By now I’m sure you consider Stian Berg to be your friend, just as I do. The shamanic practitioner from Norway has sent along his thoughts and photos twice since he first purchased a Thunder Drum back in December, 2016. And now he offers this update:
Looks like sunrise…but it’s midnight!
“I love midnight sun,” he says of the area near his hometown of Bodø, Norway in an email that accompanied the photo. That’s quite a difference from the scenes depicting his surroundings last December (article) when it’s dark as night at midday. (You can see more daylight scenes from his update a few months ago in April.)
Thinking about this can really alter one’s perception of time and place, and reveals just how parochial our thoughts can be. Here in Kentucky we are keyed to the shifting light of the four seasons that swing from long to short days through the equinoxes and the resulting influences that affect our bodies and attitudes. Heck, I admit that even this time of year, when the days are deliciously long, I occasionally experience a fleeting worry that winter and diminishing light aren’t far off.
Not so for Stian, as he enjoys the plunge into month’s-long darkness and the re-emergence into equally long periods of loving sunlight. He is, in other words, in perfect alignment with his environment.
So the next time you may experience stress at the gradual loss of daylight, like will inevitably begin this September and deepen until late December, simply remember Stian. His nighttime last for months. But so do his days. And he loves the seasons as they present themselves in his area, no matter how much or how little light.
He is the living epitome of the old saying, “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” Even if there’s no sun, he’s proof that you can flourish from the light within.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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”
“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,
I wish to thank Stian for his emails, photos…and friendship from a faraway place!
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
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.