method. From this perspective there is indeed only one disease. This disease is separation. Consequently there is only one cure. This is unity. Typical of shamanic awareness is also the understanding that perception is based on my belief system. This means that what I see is the result of my cultural and linguistic conditioning. Whatever my eyes acknowledge is part of the dictionary of the language I speak. All the objects and beings I see are included in that dictionary. There is an area that is usually disregarded, which is called nothing or void. I cannot see anything there for my language does not include it in its vocabulary or simply defines it as nothing or void. Although this area is not given much importance, it plays a vital role in the context of my consensus reality for it allows what I perceive as separate to be seen as such. The void provides the three-dimensional background for whatever my sight acknowledges as real. It allows me to perceive separation. At the same time it also holds the key for the perception of unity. If I could see what exists in that void I would become aware of the connections that exist among all things. As a result the whole perception of separation would crumble. The whole world and the reality I see would be entirely wiped away. Since I have decided to believe in separation, I perceive a separated world. Shamanic work is about discovering or rather returning to the original awareness of unity. It is not really about going into other dimensions. It is about facing the reality that surrounds me, exploring it with an unconditioned mind, uncovering what is hidden and opening up to the revelation of a new universe that exists right there within the old universe. (Basic Seminar, Whalley, England, 15 February 2003)
Shamanic wisdom includes information on the geography of non-ordinary realities and SSC that allow movement in those areas knowing where to find Spirit Guides, allies, power, grievances, blocks, etc. In Astroshamanism, the astrological chart becomes a Sacred Circle and takes its old function of geographical map of other dimensions. In this context, the chart is not analysed, but it is employed as an aid during the direct exploration of the territories that it portrays.
Astroshamanism does not involve interpretation through the ordinary functions of the mind, neither does it require the belief in a specific religious doctrine. What matters in this work is laying aside prejudices and fixed ideas so as to open up to an authentic exploration of the mysteries that exist within and without myself. Astroshamanism means to access the hidden energy of the zodiacal signs and planets: to feel it in the body, the emotions, the mind and spirit. It is not about studying or analysing the theoretical significance of astrological archetypes. It requires that I am available to actually become those archetypes: to experience their power and to move through an intensive process of transformation. This attitude causes a deep inner revolution which it is important to face with gentleness and respect for my rhythms and each part of my being.
The zodiacal circle employed in astroshamanism is a Sacred Circle. The chief feature of the Sacred Circle is that it allows the establishment of a direct connection with the spiritual essence of life or the Divine (by whatever name we call That) instead of a relationship of mediation through a guru or spiritual authority. There are many ways of working with the Sacred Circle. They are the result of the labour of wise men and women who, throughout the ages, have contributed to healing this planet. Each method has its own tools and connects with a specific culture or lineage. The material that is available on the original use of the Sacred Circle is however very rare. This is due to the ancient refusal to transmit such spiritual teachings in written form. What is mostly known at the moment is usually the result of research or visions from present day scholars or shamans.
Mattie Davis-Wolfe and David Thomson describe the Sacred Circle, or Medicine Wheel (as it is often called according to Native American traditions), as follows: “The wheel is anchored in the four cardinal directions, which arise from the Earth’s ongoing relationship with the sun and moon. This revolving around each other of the Earth, Sun and Moon, spiralling through space, sets up the energy pattern for all other relationships on Earth. This is the source of Earth’s abiding regularities and boundless diversity. The Wheel of the Year, therefore, can teach us about our deepest natures, as beings of the Earth in continual relationship with all other life and forms. But the Wheel is not merely a tool, it is a pattern for a sacred way of life – a way of beauty and balance. The myths, rituals and celebrations of early people were in alignment with the patterns that were appropriate to the time of day, or season of the year. The intent of these occasions was more to bring people in tune with the energies than just to celebrate together. The repetitive nature and larger pattern of participation reminded the people that they were part of an organic dynamic rhythm. The health of the larger whole was directly dependent upon the dedication of each element to its own nature and the quality of its participation in the great plan of the circle of life. Participation in the larger whole was a dynamic interactive process. After we opened to the energies of the circle, we could go deeper into its lessons. For instance, it is possible to enter into the energies of the circle, and just go round and round in the same track without ever changing or learning. But opening to the deeper lesson teaches us about the spiral – the circle that opens so that each journey around is different than the one before, just as each first morning of Winter is never the same as the years before. We learn that we do return to the same places, but as different people because of the experiences had and lessons learned along the way”.
In Astroshamanism we employ tools which can easily be related and integrated in our contemporary reality. Here the acceptance of traditions of other times and cultures, does not imply the evasion from my responsibilities in the current world. Sometimes it can be useful to find inspiration elsewhere and leave the habitual environment in order to discover my true Intent. Once this Intent has been retrieved and reinforced, then I can decide to make it manifest and accept the need to heal or transform my own original environment. It is by returning to the traditions of my childhood that I can find the best potential for healing and wholeness. In some way it is easy to play the shaman in nature or feel full of power by emulating the ritual practices of native shamanic cultures. What is difficult is to keep this attitude in ordinary social life and urban environments, and these are the places that need it most. Historically, shamans have always been part of the society where they lived, taking care of its problems, whenever they were allowed to operate. For centuries shamanic cultures have been persecuted in the western world until they were almost entirely exterminated. They have managed to survive in secrecy or through complex esoteric camouflage. Nowadays there seems to be more freedom and this ancient knowledge can re-emerge and be used in our own cultural context and not relegated somewhere else. The world needs shamans able to function on the roads, among the electronic equipment and engines, in the squares and markets of our contemporary society.
To conclude this introduction, here are some notes from an early Osho discourse on astrology:
I’ve told you certain things. I’ve told you that we’re the outstretched hands of the Sun, that Earth is born from the Sun and we’re born from the Earth. We’re not separate, we’re all united. We’re branches and leaves that have spread out from the Sun. Whatsoever happens in the roots of the Sun will vibrate and spread throughout and within one’s being, through every cell and nerve. If we can understand this properly then in this world we’ll realise that we’re one family. Then we’ve no need to live encased within the ego and pride.
The heaviest blow of astrology is upon the ego. If astrology is right, the ego is wrong. Let us understand it this way: if astrology is wrong, then nothing else but the ego remains that can be right. If astrology is right then the world is right, and only I can be wrong. I am only an infinitesimal and negligible part of the world. I cannot even be counted, I am so minute. If astrology is right, then I’m not there. There is a big flow of forces in which I am only a small ripple.
Sometimes, as we ride on a big wave, we have the impression that we too are something special and that big wave is forgotten. That big wave too is riding upon some sea, but even that sea is forgotten. If that sea gives way underneath, the wave will disappear and we shall also disappear. We unnecessarily become unhappy over the possibility of our disappearance because we became artificially happy through our belief in our existence. We should have realised that there is only a large wave and a vast sea, and that we are not there, that it is the wish of the sea that we arise in it, that it is the wish of the sea that we die.
If an attitude arises in which we realise that we are only a fraction of the grand desire of the infinite, then there will be no unhappiness and with such an attitude, the so-called happiness which we want to enjoy will also not be present. The feeling of happiness over such thoughts as, <I have won, I have earned> will no longer remain. Nor will there be a feeling of unhappiness over such thoughts as, <I am dying, I am finished, I have drowned, I have been destroyed or defeated>. When both happiness and unhappiness no longer remain, we enter into the world of reality, the essential, where there is bliss. Astrology then becomes the door to bliss. If we look at astrology as a melting of our pride or as a disintegration of the ego, then astrology becomes religion.
But we go to the ordinary astrologer, and in order to protect our egos we ask, <Will I run into loss? Shall I win the lottery? In this new business I am undertaking, shall I succeed?> These questions are asked in order to save our egos, but the fact is that astrology is entirely in opposition to the ego. The significance of astrology is this, that you are not but the universe is, that you are not but the cosmos is. Very powerful forces are operating, and you are absolutely insignificant.
You can see astrology in this light only if you think and feel that you are just a small part of this big world. That is why I have told you how the whole solar family is united within the Sun. If you can realise this, then you will also realise that our Sun is again united with many larger suns, and all are born from some bigger Sun. We have no knowledge of where that supreme Sun may be. We do not know how this Earth is rotating round its axis and also revolving around the Sun, nor do we know where that centre is, around which our Sun with its family is revolving. A great universal merry-go-round is in swing.
In Hindu temples there is the practice of pradakshina, circling around the image of the deity. This practice is the symbol of the fact that everything is rotating by itself and also revolving around something else. Then these two together revolve around a third thing, then these three together revolve around a fourth thing, and so on, ad infinitum. The ultimate centre of infinity is referred to by those who know as <the supreme centre of Brahman>. This ultimate is neither rotating, nor revolving around anything else. Whatsoever is itself rotating will definitely revolve around something else. But that which neither rotates nor revolves is the ultimate. It is also known as the supreme silence or void. This is the axis, the pivot around which the whole universe expands and contracts. Hindus thought that just as a bud becomes a flower and the flower withers, similarly, the world also expands and then disintegrates, that just as there is a day and a night, there is a day of the world and there is a night of the world also. As I told you earlier, there are cycles of 11 and 90 years. Similarly, Hindus thought that there are cycles of millions of years: during such a cycle a universe is born, becomes young and grows old; earths are born, moons and stars spread across the universe, populations grow, and millions of living creatures are born.
This is not only happening on Earth. Now scientists say that there must be a minimum of 50000 planets on which there is life. There may be more, but this is the minimum number. In such an infinite universe, it is not possible that only one Earth can have life. There are 50000 planets or earths on which there is life. It is an infinite expanse.
Then everything contracts again. This Earth was not there from the beginning, nor will it last until the end. Just as I am born and I will be no more, so shall this Earth and Sun be no more, and a time will come when these moons, stars and planets will also be no more. The circle of their being and not being continues. We are just infinitesimal, rotating and revolving somewhere on this cosmic wheel.
And if we still think that we are separate, then we are like Mulla Nasruddin who was travelling in an aeroplane for the first time…. He entered the aeroplane, and as it took off he started walking in the plane. He wanted to reach his destination very fast and was in a great hurry…naturally, if you want to reach somewhere quickly, you will reach sooner if you walk faster…! His co-passengers stopped him and asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was in a hurry. He was travelling in a plane for the first time and he was using the same logic which worked on the ground. There, he always reached earlier when he walked faster. He could not realise that walking within the plane was useless, the aeroplane itself was flying and he would only exhaust himself by walking. He would not arrive any earlier. It is possible that by the time he arrived he would be so exhausted that he would not be able to stand up. He should rest, he should close his eyes and rest. But neither would Mulla agree to such advice nor would the other pundits agree to it.
He who achieves rest within this cosmic circular movement of the world, I call religious. He is religious who knows that universal forces are at work and there is no hurry, that is hurry is of no use.
If we can only be one with the universal harmony, it is enough, and it is blissful.
I have told you some things about astrology, and if you realise these things, then astrology can become a door to spiritual attainment.
The aim of this Introductory Lesson is honouring, identifying and assessing your starting position or current situation and life purpose as you humanly perceive it. Before deciding to move into other dimensions and states of consciousness it is essential that you acknowledge where you are right now according to your ordinary awareness. This is your first step and responsibility.
Focusing on your present condition and intent will allow you to make the right choice and to decide if it is appropriate for you to join the Training. Here I wish to emphasize that whatever situation you appear to find yourself in at this moment of your life can be a gateway to your Core Multidimensional Identity and Spirit Guide. No matter whether you perceive it as ideal or not, what counts is simply your choice of moving on.
The practices provided in this Training have been safely used in the course of many workshops and sessions. Yet, any application of the practices, ideas and suggestions is at the Trainee’s sole discretion and risk. If you have relevant medical or psychological problems please consult your physician or therapist before engaging with this text. The instructions presented are in no way intended as a substitute for proper medical or psychological treatment. The author disclaims any liability or loss in direct or indirect connection with the practices and topics described in this work.
The Work Guide and its practices and questions are here to help ground some of the major topics of the Training. They do not mean to test your ability, trick or quiz you. You are not going to be judged or given a grade according to the way you reply. Their function is to allow you to embody the lessons and become available to their inner or hidden meaning.
They are a way to honour the relationship with this work. Use it with gentleness as a sacred act to acknowledge the different parts of your journey.
If you feel uneasy, confused or resistant regarding an exercise, please take some time to honour your perception or ask for guidance. You do not need to carry out the practice if you feel that this is not appropriate for you. You can do it at a later time, or skip it and move to the next practice. It may also be helpful to discuss the above with your Mentor.
I suggest you to read this Work Guide at the earliest convenience, so that you can easily organise yourself during the month and be aware of the instructions about doing exercises or creating objects.
You are invited to employ these practices and submit the written exercises monthly (should this not be feasible, please find another agreement with your Mentor). This is a requirement only if the First Basic Level Credential is desired. The Training may be attended also without receiving Credentials.
In shamanic work I can establish a direct relationship with whatever I perceive no matter whether this stems from the outer reality or from imagination and dreams. Shamanism is not about interpreting or analysing. It involves creating a rapport. If I have the vision of an animal or if I feel a specific sensation, I can communicate with that.
The prevalent human attitude is that of considering whatever does not take place in the ordinary reality as a symbol that needs to be interpreted in order to gain understanding. From a shamanic perspective this attitude does not make any sense. In this context whatever provides an experience is real no matter whether it takes place in a dream, fantasy or in the so called ordinary reality. As a matter of fact this latter reality is often shamanically regarded as the product or symbol of a deeper reality or matrix. It follows that the visions experienced in shamanic voyages, far from being of a symbolic nature, are more real than the physical reality.
If I interpret my shamanic experiences from the perspective of the ordinary reality, I inevitably block the possibility of establishing a relationship with alternative realities. The option here is to directly relate with these non-ordinary realms. Instead of analysing the meaning of a certain animal or being, therefore avoiding relationship, I can ask a direct question like: “who are you?” This is what shamanic work is about. It is establishing a rapport with something from which I have cut off. There is a wall of separation between myself and many aspects of reality. Whenever I interpret and judge I block the communication.
Doing shamanic work involves retrieving a language that allows this original communication. At the beginning I need to take into account the fact that I will not be able to understand all. It is like with foreign languages. Yet this is not really a foreign language. It is simply a language that I have forgotten and can easily remember if only I am ready to open up. Even if I do not understand the language I can at least get the vibration just as I can understand the basic emotions of people who speak a foreign language even if I don’t know their language. In the beginning it is hard to be able to receive clear messages. At times some people experience the receipt of guidance in their own language. When this occurs it is often the result of a translation. Translations are not always accurate and may cause troubles if I am not aware that they are not the original expression. The test for the area of power is that of unconditional love. If this exists it is a sign that my connection is authentic.
There are many beings in shamanic realities and they are not all necessarily supportive. Certain forces could be unbalanced. I call them the Totem Spirits or Paheka. The Guide is in the centre. At the periphery there are various forces, which in astroshamanism are identified by the 12 sectors. The process of separation has caused a fragmentation. The purpose here is to retrieve all the pieces. The first steps in this process are opening and closing a shamanic journey and connecting with the Guide.
1: Sequence of Opening and Closing for Shamanic Journeys
There are different ways to open or close a shamanic journey. They change according to individuals and traditions. As such none of them is wrong or right. What matters is whether they work and serve the purpose. The following is one of the traditional astroshamanic beginner’s procedures for opening and closing a shamanic journey. I invite you to employ it during this period of work, and integrate it with your own vision and experience.These sequences are fundamental in the first stages as they demarcate your entry in and out of your inner world. By becoming familiar with such practices, you train your mind so that you can easily shift your state of consciousness from ordinary to shamanic. You are invited to journey for a minimum of 12 times.
During the day before the journey, avoid all kinds of psychedelic drugs or alcoholic beverages. In the preceding three hours also abstain from heavy or spicy food, dairy products, sugar, coffee, tea and eat moderately or not at all. Find a quiet place where you feel at ease and can stay undisturbed for about 30 minutes. Lie down or sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair. Make sure that your spine is straight. Take off tight clothes and shoes. If it is cold, use a blanket. You are strongly advised to journey in darkness or, if that is not feasible, to use something to cover your eyes (your arm or a blindfold).
Relax for some time, focusing on your breath and body. As you travel inward, it is necessary to keep a connection with the outer environment. The exploration of shamanic reality, although it may appear so, is not an out of body experience. On the contrary it is intimately related to the essence of the physical body. Far from being transcended, the body is perceived according to a deeper perspective which allows its connection with the more subtle imaginative and intuitive levels of your spiritual nature. In a shamanic journey, participation is active and all senses are employed. It is necessary to feel, and not only see, the inner environment and to consider it keeping the point of view of your eyes. If you become aware that you are not being present or that you are looking at an image of yourself, come back into your body and keep the perspective which comes from your eyes. Watching an image of yourself is useful only if you are deliberately trying to distance yourself from an experience which is too intense. If you wish to take action or allow deep transformative processes to occur, it is preferable to take an active part.
As a soundtrack for your shamanic journeys, if you wish, you can employ a drumming or rattling tape. You can also employ other tracks like waves, gongs, chants, etc. What matters is that their sound be monotonous and repetitive. Please avoid any kind of melody or New Age music for your journeys. That could easily take you into other stories and disconnect from your own vision unless you have deliberately decided to go into a specific story. You can also journey in silence.
When you are ready, feel or imagine a real place on Earth where you can see an entrance. It can be a place where you have been once in your life, or a very familiar spot or even a place that you have seen in a movie or photograph. This can be a door, the entrance to a cave, a bridge, a hole in the ground, a lake, etc. What counts is that you feel comfortable with it. Once you have found it, focus on the entrance and take your time to see it clearly in all its details. Then enter it. Once you are inside, bring your attention to what you perceive of the place: temperature, colours, smells, sounds, etc. Feel your feet on the ground and sense the type of floor. Employ all your senses to discover the environment you are in. Continue to move until you find another entrance that will take you outside into another environment or landscape. Finding this entrance is easy and will not require much time. Once you have found it, for the next journeys you do not need to look for it anymore. You simply employ the route you already know.
Move into the landscape and look around using all your senses. Listen attentively to the sounds that are there, feel the ground underneath the feet, sense the air and the smell, watch whatever you can perceive and be as present as possible. Then after some time, somewhere near you, see a short path leading to a circular area with 12 stones placed around a Great Tree. Beyond the circle of the 12 stones there is a border area indicated by 4 bigger stones representing the 4 Directions. This whole area is your Spirit Circle. It is a place where you can go whenever you need energy or protection. Its importance is tantamount to that of your home or room in ordinary life. In your Spirit Circle, you can take rest, feel safe, do spiritual work, balance your energies, meet your Spirit Guide, connect with Totem Spirits and other beings, etc. This place is also the starting point of all your explorations of non-ordinary reality. It is like a station or airport which allows connection with all possible directions and times of this world or of any other possible world or dimension. It operates as an area for rebalancing or decompression which allows you to move easily from one dimension to another. The 12 stones that are arrayed around the Great Tree represent the access to each of the 12 Sectors of the Spirit Circle. From there, once you connect with the Guide, you can move to explore specific areas of the inner world.
Once you are fully aware of your Spirit Circle, approach the Great Tree at the centre and look around acknowledging all the stones and whatever you can see. Be aware of what you feel and allow yourself to be totally at ease. Give permission to the Great Tree to balance your energy and release grievances or whatever prevents from experiencing a sense of peace or power. Allow yourself to receive energy, love, support and all you need from the Tree. Sit down by the Tree or hug it. Open yourself to its nourishment and experience a total connection with the sacred environment that you are in. Once you feel complete, find your way to say goodbye and employ the Closing Sequence.
The Closing Sequence is faster than the Opening. Leave the Circle by following the same route, in reverse order, until you come back out of the first entrance. In the drumming tape, the Closing Sequence is often indicated by a change of beats (for example, three groups of seven slow beats, a very fast drumming, and three groups of seven slow beats again).
After each journey, always write down what you experience in your journal. Do that as soon as you finish and avoid leaving it in the belief that you are going to remember everything later.
Please send me a synopsis of your experiences with the above practice at the end of the month.
Here are some tools that I recommend you to get ready and employ in your work:
2: The Astroshamanic Journal: It is a Sacred Tool which allows you to create a bridge between shamanic and ordinary states of consciousness. The act of using the Journal is in itself a powerful shamanic practice as it supports the acknowledgement of non-ordinary realities and the development of a field of resonance aimed at amplifying the essence of your spiritual journey. In the Journal you collect reports or drawings of your voyages, dreams, insights, visions, life experiences, images, symbols, quotations, notes, and whatever can be useful for your spiritual work. In this way you preserve information that can easily be lost or forgotten. The spaces of the spiritual world do not receive the same attention as those of the physical world. A lot of records are available as regards the geography of the ordinary reality. To visit areas existing in the physical reality, information already available is used. To find one’s way in a town like Rome, there are maps and signs easily available. There is no point in drawing a map as this complex work has already been done. On the contrary, for your inner geography, you are the one who has to do the exploration and the mapping. The advantage of astrology is that it can help to cover some parts of the map (as long as it does not create complications), although it is not going to provide the exploration of the territory.
3: Your Intent: Reflect on the question What is my Intent? Write or consider as many sentences as you can beginning with My Intent is …. whether they seem significant or trivial. If you wish you can even put signs on the wall asking What is my Intent? or stating My Intent is….. and leaving space for you to fill in mentally. See what you come up with during a whole week. Then let them rest a week and in the following week, study your answers and put them in order When you have a reduced list of your core Intents, focus on them to find their underlying motivation. Continue this process until you are able to state clearly and simply your deepest Intent in life. You will know when you have this because your auxiliary Intents will all be steps to attaining your one deepest Intent. See what your life will be like when you manifest your Intent. If you are presented with images that you do not like, use them to refine your Intent by choosing the opposite images. Finally, keep your Intent to yourself for an entire cycle of the Moon and until you have explored it sufficiently in your shamanic journeys or share it only in a sacred space.
a) Explain your current life situation and give a portrait of your perception of yourself as a person.
b) What is your Intent for taking part in the Training?
c) Represent your Intent – as a result of your journeys and ex. 3 (What is my Intent?) – with a drawing.
d) What do you feel or believe you can express, give or contribute to the Training?
e) What do you wish to receive from the Training?
Oh God, Spirit Circle, Guide, Great Force of Love and Ecstasy, thank you for giving me protection. I release the Directions and 12 Sectors. I honour their divine nature and claim my work to serve in accordance with the Plan of Salvation and my Intent connected with the Function. Kahesha Opa!
 Please be aware that the term mystery, as well as ministry, comes from the Latin ministerium, which implies the profession or service of a spiritual minister.
 The Greek term gnosis identifies this form of knowledge, gained through direct experience and not as a result of theoretical knowledge. In the Western Mystery traditions spiritual masters may be honoured and loved for the instructions, training, advice and support they provide, yet they are seldom venerated as unique representations of the Divine. Their role mainly entails carrying the responsibility of a spiritual lineage and operating as intermediary or links of multi-dimensional tradition.
 This appears to be the acknowledged purpose of the community of the Findhorn Foundation, Casale in Lunigiana, the Provisional Institute of Astroshamanism, and other spiritual centres. In this context, the Outer Mysteries unfold mainly through the different stages of living in the community itself: participating to various programmes, providing services, attending meetings, holding meditations and rituals, interacting with guests, etc.
 The Guide Book incorporates and expands part of the material covered in Astroshamanism Book 1 as well as Book 2, yet the two works differ considerably and contain distinct texts. To avoid excessive duplication, in this 8th edition of the Guide Book, you are also invited to refer to Astroshamanism Book 1 during the first three months of the Training.
 The definition of Levels and Worlds are given in the next lesson.
 An Astroshamanic Training Mentor is somebody who has received specific teachings and initiation (Pahai Achara) with the Sacred Cone Circle so as to operate as qualified facilitator of shamanic experiences and provide tools, structure and information in accordance with the Operative Training in Astroshamanism and the traditional lineage of the Sacred Cone Circle. Mentors are currently trained, initiated and accredited by Franco Santoro
 Skype is a programme that allows free internet conversation In order to take part in an audio-conference class you need to have Skype software installed in your computer and have a Skype address. You can download Skype free of charge and further information at the following link: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/download/skype/windows/
 Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice-Great Hermes) is a mythic figure combining both the features of the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek Hermes. He is the tutelary archetype of Hermeticism and is supposed to be the developer of astrology and the mystery traditions based on the integration, interconnectedness and ultimate unity of all aspects of reality. The name Hermes appears to originate from the Greek herma or hermaion, a monument consisting of an upright stone surrounded by a heap of smaller stones, thus denoting the structure of the Sacred Circle.
 The term ego is Latin for I and is used in various contexts with different meanings. Here ego refers to the entire psyche or individual self based on the belief of being a separate identity as distinct from others in its body, emotions, mind and spirit. Sigmund Freud describes the ego as the centre of the personality operating in ordinary reality and one of the three basic areas of the mind, the other two being the id and the superego. According to Jung the ego is the conscious “I” affected by the social environment and distinguished from the Self, which represents the whole and central essence of our being. Establishing a conscious rapport with the Self (individuation) is the purpose of Jungian analytical psychology. The Gnostic term for ego is eidolon, “image”, from which the word “idea” comes from, and is regarded as the “parasitic psyche”, the idea of being the physical body, rather than the Consciousness which has produced the idea itself. The Mystery path of initiation involves realizing that I am not the ego and gradually retrieving the complete awareness of my authentic nature.
 A Course in Miracles is the title of a self-study spiritual system focused on the function of forgiveness. Its aim is to release the sense of separation which prevents a direct connection with God and remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. The contexts in which quotations from A Course in Miracles appear in this Guide Book come from the understanding of the Editor and are not necessarily endorsed by the copyright holders of A Course in Miracles. From now on, please find A Course in Miracles often abbreviated as ACIM.
 Sogyal Rimpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Rider, p. 117.
 The Gospel According to Philip, in Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures, p. 330.
 Carl Gustav Jung, Studi sull’alchimia, Ed. Boringhieri, p. 70.
 The modern revival of experiential astrology dates back to the 70s. In the psychotherapeutic field, the development of alternative approaches, like the Human Potential Movement, encouraged the use of new models aimed at activating individual hidden potentials and emphasising different perspectives of evaluation. Personal responsibility in particular, rather than the victim role or the identification of the patient as patient, assumed major importance. During the same period, the rediscovery of shamanism, the development of new spiritual movements and communities, the resurgence of the Hermetic traditions, the emergence of the New Age and the diffusion of eastern techniques of meditation contributed to boost the interest for transpersonal and non-ordinary states of consciousness. In this context the tendency to trace back causes of grievances to childhood, social environment or, more esoterically, to past lives or the positions of planets, became less relevant. For many advanced therapists and researchers it was not essential anymore to know the past events of a person, but rather to understand why certain harmful scripts or actions were repeated although there was the possibility of using different models. The transformation of such scripts and the development of inner potential became the aim of many operators. In order to support this process various tools were rediscovered and employed. Astrology was one of them. The aim is not interpreting the horoscope or forecasting the future. It is employing experiential techniques to activate a reawakening and transformation of the energies represented by the zodiacal signs.
 Alexandre Volguine, L’esoterismo dell’astrologia, Xenia, p. 12.
 By Mythic Age I mean that epoch or “paradisal age in which human beings” to use the words of Eliade “could easily go up to the sky and maintain familiar relations with the gods” (Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Princeton University Press, 1972, p. 265). In the Epic of the Sacred Cone it corresponds to a specific dimension of which a star system called Handor represents the border zone.
 Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, Element, Shaftesbury, 1999, p. 75.
 Dyonisius the Aeropagite, Mystical Theology, chapter 1
 In traditional natal astrology the psyche is modelled according to the positions of the planets at the moment of the individual’s birth.
 Osho Rajneesh, Hidden Mysteries of Eastern Temples, 1971.
 Plato, Timaeus, 41.
 W. Bousset quoted in Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy, Jesus and the Goddess: the Secret Teachings of the Original Christians, p. 386.
 There is ample archaeological evidence that shamanic practices are at least 20000 years old. Anthropologists have dated shamanism to the Palaeolithic Ur-culture. Although social and religious models are remarkably different, shamanic practices are similar in all continents.
 In recent decades the term shaman has been almost universally adopted by anthropologists and mainstream culture to identify people who were previously referred to with other names, such as medicine man, witch, wizard, magician, etc. In the original language the word shaman is pronounced with the stress on the last syllable. The same word may also be related to the Sanskrit word zramana, which means somebody who lives a life of religious self-discipline. Another possible connection is with the term shamah, which in the ancient Sumerian language means <that which is highward>, and the derivative shem describing both a tower or tall conical monument and a shining metal or <heavenly stone>. <People of the shem> was the term used to call the Nephilim – the original Hebrew biblical name (literally meaning <those who had descended> and unproperly translated as <giants> in the common English translation) of those beings or demigods who, according to certain authors (Zecharia Sitchin, Laurence Gardner, etc.) were the result of the interbreeding between the gods or extraterrestrials, that the Bible calls Elohim, and the daughters of men.
 Roberto Rosaspini Reynolds – in Shamanismo: pasado y presente, Ed. Continente, Buenos Aires – lists more than 200 synonims of the term shaman.
 I employ here the terminology used by Michael Harner and quote his related explanation: “The difference in these states of consciousness can perhaps be illustrated by referring to animals. Dragons, griffins, and other animals that would be considered <mythical> by us in the OSC are <real> in the SSC. The idea that there are <mythical> animals is a useful and valid construct in OSC life, but superfluous and irrelevant in SSC experiences. <Fantasy> can be said to be a term applied by a person in the OSC to what is experienced in the SSC. Conversely, a person in the SSC may perceive the experiences of the OSC to be illusory in SSC terms. Both are right, as viewed from their own particular states of consciousness” (Harner, op. cit., 1990, p. xix).
 Darkness enhances the production of melatonin, the hormonal secretion (often called <hormone of darkness>) of the pineal gland. This gland, shaped like a pine-cone and with the size of a grain of puffed rice, is at the base of the brain. Biologists regard it as an evolutionary relic of an eye, which still operates in many lizards. The pineal gland is traditionally associated with our highest spiritual function, with the <third eye> (ajna chakra), organ of inner vision and clairvoyance, or the crown (sahasrara chakra). Darkness increases its activity and, as a result, intuitive knowledge and shamanic states of consciousness
 Michael Harner, The Way of the Shaman, Harper, 1990, p. 22.
 I would like here to stress again the fact that basic shamanic perception is one of unity. The distinction between ordinary and non-ordinary reality, Guides or body, mind and spirit are merely categories aimed at coming to terms with the perception of separation which is prevalent in human beings.
 Mattie Davis-Wolfe; David Thomson, “Introduction”, p. 2-3, Walking the Sacred Wheel, Sacred Circles Institute.
 Osho Rajneesh, Hidden Mysteries of Eastern Temples, 1971.
 Drumming or rattling cassettes or CD specifically created for astroshamanic journeys are available from your Mentor.
 The Spirit Circle pertains to the shamanic state of consciousness and is different in nature from a Sacred Circle which is visible to the body eyes (that is a circle that you arrange with your Sacred Circle Pieces or any stone circle, medicine wheel, etc. that belongs to the physical or ordinary environment). Please also be aware that the Great Tree mentioned in this text is a Spirit Tree, i.e. a tree not visible for the body eyes.
A PROVISIONAL GUIDE BOOK TO
THE FIRST BASIC LEVEL OF THE OPERATIVE TRAINING IN ASTROSHAMANISM
Copyright © 1996, 2010 (9th edition), Franco Santoro,
Cluny Hill College, Forres IV36 2RD, Scotland, United Kingdom