I have read many works defining what shamanism was, is and can be. I have read many texts on the shamanic experience, on how it happens and on how it feels, how people work with the energies and spirits and how they work in harmony together to achieve healing, growth and understanding. I have read all these things and yet have never found a direct affinity, never found something to say "ah! yes! that is what it is like for me!". For some time this left me disheartened, left me questioning many things. At that point I turned to the scientific community to try and better understand my own experiences, better understand my schizophrenia. I had resigned myself to being someone symptomatic of my condition and in need of help, and resolved to return to medication.
After years living, what in hindsight I am now aware of was denial, I started to again question the reality that was being ‘pushed’ on me, began yet again to question the doubts that I had about the reality of the world I was being told was the norm. My life is full of many things both seen and unseen and since I can remember I have never once sat in a room alone - I was desperate to better understand my lot. With the advent and rise of the internet came a new way of interaction for many people - all of a sudden a whole world of information was being shared and people began to talk all over the globe. For many pagans it was an exciting time and for myself I enjoyed journeying the internet searching for those who may experience the world as I do. Alas my searching always fell short even though for a time I thought I might be getting somewhere as at one stage people where starting to talk more of ancient shamans perhaps having schizophrenia and how there are modern shamans along the same lines but I always found it was a reversed process - these where people who had a variety of experiences and described them as schizophrenic, such as working to contact spirits and power animals and especially working with energy to attempt healing - they weren’t experiencing these things, they were training to ‘try’ and experience these things. The 'norm' of shamanic experience was being described as schizophrenic - it just wasn't adding up.
The problem I had with this was that this was an experience that said people sought out, that they aimed to achieve, that was a goal. Can the same be said for those of us who do not seek it out, for those of us who are the ones sought out? There are those of us for whom the journey is not one we plan to undertake but one that we are thrown upon, that we are dragged into, that is forced upon us. I am no anthropologist and certainly claim no authoritative knowledge of current practices but I always had it in my head (from whichever book I must have read at some point) that shamans where 'removed' from society to be taken into the care of other shamans. This concept seems to be something that rings true in the depths of my soul, it has often felt like I am waiting for someone to take me away and say "no more of this way of life, it is not for you".
That is not to say I do not enjoy the life I have - my wife and children are the core of my existence without which I would be a wreck. It was when I pondered this for some time that I realized that they had become my guides in the best capacity they could. They have adapted and accommodated to who I am in a way only they know how and for that I owe them eternal gratitude.
There are many people who experience what they do without having sought it out, it is just a factor of their life that has always been there. At this point we come to what I think the schizo-shamanic experience is. Walking between the worlds is a common phrase I feel best sums it up.
I have never sat in a room alone for as long as I can remember, for the two worlds are EVER-present in the most literal sense of the term. The suicide rate of people with schizophrenia is very high and I believe this is for a very specific reason - without the guidance or knowledge of what they truly are they have no idea how to handle the situations they find themselves in. The negative energies, the malign spirits and every other force and factor that would work against them gets their way with them - and to talk about what is happening just reinforces the diagnosis.
I deem myself a very lucky person - I was raised by a mother who had an extremely open mind. Although not pagan by self definition she was a creature of nature that allowed me to be who I am without question or criticism, she allowed me to expand my knowledge into avenues of thought normally shunned for someone so young ( I was deep into occult studies by the ages of 11, thanks grandma!). Unfortunately most are not this lucky and live a tormented life of medication, in-patient long term care and social exile (for all the wrong reasons). Our society is broken, disconnected from the avenues of spiritual thought and growth that are needed to keep it in harmony with it's surrounding environment and the worlds beyond the visible.