Towards Shamanarchism

Houdinis of Bewilderland Part 9


Apache, by Steve Hambidge

Artistic survival in such austere times depends largely upon creative collaboration. The competitiveness of the failed Capitalist model must be replaced with co-operation. We can create the scene we want to be part of, rather than wait for the blessing from above, from approval by the cultural gatekeepers. We can pool resources, skills, good will, contacts, time and energy. Not only can such approaches make it happen now, rather than at some vague point in the future when funding miraculously appears, it is generates a cross-fertilisation of ideas, an acceleration of artistic practice, a willingness to take risks. With no funding hurdles and hoops to jump through, criteria to meet, restrictions in place, or tedious monitoring and evaluation to do, art can be wilder, more experimental, freer. Rather than an art skewed by funding priorities and topical themes (ie whatever the anniversary is that the arts funding insists we focus on, such as the First World War) art can follow its own muse. It no longer has to play safe. A self-governing model of artistic endeavour which serves the community I suggest could be called Shamanarchism (a term I came up with in 1999). To be walkers between the worlds of the self and society, between tradition and innovation, between the secular and the sacred, technology and nature, wilderness and civilisation, men and women, east and west, between cultures and paradigms, negotiating the complexity of modern life, dancing on the tight-rope between extremes, and helping them to see the other side. To be shamanarchists we must be wounded artists, we must be broken and vulnerable, visionary and practical, daring diggers, and hands-on dreamers, and we must be willing to be incomplete.

Previous: A Garden of Stones

Start: Welcome to the Smeuse-House

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2016

This article was commissioned by Doggerland. An alternative version is available in print form in their latest issue, along with other thought-provoking contributions.  Check it out. Available from:

Keep in touch with Doggerland – an inspiring initiative by & for radical artists and writers.



Awen Publications:

Bath Area Network for Artists:

Beltane Fire Society:

Burning Man Festival:

Cartwheels Collective:

Dark Mountain Project:

Dead Good Guides:

Earth Pathways:

Ecolibrium Now:

Friends of the Dymock Poets:

Gift Economy:

Interalia Centre; Frome:

International Times:

Spaniel in the Works:

SVA, Stroud:

The William Blake Society:



Welfare State:


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