Ove Kåven

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You can ask me questions here.
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Jenny L. M. (2022-05-05 01:47:10)
It’s interesting to learn that shamanism is considered something weirdos and crazy people are into. But it’s even more interesting to learn that there has been people practicing shamanism throughout the entire period that the church has been present. I have had many chats with people from northern Norway and northern Finland, but most of them, in fact almost every one of them, despite being, at least by definition, are to some extent what one would be labeling spiritual, have been unfamiliar with shamanism. Alternatively they would not share their knowledge about it with me.

I’m aware that the Sámi society is influenced by the church. As you have probably already guessed, I’m of Sámi descent myself. My grandmother was and my mother is a native speaker. Knowing them, and others of the Sámi society, the Christian faith is the only way. Of course, my knowledge regarding others is anecdotal, but it’s my impression that Christianity has strong armed the people into shunning what comes not from Scripture.

I don’t flash my connection to shamanism with my family and kinfolks. My mother flat out denies the existence of shamanism. My grandmother did too. Thing is, though, that my mothers brother, my uncle, was a man with powers. For some reason he chose me to succeed him. Maybe because I was like the only one in the family who shared his spiritual views. The downside is that I don’t want to succeed him. One thing is being interested in the subject, quite another story is living it. I am content with studying shamanism, but I’m no shaman and I’m not mentally capable of handling it. How are you maintaining sanity confronted with what the spirits are unloading onto yourself?

Best regards,

Jenny
How I’m maintaining sanity? Hmm, well, who says I am?

Okay, first of all, I’ve always been different, and basically alone, all my life anyway. There’s this thing with my relatively high intelligence, which in addition to the obvious like making you learn faster, understand things faster, and master things faster, it also just makes you think differently altogether. And as we know, different people often don’t play well together. And that’s before looking at all the other things I’ve since learned are unusual about me. Being different has always been a curse, I’ve always been alone, and I’ve always been afraid of going insane. After all, how can I be sure my view of the world is grounded in reality, without having trustworthy people around me who’s able to tell me when I am not? I’ve had to deal with this issue all my life.

Fortunately, the scientific method provides a way to do that, if you truly understand it. In particular, the method implies that you should try to always question your hypotheses, your own beliefs. What evidence do you have for what you believe, and more importantly, is there evidence for the opposite? Could you be wrong? Humans have a tendency to never ask themselves the last thing. In psychology this is called “confirmation bias”: people only look for evidence to prove they’re right, they never look for evidence to prove they’re wrong. This is one of the most important reasons for all the insanity in the world, so if you can develop awareness of this tendency, you can become a saner person. Furthermore, by understanding the scientific method, as well as common cognitive errors and statistical phenomena, I no longer needed to rely as much on having trustworthy people around me to have a reasonable shot at seeing the reality around me for what it really is.

When this spiritual thing happened, when I received “the call”, it was rather traumatic, as my entire world view changed. I actually wanted to believe I really was just going insane, it would have been easier. But I had no choice but to continue the scientific approach: question your beliefs. “This is evidence that your previous beliefs about spirits not being real is wrong, therefore you need to re-evaluate your beliefs.” (The alternative hypothesis of “I’m just insane” does not explain all parts of the evidence.) So I did, eventually, but I always maintain my scientific, skeptical mindset. Remember that a true skeptic questions, but does not deny. And a true scientist is open to all possibilities, regardless of his own personal beliefs.

Finally, there’s the issue of what insanity really is about. We’ve already established that everyone is irrational, at least to some degree or other. Insanity doesn’t have a precise definition, so it can be thought of as a word for when your irrationality reaches a point where the people around you will no longer accept it, perhaps because it’s harming them in some way. And if that’s the case, it’s possible to draw the following conclusion:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a little insane, as long it only helps others, and doesn’t bother or harm them. Nobody will care.

And what do you really want out of life? Would you prefer a rich life, filled with adventure, with helping other people, and making a difference, even if it’s a life with some risk and uncertainty? Or would you conform to whatever people around you say is “sane”, and have a relatively safe, but otherwise mundane life, where all you can become are whatever other people allow you to? And let me tell you, the latter kind of life made me clinically depressed for most of my life. Thus, choosing the former at least gives me a small shot at one day finding my happiness. Even if it might be a little insane.