Another aspect of shamanism that I am now encountering as a result of putting a lot of facts together is that cliche of a bright flame burning out sooner. As I write this it is without a trace of pleasure. Shamans are in danger of burning out.
Perhaps a shaman, as I have understood this animal, is nothing other than a master of intra-subjectivity. Knowing the structure of the psyche like he knows his own hand, this intra-subjective manipulator conjures it up so that he may see the world in the way that lends it its brightest appearance of vitality. He seduces parts of his mind to corroborate this overall vision, she erases parts that cause her to reflect only on perpetual drudgery, he causes others to see what he sees too, and so, she causes the spiritual rain to come to water others’ lives when they’ve been stuck in drudgery for far too long.
But the shaman, as I have come to understand her, pays, quite normatively, a high price for this. For all of the effort of directing flows and energies, first inwardly, and then out to the world, will use up psychic energy, until there is none left. And once this happens, that which the shaman trades in (knowledge of the pattern of psychical energies) and that which she seeks to use her own resources to redirect (the psychical energies that organise society) will no longer be able to be managed any more. At this point, the shaman’s life will be over. Time to hug a horse in Turin, or sit desolately on a park bench in Harare wondering who one is.
This seems to be the life pattern of the contemporary shaman, who burns out quickly in the face of the systematic organisational energies of Modernity.
At the point when this happens, when the flame burns itself out, and where the inwards resources implode, the enemies that one had fought against one’s whole life start to close in. Thus in Nietzsche’s case, his mother and his sister moved in to take care of his living carcass. In the case of Marechera’s Mugabe’s cronies moved in against him, in his weakened state, to have their feast. And Nietzsche’s shamanistic record became, under his sister’s control, a fascist monogram. And Marechera’s oeuvre was seized upon by those living normotic bureaucratic lives to prove that he knew nothing about politics.
Such is the condition of the shaman when he draws the last flame out of his body, and those ridden with Thanatos hurry to close in.