Category Archives: Images

Where In The World Is Shamanism?

Bodø Norway harbor
The city and harbor of Stian Berg’s hometown, Bodø Norway.

This is a continuing story of a shaman friend from Norway, Stian Berg, who first appeared here back in December, 2016. His country was the first in the modern world to officially recognize shamanism as a bona-fide religion, and to devote public funding to sustain it. This extraordinary and unprecedented gesture is, I predict, only the beginning. And it reveals something bigger. So that is why I will enlarge upon Stian’s story and kindness in submitting additional photos of his beautiful country to include a larger overview of how the world is changing, coming into a new spring so to speak.

I can start by offering you a very short answer to that question in the headline, Where In The World Is Shamanism?

It’s everywhere. Always has been.

While Stian lives in a geographic stretch of the world where many researchers say shamanism was born, an assertion that certainly underlies the ease with which a modern day government in that region can openly underscore its importance, it is widely recognized that the practice of shamanism is at the base of mostly all of the world’s known civilizations throughout history and right up to today. It’s not always as easy to spot elsewhere as it may be in Norway, but you can find it if you want to.

Most holidays, days of the week (and being a maker of Lightning Drums, I most admire Thursday, named after the Norse God Thor, “Thunder”), place names, planetary designations, and countless cultural and mainstream religious practices and celebrations bring forward the expression of shamanic cultures. And even this though may affront some, there is certainly ample evidence that it was practiced in ancient Palestine by none other than Jesus. For the purposes of this short article, I should point out that I am using a broad personal definition of “shamanism” to collectively refer to nature/spirit-dependent healing practices based on altered state spirit journeying. In that regard, it is still in use today in any number of places and settings.

Norway's beautiful scenery
A scene of serene and stark beauty of Norway’s coastline, courtesy of Stian Berg.

Simply put, there is a rise in the practice of shamanism because there is a decline among believers in mainstream religions.

Founder of the Four Winds Society, Alberto Villoldo, PhD, recognizes the need for shaman storytellers and healers to bring forward an updated mythology to replace the outdated religious stories written when “the Earth was flat…and before the Hubble space telescope showed us that we are one of a billion galaxies in the sky. The old stories [written 2,000 years ago] have exhausted themselves.” (Excerpted from pg. 287, Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, by Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman, Sounds True, Inc., 2010)

Indeed, according to an influential book published in 2000, upwards of 140-million people in Europe and America, so-called “cultural creatives” are challenging long-held beliefs about religion and practically everything else that underpins Western civilization. (Wikipedia link.) For sure, a small percentage of them embrace shamanism, and a larger percentage honor the Earth and other shamanic concepts. It’s a tiny ripple now, but it nourishes the wave about to come. Just ask Stian Berg up there in Norway.

Spring returns to Norway 2017
Once in darkness, Norway has now seen the sun return in Spring. Photo, courtesy Stian Berg.

And with the return of Spring in the far north, we find that the light of shamanism spreads everywhere, even in the hearts of moderns who usher in a new dawn of a different sort.

Aho & Namaste,
Bob

A Thunder Drum Customer From Norway Shines Light On The “Dark Time”

stian a drum customer of thunder valley drum lives in norway
Stian and his Thunder Drum painted by Glenn Lewis.

I am the most fortunate individual on Earth, for practically every time an order for a drum comes in, it signals the start of a new friendship. We swap a few emails, discover our common interests, and share a common goal. Then, by the time the drum is born a few weeks later, we — customer, drum maker and drum—are all friends.

That’s why you are looking at Stian, a resident of Norway, and his drum, pictured here. He ordered the drum a few months ago, but it did not take long for a friendship to take root. After all, theories abound about how shamanism started in Siberia and soon spread in all directions, down into the Scandinavian countries and around the world, so I was interested in its influence in Stian’s Norway. I began to ask questions about life in the far north, and Stian indulged my curiosity with wonderful email replies. Our dialog continues even now, as that recent photo (above) and an earlier one he sent (below) reveals.  Here’s his latest email (reprinted with his permission).

“Hello. Hope it goes well in Kentucky. Here in Norway goes just fine. The days spent on shopping for Christmas gifts to make clear for Christmas. We’ve got some snow. I hope the snow for Christmas.

northern lights in norway
Northern Lights near where Stian lives. (Photographer unknown)

“Since we live north of the Arctic Circle, the sun gone from the sky. The sun does not come back until January. We call it dark time. When the sun comes back in January, we tend to have sunshine party. When we celebrate the sun is back in the sky. We have lots of Northern Lights in the sky, there is one lovely light.

“Otherwise I must say att it’s gorgeous sound of the drum. Love it.

Wish you all well.
Your friend Stian”

Norway drum owner's hometown
Stian used his phone to capture this shot of his hometown.

My reply.

“Hello, Stian. Wondrous to hear from you, my friend, and to read about the ‘dark time.’ It is so refreshing to know that your people embrace the land and its seasons in such a joyful way. I can imagine the wonderment of living a few months in a place without sun, and of how special it must be when the sun returns. It is like a time of incubation before being born. Amazing…and mysterious.

“And I am so happy that your drum is adjusting to your environment and sounding good!

“So very delightful to hear from you. All best wishes to you and to all of those around you in the land of the long night.

Aho & Namaste,
Bob”

I wish to thank Stian for his emails, photos…and friendship from a faraway place!

stians painted thunder drum
Stian’s drum. (TVD Photo)

A drum in the Artic Circle is so perfectly symbolic. It’s only natural, too, as the drum is both a circle in shape and in representation of the greater circle of friendship that can and should include all of us in this world.

 

And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. —Black Elk (quote)

 

Aho & Namaste, Friends Everywhere
Bob

UPDATE 12/11/16:

Here is Stian’s wonderful and informative email follow-up to this post:

12/11/16: “That was a beautiful article. Really liked it. Did you know that shamanism is religion in Norway?

“As the first country in the world Norway accepted shamanism in 2013 as a religion in the country. Sjamanistisk Forbund (” Shamanistic Association”) can now perform weddings and other rites in public. The Norwegian government also gives money to support this. Denmark and Sweden are following this and has started the same associations in their countries.

“That’s my religion.

Your friend, Stian”

____

Thank you, Stian!

New Thunder Valley Drums Site Premiers September 16

First Thunder Valley Drums Makeover in Years!

Low-res screenshot of a page on the new site…

buffalo drum feature page excerpt on new thunder valley drums site
A portion of the Buffalo Drum page.

It’s been long overdue! So at last the NEW Thunder Valley Drums site will premier on September 15. Excited!

You’ll find it a lot easier to navigate, and it’s prettier too. In addition, you’ll discover TWO new initiatives to help communities in need. (More on that later.) So stay tuned!

Aho & Namaste,
Bob

A Drum Buyer’s Thoughts & Photo of Her New Hummingbird Drum

medicine drum with Hummingbird painting
A healer’s medicine drum.

What a thrill to receive photos from a wonderful customer! Luanne, a Reiki practitioner and healer from Pennsylvania, sent along a shot of her new Hummingbird Drum.

It’s easy to see Glenn Lewis’s masterful touch with the painting of a Hummingbird amid beautiful flowers. The Hummer has always been a special symbol and friend, according to Luanne. And she liked the drum’s sound, too. Here are a few emails from her, the first having to do with the drum’s arrival, and the second recounting the special smudging ceremony she performed with it. Note that she also references her receipt of a Lightning Necklace in the package too :

Greetings, Bob:)
My Drum Partner has arrived home, safe and sound!!! Your saying that he is BEAUTIFUL is an understatement!!! I am in awe of your and Glenn’s talent. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart:) His energy is powerful! So is the energy from the necklace! They are both resting now and acclimating to their new environment. We have already bonded and are looking forward to doing energy work together.

Love, light, peace and blessings,

Here’s her second email from a day or two later:

My Drum Partner was well rested by this evening, so I used your lovely package of herbs and sweetgrass for the blessing ceremony. I attached the lightening-struck wood with emeralds, as I found this a sweet touch. Thank you:) I must say that the sound is melodious and deep. I feel the vibration in my heart and soul! We are true partners and I have you and Glenn to thank. Please accept my deepest regards. I am in awe yet again!

It fills my heart. Thank YOU, Luanne!

Aho & Namaste,
Bob

Thanks for your emails about the Live Free graphic, and a note about the Ogham letters used

Thank you for your emails about the graphic I put with the last post. A few asked for a larger size so they could use it as a background for their desktops. So here ’tis in its original size, though it’s still not very large (550 pixels wide). I do most graphics on the Thunder Valley Drums and Shaman Drums and More sites with a neat comic book program, Comic Life.

Back in full size
Back in full size, an illustration of the Thunder Valley Drums motto.

Of course, this one has been optimized for the Web, and thus lacks some of the depth of the original. So if you would prefer to have a copy of that, just write and I’ll email one to you.

And a note about those two Ogham letters in the graphic: As with all such characters in that beautiful alphabet of the Celts, there are layers upon layers of possible meanings, and thus, there are many possible interpretations. To me, the letter on the left with the single vertical and four horizontal strokes to the right, which most agree represents the willow tree in its original usage, represents life and to live joyfully.  According to lore, the willow is a water tree, feminine, ephemeral, poetic, beautiful, graceful, steeped in love, joy, peace , healing and protection (one source for this, here).

The letter on the right, with a single vertical and two horizontal strokes to the left, represents the oak, a mighty and sturdy tree with many male qualities that stands against the strongest forces and thrives in its freedom. The lore attributed to it (same source as above) include strength, success, stability, healing… AND LIGHTNING, among others. Starting to get my drift?

It is only right that drums made from lightning-struck trees represent these qualities, strong enough to absorb and transmute lightning into healing and to perpetuate the beauty of life. Live Free.

May you indeed do just that.

Aho & Namaste,
Bob

Live Free motto
Variation on a theme of Live Free. This graphic is 800 pixels wide. I can send this one to you, as well.