Often I share stories with friends and students about the phenomenal beauty, magic and eccentricity of the Shaman energy. Some of these stories can be quite entertaining (funny, moving, sad, and extraordinary); but they’re always set in mundane living and they always depict a kind of simplicity that people aren’t used to seeing around the notion of Shaman.
It’s like I tell my students: “A Shaman has to blow his or her nose too.”
It’s those kinds of stories where the Shaman is depicted as innocent, humble, loving, and childlike-wise that I wish we could see more of in the-up-and-coming books on Shamanism. JP was telling me just this weekend that “people are so used to the stereotypical definition of shaman that they unfortunately rate authenticity according to it.” It would be nice to hear more about the Shaman personality from a daily perspective: the up-close-and-personal so to speak because this way we could truly see Shaman as a whole.
A good decade ago, G and I had the pleasure of spending some time with a couple of First Nation Medicine Women (sisters). I met EC at a conference in St-Andrews, N.B. where I lectured in 1998. EC then introduced me to her sister MP who is traditionalist, ceremonialist and teacher. MP travels all over Canada and the U.S. giving ceremonies and traditional teachings. During one week, in November, a year before EC passed on, we visited with the two women in their home town out east, on the Bay of Fundy. That afternoon I accompanied EC to the dollar store. She talked about these butterflies she hoped to get to decorate her Christmas tree. She mentioned that she had seen the sparkling butterflies before during a previous visit. She bubbled with excitement and described the butterflies one by one as we journeyed to the store. After 20 minutes both MP and I were rolling our eyes and teasing EC about these butterflies. We were overdramatizing how some had golden wings while others had blue, midnight silver wings instead. We were laughing so hard that EC couldn’t help but chuckle along with us.
“You both think you’re funny” she said “but you’ll see when I end up with the best Christmas tree of all.”
By the time we reached the store we were having so much fun that we didn’t notice that it was closing. The young cashier was locking the front door. We never got to shop that day because we managed to get to town somewhat too late. EC might have been a bit disappointed as she stood at the door for a while trying to see if she could show me the butterflies from the window. We giggled when she actually attempted to point them out to me: Lying flat somewhere at the end of a row on a distant shelf. I finally told her to photograph the tree for me once it was completely decorated this way I’d get to see her vision of the butterfly Christmas tree.
To truly understand EC’s personality you’d have to imagine a woman who instantly fell in love with me and recognized me as a long lost friend from the first moment she lay eyes on me. It was like she knew or remembered an ancestral connection between us that I couldn’t even fathom.
“Open your heart and see me,” she used to say as if there was a secret behind these words that only her and I could understand. I found her amusing, naïve, profound and magical. Every time she would call me the bush in our back yard would fill up with different sorts of butterflies. In November when there were no longer any butterflies, the wind would pick up the fallen, dead leaves and bring them to hover near the window giving the illusion that they were butterflies and thus, only before she called. It was as if she could send Monarchs to me as messengers – and they always came just before she sent word or a gift. I learnt eventually that EC’s spirit name was Amagas (Butterfly in Passamaquody).
During the summer of 1998, EC had dreamt of a white wolf who saved her life. She knew without a shred of a doubt at waking, that this wolf existed in human form. EC had immediately called her sister. She shared the dream with her; and then, together the two medicine women found me. I was giving a lecture at the time on Dreaming in the Maritimes, and had given my Spirit name (Okwaho Leblanc – White Wolf) for the pamphlets and publicity. EC believed in her visions, her dreams, her life story. She didn’t differentiate between what was normal and paranormal living – there was simply LIFE and she loved to share it with those who were open to it. Still I found it impressive that she searched for me because of a dream. Found me and actually traveled to meet with me.
During the few years we spent together, EC didn’t waste a moment. It was like she was dying and she didn’t want to be cheated out of our time together. For example if we couldn’t spend Christmas together she made sure to create Christmas in November with turkey and all the trimmings. The house was decorated from head to toe and we celebrated the holiday as if it was actually Christmas day.
“Butterflies live short lives,” she told me once, “but they live full lives. They make sure to be present to every moment and to remember the people they love.”
After EC passed she continued to visit with me in the form of a Butterfly. We survived a terrible accident because of her help (she came in a vision) and until this day, she still sends the Monarch to tell me when she’ll be “calling on me.” Dreams of her are always vivid and always full of laughter. On a few occasions she’s shown me her Butterfly Christmas Tree and I have to admit – it does beat mine any day.
What I learnt of the Shaman energy through my relationship with EC is that it’s relentless, courageous, committed, and consciously sees beyond human restrictions. It loves life and it finds through the mundane the ribbons of magic that connect us all together. These types of stories are why many of us who walk a shamanic path – love shamanism in the first place!
Am I wrong?