STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES AND ETHICS--LIFEWAY SHAMANIC FELLOWSHIP
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES AND ETHICS--LIFEWAY SHAMANIC FELLOWSHIP
By Usen's grace, Ho-dah....
This is an era of decision. Do we allow ourselves to cut the
throat of the Mother Who has nourished us as a species since
we "came down from the trees"? Or do we work to walk in
Beauty and Harmony with Her, and cherish Her, and work to
see Her healed? The resurgence of Shamanism, the primal
Earth Religion of practically all of the Earth's
pre-Agrarian cultures, is an important thing, foretold by
the Paiute prophet Wovoka and in the Hopi Prophecies. It
was said that both the Red Man would return to the Ways of
the Old Ones and that the non-Native would also embrace the
Lifeway. There are non-Natives who respectfully have chosen
these Ways, and are carrying them on in a reverent way. If
the Lifeway was only given for the Native peoples, it would
die out within our lifetime. There are simply not enough
traditional Elders left.
It has been shown to some of us that Our Mother The Earth is
not willing to die quietly. She has demonstrated this by
the increase in natural disasters of the past decade, which
continue day by day. The Hopi prophecies state that, when
the "bowl full of ashes" (most interpret this as the
Thermonuclear Bomb) is overturned, that Our Mother shall
rise up in Her righteous anger and destroy humanity. This
prophecy is coming true, although it may yet be reversable.
Perhaps it is we who reverence the Ways and walk in harmony
with Our Mother that may stay Her hand.
The Lifeway Fellowship is here for those who wish to honor
Our Mother and Our Father, Earth and Sky, and to honor The
Giver Of Life, from whence all things flow in the Universe.
Our world-view is primarily allied with that of the
Navajo/Dineh, Apache/Teneh, and Hopi peoples. However we do
not represent ourselves as the keepers of those ways. The
secrets of those Nations are for them alone, unless Usen'
wishes to reveal them to us. Our mission is to help heal
Our Mother, The Earth, and to help each other walk in closer
harmony with Her. We also exist to provide a way for urban
and sub-urban people to learn and practice the root Shamanic
techniques that aid us in finding our True Vision and True
Way of Power, and following that Vision and that Way.
We identify ourselves as Pagan (Webster's New World
Dictionary "1. b)...a person who is not a Christian, Moslem,
or Jew (by faith); heathen. Pagan specifically refers to one
of the ancient polytheistic (or pantheistic) peoples.") and
as unashamed Pantheists and Polytheists. The Lifeway
is truly a religious commitment. No-one can make a commitment
to the Lifeway and to the worship of Life Giver, The Earth
Mother and The Sky Father and remain a worshiper of other
Paradigms of the Deity, much as one cannot be a Christian
and worship the Greco-Roman pantheon. However this does not
imply the condemnation of other Paradigms, nor impel a duty to
We stand by other Pagans who do not share our paradigms, IE.
Wiccans, Asatruans, Hellenists, and other Shamanic traditions,
(African and neo-African(Santeria & Voudoun), Australian,
Siberian, Traditional Native American, and Polynesian, to name
a few) and even though we may disagree with some or all of
their practices and beliefs, they are Brothers, Sisters and
Cousins, and in times of persecution as well as times of
goodwill we must defend them. We may even share in their open
rituals and allow them to share in our open ceremonials. But
that which is ours must remain ours, just as that which is
theirs must remain theirs.
As our Fellowship is inherently religious, we must declare a
The(a)ology. (The strange spelling refers to the fact that
we acknowledge a Goddess as well as a God)
This is summed up very easily. There are three main powers
we worship, Usen' the Life Giver, The Earth Mother, and The
Sky Father. The latter Two are emanations of the First, as
all, including the God and the Goddess, are emanations from
Usen', which is the primaeval First Cause.
Usen': One cannot look upon The Life Giver as either Male or
Female, for The Life Giver is beyond those distinctions.
Usen', and The Life Giver, are names for this First Cause,
this Force that pervades all and caused all to come into
being. From Usen', the God, Sky Father, and the Goddess,
Earth Mother, emanate, as the lesser Deities emanate from
The Earth Mother: We live and walk and are sustained from
The Earth Mother, which is our Earth. She is alive, and we
all exist within Her as part of Her structure. Science,
through the Gaea Hypothesis, has finally acknowledged Her
existence, and some even have learnt the lesson that our
duty in this life is to care for and honor Her. This is a
lesson that all must learn, for as long as we despoil Her,
we risk Her wrath. She is expressed through the faces of
White Painted Woman, Who is The Woman Warrior, through Corn
Mother, Who is The Nourishing Mother, and through Spider
Woman, Who is The Wise Woman, The Ancient One, The Custodian
of Wisdom. Women are acknowledged as being human represent-
atives of The Earth Mother.
The Sky Father: Just as among we Humans, there is both Man
and Woman, so there is no Earth Mother without Sky Father.
Sky Father is the air we breathe, the flame that gives us
warmth and cooks our food, and brings forth the rain that
fertilizes Our Mother and allows Her to provide us with
the crops and animals that sustain us. Sky Father is also
expressed as The Hunter, The Warrior, and First Shaman, and
is also expressed in Killer Of Enemies and The Child Of
Water. He is also present and acknowledged as being present
in every Man.
There are other spirits that exist in the Universe, some
beneficient, some maleficient. But most important is Usen',
Earth Mother, and Sky Father. By walking in harmony with the
God(esse)s, one can tell the Good from the Evil, welcoming
in Good, and protecting each other from Evil.
We have our code of Ethics. It is neither lengthy nor
overly restrictive. We do not include ancient taboos in
this list, such as Mother-In-Law avoidance or the taboo
against Fish, because they may not apply nowadays. If you
wish to not eat fish or to avoid your Mother-In-Law for
religious reasons, it is your perogative. But it is not a
1.) If the action does not harm yourself, other people or
intelligent beings, or Our Mother The Earth, you are free to
do as you wish.
2.) To charge for healings, sweats or ceremonials is totally
wrong and extremely offensive. Also, to charge excessively
for teaching is equally offensive, but a modest fee
over expenses is allowable. Your conscience is the best
guide, that and the Will of the Deities.
3.) Magick should be limited only to protection of Self and
Loved Ones, and to healing and helping those in need,
provided that permission is given by the patient and that
help other than healing does not interfere with the Will of
others. Magick that is used in a coercive (IE. Love spells)
or destructive (harming or killing magick) way is patently
wrong and is considered Black Magick.
4.) Contact of spirits by any means other than Shamanic
journeying or the Vision Quest is very risky, and Possession
is a real possibility. The practice of mediumship, or
"channeling" has no place in the Lifeway, and exposes not
only Self but others to danger.
5.) Permission must always be asked of the spirits of plants
and/or animals before taking them for either sustenance or
6.) One's visions and one's personal ceremonies are one's
own. Personal visions should not be spoken of, but shared
visions are for all of the group.
7.) It is wrong to criticise another within the group or
outside the group. Racism, sexism, xenophobia or general
disrespect of others has no place in the Fellowship.
Individual decisions about lifestyle and other ethical
issues not covered here are an individual's own affair.
4.):GROUP STRUCTURE AND INITIATION PRACTICES
There is only one Initiation, which is the Initiation that
makes one Kin within the group and in the sight of The
Deities. It is given after one has taken their first Vision
Quest, has found their Power Animal(s) and has met the
Shaman Within. It can only be denied to those who have met
these requirements, is younger than the legal Age Of Consent
(in most places, 18 years) is not of sound mind, and/or is
under suspicion of being a Law Enforcement Officer or other
person antipathetic to Pagan and/or Shamanic belief
who requests initiation for fraudulent purposes (usually to
infilitrate to either sabotage or publically discredit the
Fellowship) Initiation must not be denied on account of
physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, or sterility,
nor on account of sex, race, nationality, political belief,
or sexual preference.
There are no set offices within the Fellowship. Ideally,
leadership should be by consensus, with true leaders being
temporary and purpose-oriented. Facilitation of rituals may
be done by any Initiate of the Fellowship. ANYONE WHO
REPRESENTS THEMSELVES AS A HIGH PRIEST/ESS OF THE LIFEWAY
SHAMANIC FELLOWSHIP IS A FRAUD, AND IS DOING SO CONTRARY TO
THIS STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES AND ETHICS.
Support of the Fellowship is done on a purely voluntary and
mutual basis. No tithe or dues should be assessed unless
they have been agreed upon by all members, initiates and
Membership is extended to all. But initiation is reserved
for those who meet the criteria mentioned above.
Non-initiates can participate in open ceremonials and in
basic workshops, but may be denied participation in certain
ceremonials and advanced workshops.
5.) THE QUESTION OF RECOGNIZING SHAMANS
In traditional societies, the title Shaman was not just an
honorific, or recognition of talents. Nor was it the
highest initiatory level in a Shamanic society. The Shaman
was, in most cases, above the Chief in decision-making power
and was judge, doctor, father-confessor, and intercessor
with the Deities for the tribe. Some Shamanic societies are
now providing their membership with "Shaman training
seminars" and "Shaman apprenticeships" that can be had for
an exorbitant price. This implies that the cost of being a
Shaman can be paid in money and in a set amount of time.
This is not the case. Many tribes believe that the office
of Shaman is not one that is earned, but one that one is
born into. Certainly, the skills are never something one is
born with, and this is not merely hereditary. Rather, when
a child is born, the current Shaman would recognize that the
child had the POTENTIAL of being the next one, and the
child's training would begin when they were considered ready
by the Shaman. At adulthood, they would be tested. If they
passed the test, they would become the next Shaman. If they
failed, usually the test was such that they would either die
outright, or they would go insane. Many "heroic quest"
tales, and most notably the Arthurian legends have echoes of
this practice within the ancient Shamanic traditions of
But the point that is being made here is that we should not
go back to that sort of way of doing things, because in this
society it is nigh on impossible. The stand I am offering
here is that recognition as a Shaman can be conferred only
through shared vision, and signs from the Deities. It is
not my place to say what the signs are...it will be obvious
to the Fellowship. I am not Shaman myself, and will not
brook anyone calling me that. This is something I place in
the lap of the Deities to decide. I cannot do anything
more. It is a mockery of those people that can truly be
called Shamans, who are respected, powerful people of
traditional tribes, to do anything less. In any event, to
claim such a title is definately not enough, and is
punishable by withdrawing Fellowship from the one who claims
to be Shaman falsely.
6.) FESTIVALS AND WORSHIP DAYS
The festivals are reckoned as they have been for centuries
by most Southwestern tribes, by both the Sun and the Moon.
The seasons begin on the first full moon after a Solstice or
an Equinox. The Solstices and Equinoxes themselves are
times of celebration as well, and perhaps the period between
the two (which usually works out to be no more than a week
or so) could be considered a time of Holiday. Lesser
ceremonials are held on New Moons and Full Moons between the
first Full Moons of the seasons. Optionally certain Pagan
festivals could be celebrated in conjunction with other
groups, but they are not to be adopted as official Lifeway
Fellowship ceremonial days.
There are other ceremonials that are personal in nature, and
can be held at any time, although synchronizing them with
the Festivals and the New and Full Moons is advisable. They
are Naming, where a newborn child is named in the presence
of the group and their Life-beads given; Coming Of Age,
where the child's physical maturity is acknowledged, and
where, for a short time, they become Child of the Water (if
a boy) or White Painted Woman (if a girl); Initiation, where
a person becomes a full-fledged member of the group, given
after a person becomes a legal adult; Joining, where a man
and a woman consent to be married; Unjoining, where a man
and woman who are married consent to have the bond
dissolved, which is to be done only after four reconcili-
ation attempts fail or after evidence of marital infidelity
or abuse is given before the group; the Moonlodge, which is
a special sweat for women in their Moon-time; and Release,
where a ceremony for a dead member of the Fellowship is done
to guide their soul Back Home. Other ceremonials that are
dreamed or envisioned by a person or group are also
7.) SUMMING UP
A few quick ones: One can be either clothed or unclothed at
ceremonies, but it should be known that none of the
Southwestern tribes did ceremonies in the nude. However,
one should disrobe for the sweat lodge, as clothes are not
only uncomfortable within the sweat lodge, but interfere
with the cleansing process of the lodge.
This Statement can be accepted or rejected by individual
groups that federate themselves with Lifeway Fellowship. But
federation can be denied to those groups who stray too far
from some of the basic guidelines, or do anything that would
sully the reputation of the Fellowship in general.
Hi-dicho...this is finished.
May these proceeds please Life Giver Usen', and the Mother
and the Father.
Chihacou White-Puma, 1988.