Sunday, July 18, 2010

SHAMAN

It was one of those days where I could feel spirit in all things. A summer wind was tenderly caressing the trees and the sun was playing with the clouds. Every now and again, thunder would rumble in the horizon and drops of rain would teasingly touch the ground. Wild flowers were swaying in the breeze and my rose bushes were laboring to give a second generation of buds. No matter where I glanced a feature of creation was manifesting around me. I closed my eyes and for a moment my spirit drifted through the branches of the poplars. With the tail of my thoughts I touched the edge of a nest and synchronically heard the cry of the blue Jay. Soon I was back in my chair on the porch laughing at the Jay who reproached me for my slight intrusion. It actually perched on the side of the pool barely twelve feet away from me and bickered.

“I’m sorry,” I giggled and it flew away still squabbling one last insult.
“Why is it,” I wondered “that I don’t mind the boundaries of nature and yet rebel against those set by man?”

Butterflies flew overhead and one beautiful Monarch unsteadily landed on my arm. I’ve always thought the main body of a Butterfly appears like a lady from the Victorian times: Holding two delicate orange umbrellas while strolling flirtatiously down the street with a long dress sweeping the side walk. Everything about my day seemed to relate to touch and to nature’s way of conversing with me. My cheeks flushed with the heat of the sun and I took off my shoes to roam in the grass.

For a few minutes I aimlessly wandered through a dream I had in early morning. I remembered crying out to a man called John, a perfect stranger. I could still picture him as I thought of him: Mid-thirties perhaps, dirty long curly hair and about 5 feet 10. He had a strong jaw with the start of a beard; broad shoulders and definitely the stance of an old world warrior. I held a newborn in my arms and knew the name of his mother: Beth. I could picture her as well even though she wasn’t present in the dream. She was my height (5 feet 4), small built, with shoulder length blond hair. A gargoyle perched over an arch that led into a garden. The sky was over cast with dark, menacing clouds. I glanced at the grotesque figure over my right shoulder afraid somehow that it could snatch the child out of my hands. I walked around a pond and John came close to speak to me. He protected the baby and I. His eyes showed concern but as long as he was near I didn’t fear anything anymore. I trusted the man. On the shore I noticed a pier where a white head eagle sat on the hedge. It seemed captivated by the presence of some deity hidden in a misty blue cloud that hovered over the water. The Eagle held a smudge bowl and with a long feather it sent the smoke of sage to cover the marsh. Soon we were all disappearing through a perfumed thick fog of sacred herbs. John whispered in my ear: “This is the first time my totem behaves without any kind of connection to me.”

When I stepped out of the dream I was standing over my own crop of sage and sweet grass. I had absentmindedly crossed the yard and stood over a small field of sacred herbs impressed with the way my body reacted and listened to the dreaming.

For me, this is magic!

I often meet people who define the word shaman as an individual who has visions, does healing and work with energy: The kind of person everyone can become… I’ve often wondered why people need to vulgarize words in order to have access to them rather than devote time and energy to explore the experience that gives our language power? To lightly and lovingly touch a man or woman takes emotion, motor skills, and desire perhaps even need. Why wouldn’t there be as much labor devoted to speech? After all, in most traditions language is a type of touch…

I once helped a dog pass away. She was 16 years old and was dying of liver failure. Near the end, she was often out of breath and agitated. The owner feared to approach the dog because sometimes she would suddenly snap and bite. When the final hour came I was the first person that was called to help. I remember watching the dog for a few minutes before approaching her and noticing fear. She like humans in the same situation felt quite apprehensive towards dying. I took out my drum at first and stroke a steady rhythm of a heartbeat. She was almost asleep by the time I put my hands on her. She opened her eyes somewhat surprised at first and a murmured quietly: “It’s OK. You’ll be OK. I promise.” Reassurance moved through my hands as a petted the animal. I wanted her to know that she was not in any danger. She whined for a bit and eventually just before taking her last breath, she opened her eyes wide and seemed to say thank you. The owner whimpered for a while and held her tight before wrapping her in a blanket. I wondered why it was easier to say goodbye after she had gone rather than while she was preparing to leave?

We all have our talents and skills; and I believe we all have a destiny to fulfill.
I don’t think that we can all be Shaman. I also don’t think that we can all be lawyers, or doctors, or plumbers, or carpenters, or hairdressers etc…. We experience in life what is OURS to experience and no matter our expectations and ambitions LIFE brings us to where we need to be. What most difficult is to trust, accept and surrender. They may sound like cliché words but when we finally allow ourselves to experience the power of that vocabulary we get a moment of pure understanding and pure sight.

It’s rare that people ask the question: “What is the experience of the Shaman?” We are so caught up in wanting and possessing the world around us that we don’t sit still in our personal experiences and value the lessons or healing that they are imparting. Why desire the Shaman experience over the warrior experience, the peacekeeper experience, the visionary and the dreamer experience for example? What is it about us that makes us so competitive and envious? The way I see it is that we are not disciplined in the art of sacred touch or the art of mystery. We are not aware of the constant connections that are made between us and nature; between us and Creator. We want things easy.

In my experience I’ve met more people who are out to discredit Shamans than learn from them. I’ve met people who have been so attached to their expectations and definitions of Shaman that they lost an opportunity to be in the presence of what I consider the last real Shamans of this world. Mark my words: There aren’t that many left. Those that have crossed my path have either died of old age, illness, desperation or persecution. In South America – they stay kill Shamans (governments and militia threatened by old world medicine). How much to you actually know of the Shaman experience? Is the New Age movement doing us a favor by vulgarizing the word?

The wind seemed to be whispering the last words to a song. The buzzing of the cicada over shadowed the purring of the breeze. The concert of sounds was making it difficult for me to listen to one single detail. I realized that this is often the case with people and within ordinary life. We loose track of what is important because it hides under a pile of nonsense most times. Yet, what we often don’t realize is that the good-for-nothing and the extraordinary details of life seek to come together in one huge mystery puzzle. Our role is to be part of it and to witness it. If anything we are asked to honor OUR stories and OUR role in Creation whatever that may be and to be open and aware to the stories and roles of others. Why waste so much time envying and striving for what others have when in truth, our path and destiny is as great and as bountiful….

P.S. This picture is of a wild flower that grows abundantly around our home and in our territory. This plant and flower is a delicacy amongst white tail deers. They eat it profusely. On the Medicine Wheel - DEER means "walking a path with choices." It's not easy to make choices. Most people struggle with the choices they make. It ironically takes time and practice to be able to make choices that work for us.... Sometimes it takes a few mistakes. This PLANT feeds the deer so that IT may walk in honor and respect of its own choices. Have you been nourished adequately for making strong and positive choices in your life? And if yes -- what is that diet!!?? Please give me feedback.

7 comments:

Cougar-D said...

Thank you Lisa for your words. It is true we always want to define everything. Even when we have not really experienced the experience of somthing.

I am going to try and just sit in the experience. Let go of the need to define.

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Cougar-D,

The irony in all of this is -- when we actually sit still and experience we reach a point of knowing. Definitions may end up making sense when they come from a point of KNOWING.

I look forward to hearing what you get out of the experience. That knowledge may end up being priceless to all.

LISA

4cougar said...

A recent experience came up for me as I was reading this post. I was in the city on a very hot day a few weeks ago and saw a pigeon affected by the heat, shaking uncontrollably, trying to reduce it's body temperature...I was told that a lot of the birds in the city can't survive the really hot temperature we've recently had...and I wondered what would be the role of the Shaman, as I understand it to be associated with death. I made sure it had water but didn't think it was going to make it even then. I wondered what my role was and how to get away from my own judgments around death...as a healer, I wanted it to live.

Even after years of exploring the breath of the Shaman, being in the experience of it I don't know how to explain it. I get frustrated with most of the definitions, even those that make me say 'well, yes, but it's not "just" that...' I was telling someone recently that I've been learning about Shamanism and trying to live Shamanically for almost 10 years now and I imagine this will never end, the learning and the trying to be as present, as honorable and as sacred as I can be. Hau

Michelle said...

Today I went for a quad ride and there were so many black and white butterflies one hit me in the face and when i tried to catch it flew off...i kept seeing them thinking I would like to see one up close see the parasols you talked about in this blog lol and of course they would flutter off...when I went into silence and took a deep breath smelling the nature around me I looked down and there was a butterfly perched on my heart...I almost cried. It sat on my hand for about five minutes between me and C while he drove on the quad I thought for sure it would fly away but it let me look at its anteni and the beautiful design I felt blessed. I thanked it for allowing me the time to gaze at its wonder. I laughed when we stopped the quad I showed C and he was smiling. I like knowing that we each have a special role in this life and when we truely embrace our gifts things happen we just need to be aware and give thanks.

Wheelkeeper said...

I love your post Wapeyit.I felt like I was living an entire wheel. THere is so much beauty in the experience. Yet I can relate some of my own experiences to yours, seeing that I also live the sacred and beauty.. The story of the dog reminded me of when I helped a dog to die in peace by placing stones around him. It calmed him down and he passed away.

Yes, I have been nourished now, to make good choices in my life. It took years for me to get to this place, and lots of lessons, but I feel more confident, and can see that my story is just as important as anyone else's, and to not want what others have, but want the abundance that is mine.

I feel sad that there are so few real Shamans left. and how they are not held in sacredness and honor. We need the Shaman to remind us of sacredness, to show us our own truth and power, until we get to a place where we can see it in ourselves.

That is what you have nourished in me!!


Thank you for walking the path of Shaman, beauty and abundacne, a teacher and healer for me and so many others!!

I love you! I'm crying now with gratitude....

MaryRose

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Mary Rose,

A wise woman once said to me that "when we cry tears of gratitude" it means that we help flowers to bloom. I plan to smile at my blooming flowers tomorrow while thinking of you.

LISA

Fishrarr said...

Hi Lisa, I just read your shaman story, very interesting and good points you make. Some People call me a Shaman, but I am just an ordinary guy who was looking for healing when I found the older ways of being. Somehow it seemed to be the only thing that made any sense to me in all the things that I looked and tried. I was very lucky to spend a little time with shamans from Siberia. Grandfather Mikhail from the Ulchi Tribe, who was 93 years old at the time, and the Professor from the Tuvan Tribe, was in his 70’s. Also a Sarangerel who born from a Buryat mother and American father, and who had done the 20 or so years that it takes to learn wisdom of the elders of the Buryet tribe. Unfortunately she is no longer enjoying earth walk. I had only a brief time with all of them, but what an honor it was to learn from the wisdom of all those years. They had a very different out look on life and way of doing things than the modern point of view.
We are fortunate to have so many of the modern day skills and stuff, but somewhere along the line we lost a lot that is so important.
Blessings, Tom