Shamans among the natives of North, Central, and South America, as Slow Buffalo’s account demonstrates, believe that they receive their power from animals and birds. At times they experience becoming these creatures, and the power animals likewise become humans. Black Elk’s biographer, Joseph Epes Brown, explains the native American’s deification of self—the lie from Eden:
“The Indian actually identifies himself with, or becomes, the quality or principle of the being or thing which comes to him in a vision, whether it be a beast, bird, one of the elements, or really any aspect of creation. In order that this ‘power’ may never leave him, he always carries with him some material form representing the animal or object from which he has received his ‘power….’
“In wearing the eagle-feathered ‘war bonnet,’ the wearer actually becomes the eagle, which is to say that he identifies himself, his real Self, with Wakan-Tanka [the Great Spirit which Wanbli Galeshka (the Spotted Eagle) represents].”
Even skeptics who have studied them around the world acknowledge a malevolent power behind pagan religions. The Time Literary Supplement (London, England) in its review of Evan-Wentz’s book declared: “The author…after examining the evidence, concludes that…there is a residuum, an x, which nothing can account for except the hypothesis that…immaterial things really do exist and occasionally manifest themselves in certain places to people who bring a certain psychic equipment to the perception of them….”
Clearly paganism is not an accident of the human imagination but a system designed by some intelligence which is timeless and has always had access to mankind worldwide. The same practices are found everywhere. Even when cultural practices are diverse and there has been separation from other peoples by natural barriers of oceans and vast land distances, the same occult practices persist. The identity of the intelligence behind these native religions is betrayed by paganism’s anti-Christian qualities.
In every culture, those who spent their lives learning the secrets of occult power were honored as the priests, priestesses, witches, witch doctors, medicine men, sorcerers, magicians, gurus, and masters. All are so basically similar that they are now included by anthropologists under the one term shaman, the title given by the Tungus tribe in Siberia to its witch doctors or medicine men. Siberian shamans practice the same sorcery that Carlos Castaneda calls “a religious and philosophical experience that flourished [in America] long before the white man came to this continent, and flourishes still.”
The universal involvement of pagan religions with animals supports the biblical account of the serpent appearing as a “power animal” or “guardian spirit” to speak with Eve. Moreover, shamans worldwide receive basically the same information from their “power animals” as Eve received from hers. There is only one difference: The Bible identifies this teaching as the great lie of Satan, while native religions embrace it as the truth. The comments by anthropologist Michael Harner, one of the world’s leading authorities on shamanism and a practicing shaman himself, are very revealing:
“The connectedness between humans and the animal world is basic in shamanism…. The shaman has to have a particular guardian in order to do his work…[and] the guardian spirit is sometimes referred to by native North [and South] Americans as the power animal….
“The capability of the guardian animal spirits to speak to a human or to manifest themselves sometimes in human forms is taken as an indication of their power…. The belief by shamans that they can metamorphose into the form of their guardian animal spirit or power animal is widespread and obviously ancient….
“In the course of the initiation of a shaman of the Wiradjeri tribe in Australia, he had the nonordinary experience that feathers emerged from his arms and grew into wings. Then he was taught to fly.”