"You may believe in this shaman hooey..." That's the last little fragment of the comment left here a few posts back. I've taken off and written this series of posts about the content of that comment that got me to thinking.
I found it amusing that the immediate, and obviously unthinking follow on to the characterization of shamanism as "hooey," was the assertion that her "god" was into making me pay for what I'd done. I guess one person's hooey is another person's belief. And vice versa.
I think that, as humans, we believe in the abstracts that we believe because they help us to explain the unexplainable: emotions and feelings, intellectual uncertainties, and arbitrary suffering. Too, belief in the abstract works to stabilize the social order, to oppress and manage the masses, to define the roles and rankings among us all. In the end, believing in whatever it is helps us make sense of a world and life that most often does not make sense. No wonder we come to "esteem," and even "love" the belief system that enhances our sense of comfort and belonging. Shamanism is like that for me. It works in some instances to help me make sense of things that make no sense. I feel the same way about parts of paganism, the practice of wicca, and native American spirituality. I can get lost in the music at a Catholic mass, and love the ritual and ceremony, even as I reject the basic theology.
I've never claimed the label of atheist, or even agnostic. I really don't feel the need for any of the labels. There is so much that is not amenable to any sort of "unified theory." The universe is one unfathomable mystery piled on top on all the others. From the beginnings of time, which is, itself, shrouded in mystery beyond our reach, we've tried to find the stories that help us understand (just a bit). Religion and all its secular counterparts are nothing more than that: the stories we tell ourselves so that we can make it through the darkness without being too afraid.