How Rolling Thunder redefined shamanism

Today's Mindfunda wants to celebrate Rolling Thunder's birthday, September 19. Rolling Thunder, whose birth name was John Pope, was a self-proclaimed shaman. He had a huge following, with famous people like Bob Dylan and the Grateful Death among them. But most of all he was in touch with nature. He had a remarkable ability to tune into the energies of nature.

Shamanism and healing

The Voice of Rolling Thunder

On the cover of this book, written by Stanley Krippner and his son Sidian Morning Star Jones you see a bird in the hands of Rolling Thunder. Before the photo was taken that bird lay wounded on the ground. Rolling Thunder picked the bird up and nurtured it. Soon, the bird started to come alive again and at that moment this photo was taken.
Even though there is question whether Rolling Thunder indeed had an Indian heritage, fact is that he was in tune with nature. He seemed to have an ability to pick up on nature’s rhythm and align his own energy with it.

Shamanism and pop culture

Rolling Thunder was popular with artists. He inspired Bob Dylan who did a Rolling Thunder tour. It is not clear if Bob Dylan named the tour after the healer, but Rolling Thunder is said to have appeared in some of the concerts to perform ceremonies. It was completely in line with the time frame: pop musicians like the Beatles in the seventies took people into the modern times but wanted to dip into the ancient wisdom. The Beatles introduced meditation by hooking up with Maharishi Yogi. Bob Dylan, but also the Grateful Death twirled around the magic of Rolling Thunder. Mickey Hart devoted a whole album to Rolling Thunder.

The archetypical qualities every pop star must have to become popular, have a magical appeal to the public. Rolling Thunder aligned with that appeal. I think he was able to do that because he seemed to be able to pick up energies so well.

Shamanism and energy

Rolling Thunder seemed to have this illumed power to tune into energy. i know that sounds vague. It is like buying a tooth-brush because it has thirty percent more hair in its brush. It can not be the ultimate success factor of this shaman. Let’s listen to Rolling Thunder himself in his foreword for Song of the Siren:

What scientists call physic phenomena, American Indians would refer to as “other world”. These phenomena are very important. In fact, they are the most important aspects of our lives. They have to do with life and death and sickness. They even have to with the rise and fall of governments.
Everything in the universe rises and falls and travels in cycles. These cycles are energy patterns created in the universe itself, then in the bodies of everyone living and everything that has a life. I think as scientists go more into explorations in this area, they will find that these energy patterns explain a lot‘.

Now this is a romantic view of life. It is something we crave. We know we have lost this connection to the earth and we grieve its loss every day. Looking at pop music today, it seems to have lost this bridge function between the old and the new. The new stars do not seem to have mentors. Or have I just become older?

Shamanism and you

I think that whenever you take a quit moment and you align with the natural rhythms around you, you can become your own shaman.
I think that Rolling Thunder had this great appeal to people because he had this genuine desire to unveil the secrets of the earth. And I think that we all long for this. That is why we all are moved by the words of Chief Seattle, of the Suquamish Indians. In his letter he writes:

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself“.

Like Rolling Thunder, he calls this alignment between the earth and the humans into being. And we live in a life that seems to have forgotten how much we are part of the earth. How we live, breath and are the earth itself. and how we will become part of her again after we leave this life.

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