Thursday, October 05, 2006

I am a Shaman, Perhaps

I am a Shaman, Perhaps.

I have been journeying for many years. Perhaps centuries and perhaps longer. If I count this life, all common life as we understand it, as a middle-world journey, longer still.

I am a Shaman, perhaps. I have not the confidence to say for sure. I have not the patience or the compassion to give that patience to myself. Such is the work of my life; to learn this compassion, this patience and this trust in myself. Several lifetimes perhaps. I am diligent. Perhaps too much so. Such has been the work of many journeys and soul-retrievals.

I am a Shaman, perhaps. Far too many coincidences lead me to feel that what has been occurring has been something more than coincidence. Far too much has worked; far too much has fallen together instead of fallen apart.

I met a fellow: a shaman. I introduced people to him, one at a time. Asked him to come here or there, brought people with me. The Universe ordered itself and I am here as the tool of this, as the messenger.

I am a Shaman, perhaps. Part of that is wondering if what I do is real. Even if I start deciding to make up my journey, without fail it comes to fullness in fruit common to those with whom I travel and so it must be we are part of the same tree, our journeys from the same root. And so it appears what we create and what is are also of the same root. All from this world and so what is within is without. And the question is begged: not that is everything we see in a journey real, but is anything we make up not? Is imagination simply a way of seeing non-ordinary reality?

I think, I feel, in some ways I live in non-ordinary reality ordinarily. In so many ways my life is a blessing of uncommon circumstance. Among those blessings are the people with whom I am journeying. Such a group as this has come together around a drum or two and lying still in our bodies while our far flung minds travel where they will, visiting with power animals, guides, finding bits of self, restoring them to those we love, those we have never met, and to ourselves.

Such a group as this has more in common than we immediately imagine. We journey, find the same places, the same symbols. We think it a creation and then find our report duplicated again and again by those who did not hear what we had to say.

We have our pasts in common: similar experiences, dreams, childhoods and the
hallmarks of Core Shamanism. We are of a kin.

We've had our heads off, limbs off, skin off. We've had our psyches stripped and put back and here we are together.

I trust those with whom I journey. I am comfortable with them and with two in particular with whom I know I am safe and well. They are part of the non-ordinary blessing of my life and with one I feel the most comfort and safety. I listen to these people and they listen to what I have to say. One of them I believe. That I do believe is an amazement to me.

I start my journeys with jokes and attempts at humour. They disappear as I fall into comfort and remember I've nothing to protect.

This last evening we start with introductions and I do not participate and
inadvertently create the tenor of the evening as we, instead, introduce each other. We each in turn are told who we are, what others feel about us, know about us, love about us. I can do this with others and do so easily, with facility. There is truth to be told and joy in the telling.

And yet I wonder, from time to time, should a thing be said? Will it be understood? Will I be understood? These are constant worries of my life and on evenings such as this I can give them up, put them aside and say what is right and just and true. On nights like this there is no need for fear.

Some speak of me matter-of-factly, state what I do well, speak from an illusion of objectivity, speak from the brain and the mind and some speak of me emotionally, from the truth of subjectivity, speak from the heart and gut. The entire time I look down, stare elsewhere, cannot look at people, feel discomfort as I feel loved and feel the paradox that is a shamanic life.

Our journey starts and I take out my drum: a frame drum of birch and horse, it was made for me by a woman who invited me to a sweat lodge where she suddenly decided she was bashful and we had to remain fully clothed. The fabric left burns on my skin as I asked for the strength to forgive those who hurt me as I suffered, my skin portraying the marks of their absolution.

I forgave myself for my trespasses against myself and for those against others as the burns deepened. I was ill that evening and the next day. A week later she tried to convert me to be a Christian. I said no thank you and she said she could no longer speak with me. As my drum was a tool of Satan, she could not accept money for it and I could keep it. I had yet to pay for it and she would accept no money.

We start a slow heartbeat rhythm and my drum thrives on this. I drum, another drums on one slightly smaller and another on one much, much larger.

We decided to work on ourselves: a night to allow the healers to heal. But, unlike other nights, we do not ask others to do the work but instead agree to work on ourselves, to plumb our own depths. If work comes up for others, it is fine and well and a blessing but we will work on ourselves, learn to give to ourselves so we can carry on for the community.

In the recent past we have worked on each other, doing soul-retrievals. We have collected and returned bits of flowers, watched bats brought back home, seen colours snuffled up. In a few of us, this reintegration has brought a re-evaluation of our places in life. Of our lives and of life itself. Some have been sad, some depressed. I have been depressed, thought much of death as inevitable and comfortable. So another has thought of death but not comfortably and has sounded scared and sad for the first time since I know her. I try not to say anything but seeing her in such a way leaves me feeling sad as well. But in a conversation, she tells me what she has read.

If in the process of reintegrating one's life, one thinks, what would appear to others, too much or too long on death and life, what then is the proper occupation of one's thoughts? What may we think is more important as we put our lives back together from the bits and pieces taken by our everyday existence? A million little deaths are brought back home and slowly rematched with our ongoing life. Is it any wonder the simultaneous turbulence and calm which follow?

She told me this. I feel she is right. I listen to her. She is one of the few I do. And with our conversation I know the sadness will pass; hers and mine.


The larger drum is liquid, languid. At this slow pace it swims in its own vibration and I lay in the fluid, stuck. Soon, the oceanic drum drops and we are left with the two others and I drop as well, into a habitrail of tunnels and think what am I doing here? I should be in temple of the Amidah and then I am in my temple: the temple of my brain, the amygdale. I spend time there connecting and disconnecting bundles of neurons as seems the need. I move to the corpus collosum and do the same and my shaking slows, seizures decrease.

I am my own brain surgeon and soon, the drumming comes to an end though, since I am drumming, I am not sure how this has happened.

We talk. The slow rhythm is conducive to going within ourselves and working on ourselves and such was successful. We share our experiences.

We do this each time we work. Some of us find ourselves alone, find ourselves hanging, dead, discover ourselves fleshless. We find our power and sometimes our weakness and often, they are he same.

Tonight some of us discover our fears and some our powers and again, for many, they are the same.

We go 'round the circle and tell our stories. Each different yet each so very similar.

And we start to drum again. This time faster; nearly twice the speed of the first time. The larger drum feels at home and the smaller drums do as well and I drum, fall into my hole and am told my job now is to get up and drum. Drum for the others; drum to shake off the matter, to loosen that which is stuck.

I drum over my son, stand there, holding the beat for more than five minutes. I move to drum for others, standing behind them, before them. I and see their hair shake in the compression waves. I am moved here and there, directed where to stand, in what direction to drum, told who needs the energy and for how long

I stand behind the big drum and beat into it, amplifying my own drum, smoothing a sound of multiples into that of one. My journey this time is of service and I feel at home and comfortable and I know, in a sense, it is where I belong and, in another, it is an escape.

Again we share. Again, we are a group on a similar path. Some need contact, some need to be touched here or there. Some need a tear or two to be shed.

We end, drink coffee, plentiful through our entire evening, eat apples. We have been here since seven. It is quarter 'till twelve and we have traveled much further than our five hours would suggest. And this time was real and important and full of life. I think of this as I ready to leave and look forward, already to the next time we journey together.

I will journey before then.

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