How do you become a real-world shaman?
My friend Eleutherios, a modern-day magician, passed me The Way of Wyrd to reread. I’d first read it years ago and it’d entranced me with its magical tale of Brand, a Christian scribe who “suddenly finds his vision of the world turned upside down” when he encounters the spirit world of Wulf, a sorcerer and shaman.
Reading it a second time, years later, it still blew my mind.
What I love most about this book is how you walk side-by-side with Brand as he’s guided, hunted, threatened and instructed in the magical lore of plants, runes, fate and the way of Wyrd. According to the author, Wyrd is:
Wyrd is the unfolding of our personal destiny. It has sometimes been translated into modern English as ‘fate’. But it is much deeper than that. It does not see our lives as ‘pre-determined’. Rather, it is an all-encompassing view which connects us to all things, thoughts, emotions, events in the cosmos as if through the threads of an enormous, invisible but dynamic web. Today, scientists know intellectually that all things are interconnected. But the power of Wyrd is to realise this in our inner being, and to know how to use it to manifest our personal destiny.
Brian, who is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Brighton, Director of the Shaman Research Program at the University of Sussex, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, reconstructed the material of The Way of Wyrd from historical research.
It’s fascinating to get a peek into how the magicians and shamans of old thought and mastered their world, but The Way of Wyrd doesn’t just satisfy intellectual curiosity. It also gives you real and useful insight into the art of living.
One of my favorite passages in the book is about living like a warrior. When Brand witnesses a fight to the death and is struggling to come to terms with it, Wulf tells him:
The finest warriors use death as a resource, for they must live with their wits all the time, whereas for most people life is based on the assumption that they will live to an old age. With the illusion of time to spare, their lives lack urgency, intensity. A life of fantasy takes over like a fungus. Thoughts become clouded with images of future events and the actions and emotions of the moment are postponed indefinitely.
The warrior must accept, deep within his heart, that one day he will be dead and that day could be today. The greatest fighters live as an arrow, not a target. The arrow speeds through space cleanly, swiftly, directly; alive and moving, it has direction and an end point, but in between it soars. The target merely stays still, waiting for something to happen.
The Way of Wyrd is an inspiring journey into the shaman’s world, where hunting for power and spirit guides become real. When you read this book, you’ll go on a hunt for power yourself, and find guides aplenty throughout the book to enrich your life.