Monday, April 3, 2017

The Bandanna Shaman


Photo Owned by Author


 **This healing story is from six years ago.
 
     There should be a rule about healing (says the girl who doesn’t follow any rules).
    
     Deb’s Rule: Someone must tell someone who is choosing (yeah even the half-assed version with fingers crossed behind the back), to heal, that healing will change everything.

     I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known what that meant, so an addendum to the rule is:

     Someone should explain to someone choosing to heal, what “everything” means.
 
     Healing changes everything. By everything I mean well, everything; relationships, the view of the world, what is true, what isn’t, beliefs (did I mention relationships?), have tos, priorities, passions, creativity, preferences, acceptables, relationships, relationships, relationships. People come to expect a fifty-something person to be what they’ve most always been. In our society those are givens. But people aren’t givens.
      I have come to understand in eye-popping-I’m-losing-my-marbles-fashion healing means several relationships are likely done and if not done, irrevocably different. Because of this, I hit the pause button. A breather for healing—time to consider whether I want to hit reverse.
     Can there be a reverse after jumping off a cliff? That’s probably a no.
     I’m sitting on the dividing line of yester-me and I-don’t-know-me and I don’t like the perspective. Un-doing is way harder than do-ing. Discussing this with a longtime friend Brenda, she suggests a particular woo-doo doctor.
     “Maybe you need a soul retrieval done by a shaman.”
I look at her with wide eyes imagining a bloody mess and a Deb doll with pins sticking out of it.
     “What is a ‘soul retrieval’?”
     Brenda relates the drill.
     “A person has a body, a mind, a soul and a spirit. All except the spirit can get injured by trauma. Parts of the soul splinter off at different stages depending on if or when bad stuff has happened.”
     I picture myself as a jigsaw puzzle missing several dozen pieces and someone with weird hair rescuing them from under a sofa.
     “That’s irritating.”
Brenda laughs and shares more.
     “This shaman I hired to collect my soul parts is the real deal. He’s doing it all long distance through dreams and email.”
     The petite woman looks earnestly at me. Silence ensues for several long seconds until I have a reply that won’t sound overly rude.
    “You’re seeing a Long Distance Shaman.”
     The ruder statement I whisper to myself.
     What a load of crap.
     My laughter is kept under wraps but not my smirk. Brenda notices.
     “Seriously, it works.”
     Now I can’t contain my sarcasm.
     “Yeah for him it works really well. He sits at home in a comfy chair in front of a computer and what links up through the cosmos? How the heck is that possible?”
     Brenda shrugs.
     “I don’t know, does it really matter if it helps?”
     The internet shaman is Googled as soon as I’m online. As an impostor, his website is pretty good. Included are articles which had to have taken more than a few hours to write, as well as media interviews and testimonials. I see that the man lives in Sedona, less than four hours from where my husband and I are vacationing the last week of December. Feeling a surprising nudge-shove to participate, I toss a resistance curve ball to the Universe. With a cackle of glee, I send an email to the shaman inquiring about an in-person session the four days before, during and after Christmas. No way would this guy spend part of a religious holiday healing me. Ten minutes later the shaman’s response arrives.
     “I am delighted to meet on any of the dates mentioned.”
     The medicine man finishes with an informative aside.
     “Shaman’s don’t celebrate Christmas.”
     Maybe not, but apparently they’re mind readers.  
     In the following flurry of emails, I receive an address, the session cost, plus a stipulation that I bring a particular brand of tobacco. I am certain the place will be a tee-pee with glass beads covering the entrance accompanied by a huckster standing outside with a serious expression.
     Welcome. You must be in need of a shaman. Your aura is in the shape of a thundercloud.
     When the appointment date arrives, Sedona is clear and beautiful. My husband, Bill, determines it isn’t a good idea for me to wander into a strange guy’s house alone even if he calls himself a shaman and tags along as my protector. When we reach the destination it is a non-descript house, like someone’s grandparents over winter there. I’m not sure why I preferred the vision of a tee-pee, but this boring abode seems somehow less believable. I loudly question the veracity of the situation.
     “I bet he’s a fake.”
     Married close to a quarter century, my husband knows better than to disagree. He mumbles something about getting a margarita if it’s a bust.
     When the door opens the man is and is not what I expect. The shaman has a long Fu Manchu mustache and braided hair cascading down his back. Taking my hand in greeting, his palm feels like the inside of a buttercup. Our skin separates with no discernible impression of an energetic signature, other than he shakes hands like the tooth fairy thanking me for donating teeth. Giving him a squinty eye, I detect nothing but a man with weird hair. I need more information.
    “May I use your restroom?”
     Pointed in a direction, I step past dust bunnies peeking around legs of furniture to enter a much lived-in bathroom. There is a glob of toothpaste on the counter that screams “fraud” and the toilet seat is propped up, verifying we are encountering a “manly man”. Having determined the woo-doo doctor has different approaches to housekeeping than I do, there are no more clues to gather about his qualifications.
     Apprehensively returning to the entry way, the shaman leads Bill and me to a large room. Inside there is a small table beneath a large dream catcher hanging from the ceiling. The Shaman motions Bill toward a folding chair near the door, directing me to sit across from him. Once I’m settled, the Shaman handles an eagle feather and other unusual items on his side of the table. Without looking up from what he is doing, he addresses business concerns.
     “I ask that we settle up financially before we begin. And did you bring the tobacco offering? It is traditional that aside from the fee, the Shaman is given tobacco as I requested in the confirmation email.”
     There had been a specific instruction on the correct brand, but it was elusive, thus I hand over close enough. Limp Handshake Guy mutates swiftly, giving me a narrowed look before placing the inferior tobacco out of the way and then pulling out his own more refined stash. Rolling a cigarette the shaman lights up. Lots of smoking, chanting, whistling and brushing with a bundle of herbs follows. Soon the rhythmic sounds lull my nervousness.
     Even if he doesn’t heal anything, maybe I’ll get high.
     The shaman passes the smoking tool a few times over a bright red bandanna laid out before him. The musical cascades cease and the fabric is tied around his head.
     *!*Shabang*!*
     Dude becomes another dude, shape shifting into a healer who takes up the entire room with presence. In one motion he is everything and nothing at the same time. With a barely noticeable smile, Bandanna Shaman starts the session. He has our attention and knows it. Expelling an age long breath he pauses in the smoking display.
     “Why are you here?”
     Bandanna Shaman gazes deeply into my eyeballs. Swallowing, my throat suddenly dry, words stutter out.
     “U-h-h-m, t-t-o heal my family?”
     The shaman waits a long moment before responding.
     “Are you here to heal your family alone or the family of the world?”
     If I could heal the world and my family in one session that would be pretty cool.
     My lovely thought is run over by the low self-esteem train.
     Who am I to ask for something so enormous?
     I answer what seems the appropriate response.
     “For today, I am here to heal my family.”
     It’s obvious the minute the words are out, I should have chosen B. The air feels charged. The shaman slams his palm on the table.
     “NO! Every time you ask for healing of one family, you ask for healing of all families. There is no healing of only one.”
     My cheeks are red as though I’ve been slapped. I squirm in the chair, already wishing the session were over. The shaman resumes.
     “Do you think you are being haunted?”
     I picture little hitchhiking ghosts at the end of a ride at Disney Land. Embarrassed-filled maniacal giggles threaten to erupt.
     Get a grip on the waistband of those big girl panties.
     “Uhhh, no?”
    “Does this family issue go back generations?”
     I side-look my husband who offers the universal “I dunno” gesture meaning maybe yes, maybe no.
     “Ummmm, possibly. Uh yes…I think.”
     The smoking tool goes back into operation.
     “Then we shall begin. I will travel to the Dreaming Place to get information about your problem.”
     Woosh!
     He disappears. Not like a vanishing act. His body sits before us and yet does not. Moments pass. It could have been ten minutes or thirty. In the interim, I go through the rest of the day’s itinerary, wonder about margarita’s, and am creating a mental list of items to buy when the shaman pops back into his chair and resonantly states the view from the other side.
     “I see.”
     I sit up quickly to act as though I’ve been paying attention.
     “The guides have told me that in the last few months you became a great she-bear protecting her family. The journey has brought your people to this place at this time for healing. They also have something to say to Bill.”
     The Shaman shifts in his direction. My husband looks unnerved. He’s come here as a TV viewer, not a reality show participant.
     “About a year and a half ago you received a wake-up call presenting truth. Everything believed before this time was not truth. You know now. All has changed for you.”
     Bandanna Shaman knows things no one knows.
     “The reason for healing is unknown to you. The issue appears as many things, but the long and short of it is you have not been celebrated.”
     The shaman speaks directs the next part to me.
     “I realize this session is because you requested a healing Deb, but the guides are very intent on sending a message to Bill.”
     Scooby-Doo and Shaggy give a big ol’ shake of their heads.
     Ruh?
     Profoundly irritated, it is small comfort Bill looks shocked and scared. I grumpily settle deeper in the comfy chair to hear fascinating bits of teachings directed at my husband.
     “For you Bill, a lack of spiritual celebration manifested as a life experience of making an agonizing, grueling trek up a rock wall. Each day it is a struggle to find a handhold, while dragging your body up an incline, gasping with grinding exertion. Slowly moving up the mountain, you see another climber alongside who has someone beneath him ready to catch if he falls. The man is also aided by grappling hooks and a safety harness. Another person waits at the top to encourage him at each stage.”
     Bandanna Shaman leans closer toward Bill.
     “You ask yourself, “What about me? Why must I work so hard, while another man scales life with little of the effort I must utilize?”
     My husband is stilled of breath. His eyes glisten with the awareness of being heard and seen. For the first time, someone understands what his existence is like. The shaman shares more.
     “People who have not experienced a celebration of their life do not know how to celebrate others. Because of this, the wounding can last for generations. This same aspect has traveled through both your families for a very long time.”
     Bandanna shaman pauses to collect his drum.
     “This can be healed during a drumming ceremony. It’s quite simple. While I drum for about seven minutes, I will take you through different levels of healing. We go in, get the job done and come back.”
     The shaman smiles.
     “You could go to therapy; it works for a lot of people. Usually, that takes at least a few months to figure it all out, but for me, seven minutes seems a lot easier.”
     The Shaman settles in to begin.
     “Close your eyes. When your mind gets in the way, find the space between the beats.”
     Boomboomboomboom…
     The sound of the drum is timeless, endless and expansive. Its tone weaves into the floor, through my shoes, up leg bones, reaching the bladder and intestines to finally resonate throughout my body.
     Is it working?
     “Find the space.”
     Boomboomboomboom…
     Flying, flying, soaring through blue sky
     Traveling to a land visited long ago
     Boomboomboomboom…
     Up, up to the light
     Feathered friend is waiting
     Ruffle, ruffle wisdom in the motion
     Boomboomboomboom…
     Down, down into the earth
     A space of nothing and everything
     Black, dark waves of smoke
     Boomboomboomboom…
     Light, light wisps of white
     Drifting up high into the night
     Stars, shining collecting wisps for the moon
     Boomboomboomboomboomboomboom.
     Silence.
     Our eyes open. The shaman looks to me first, having been the one who came in with the cash.
     “Is there anything you would care to share Deb?”
     Like an over-eager child with wild tales to offer, I speed date him the details.
     “Well, first there was an eagle cleaning tail feathers and then black smoke covered everything as though there was a great fire and then the smoke got white as it traveled up to a night sky and slowly disappeared leaving bright stars behind.”
     Excitedly I wait for the sage to encourage more details and rave about my revelation. Bandanna Shaman’s expression does not change.
     “Thank you.”
     He looks at my spouse.
     “Bill what did you see?”
     The interloper hesitates before responding.
     “I didn’t see anything like Deb. There was a large landscape of bones, bones upon bones everywhere. It was kinda disturbing.”
     The shaman's eyes widen, appearing anxious to hear Bill’s answer.
     “And then what?”
     Bill sheepishly continues.
     “Well, the bones disappear and then I saw a bunch of colors. That’s it.”
     He looks like he failed the final exam. Bandanna Shaman, however, seems thrilled. His smile oozes across the table.
     “That’s great Bill. You had a wonderful journey.”
     I roll my eyes as quietly as possible. The Bandanna Shaman reaches up to remove the red cloth. The dominating force of energy leaves the room.
     “Well guys, how do you feel? Think you have what’s needed to heal your family?”
     The man tidies bits of this and that, straightening the eagle feather and gently setting aside the smoking apparatus. Still, in a state of wondering what happened, digesting pieces, not yet ready to see the whole, my mouth has something else to say.
     “Yes, I think we do.”
     A flicker of emotion crosses the interesting face, with perhaps a glisten of moisture in his deep brown eyes.
     “You have come a long way for this moment. Most of us will do whatever it takes to help the people we love.”
     I answer him as he leads to the front door.
     “There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do or try to find a way to get through this difficult time.”
     Bill and I both sigh in unison. The Shaman follows up with a long expulsion breath of his own, his response sounding timeworn.
     “Love is not possible without pain. What is, is.”
     We thank our host and leave the dusty house. The sky is bluer than remembered, the air full of minuscule smells separate and yet one. Everything is truer, more vibrant, coated with a crisp edge of realness. While Bill speaks of the events, my mind echoes with silence.
     “I feel different, but maybe I’m imagining it? That was crazy weird. Something shifted inside, outside, I don’t know. What about you?”
    “It seemed like we sat in those chairs for ten days and now the world is different.”
     Bill nods, still looking a little shell-shocked. As we walk, I notice an element is missing.
     “I’ve always lived with a low-level thrum of anxiety. Like a pilot light of nervousness, setting the stage for a full blow up if one more thing happened. It’s never left, not until right now.”
     In complete agreement, Bill takes my hand.
     “I know what you mean. Everything seems quiet.”
     A few weeks later, when Bill arrives for a meeting to sell a computer system to a college, above the main door there is a large sign.
     “Robert Morris University Welcomes Bill Lecos”
     Approaching the front desk, he wonders if his cousin with the same name is being honored or perhaps someone is screwing with him
     “Hi, my name is Bill Lecos and I have an appointment.”
     The receptionist smiles warmly.
     “Oh yes, the director is waiting for you in the cafeteria. Go right down the hall, you can’t miss it. It’s great to meet you!”
     At the next door, a duplicate sign is posted.
     “Robert Morris University Welcomes Bill Lecos”
     Perplexed, he cautiously enters the room where a man greets him.
     “Hi, you must be Bill, welcome.”
     The administrator introduces himself as he heads to a table. The two men discuss their backgrounds which happen to include matching spans of time at a college. Knowing many of the same people, they enjoy reminiscing about the school. An equally engaging period is spent discussing the computer system, the original reason for the appointment. There is no mention of the banners until the conversation comes to a close.
     “So Bill, what did you think of the signs?”
     “Uh, they were…cool? I didn’t know what to think. It was surprising and nice.”
     The school administrator fills in the blanks.
     “Waking up this morning, a thought popped into my head. Welcome signs sure would make a guy’s day. So I had them made for you.”
     Boomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboom...
     Bill is transported to the Southwest. This is how to celebrate people.

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