In my crusade against the detrimental effects of technology through mindless abuse and in an age of social division and leftist outrage at misappropriation of cultures, I stumbled across the phrase ‘digital shamanism’. A phrase filled with incongruity and western entitlement. Having visited traditional shamans in the Amazon, I just laughed that idea that anyone in the western world could understand the mystical depths of the universe, particularly those whom spend all day behind computer screen. Likewise, the native tribes of the Amazon have little interest in the technology of the west being interwoven with their practices.
The Shaman, typically a healer who connects to spirits and other dimensions through nature to help people, whereas, the digital is based on a binary system of manipulation through ones and zeros — possibly the farthest thing removed from shamanism. Yet, I am all about duality and the advent of human technology and the mind, so i flicked on my meditation app and meditated on it :)
Is there something to be learnt from this polarising phrase? Can technology help us connect to our deepest sense of emotion and spiritual growth, like the sacred vine and psychedelic drug Ayahuaca, or one of the many other ritualistic medicines which the shamanic culture is based around.
Then I thought about the Ayahuasca ceremony and what technologies are used, aside from the cooking of the medicine. It dawned on me that the main technology in the ceremony is the Icaros, the medicine songs sung by the Shaman who uses various instruments which they have built from naturally occurring materials. Yet, this is a technology developed by humans, no matter how primitive it may be.
In this century, our relationship with music is largely one that is digital and somewhat taken for granted. Yet, in the right context it can have the same mesmerising effects, particularly when combined with psychoactive chemicals and even more so when experienced in a group of people sharing an intention, with a shaman leading the ceremony through song. I am of course talking about the DJ.
Now I am not advocating that getting mashed off your tits in a crowd of 10,000 people at a festival is necessarily healing or spiritually enlightening, but with the correct intention from the DJ, the collective crowd and yourself, something as simple as the rave scene which has developed in the western world can become a beautiful experience, albeit perhaps in a smaller format. The reason that this article does not focus on meditation apps and other immersive experiences available through technology, is that I consider this to be a live human connection, which is far more difficult to achieve on prerecorded media.
I must admit that there is something happening music when a DJ plays their repetitive, mesmerising loops after having curated a specific journey of music for the crowd. Furthermore, dancing is one of the strongest medicines which I know of, and the intentional journey curated by the DJ and experienced by the dancer or listener can create a positive outcome.
The DJ is a digital shaman. They are one of many emerging digital shamans, floating in a sea of charlatans and posers. Pick your DJ or band carefully, set an intention and experience the healing power of the music through your body.