Beware the gurus

FLICKING though some of my old dream journals, I came across the following advice from one of my most trusted guides: “Beware people on high pedestals – especially self-perpetuating ones”.

Looking back at the scenario I was living through at the time, the advice was perfect; it had accompanied these words: “Sometimes, if the energy of a place or situation cannot be cleared by you alone, it is best to leave the area”. Again, perfect advice for what was happening at the time, and even today I’m so pleased I took it!

In the shamanic world – as with any other walk of life – you will find plenty of people who have allowed their power to go to their heads, and it’s not always surprising.
Let’s be honest here… the more well known one becomes, whatever their path, the bigger their following becomes and, as that following grows, it stands to reason that staying balanced and grounded becomes more difficult.

Even the straightest, purest teacher can be swayed by adulation. I remember one of my teachers once telling me that two things happened to teachers who allowed themselves to be placed on pedestals – they either became demonised (his words, not mine) or tumbled from a great height.

Ego and fame
In some careers, ego kind’ve comes with the turf – famous singers, bands, actors, models sometimes sporting greats and the like have thousands upon thousands of adoring fans throwing themselves at their feet and, when the world, the media and your agent constantly tells you how wonderful you are, it must be damn near impossible to stop the stardom from rushing to your head. But here’s the rub… on many spiritual paths – particularly shamanism – striving to be free from ego is one of the core principals; ego is seen as a corrupt state and there’s certainly no room for arrogance.

And I’m not talking about confidence or pride. I’m talking about those who adopt a self-proclaimed guru status, an air of arrogance and, indeed, quite enjoy sitting atop those pedestals. Why is that a bad thing? Well, for starters, if someone’s spending that much time in their glorious guru head, how on earth can they get themselves out of the way to allow the purity of spirit to shine through and do the work?

In shamanism, we learn to move away from drama states of mind, to be the hollow bone, to be humble, joyful and to understand that in a circle, no one person is more important than any other. That’s not to say there won’t be someone facilitating, leading, stepping into the role of ‘chief’, but still, all are equal.

In choosing a teacher, I want someone who will challenge me to be my best, who will encourage me to grow, to become all I can be, someone who understands that every day is a schoolday and that he, or she, may learn just as many lessons from their students. I want someone who wants me to succeed, not someone who wants me to be their student forever more, or belittles me, or clips my wings for fear of me stealing their limelight. I want someone who understands that we never stop learning and that life can turn on a sixpence. I want someone who will teach from a place of purity, passing on the lessons out of a genuine desire to help people grow, to create a better world, to encourage people to think, learn and become all they can be. I want someone who has time for me, someone who still listens to their own spirits and teachers, someone who knows that even their knowledge, whilst huge compared to that of their students, is but a speck of dust in the scheme of the universe. I want someone who still lives and breathes the teachings of the path, no matter how many books they’ve published, or TV interviews they’ve done, no matter how many students in their circle, followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. I want someone who does not take advantage of their fame or following, who does not allow it to go to their head, someone who can teach, lead and inspire whilst still remembering what it is to be humble.

So, going back to that dream advice at the beginning of this blog, I did indeed leave the area on that occasion, and the person who once was my teacher did, indeed, fall from that pedestal with a crash. Was I happy about that? Honestly? No… I just took the teaching and decided, right there and then, that if I ever went on to teach shamanism, I’d do my best to ensure nobody put me on a pedestal. And if they did? I’d climb right back down again!

I guess that’s why I’ve felt horribly uncomfortable when people have referred to me as “wise” or “medicine woman” or “shaman”. You see, for me, those kinds of titles can breed ‘guru’ mindsets, and they can breed ego. Yes, I’m happy to stand in my own power, but the big stuff, the stuff that comes through in healings, in my craftwork, in many of my teachings, that doesn’t come from me. That comes from Spirit, and I’m just getting out of the way to allow it to come through. The Spirits I work with are, indeed, wise medicine people, perhaps shamans, maybe even gurus… who knows? But me? I’m just Taz.

> What do you think? Is there room for ego and arrogance in shamanism? Have you experienced this? Leave me a comment below… I’d love to hear from you! πŸ™‚

About Taz Thornton (

Speaker | writer | firewalker | empowerment coach | shamanic artist | mentor | encourager. Debut tome underway for Moon Books. Follow me on Twitter - @TazThornton and find FirechildShamanism and TazThorntonOfficial on Facebook.
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6 Responses to Beware the gurus

  1. saraannon says:

    I call it standing on the ant pile. It might feel like king of the mountain, but sooner or later those ants are going to start biting, and probably some place you’d really rather not get bit.


  2. Sonara says:

    Taz, I like what you said about doing your best to not allow others to put you on a pedestal… I met a Native Elder many years ago and told myself that very same thing πŸ™‚ I also vowed not to allow the people closest to me to over protect or shelter me from others and my own lessons.


  3. A couple of thoughts – I believe that men are more liable to ‘become’ gurus, as we’re much more prone to ‘ego’, particularly if we’re teaching a group that is mostly ladies!
    I started my healing training shortly after the attacks of September 11th. A trusted healer sent me a quote from Nostradamus that predicted the attacks. It didn’t ring true, so I read the whole of Nostradamus – it wasn’t there. She had passed it on in good faith, but even the best of us can be misled. So I had the lesson very early on to test anything that didn’t ring true, no matter what the source, at first physically, but now spiritually.


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