Bridging Worlds: Exploring the Cosmology and Practices of NeoShamanism with Andre Consciencia

Introduction

In our modern world, there is a growing interest in reviving ancient spiritual practices and weaving them into contemporary lifestyles. One such movement that has gained significant traction is Neoshamanism. This fascinating approach aims to make the timeless wisdom and techniques of traditional shamanism more accessible to those seeking a profound connection with the natural world and the realms of spirit. In this piece, Andre Consciencia, a respected voice in the Neo-Shamanic community, takes us on a journey, contrasting the cosmology of Neo-Shamanism with that of ceremonial magic traditions like the Hermetic Kabbalah and Enochian magic.

We are going to dive in at the deep end and look at these practices next to other well know practices in the magical world. To see information about Andres course that explores Neoshamanism please see here.


PAA. How does the cosmology and worldview of Neoshamanism differ from the cosmological models found in ceremonial magic traditions like the Hermetic Kabbalah or Enochian magic?

It does not, in essence. The first thing to know is that just like water is the base and whole constitution of ice, shamanism is the base of magic, sorcery, religion, mysticism, and even art. It is hard to conceive of any magician or mystic following any system for a whole life and not learning the source of it, yet that is the most frequent case. Hermetic Kabbalah and Enochian Magic are of the Ancient Greek line, systems that take all the life you can find in this source and apply it to logic. They are systems meant to offer the imaginal to logic, and enliven reason, making it animistic. Truth is, Hermetic Kabbalah and Enochian magic must first be shamanic, and only then hermetic kabbalah and Enochian magic. They do not, however, remain shamanic in the true sense of the word, since they have been encapsulated and mummified in their systems. The circuits of power in Hermetic Kabbalah or Enochian Magic are closed, and this means they are channeled in a way that the power accumulates, the emblem being that of the Oroboros, the serpent that grows from feeding of itself. In shamanism, the power is free and flowing through all things. To catch it, we must match its freedom with our own wildness. That is how it works.

PAA: While both utilize an awareness of subtle realms/planes, how does the Neo-Shamanic concept of the lowerworld, middleworld, and upperworld relate to or diverge from the qabalistic model of the Tree of Life?

The division in neo-shamanism  and shamanism in general is very basic and elemental. The lowerworld, better called as deep world, represents our atavic and most untamed powers, the middleworld represents the enchantment of the world we live in most of the time, the upperworld is the cosmos that underlies it all but also where our innermost purity lies. In neo-shamanism in particular, sometimes people use Jung’s theories, and the deep world would be the unconscious/subconscious, the middleworld the subconscious/conscious, and the upper world the conscious/superconscious. The Quabalistic Tree of Life has three pillars, and there is a parallelism that could be drawn. The middle pillar is the pillar of consciousness and it represents the subconscious/conscious, where synthesis occurs. Contrary to popular belief, the right pillar would be the deep world, the unconscious/subconscious, since it sets things in motion with its uncontrolled power (force). The left pillar would be the upperworld, since it sublimates and limits all potential limitations (form). This comparison, however, is already limiting when applying Jung, and much more if we remove the neo from Neo-Shamanism and Jung leaves the room as well. It could be said as well the deep world is the world of the qliphoth, but that would imply that judgement was made upon it. The deep world cannot survive judgement, it must be abscent of judgement if it is to be at all, and the comparison becomes fruitless. The middle world would include Malkhut and Yesod, but that would mean matter and dream were to split, and if this is so, it no longer stands the middle world. Shamanism makes no such distinction. The upperworld could be the rest of the tree, but can we really contain it in 8 figures?    

PAA: Ceremonial magic often utilizes complex systems of correspondences, whereas shamanism is more experiential. How do Neo-Shamanic practices strike a balance between these two approaches?

Neo-shamanism as I have learned it and as I understand it does not intend to bridge shamanism and ceremonial magic, it is simply shamanism made accessible to the modern person who has no idea what wildness (I use this word intentionally) is in the wilderness. If it becomes somehow closer to ceremonial magic it is an accidental side effect, made possible through Carl Jung, who is also adopted by numerous ceremonial magic systems. Let us be clear, in neo-shamanism Jung is not essential, his system merely allows us to explain certain things to newcomers in a more familiar terminology. However, many powerful experiences in traditional shamanism may end up being whitewashed as intellectual experiences, simply because the urban person needs to feel in control in order to cope with the lack of control that large societies thrive on. This person has no control over insanity, and prefers to believe his or her experiences are a simulation. The most mature neoshaman meets the level of the traditional shaman, stops distinguishing between intellect and matter, dream and vigilance, and through the spirit taps into raw insanity and gains control over it.    

PAA: Many shamanic traditions work closely with plant teachers/entheogens, while ceremonial magic is typically less reliant on them. How does Neo-Shamanism integrate plant medicines within its practice?

Very well. But, while medicines are crucial in traditional shamanism, they are optional in neoshamanism, and might not even be particularly encouraged. Again, for the regular modern person the medicines can be a hard pill to swallow. This comes to be because there is no controlled insanity.

PAA: The use of shamanic drumming is common, but how does this relate to other sonic technologies used in magic like hebratic/enochian voice magick?

It does not except that both are made of sound. If one should look for a correspondence to hebraic/enochian voice magic in shamanism, one should look for the icaros, and still be left wanting. Hebrew voice magic (at least as it is being used today) is hardly voice magic, it is based on the concepts it invokes and eventually materializes (evokes). More or less the same takes place within the enochian system. In the Icaros (songs of power or magical songs) the idea is to get reed of concepts altogether, to speak without concepts, so that the song does not refer to a thing but is the thing.

PAA: Neo-Shamans often work with spirit guides/allies, while ceremonial magicians may call on intelligences like angels, demons, egregores. How do these beings compare metaphysically?

Ceremonial magicians are neoplatonists. The intelligences are parts of the imagination of God (God being imagination imagining itself) that are imagining themselves. By tapping into them, the magician is actualized and becomes closer to the source of him or herself. Angels and demons are mechanical forces of these imaginations (when imagination imagines itself it generates intelligence) , they are living agents in the mechanics of the universe. Moving aspects of intelligence. None of these pose a problem in shamanism. Everything is a living agent of the Great Spirit, everything is imagination imagining itself. Yet, everything means everything, not just a portion with specific numbers and divine names. 

PAA: Ritual construction differs between the two – how does the typical Neo-Shamanic ritual format compare to ceremonies like the Opening by Watchtower in the Golden Dawn system?

A ritual is always a ritual, in any tradition. There is a cleansing, communion, intention, celebration, integration. The typical neoshamanic ritual has purification of the people involved, of the space, invitation of the spirits, traveling in turn to the spirit world, rescuing power, dancing/incorporating/celebrating. The watchtowers are particularly close to how a circle is opened in neoshamanism (a method for the purification of the space stage), where the shaman incorporates a spirit (generally a spirit animal) and dances around the space while expressing the four seasons until the spirit goes full circle. Similarly, the watchtowers greet the four elements and stars in the four directions, the analogies include the four seasons. 

PAA: Both traditions incorporate ideas of traveling in consciousness. How does shamanic soul flight/journeying relate to ceremonial astral projection or rising on the planes?

The shamanic flight happens and we take the journey. The ship is not commanded consciously. Instead, it is set in motion by turning off conscious control and surrendering to our intention and the forces surrounding it. Ceremonial astral projection happens the other way around, by gaining conscious control or learning how to activate self-control within the astral plane.

PAA: Ceremonial magic sometimes makes use of complex gestures, postures, weapons, and other implementa. What physical tools hold significance in Neo-Shamanic rites?

Every object that you can learn to see beyond the linear pattern of thought that limits your perception becomes alive with power, and a shamanic tool therefore.

PAA: While ceremonial magic is often solitary, shamanism frequently has a community aspect. How does Neo-Shamanism foster the teaching and intergenerational transmission of its practices?

Neoshamanism is solitary. If it still had a real tribal community it would still be shamanism and not neo-shamanism. Sure, there are workshops and shamanic circles, but there is no tribe. In our civilization the tribal days are long gone, even family is scarce. We do not foster intergenerational teachings. We teach to those willing to learn and then we dissipate in the sea of a thousand million again, and so do they who learn. 

PAA: Your course has 5 levels, what can students expect from each level and where does the course lead the student to ultimately at the completion of Level 5?

Level 1 and 2 are about mastering the deep world, working with animal spirits and the ancestors. Level 3 is about mastering the middle world, its spirits and shamanic tools. Level 4 is about mastering the upper world and finding out who you are as a shaman, your nature, call, vocation and mission. Level 5 is about completely merging the visionary world with our material/mundane world, not in a metaphorical sense but in a literal sense. For more details you can consult the course curriculum



PAA: Do you want to share anything specifically about Neo-Shamanism? Perhaps something that has been overlooked or point out some misunderstandings?

Overlooked: Neo-Shamanism is not a system, it is a non-linear or non-systematic approach. Set to work, it is the life force behind and beyond all limited conceptualizations.

Misunderstandings: The three worlds are thought to be separated. There are no three worlds. There is just a continuity of countless worlds that flow together as the Great Spirit. 

Neo-Shamanism allowed me to work with Lusitanian deities, and not only deities worshipped by the lusitanians but by the celts and celtiberians living in the region that is the Iberian Peninsula in Pre-Roman times.

Andre Consciencia

PAA: Can you share any personal stories or experiences from your practice of Neo-Shamanic rituals and teachings?

Neo-Shamanism allowed me to work with Lusitanian deities, and not only deities worshipped by the lusitanians but by the celts and celtiberians living in the region that is the Iberian Peninsula in Pre-Roman times. There is very little about how to work with these pagan deities and the little there is, is not being utilized nor built upon. I and a group of people kind of raised these deities from their sepulchres through shamanism, and that later allowed me to build an approximation to the Ars Goetia using the gods and goddesses and the ancestors, and a sort of a devised Indo-European Quabbalah, taken from the Indo-European phonemes and their significances. This can all be found in my work The Lusitanian Grimoire, published via Sirius Limited Esoterica. But the whole method of how I first met them and unburied them was shamanic and had to be, and I mean unburied them because they were very hungry for human blood when first we started, as if they had been deprived from humanity for too long to return to it without taking their toll. This work was hard and full of perils. Yet, quite rewarding.   

PAA: Can you describe how you first discovered and connected with your own shamanic calling or spiritual path?

Maybe through Jim Morrison, with his crow capacity to cleverly provoke and incite and his lizard ability to dream, withdraw and expand, his words like the fragmented dance of the shaman who invites in the ancestors through the broken spaces of himself. His ancient sophisticated wild call and mine seemed to sing together, and I’d skip English class to read The Lizard King’s books at the library until the teacher told me to read them at the class, since Jim Morrison was better than what was being studied. Then, I got to Antonin Artaud, the shaman of the avant-garde, and I started connecting all the dots. I was 15-16 years old. 

PAA: Where and from whom did you initially learn about Neo-Shamanic practices after your initial interest as a teenager?

I started training at the hills of Palmela, on a mill inhabited by a monk. The neoshaman and author to whom the mill was lended, at once a monarchist and a libertarian, had come from a line of Tibetan Shamanism and Dzogchen. Through a long career he eventually was initiated in a French Luciferian sect that he brough to Portugal, then he was initiated by one of the pioneers of the so-called (modern) traditional witchcraft and later he opened a series of parallel pagan projects (some open to the public and some closed), among which was Neoshamanism. It was for me a necessary start, that I felt very happy and relieved to leave behind. Sometimes you have to steal knowledge from those who would steal your soul given the chance.  

PAA: Have you traveled to or learned from any specific indigenous cultures in your Neo-Shamanic studies?

My teacher or reference of traditional shamanism or at least the one whose teachings were closer to what it really is, was Ramon Peregrino. An Argentinian artist that joined the cult of Santo Daime, the line of the general and master Irineu, at the Amazonian forest. He was sent out from it, into an indigenous tribe, since he exhibited very little of folk Catholicism and spiritism and very much of the African animist perspective and indigenous South American shamanism. There, he learned the traditional methods from the area, which seem to be very much in line with the methods from Peru, where he also began to work (most indigenous family-lines are interconnected these days). Ramon lives with and as part of the Amazonian tribe and is from time to time sent out as a sort of diplomat between indigenous spirituality and western spirituality. I had the chance to travel with Ramon to Peru or to the Amazonian forest for direct tutelage with the tribal shamans, which I declined, knowing well it would be harmful to me. Others in our group traveled, and came back knowing it had been harmful to them, none, that I know of, came back with a different conclusion.  

PAA: How has your perspective on Neo-Shamanism evolved over the years through your personal practice and teachings?

I started realizing there is much less structure than one thinks at the beginning, or maybe no structure at all. The dance keeps dancing itself as it learns to dance itself. I have been a beast exploring the powers of the earth, my fire matching its density. Today I have become the hawk, light and soaring in the blue sky, watching down with the light of the Sun. 

The power animal must choose you during the shamanic visionary journey and give proof that it is a power animal. You may think you have a special affinity to a particular animal all your life and when you do this journey, a very different animal appears

Andre Consciencia

PAA: Have you had any particularly profound or transformative experiences while practicing shamanic journeying or working with plant medicines?

Concerning journeying, I will pick meeting my power animal. I have seen some people search the internet for animal meanings in shamanism and picking an animal, or doing guided visualizations to find them. The power animal must choose you during the shamanic visionary journey and give proof that it is a power animal. You may think you have a special affinity to a particular animal all your life and when you do this journey, a very different animal appears. In guided visualizations I have seen this not to be the case, as people do not leave their conditioned thinking if not in a trance. All a guided visualization can do is induce certain elements into your conditioning, but the visionary trance deconditions. Now the power animal is not something your personality identifies with at the start, or at least not necessarily. The power animal is also not the animistic power that will balance your soul and psyche (other animals will help with introspection). What the power animal is, is the animistic life that potentiates your body and personality to deal with the world. It takes what it gets and assumes it is divine as it is as long as it can express its full potential. My power animal is a very lone wolf, protective but also aggressive and ferocious, flees from any sense of pack, but has imbued in his head the large antlers of a deer, particularly an elk. Now, while the wolf prefers to be alone or with a single person where loyalty or else equal ferocity can be met, the antlers make him a leader through the spirit. And so it is that after I met my power animal and started turning into it in astral travels, visionary journeys and through physical dance, I began to integrate the animal in my daily concerns or rather he started to take place in all of them. Soon I had started a cult, then two, etc, but nobody would reach me, only my antlers. I also integrated other cults and ritual groups, which I influenced without ever getting caught up in the eggregores or the intrigues and herd mentalities that so often characterize groups. The horned wolf was mighty and unbeatable in its discreetness, and yet a firestarter in the esoteric sense of the word. This is one of the strongest and most effective connections I ever formed throughout my occult path. Today, I have decided to be the wolf no longer, so that we can work together and balance one another, this is what my hermetic path requires, equanimity. But I would not be here if not for the path behind, and if not for the horned wolf.

What I and a few in my current call the soul animal can be another example. The soul animal is more about withdrawal and the innermost states and siddhis than about the extroverted forces of the power animal. Mine is a crow, and after I met him when I left the body I seemed to leave by my head transforming into a crow and departing from the remaining structure. I could see all things in tones of gray and silver and directly perceive all astral currents and paths conjoining in whatever I looked at. This means I could immediately detect issues of whatever kind or blessings in the wait, the people who were influencing the object or person, etc, with a detachment very different from that of the wolf, whose scent connected things to what he himself regarded pleasurable or repulsive according to his instincts. This crow, capable in her silence of knowing the forest from inside each tree simultaneously, sees both blessing or curse with the same detached suspicion. She observes the world as an animal spying another animal. 

I leave details that I have one way or another included in the course, like my ancestor leading me to an African sorcerer that had built the exact mask the ancestor had shown me (for me to wear as his face). The sorcerer had been instructed by my ancestor himself. All these details are consequences of shamanic journeying.

OK now, onwards to the medicines… The medicines are very mighty so I must almost pick the episodes randomly. Let me start by one happening in my first Ayahuasca ceremony, which was closed doors, They say the first is always one of the hardest, since it includes initiation into the medicine and a purge from everything opposing its spirit. The purge takes places physically as well, as toxins leave the body. At a certain point during the ceremony, upon my third take of the soup, the rhythm changed entirely, and I started feeling like the anaconda (a name for the spirit of the plant) was draining all my juices and ready to digest me. Then I lost my strength and I disappeared from this world. I was (or fully felt and perceived that I was) in another place entirely and physically, no part of me was left in the room and I could not return to it. I was at the top of a Mesoamerican pyramid, left to dry in the Sun until my death. It was absolutely horrific and painful but as I surrendered to the inevitability of my fate, since I was morybund and had no strength to move no matter how hard I tried or wished to, the Sun, who was my executioner, started to incarnate in me, the light taking flesh in my flesh and after a sight of relief everything became abundantly simple. Then, I came back to the room, and I threw up, after which I and Ayahuasca were allowed to dance together again more consciously.

In another closed doors ceremony with Ayahuasca I remember looking at this person with whom I had built most of my occult work regarding community efforts, and she was looking at me. And I saw very clearly that all which had looked like rational and good intentions (as far as reason considers good or good considers reason) had been tools of manipulation with which she kept her claws in me, puppeteering me. She smiled in recognition, and I smiled back. The loving-thought which must accompany any Ayahuasca experience for it to be a medicine and not a toxine, had shown me she was better than I thought. A power that does not bend to any linear system and that I could count on in any emergency, when our preconceived and known structures fall and crumble down under the weight of their own fragility. Her claws were dipped in the fire of love and the poison of the spirit. Without Ayahuasca, the ego would have hidden and shy from all this like a snail in its shell.

Or, with Peyote and Ayahuasca, during pilgrimages, finding half of the group lost and abandoned in the midst of kilometers and kilometers of forest and hills, freezing in the dark, and in trance. The animal took my senses into his and I his into mine. I could hear for miles, it was enough to lead them with certainty on every turn. In the pitch black, a hintch of moonlight, enough for there to be faint shadow. I had walked for fourteen hours now, but my shadow probed the ground perfectly efficiently, checking for any perils and guided me by the hand, I as light as it. 

Ah, now the boar. Maybe because on those hills there are many boars, I took to myself, unconsciously, to ride the boar in the vision. Now the thing when you mix Peyote and Ayahuasca is that Peyote gives you the accelerated rhythm of a visionary shamanic journey, that rhythm of the drum beating fast and you on your no-looking back flight. Ayahuasca, on the other hand, makes it so that the material world and the spiritual world move exactly in the same place. So. when you commit yourself to a pilgrimage under the effect of both medicines, you are on a shamanic journey like when you leave the body, except you haven’t left the body, you are journeying with it. And the vision of the boar was at my side, doing its thing, loud grunts and squeals, taking the vegetation down like a furious cyclone of beastly vitality. But following me, by my side. And, yes, I had managed, I was not afraid! At this point I realized the whole group had fled to the other side of the path and was looking at me, apalled. I thought I was probably doing something impressive, since when we are in these kinds of experiences we form a telepathic and empathic bond that expresses itself from time to time and breaks through the individual trances. Now the shaman was walking towards me, singing a song of power and playing the drum, worried and alert but calm enough and with authority. I realized the boar was not a vision. But the ride still worked.

I should add that I do not suggest taking any psychothropic medicine unless one is already very skilled and experienced in neoshamanism. These magical technologies are built into the indigenous blood, culture and way of life, they are not hardwired into the rest of us just yet. It takes a lot for our system to adapt, and often it does not, not really.   

PAA: What have been some of the unique challenges you’ve faced as a Neo-Shaman, compared to traditional shamanic practices?

If I have to compare it with traditional shamanic practices, I’d have to say none. Neoshamanism is much easier. 

PAA: How do Neo-Shamanic practices and beliefs vary across different cultures and regions of the world?

They do not, or rather they are not supposed to. Neo-shamanism means to water down the different shamanic traditions of the world into a single modern line that is global. 

PAA: Are there particular geographic areas or indigenous traditions that have had a stronger influence on the development of modern Neo-Shamanism?

Siberian shamanism has the strongest influence. I personally like to integrate aspects of toltec shamanism, and it has been sufficiently disseminated in neo-shamanism to be a thing. Last in line, with no influence at all, is European shamanism. I regret that. 

PAA: How do Neo-Shamanic practitioners aim to respectfully integrate teachings from indigenous cultures while avoiding what in this day and age is labelled as cultural appropriation?

I do not think cultural appropriation can be avoided here. It is one of the most flagrant cases of cultural appropriation. However, as far as I have witnessed, the indigenous cultures encourage it as a way to pass on their message. A way to prepare the ground, so to speak. 

Western culture has killed imagination, to the extent that imagination is thought of as unreal. Imagination, however, is the matrix of reality. Someone else imagined this mass industrial world for you and told you how it works, if you’d be put in contact with original imagination, the one that is real, after years of being brainwashed and programmed, you’d collapse.

Andre Consciencia

PAA: In what ways do Neo-Shamans adapt practices to be more relevant and accessible in modern societies?

Western culture has killed imagination, to the extent that imagination is thought of as unreal. Imagination, however, is the matrix of reality. Someone else imagined this mass industrial world for you and told you how it works, if you’d be put in contact with original imagination, the one that is real, after years of being brainwashed and programmed, you’d collapse. In Neo-shamanism, as fantastic in the good sense, or full of wonder, as it may seem, there is inherent the impression that you are in a simulation. When you realize that you are not, enough breath has been given you for you not to panic. Indigenous cultures are in contact with the spirit, so when for instance they work with medicines, there is nothing that shocks them in imagination being real. They lay looking at the stars, in nets hanged by trees, and consulting them person-to-person with all the serenity of the world. Or, they work the land, and the spirit works the land. 

PAA: Are there examples of cross-cultural exchanges or shared learnings between Neo-Shamans from different parts of the world?

Neo-shamans are global, they are the result of different shamanic traditions from different parts of the world mixing under a modern Western influence. Most indigenous cultures are well organized and in contact, they influence this process.   

PAA: How do language and cultural barriers impact the transmission of Neo-Shamanic knowledge globally?

Neo-shamanism, as a movement, is modern. Language is no more of a barrier than me, being Portuguese, answering your questions in English. This is one of the gifts of Neoshamanism.

PAA: Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us and shining a light on these practices.


Journey to the Spirit World: Exploring Neoshamanism

For decades now, I have been practicing neoshamanism in parallel with my endeavors in hermetics and magic, having formed my shamanic groups and circles. Occasionally, it appears in my teachings or when I share a story with one of my Perseus Arcane Academy students. To such an extent, that I have been directly asked in more than one instance, to create a video course specifically on neoshamanism and make it available on this same platform.

As the suggestion sat upon the back of my head, this point in time led exactly to its realization, an immersive video course that delves into the ancient roots of shamanic practices while aligning with the dynamics of today.

This course will demystify the rituals, tools, and techniques of Neo-Shamanic practices, thickening the connection with the spirit world.

About Andre

André lives in Moita, Portugal and has been a dedicated practitioner of magic and mysticism for more than two decades.

He met Fraternitas Hermetica (an order based on the works of Franz Bardon) while still a minor and had an initiator that stood even after the order vanished. He also has worked with his old initiator for 20 years. He has experience of other magical systems such as AMORC, Order of Michael’s Grail (with roots on Dion Fortune), Thelemic Golden Dawn, Astrum Argentum, the Typhonian OTO and the OTOA-LCN.

André teaches neo-shamanism and has his own active group of practitioners. Aside from his shamanic path, which he puts to use as a simple way to reach the uninitiated, he has been through the hermetic magical systems of Franz Bardon, as well as through systems presented by Rosicrucian orders and Thelemic organizations, still being a member of the Chaorder of SilverDusk and a member of the Inner Council of the Horus Maat Lodge, in which he holds the Portuguse Nexus.

Andre Consciencia at Perseus Arcane Academy

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