Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

6 - Sensemaker


Where sense is wanting, everything is wanting.

Benjamin Franklin

A story must be judged according to whether it makes sense. And ‘making sense’ must be here understood in its most direct meaning: to make sense is to enliven the senses. A story that makes sense is one that stirs the senses from their slumber, one that opens the eyes and the ears to their real surroundings, tuning the tongue to the actual tastes in the air and sending chills of recognition along the surface of the skin. To make sense is to release the body from the constraints imposed by outworn ways of speaking, and hence to renew and rejuvenate one’s felt awareness of the world. It is to make the senses wake up to where they are.

David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous

The third core function of shamans is that of the sensemaker, which combines elements of seer (or feeler, sensor, hearer, as all the senses can be useful ways of gaining information), sensemaker, and spiritual leader, though it is difficult to tease these elements apart., There is also in the sensemaking role an aspect of the storyteller, in that the ideas generated by intellectual shamans need to be understood by – to make sense to – those who read or listen.

In the capacity of sensemaker, spiritual leader, or storyteller, as with the other functions of healing and connecting, intellectual shamans function as seers, ‘seeing’ into reality as it is, holistically as described in the last chapter, and taking on the role of truth-telling as they see, feel, or otherwise experience it. They serve as sensemakers, making sense for others of these new realities as they see them, essentially as meaning-makers and interpreters – i.e., storytellers of what they see, particularly with respect to the cultural mythologies relevant to their work.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO