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Shape Shifting: An Introduction

Shape Shifting: An Introduction

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Published by sithlady
A brief overview of the fascinating phenomenon known as "shapshifting", an integral part of many aboriginal cultures, past and present, of our world.
A brief overview of the fascinating phenomenon known as "shapshifting", an integral part of many aboriginal cultures, past and present, of our world.

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Published by: sithlady on Aug 19, 2009
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11/04/2011

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© 2009 by Sithlady

[Note: The world is made up of people who “know” that Shapeshifting is a fact and those who “know” it is not, so for ease of discussion, an assumption is made here that Shapeshifting is possible and, while difficult, also do-able.] Shapeshifters (known by various names) have been part of the ancient way since time immemorial. It is often believed that most modern day Shapeshifters (especially those who find it “easy” in comparison; the word ‘easy’ definitely being relative) have also been Shapeshifters in times past. Indeed, those who are even interested in the phenomenon and who do not find it strange, creepy, frightening, or disgusting (the idea of “turning into an animal” as they put it, due to misunderstanding or misinterpretation is offputting to some people) most likely have been Shapeshifters in at least one past lifetime. It is difficult if not impossible to describe an exact process. Not only does it vary between individuals depending on one’s belief constructs and cultural influences, it is also an integral part of what makes up the part of the unique “me”, as in “this is part of me”, but here’s an admittedly over-simplified shot at it … SKINWALKERS When people think of Shapeshifting what often comes to mind is the infamous Skinwalker, now made even more notorious thanks to some rather bad movies loosely based on the theme. The Dené (Navajo) nation call them ynaldlooshi— “he who trots along here and there on all fours”—their word for a certain type of “superwitches” who are inevitably evil. Not being Dené I cannot speak with authority on their particular brand of Skinwalkers, however, to them and other societies this is not a mere legend but is very real and very dangerous. Even though it is a subject not openly discussed, especially with strangers, hair-raising accounts of encounters with Skinwalkers have been documented by reliable, credible people such as police officers. Shapeshifters appear in native cultures throughout the world (in Europe—among the Norse and the Celts in particular—and also in the Ameri-

cas, Africa, Asia) and survive to this day. Encounters with them, however, are not limited to native people nor must you be an aboriginal person to become a Shapeshifter, although if you explore your past lives you will likely find one or more where you were of at least one of these cultures. Because some Shapeshifters can be totally evil, however, does it necessarily follow that all are? Does it not come down to choice; where each individual makes a conscious decision about how to use his/her power, whatever that power may be?1 The power to Shapeshift does not automatically mean the Shapeshifter is either good or evil. It is a skill that can be learned if one is willing to commit to years of arduous study and practice (often extremely frustrating). They can go either way. In most cases, it is used for good: for healing, for exploration, and sometimes to foil an enemy. Accounts of the predations of Skinwalkers in the Four Corners area of the USA (and other places) by credible people create the not unfounded assumption that such nasty characters exist, nevertheless, to categorize all Shapeshifters in this manner is missing the point. Some Shapeshifters or Skinwalkers were Norse —the berserkers, a word meaning “bear shirt”, were a form of Shapeshifters or lycanthropes— and the Celts have also passed down a tradition of Shapeshifting. It is worldwide and so pervasive in the history of so many nations and peoples that, upon even a little research, it seems obvious that there’s something more to Shapeshifting than crazy “werewolf tales”.

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Many believe that most Shapeshifters and all Skinwalkers (yes, many do differentiate between the two) are males; possibly because they are often lumped into the catch-all category of “medicine men”. This is untrue. Although it would seem the majority are male, it is not exclusive; females also Shapeshift and there are many “medicine women”.

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The following is the verbatim Wikipedia entry on Norse Skinwalkers: In Norse folklore, a skin-walker is a person who can travel in the shape of an animal and learn secrets, or take on certain characteristics of an animal. The person is then said to be wearing that animal's hide. The most wellknown example of the latter is the warrior who takes on the strength and stamina of a bear, called "bear shirt" or ber sarkur, the origins of the word berserker; similarly, there were wolfbased warriors, called ulfheðnar or "wolfcoats". They were said, aside from the battlerage the animal spirit granted, to have the ability to send out their soul in the form of their animal, in a practice called hamfarir or "shapejourney". According to Mythology, the Norse hero Sigmund and his son Sinfiolti became Skinwalkers for a short time, discovering two magic wolf skins that turned them into wolves when they put them on. When they became overcome by their animal instincts and began fighting over meat, Sigmund almost killed his son and so they decided to burn the skins. The use of an animal shape for other purposes was considered unholy, and people accused of having such abilities were frequently cast out or summarily executed. Females so charged got off more lightly.

use drumming or rattling, the slow repetitive rhythm shifts the rhythm of the individual so he or she can journey. Just as a soothing song can help someone achieve calm, the rhythm of a drum or other music puts you into the right state. The journey is achieved by the person’s intent. You intend to leave your body as an animal and do so. Someone said, “try to describe walking and it is difficult to put into words how you get your legs to move.” The same is true with Shapeshifting; it’s hard to describe the exact process as if reading from a list of operating instructions because it can and does vary somewhat from one individual to another. KINDS OF SHAPESHIFTING There are two types of Shapeshifting: 1) Astral 2) Physical The astral is the most widespread. Most Shapeshifters ply their art solely on the astral; very few, even highly advanced and gifted shamans, claim to be physical Shapeshifters. Apparently, even if you find you are one of those rare people who will learn to physically shapeshift, the majority of your journeys, perhaps for a lifetime, will be on the astral. If you were a Shapeshifter in at least one past life it will likely come somewhat easier for you this time around, but it is a universally difficult undertaking and not “fun”. It is daunting, hard work, entirely serious, and can be terrifying to a beginner. (It’s reminiscent of a scene in one of the Star Wars movies where neophyte Luke Skywalker says, “I am not afraid.” Jedi Master Yoda sets him straight forthwith: “You will be,” he says, “you will be.”) Much of the literature emphasizes the need to work with an experienced person and/or a “guardian”. Remember that Shapeshifting, although universal, is uncommon and not something that every single human can accomplish.

HOW IS SHAPESHIFTING DONE? One must shift awareness or consciousness in order to allow part of or all of the soul to leave the body. Learning to go into a trance state is necessary. Many use the rhythm of drums and/or rattles to accomplish this. Others use music of various types which helps them raise and focus their energy. Accompaniment is not required, however. There are no rules engraved in stone; as in so many other things, one needs to feel free to experiment and find what works for them. For those who

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WHAT ANIMAL? If you don’t already know, ask during meditation(s) that your power animal be revealed to you. It may well take more than one session. The answer could come in a dream or series of dreams, by coincidence (for example a bear: you may dream of a bear, then hear someone mention a place known as Bear Lake then see an illustration or logo of a bear, etc., which shows that the “announcement” can come in one or several ways.) It’s likely that this animal was with you in a previous lifetime, but not necessarily so. CAN I ACTUALLY BECOME THAT ANIMAL? Note: As mentioned at the outset, an assumption is made that this is truly possible. It is what many people interested in the phenomenon would like to see happen (and not just those who have watched too many bad werewolf movies) and there are those who believe it is actually doable!2 But a lifetime of study, practice, and persistence is the admission price. Again, working closely with one’s “guardian” is emphasized, as is being careful and using common sense. (Never mind the question, for a moment, of whether the concept of Shapeshifting and common sense fit together.) For instance, you don’t want to change back to human stark naked in a public place. Nor do you want to be a panther happily prowling Main Street until the cops show up with a shotgun or Wildlife Protection carts you off to the zoo. In other words, these and other ‘real world’ considerations must always be heeded.)3

Apparently if you are injured while in animal form, you will carry the injury into your human form but it is (conveniently?) unlikely to be fatal. Nevertheless, it’s no one’s idea of “a good time”. (The Dené also make mention of this: people are said to have inflicted injury on the Skinwalking “animal” and then have later seen the identical injury on the suspect person. Remember, they are usually members of their local community, not from far-off areas.) CONCLUSION Shapeshsifting has multiple purposes and scaring the crap out of your neighbors isn’t one of them (depending, I suppose, on what the neighbor has done to you or your loved ones). Shapeshifting is for spiritual growth, for discovery, to gather information, to go to places you otherwise would be unable to go, for destruction and creation (often it is necessary to “destroy” the old before one can successfully create the new), to protect another, for healing, to work through issues, for communication...and, in short, can greatly enhance one’s life and is well worth the long and arduous effort. There is little information on the web and much of what there is has been new-aged to death and next to useless so interested people need to do their own research. This article is but a very brief and basic introduction and is in no way intended as an in-depth treatise or instructional manual. If it has piqued your interest in looking beyond the everyday, beyond what we have been “educated” to accept as normal, it will have done its work and you can research further if you choose.

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Some of the ancient gods were also Shapeshifters: Anubis (the jackal) and Sekhmet (the lioness) come to mind, and there are many others.)
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If you ever get the chance to watch the movie “The Cat People” it gives you an idea of physical Shapeshifting. Purely fictional, it’s an interesting movie. Real physical Shapeshifters, however, are not incestuous, nor do they have to be caged because they are so dangerous they kill and/or eat everyone they come across.

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