The Shamanic Toolbox
Looking around in the homes of my clients I often find the typical situation: On shelves are nicely positioned rock-crystals, semi-precious stones, gems and tarot-decks. In one corner a salt-crystal glows in friendly and decent colour, a really expensive amethyst druse is covering the whole room with its radiating energies and some dreamcatchers, feathers, furs and other paraphernalias like drums and rattles etc. are draped to impress the owner and the visitor likewise. The new-age-wave (reminds me on something ...) created this. Many people buy spiritual and pseudo-spiritual items and artifacts and collect them at their homes. There are many reasons, why acting this way: First to mention is our tendency to collect things, and that may be one conscious reason (I have this passion to collect books). Then there often is a subconscious dissatisfaction deep within yourself and/or your surroundings - to compensate the reality some items are bought which may help or not. It may sound strange, but this article deals with something completely different: The meaning of, the use of, the sacrifiying of, the keeping of and the destruction of magic and shamanic items and artifacts.
The longer you shamanize the more opportunities you will have to get some instructions by the spirits to use one or another item, which you have to create, invent, buy or find in the nature. At first your rattle or your drum may be the first choice of becoming used to its utilization in shamanism. There will often follow further specialized items. In traditionally shamanic cultures any item the shaman uses for his spiritual work can be considered as "holy" (clearer: consecrated for shamanic or magic useage by the shaman) These items you receive during your shamanist-career are generally considered to help you in your shamanic workingload. Shamanism and sorcery is much easier with some hardware, enhancing our visions and abilities.
"The best symbol for a sword is a sword" I heard this sentence somewhere, it hits the point. Developing your own abilities without any cruches is much more recommended, but sometimes it is better to relay on enchanted items, to have the hands free for the really important things. It is important, to develop a kind of compromise between the Empty-Hand Path and the X-Mas-Tree-Syndrome. Enchanted and sacred items are making the shamanic life easier, as soon as you can only work with these things, you are depending on them - and that is to be avoided at any prize. Your own abilities are decaying and the addiction can become ridiculous in size. I have perceived some really drumming-obsessed shamanic circles. Without drum nothing worked there - an addiction to the drum which is really unnecessary.
As a (freestyle) shaman you will possess some items and tools for your trade. With magical insignias you rather seldom come into real contact, except you are a member of a magic working lodge. Shamanic lodges do not exist in Europe but the drum will cross your path sooner or later. I am goin to give you some hints and rules of behaviour, which come out of my own experiences and observations of my surroundings. With an example I am going to describe one of the most important and striking characteristics of an empowered item. Within time you meet the oddest people, the ones you are going to remember after years. A few years ago I met a walisian lady. She did not have much belongings with her, just an old wooden carved stick, measuring about one foot of rather dark colour. Within three days we had a lot of talking and exchanging of experiences. This stick had some force of attraction to me and I could hardly resist touching it. After two days I asked her politely whether she would allow me to touch that stick - she had it with her all time - and she told me: "Sure, no problem, the stick has no objection." — I took the stick in my hand and an energetic shock went through me besides some emotions I did not know anything about back then. I thanked her and handed the stick back to her.
Now, many years later, I understand what has happened. A charged or empowered magic item had its typical effect on me and I fell for it. There is a strong force of attraction in charged items. It urges unknowing people in its vicinity to touch it. Usually shamans and magician keep their tools away from profane eyes, this way avoiding energetic polutions or an accidental discharge. So if you receive some items and gifts from the spirits world or you create one tool for shamanizing yourself, you should be very conscious about what and how you keep these items. Is there a place of resting it, when it is not in use, which is appropriate to it and its magic and otherworldly characteristics? It it allowed that other people then you touch it? Ask your spirits or the spirit of the item/gift if you are not sure about this. For most of the shamanic tools I recommend that they are not to be touched by others and you should watch them closely if you take some of your tools to meetings where not so experienced shamaniks are hanging around. The effort of months can be destroyed in a single touch from a bystander. Some powerful tools only need a cleansing afterwards, but it is better to avoid this. Imagine you are about to use your great shamanic-fan-of-power when you suddenly realize that it is dysfunctional and some foreign energies are lurking within it.
Charged and magic items possess a life of their own, their own spirit or soul. For example: observe your drum for a while real close, she will let you know through emotions or pictures in your mind whether she lets you use her or not. During the ritual of the Dancing Drum you find out (if you did not really know it until then) that you can feel the spirit of the drum. It heavily depends on the nature of your item whether people are allowed to touch or not and where to keep it properly. It is pointless to give you here a big list of any known item and what to do with it - there are much too many of them. So there is one advice: Keep them on a special place in your room, maybe an altar or something like this. They are too valuable to play dustcatcher in your room so cover them with a piece of cloth when you do not use them. No, you do not need to make a big cult on this. I have seen some very powerful medicin-shoeboxes or plastic shoppingbags (the contents made it).
Shamanic items are more regular inhabitet by a spirit then magic items - which is due to the creation and use of them in both streams of practice - and so a respectful treatment is convenient. These items can have a vital force of much more then ten times the normal average rate: human being emit a vitalforce field of estimated 7000 BU (Bovis-Units). One item I possess constantly emits around 24 thousand to 35 thousand BU. The more energy, time and creativity is used for one item, the better for its later practical use. If you are manufacturing the item by your own hands it gets a lot of your own energy.
The consecration and charging of the item is going to be much more efficient and easier then it is with a "cheaper" item. Bardon calls this kind of energy bio-energy. As long as the charging is not termed with time and space it can be unstable and seize to exist in an unexptected manner. This kind of definition is also called banishing. The energy has to be banished in a timeframe (as of now and forever, for 100 years ...) as well as in a restricted sphere of influence (in the surroundings of x meters of the item, the item itself ...) otherwise both factors are subject to coincidence. Shamanic tools are more implicit and flexible concerning these frames, if they are not given to us by instructions of the spirits world. There it is depending on the spirit living in the item. Most - if not all - shamanic tools have their own life, as already mentioned. It should be clear who is allowed to touch the item. This can be done by clearly stating it (this ring can only be used by person A). Unauthorized persons won't feel anything using this item. At more shamanic daily routines it is up to you and your spirits to clear all this stuff.
Within your shamanic practice you often receive gifts from nature and the spirits. These gifts should always be treated with due respect. The feather, the fur, the stone or whatever else are already charged or have a soul within and it is always necessary to ask the inhabiting spirit during a shamanic journey for the more precise applications or why it is appearing in your life. The same can apply to all the diverse parts of the drum, the rattle, your fan or your whole shamanic costume. Even with really obvious gifts it makes sense to use this method for finding out the character and the proficiency of the item. Especially with claws and furs you have to get in contact with the spirit of this animal, because a living being had to die for it.
As mentioned a charging or consecration is hardly ever necessary with such items: A spirit is already living in them! One important remark on all this stuff: You can buy a lot of shamanic tools in specialised shops. The New Age made it possible that crytsals, feathers, furs and other things have found a ready market. This causes a further overexploitation of nature. Many things in these stores (especially semiprecious stones, gems and crystals) where taken from natures belly without paying the due respect to their spirits. That is the reason why it is much better when nature comes to you and makes a gift to you then buying everything money can buy. After all, if you cannot find another way, make at least a journey to the bought item and try to heal it (this can also mean that you will have to give it back to nature - even when this is painfully expensive).
Destroying a consecrated, charged or spiritual alive item can be done in several ways. With more simple items most of the time it is enough to uncharge it in analogy of the previous charging rituals. A cleansing afterwards by the elements water, fire, air and finally earth is a handy advice. It is cleansed by water, pulled through a flame, fumigated with (white) sage and buried in earth for a certain time. After this treatment the item is discharged and purified properly. How you are actually handling this kind of elementary cleansing is totally up to you and your spirits, your own experiences and of course your own style.
There are items that can only be discharged by their complete and total destruction like burning, melting or dissolving. All these actions must be done with the intention of uncharging the item. Your willpower must be controlled and directed to the result of the operation. Otherwise it is possible that your rituals of cleansing are only for their own sake and no discharging took place at all. It is smart to set down a causal or a temporary determination for some items. This makes the process of discharging much easier if not unnecessary. The symbolic way of destroying and discharging of energiefields are shown in the Blätter für angewandte okkulte Lebenskunst - the old official papers of the Fraternitas Saturni - but I do not get into this at this point. A symbol that can be used for (dis)charging and which is a lot less dangerous is the chaossphere. Its utilization goes back to the chaosmagic current. With gifts from nature it is the best to give them back to nature with a due ritual - more or less elaborated. For myself I am doing this once a year during a Give-Away Day when I am giving back to nature all items and things which have fullfilled their meaning or their time with me.