Shapeshifting – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So a redditor saw a post I wrote in response to a girl who saw a cryptid of some sort, as well as a white wolf, driving down a country road in northern Alabama a few years back.  It was an interesting post, and dovetailed with a lot of anecdotal reports about cryptids in its details.  Here’s the post; Northern Alabama cryptid.

Before I entered graduate school, I apprenticed to a psychic/healer/shamanic practitioner for a over a decade.  I did my graduate work on this topic, and also interacted with other practitioners as well during that time.  I do feel not comfortable with  “shaman” or “shamanic practitioner,” or even the name, “neo-shaman.”  Eliade called these practitioners by this name, a degradation of a Siberian word, Shasin, and even the practitioners of that region do not use this nomenclature.

There are a multitude of designations, Medicine men/women, bruja/brujo, curandera/curandero, chaote magician, a number of other names.  A witch was known in their respective European villages to conduct similar types of healing and manifestation work, and you can always tell a neophyte fantasy writer by their calling a practitioner a “warlock.”  Perhaps I’m just ignorant, but I’ve never heard that term used.  You always get a bit of a giggle from practitioners when lay people use that term, at least the ones I know.  A “wizard,” or “mage/magician,” perhaps, but “warlock,” no.

So anyway, back to our story–this young woman was driving down a country road in northern Alabama, old Native American country.  This particular area was not used even by them very much–they soon realized that it was swampy ground, and unhealthy–but suitable for hunting.  So they had never lived there.  The country itself has been witness to messy confrontations with settlers, and the land has a lot of forgotten spilled blood in its soil.  The energy of the place is old and tangled.

Driving down this isolated country road one night, she saw a beautiful white wolf watching over a small house on a corner lot.  Its presence felt totally benevolent, and she felt comforted by its presence.  It seemed unearthly to her as she drove by it.  She thought about it a lot, and drove back a few nights later, looking for it, and got the shock of her life.  The wolf and the house were gone, burned to the ground in an  odd circular pattern, and in its place was a “dogman” of sorts.  That’s the closest description she gave, bipedal, elongated and misshapen.  She knew better than to look it in the eyes, and managed to speed past it.  She got a glimpse of it chasing her car.  This occurred over a decade ago, and it’s just now, her terror softened by a move 1000 miles away from Alabama, that she is able to talk about it.  I don’t blame her–it sounded horrifying.

Of course, the strict pragmatists scoff, and I’m not going to get into that particular argument.  There are a lot of natural occurrences for which we have no explanation.  Some tales, you can tell that the author is offering them as spooky stories, suitable for sitting around a campfire.  Other people, you can tell that this is an event that they perceive as having really happened.

I have been interested in tales of this sort, dogman, wendigo, skinwalkers, djinn and the like because of some of my experiences with the teachers I with whom I apprenticed.  Not that I think you can group all of these manifestations together, but we just don’t know.  What interests me is what they can tell us about human cognition, and epistemology.  What do we know, how do we know it, and are we overlooking some other means of perception?  What clues can these appearances give us?  We’ve been getting a number of sightings in and around Chicago/Wisconsin of a flying humanoid for the last year or so, interestingly, although they’ve been going on for longer than that.  Lon Strickler has been collecting stories of these encounters on his website.  Where are these sightings coming from?

So I had replied to this poster, giving her some hypotheticals based on my experience, and another poster popped up and asked me further about them, specifically werewolves, lycanthropes.  I don’t write about these cryptids at all, nor have I studied them.  My teacher covered them as part of my training, and after my initial curiosity–I have no interest in chasing them–I dropped it.  My teachers made it clear that some practitioners go that route, shapeshifting to quasi-animal, human shapes to gain power–which lycanthropes may be a manifestation of, but that it was a dead end, and a nasty one at that.  Because once you’re in it, and stay too long, you forget you were ever human.  And it doesn’t take long.

I had one instructor who did go that route.  He was more of a brujo, a chaos mage, a hired gun.  He would get into petty fights with nearby practitioners, and conduct work that was not quite above board, if the price was right.  Curses were right up his alley, and he had a short temper, so you had to be careful.  He was real fun at parties.  Another instructor went so far as to say that if she even got a whiff that you were indulging in working with negative energies and entities, or shapeshifting for material gain–that she would cut you off without explanation.  What was so striking about it was that she remains the most powerful practitioner I’ve ever known, and she cut off this work at the neck, and wanted absolutely no connection with it.  OK, teach, enough said.  I’ve had enough run-ins with them myself to keep the energetic boundaries around myself, my family and my home water tight.  And I never forget to do this.  It’s not that I can’t deal with entities like that–I have–I just don’t go looking for trouble.

Ghosts, manifestations generated from negative intention –what some would call demons–interdimensional flotsam out there making a mess, I quickly found boring.  Their motivations are the same, they see themselves as separate, and that is incorrect information, and ultimately serves no purpose.  But what struck me by the question is that others might be interested.  To the extent that their observed existence is a commentary about humans’ neurological basis of cognition–why we perceive what we perceive–in that sense, they’re interesting.

So what are these things?  Dogman, skinwalkers, cryptids, flying humanoids, lycanthropes, wendigos?  From a scientific point of view, there’s not much to say.  As far as I know, there’s no hair strands, DNA or physical remains that I can point to.  Nothing, nada.  But from a multidimensional, magical, for lack of a better word, shamanic perspective, maybe there is.  I don’t think you can lump them all together, but there may be a thread that connects them.

Your intentionality, in whatever technique you use to manifest your goals in life, is the master key.  On the top of the “real world” pile we have people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett.  These people have been true visionaries, and have manifested what they envisioned with creativity, innovation and focus.  Then we have men and women like Einstein, Hawking, Watson and Crick, scientists who pushed our understanding of the material world in big steps forward.  There are great artists, writers and musicians, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Bach–all of them have had a particular vision.  Civil rights activists, MLK, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, a multitude of others.  You have a vision as well, and we are always manifesting what we project as reality.  But we have been so ingrained to think that the material world is immutable, and cannot change without material intervention, that we don’t go beyond that view, as a rule, ever.

Practitioners know better–and here’s the thing–by manipulating the causal level of reality, they know they can manifest any material thing that they wish.  Now, of course, it depends of skill, training, experience, and of course, talent.  Most practitioners have some “specialty” that they are best at.  Mine was–or is–healing work, on the physical and emotional level, for the dying patient.  Students of mine had varying talents–one as a psychic and medium, another as an artist, one was even talented as a psychic car mechanic!  But the center of the issue is knowing you can.

So, shapeshifting. So how is this done?  Well, it’s easy, and it’s hard.  Sometimes I think it falls perilously close to what we would consider mental illness.  Kids and young adults manifesting tulpas through focusing their intention–dissociating slivers of personality into autonomous entities to interact with because of loneliness or feelings of inferiority, only serve to enhance those feelings of isolation.  We are healthier when we manage to keep connected with the rest of humanity, however flawed we may be.  So we are capable of manifestation on this level by dissociation, but in my view, it serves no productive purpose.

That instructor who was not the most ethical, his favorite manifestation was as a grey wolf.  But he was small potatoes compared to some of the others I’ve met, or heard first hand reports of.  I’ve experienced several shapeshifting episodes, but it’s been a while since the need arose.  That’s the key to all of this–you have to really, really, want, in the center of your being, heart, mind and soul, to shapeshift into what you need to manifest.  Mine was a hawk, I needed the qualities of clear-seeing, long endurance for flight, and the knowledge that when one thing dies, another is reborn.  But here’s the clincher–on this level, my physical body remained, but uninhabited; but on another plane of reality, I had shifted into a hawk.  I felt feathers, flight, and was far-seeing and clear-hearing.  In that realm, I was as real as I am here.  It was weeks back on this plane–the “real world”–before I lost the craving for mice.  They simply looked delicious.  Go figure.

The same is true of those who wish to do it solely for the sake of power, other wise known as skinwalkers.  Native peoples who still follow tribal beliefs are remarkably circumspect about these practitioners, so some of what I know is hearsay, some from individuals who know parts of the lore, and some is speculation on my part based on my experience and training in shapeshifting.  The belief is that they must commit some heinous crime, killing a family member, incest, to actually manifest as they wish to appear, usually a dogman or wendigo type manifestation.  I personally doubt that’s necessary–perhaps to their mind it is.  The Natives–who still follow the old ways– believe that talking about them draws them to the speaker.  Perhaps–but if you have sufficient defense, that’s not an issue.  But here’s why I think that might be true–these manifest on another plane, and are then attracted to this plane in response to negative–fearful and angry–thought forms.  Many of these reports mention that some very negative event had just happened in their lives, such as a murder or suicide, or other catastrophic emotional event.

So if skinwalkers are drawn out by negative thought forms, this may apply to other cryptids and specifically, the flying humanoids of Chicago.  Some people, Lon Strickler included, suspect that these are drawn to people who are having negative thought forms, anger, characterized by verbal dissension with others.  It seems to have been the case in several instances.  The witnesses were arguing, or mourning, or in some other form of emotional distress.  Perhaps–we most likely need more data.  It’s an interesting contention.  But this would NOT be true of our young lady above.  So what may have happened in that case?

To be continued…