When the Grandfather of the Andes speaks to me, I listen. I have no choice. He slows me down, forces me to sit for hours, no talking, just stillness.

What am I talking about? A ceremony with Huachuma, Grandfather, Medicine of the Andes.

After Ceremony, our fine group of ritual explorers were processing our experiences, a wonderful mind, whom I greatly respect, asks the question “why?” Why do we seek experiences ? To What End? When does it stop?

Whoa deep questions. Grandfather makes me so still I cannot function logically. Through hook and by crook my opportunity to answer the questions was elusive. Grandfather brings me stillness.

I incubated in my nest. My bed. Dreaming dreams deeply rooted in my psyche. Challenging my notions of myself. Each dream presented a challenge. Each dream presented me with an opportunity to negotiate how deeply I got into each situation I found myself in.  And I awaken ~AWAKE. Not like, oh my Goddess I have enlightment. No. I mean just mentally crystal clear.

Why?? Shamanism is my base. It is the foundation upon which I stand. I recognize the word “Shaman” is laden with misinformation and trigger pointy fingers. Not a proper sentence, I understand, however… it fits. I am so fortunate to be born now, seeking experiences in 2012.  I have at my fingertips books, videos, studies, endless information (and misinformation) representing different views of the world, its history, our peoples, our ancestors. My Ancestors did not have the ability to intellectually study the similarities and differences of their practices with a ‘neighbor’ half way across the world. But I can. Fascinating.

I do not call myself a shaman. Some in my community do, and they pay me a great respect with their words. However, I have only been studying for 20 years and I know so very little. It is because I know so very little, my soul yearns to form relationships with Grandfathers, Green Mistresses, The Mother, The Little People to name a few. One of the differences between shamans and priests is functionary and the shaman is someone who has had an experience, while the priest is someone who has studied to serve the community. I seek to have a mystical experience knowing all the while that the symbols (i.e. visions) are faulty. Any mystical seeker knows that. The symbols don’t render an experience, they suggest it. The mystical experience adds to my understanding of the fabric of the world around me. As I perceive it. I accept my view of the world is, somewhat, different, than a great many others. I know this, because I have given up trying to have open conversations regarding my thoughts with my fellow co-workers. I say that lightly, but I sincerely mean it.  Shamanism is the oldest practice in the world, however, as with all spiritual perceptions, it has changed and grown. How?? Because, there are those of us out there that will still take the chances. Still walk the walk. To explore the world beyond the veils and the preconceived notions of reality, and bring back a changed view. Made different through relationship.  Any spiritual practice with a strong earth connection, understands that humans and plants have had strong long term binding relationships. Relationship may be, to some, abstract terminology, however, to me, it is a physical, tangible relationship.

I am one who is here to share my experiences with others. It is still my spiritual calling to push the boundaries and report back to my people that all things are constantly changing. Nothing is ever set in stone. Sometimes I just want to say to the people around me “Knock Knock” they of course answer “Yes?” to which I reply… “There is no box”.

To What End? I have often pondered the concept of an End. I have read about it. I certainly have come to the end of many things in my physical life. When my friend, with the wonderful mind, said the word end, I saw a deep path in the woods. It was one of those paths I see in the woods when i am hiking. You know those ones, probably used by coyotes and medium height animals. They always make me super curious, so, I follow them. Lucky I am short, and flexible, ‘cause these paths often just end. Then I have to turn around and come back out. Usually scratched up and certainly have brought part of the bushes back with me. I am satisfied. I have had an adventure. I went where very few Canadians have gone, on that unfamiliar, off the beaten path, path, and feel great.  As my shamanic cloak can be Fox I get to see many things that others don’t. Grandfather kept me still. And kept me silent. I had to wander the deep path of silence, to get here.

When does it stop? That is a question I ask myself ALL THE TIME. I used to say, and honestly,” if I can help just one person it will all have been worth it”. To be honest, I have helped one person, actually more than that. Healing is a relationship, but that is a whole other page… and certainly not the question.  The price to help my people has been very steep at times. Warrior, storyteller, ritualist, lover, mother, healer… all those and more aspects of me have been grown slowly, grounded in my foundation; my practice.

Stop is a subjective word. Stop what? The exploration? Let me say that this is what I would answer. Our myths and stories often tell us humans were cut off from the Gods. Huachuma, is a grandfather. They have found depictions of his ceremonies carved into rocks in Peru 3,500 years old. As one with shamanic skills it is not hard to follow the life path of such a powerful spirit as Grandfather, when the path laid out before you is very old. Older and more pronounced than the yellow brick road (path really) I would bet J !! Huachuma is a wonderful gentle spirit that knocks on the door of my perceptions. I follow his silent path inwards, and I emerge the other side, not always unscathed, but with him I see myself through his eyes and mine. Through our shared vision, comes a deeper understanding of why.

Exploration is also a key to understanding more deeply the myths and traditions of any peoples. And we are back to my first thought.  I have at my fingertips books, videos, studies, endless information (and misinformation) representing different views of the world, its history, our peoples, our ancestors. My Ancestors did not have the ability to intellectually study the similarities and differences of their practices with a ‘neighbor’ half way across the world. But I can.  It has taken me longer to research Maya cosmology due to language barriers. When ritual comes from one culture, especially one as old as Mesoamerica, huge differences in cosmologies, myths and legends from one culture to another, can impact the understanding of the “why” a particular thing is done. As a storyteller, I seek out the other side of the why. Why did we start a practice with Huachuma? What do the myths tell us….

Oh… and honoring my archetypal hedonist self, is also part of the story!!