***What is Jewish Shamanism?*** (from a pamphlet)
by Rabbi Gershon Winkler,
Cuba, New Mexico
Jewish Shamanism is a quality of consciousness that enables one to experience magic in the ordinary, miracle in the natural course of events, and the spirituality of the physical.
Jewish shamanism is as ancient and as rich as most any other shamanic tradition, sharing in common with many of them the belief that all of creation is alive, not just fauna and flora, but that the planets, the stones, the sun and moon, too, are living conscious beings replete with wisdom and soul (e.g. Psalms 8:7-8; 145:10; 148:3-4 and 7-11; Isaiah 55:12; Job 12:7-8; Midrash Heichalot Rabati 24:3).
The second-century Rabbi Me’ir used to call the sun “My brother” (Midrash B’reishis Rabbah 92:6), “All the trees,” taught the ancient rabbis, “converse with one another and with all living beings” (Midrash B’reishis Rabbah 13:2). The planets and stars even have their own songs (Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 231b).
Had the Hebrews never been given their Torah, their divinely inspired scriptures, they would have been able to learn all they needed to know from the animals (Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 100b).
Ask the animals and they shall teach you; and the birds of the sky, and they shall inform you. Or speak to the earth and she shall show you; and the fishes of the sea shall declare to you.
– Book of Job 12:7-9
The Israelite does not distinguish between a living and a lifeless nature
The Israelites do not acknowledge the distinction between the psychic and the corporeal. Earth and stones are alive, imbued with a soul
– Israel: Its Life and Culture, by Johannes Pederson [Oxford University Press: 1959], pp. 55 and 479
Jewish shamanism requires the awareness that every human being is comprised of the qualities of every other being on the planet. That we are not made solely in the “Image of God” but just as much in the image of all that surrounds us, stones, plants, animals, the galactic beings, and so on (Midrash HaNe’elam 1:16b; Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 4, folio 118b), that when the Creator is quoted in the Hebrew scriptures as declaring, “Let us make the human in our image” (Genesis 1:26), the Creator was addressing all of what had been created up to that point in the creation story.
This implies that the Creator addressed all of creation before making the human, meaning that in creating the human, the Infinite One incorporated all of the attributes of all the animals and plants and minerals and so on that had been created up to this point. In each of us, then, are the powers of all the creatures of the earth.
– 17th-century Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in Shi’ur HaKomah, torah, Ch. 4
The human is then fashioned in the image of the do’mem, ts’owmeya’ch, chayyah, and m’daber: Still Being (mineral), Sprouting Being (flora), Living Being (wildlife), and Speaking Being (human).
In the original Hebrew, the wording is “In the image of Elo’heem.” Elo’heem is the God Name that describes the dynamics of the Creator stirring creation into being. It is therefore a plural word connoting “Forces” or “Powers” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 5:1).
Thus, to the Jewish shaman the human is comprised of the chaotic whirlwind of Primeval Creation, of the divine forces dancing spirit into matter, matter into form, and form into action (18th-century Rabbi Chayyim of Volozhin in Nefesh HaChayyim, Ch. 1).
Jewish shamanism assigns enormous importance to the four directions, calling them ar’ba ru’chot, or “four winds,” also Hebrew for “four spirits,” stressing the organic, living nature of the four directions (Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 4, folio 118b).
Each wind or direction is designated an animal (Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 4, folio 18b; Midrash Bamid’bar Rabbah 2:9): the eagle in the north, the buffalo in the west, the human in the south, and the lion in the east (13th-century Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko in Sefer M’irat Einayim, Bamidbar, para. 2). Each wind also has a spirit guardian (Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 2:10) who, when invoked by various Hebrew and Aramaic incantations, brings forth the gift of that particular wind.
The attributes of these four spirit guardians are healing, reflection, balance, and vision. The four winds themselves are tsafon (north), literally: hidden, as in the place of mystery; meezrach (east), literally: from [the place of] shining; nehggev (south), literally: wiping or cleansing; and maarav (west), literally: from [the place of] blending. Another name for south is darom, which means place of rising, and another name for east is kehdem, which means beginning or before.
The four winds are also given colors: red in the north, black in the west, white in the south, and yellow in the east (Gaon of Vilna on Sefer Yetsirah, Ch. 4).
The four winds are considered to possess each their own distinct power and attribute, all of which are played out in the individual human drama: “The human was created from the powers of the four winds” (Sefer Ha’Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 130b).
Reflective of this and other such cosmologies in ancient Judaic mystery wisdom, are the numerous narratives in both the written and oral traditions about the mastery of the supernatural by the ancestors and teachers of the Jewish people.