“Shamans are the servants of the community and the servants of the spirits.” My spirit teachers told me this long ago. At first it worried me, in fact it concerned me a lot. Where was I in this equation? Service was one thing, but wasn’t being a servant something else? Where was my “free will”? It bothered me for a long time, and, despite my teachings, I did my best to maintain what I thought was my individual freedom. But by resisting, for fear of losing my identity, I put a wall around myself. What I didn’t understand at the time was the concept of community. Intellectually, I knew that we are all connected. I could see it everywhere I looked and in how my shamanic experiences manifested in life, but I didn’t really feel it.

As my practice got deeper, I began to develop a sense of “my community”. At first it was limited geographically to where I was and numerically to people I felt connected with. Then, through a growing awareness of the shaman’s role as an eco-activist in a world facing environmental destruction, I grew to feel that the whole Earth is my community. The oceans, the air, the islands and continents, microbes and whales, the seen and the unseen are all my community – and not just my community: the whole Earth is our community, the community we humans belong to. And the more I involve myself in this whole, the more I realize my role as a servant of the Earth.

For me, the heart of shamanism is filled with living in relationship with all beings and with the flow of giving and receiving. By coming to service in this way, knowing and deeply trusting that everything is related and connected, service no longer seems an individual act. It becomes communal participation. It is not about me gaining or losing something; it is about me recognizing that whatever I do, I do both for myself and for the whole world.

In the end, it is all about Love. I am in love with the Earth. Love is a great power in this world. How do we show the ones we love that we love them? How do we show the Earth our Love? By serving we do not lose ourselves. We gain family.

- Jonathan -