Winter is traditionally a time to gather and share stories with family and friends. In that spirit I’d like to share a magical story that happened to me early in my shamanism journey.
Shamanism has been with us for thousands of years. Shamans are found in every culture, from the Inuit and Laplanders of the far north to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin, Australia and Polynesia. All these shaman interact with spirit similarly, so this is not a cultural phenomena but rather a human one. I believe shamanism is coded right in our DNA or in another way to look at it, a part of the human consciousness field.
I view shamanism as a powerful form or tool created by God or angels for interacting with spirit. Michael Harner, who created a popular shamanism school, reports fully 90% of his school attendees have shamanic experiences in his classes. He has found 50% of his students to be “naturals” at shamanic journeying, for whom going into alternate reality is very easy.
Shamans view the world in three parts. First is the underworld, dreamed into being by Gaia or Mother Earth. Shamans journey to the underworld to interact with animal guides, nature spirits, and devas. The underworld usually appears to travelers as a natural setting and landscape, such as a meadow, woods, rivers and mountains.
The second place shaman travel is the upper world. The upper world has many layers and very often appears to be in swirling clouds. This is where to obtain help and information from mainly angels and ancestors. The upper world was dreamed into existence by the creator and archangels.
The third place shaman visit is this world. They go into alternative reality here to talk to trees, stones, mountains, lakes and their associated devas. Everything here has a spirit and can be conversed with. This is the world we dreamed into existence.
My new book, tentatively titled “A Dark Star over Maya”, is a fantasy based in Mayan civilization times. It will be published by spring. Instead of inventing a magical system for the book, I used my own shamanic experiences and those of others for the magical part of the fantasy. Why invent something when magic is already here and available for anyone to reach out and grab?
On to this story! About a dozen years ago I purchased a large frame drum to use for ceremony. I had been taking shamanic journeys for about a year. Drumming is a powerful way to help access alternative reality. The drum was resonant and loud, and I loved it! I thought I should paint it, but did not have a scheme yet.
In my journeys, my main animal guides I was visiting were Elk, Beaver and Kingfisher. They would reliably show up when I went to the underworld. Then two kingfishers started appearing! I noticed them and thought that was cool. This went on for a couple weeks, when I finally decided to ask what was going on! (I can be slow at times and find it hard to shift from observing) I was told one of the kingfishers was for my drum. I had heard of some drums having their own animal guide but this was not my plan! I brought the kingfisher back with me, and blew it into my drum. To my surprise, the light and dark areas of the goatskin head started moving and formed an image of a kingfisher! I was blown away. I obtained some paints and my painting project was now “paint by number!”
The drum was now both louder and very effective in ceremonies. It loved drumming for large groups, as I did!