SPQR Erika Buenaflor
Determining the Identity of our Animal Coessence
Aleksandra Shymina Systemic Ritual as a gateway to the ancestral realms Heidi Munan Folk Stories: Sarawak, Malaysia Sendi and Guang Meg Beeler Four Qualities of a Good Shamanic Mentor: Finding Your Way Howard G. Charing The Magical Art of the Shipibo People of the Upper Amazon Daniel Moler The Mesa 101
Shaman Portal Quarterly Review Issu e 2 - S prin g 2 020
S ha m a n P or t a l Q u a r t e r ly R e v ie w
TABEL OF CO N TE N T
A Note from the Publisher
IS S U E # 2 S P RI N G 2 0 2 0
In Tungus, the language from which the word Shaman derived from, the true meaning of Saman–as told to me by a visiting elder shaman– is “Keeper of the Fire.”
Erika Buenaflor Page 4 Determining the Identity of our Animal Coessence
Aleksandra Shymina Page 9 Systemic Ritual as a gateway to the The person who keeps the embers–a small ancestral realms burning piece of coal or wood in a dying
fire. The keeper of his or her community’s emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. The keeper of their stories, songs, lore, history, wisdom, and medicinal ways for survival.
Heidi Munan Page 13 Folk Stories: Sarawak, Malaysia Sendi and Guang
Many years ago, I made a promise to a magical moth during a Natem (Ayahuasca) vision at the Shuar tribe. I promised the spirit of the jungle to help it survive the assault of the Western civilization, to help preserve it’s vast spiritual and medicinal knowledge and to learn from the keepers of its wisdom.
Meg Beeler Page 18 Four Qualities of a Good Shamanic Mentor: Finding Your Way Howard G. Charing Page 22 The Magical Art of the Shipibo People of the Upper Amazon Daniel Moler The Mesa 101
SPQR and Shaman Portal website, social media, and our other projects are part of my efforts to keep that promise. I am thrilled that I can share it with you and many like-minded members of our growing global community.
Art by Rahul Panchal
Itzhak Beery, Founder & publisher
Copyright. All rights reserved by each of the authers. No part of this publication or photographs therein may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
A Note from the Editor
pictures of cultural archetypes. We therefore decided to include and discuss tribal folk stories in this magazine to explore more of the cultural context on which some of the Shamanic traditions are embedded. We start this series with a folk story from Sarawak, a Malaysian part of Borneo Island which was recorded by Heidi Munan. The story highlights the importance of listening to the ancestors.
Dear Reader, Welcome to our second issue of the Shaman Portal Quarterly Review. In his recent book “Wir sind Geschöpfe des Waldes“ (We’re creatures of the forest) the German Ethnobotanist Wolf-Dieter Storl describes how humankind developed in symbiosis with the forest. This is why spending time in nature – especially in forests – have such a profound impact on us. I was able to witness this first hand when I had the opportunity to spend some time in the Ecuadorian rain forest in January. When we left the forest, we left a part of our soul behind. Many Shamanic traditions know the concept of “Soul loss”. In her new book “Curanderismo Soul Retieval: Ancient Shamanic Wisdom to Restore the Sacred Energy of the Soul” Erika Buenaflor shed light into the soul retrieval approach of the Mesoamerican curanderos/as. In her excerpt she explains the importance of working with our animal coessence during soul retrieval.
Unfortunately, listening to the ancestors will not be enough training for aspiring Shamanic Practitioners. Teachers and mentors are needed in this realm as well. To avoid frustrations and even more negative consequences it is important to choose those mentors wisely. Meg Beeler gives some references on what qualities a good shamanic mentor should have. Coming back to the forest and the tribes who still live in it. The Shipibo are a tribe in the Amazonian rainforest. Howard Charing writes about their art. The mesa or altar of latinamerican Curanderos is also quite often a piece of art in itself. David Moler outlines some basics in how to create your own mesa. I hope this potpourri of topics will help to broaden the perspective for some of the readers. Shamanism is so much more than just Ayahusaca or Journeying – it is an approach to life that expresses itself not only in rituals and ceremonies but also in stories and art.
Apart from animal or plant spirits, many Shamanic traditions use ancestors as allies for healing and divination. Systemic Ritual can be a gateway for the ancestral realms as Aleksandra Shymina writes.
Many blessings, Christian Thurow, Editor
Folk stories often contain a lot of wisdom and
Determining the Identity of our Animal Coessence By Erika Buenaflor Working with our animal coessence during the
they had with them, were multifaceted, diverse, and complex. While the iconography of these humananimal relationships is still being deciphered, current knowledge suggests the following about ancient Mesoamerican beliefs: People could have animal coessences or animal guardians. People, likely shamans, could invoke these animal spirits to do their bidding. When animal spirits are invoked, one or more animal may appear, along with insects or natural elements. These animal guides were often invoked during trance. It was also believed that certain shamans could physically become animals, and that oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s animal coessence could be captured to garner its energy.
soul-retrieval process can be very beneficial in many ways. Animal coessences help us track soul pieces and retrieve them in situations where their special skills and powers are needed. They can also impart illuminating wisdom, medicine, and guidance during the process. Animal coessences are our soul companions since birth; we share the same soul energy signature with them and tend to have similar primal traits and inclinations. Just as our physical and energetic framework gets stronger when we integrate more pieces of our soul, our physical and energetic framework also gets stronger when we develop our connection with our animal coessence.
We can have many kinds of spiritual and magical relationships with animals. I use the term animal coessences to refer to a sharing of similar
For the ancient Mexica and Maya, the reasons for working with animals, and the types of relationships
sacred essence energy with a species of animal. Understanding and integrating our animal coessencesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; instinctual ways of living and surviving can help us understand how to care for ourselves and stand in our power, which is particularly beneficial during the soulretrieval process.
trusting. A couple of times I saw two of them, but I decided not to listen and stayed on my normal driving route. A few minutes later, I found myself in ridiculous traffic, due to an accident. This animal will also often appear to me during a soul-retrieval session with a client, using the same numerical system.
Working with an animal coessence can be very healing and empowering. Once we have developed a connection with an animal coessence, we can journey with and through them to gain insight into a situation and into ourselves. We can also send them to track and retrieve something for us, including our soul pieces.
My mentor told me that we normally have one animal coessence, but a person can have more than one, sometimes including domesticated animals. I have heard from other sources as well that powerful shamans can have more than one animal coessence. If powerful is being understood as having a high amount of sacred essence energy coupled with an expanded consciousness and awareness, then I would agree. I discovered my second animal coessence during a profound ayahuasca journey in Peru. Although I do not feel that trance journeys need to be complemented with entheogens such as ayahuasca, for me it was invaluable to be working with ayahuascaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strong grandmother/mother energy to ensure that I could get out of my own way. During my medicine journey, I felt as though my subtle bodies had been transformed into my newly revealed animal coessence. I was initially and momentarily resistant to shifting into an animal that I was not expecting. I always felt like a feline, a panther, and I was surprised to experience the animal I became. But the discipline that grandmother ayahuasca inspires helped me to immediately release resistance and expectation and simply flow. While I was journeying with my animal coessence, I saw three critical times in my life when this animal had appeared to me, making its presence known. I feel the key in connecting with an animal coessence is letting go of expectations and humbly surrendering to being taught.
Animal coessences can be made known to us in various ways. We can encounter them in our dream states or during trance journeys (also known as vision quests). Diviners or shamans can identify them for us, or they can be assigned at birth by a shaman midwife. We tend to feel strong spiritual connections with animal coessences; they tend to appear often in our physical realms with gifts, messages, and warnings. They are typically wild animals rather than domesticated ones (although of course there are exceptions). My mentor Barbara advised me to keep the identities of my animal coessences private, and so I do. In many ancient and modern Mesoamerican traditions, it is believed that if something detrimental happens to a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s animal coessence, something harmful can happen to the person, possibly even death. I do not necessarily adhere to this belief, but I do not think there is any reason to test these waters. My first animal coessence came to me numerous times in dreams and vision quests induced by shamanic breathwork and drumming. It would also leave many gifts for me when I sang and called upon it. I do not feel it is one particular animal; rather I feel it is a species of animal. We developed a numerical guidance system whereby seeing a certain number of them at one time gives me a specific message. When I see one, it is some kind of divine confirmation. Two means that I have to be discerning about something coming my way. Three means a shift. Four means divine closure, and more than four means that great fortune is coming my way.
Many soul-retrieval practitioners encourage people to go to the Underworld to determine who their animal coessence is and connect with it. When I first deeply connected with my animal coessence, I was going through a dark night of the soul, my own Underworld of tests, trials, and tribulations. My journeys were often in the Underworld, and it was in this space that I bonded with my animal coessence. When I discovered my second animal coessence, I was in a transitional and ambiguous period in my life, shifting away from my role as an attorney to my role as a curandera.
When I worked as an attorney and used to drive in Los Angeles morning traffic, we perfected this system, which for my part mostly consisted of listening and
Although the other nonordinary realms also contain ambiguous, transitory spaces, I would say trials, tests,
and tribulations characterize the Underworld more than any other nonordinary realm, realms wherein curanderx and shamanic practitioners can journey for messages. Medicine, soul retrieval and other matters. In the Underworld, we find whether we can truly let go of any beliefs that animals do not have souls—much less being capable of sharing souls with humans, and release any other obstacles to connecting with our animal coessence. Consequently, I feel that journeying into the Underworld can be very auspicious, requiring our ego to stand aside and understand its place as an assistant for functioning in mundane reality. Bonding with our animal coessence, possibly another test of the Underworld, requires us to be humble and grateful and use spiritual discernment.
sensations does it arouse? Allow yourself to journey with it. If it is a bird, fly. If it walks on four legs, allow yourself to be comfortable on all fours. If it slithers, explore the Underworld slithering, and so forth. Experience the Underworld through their senses. After you have journeyed with your animal coessence and feel satisfied with the connection you have made, thank it and let it know you are open to receiving its guidance and aid, especially for retrieving your soul pieces. Exit the Underworld through your sacred heart, seeing yourself immersed once again in the sacred white fires of purification and resurrection and then in the violet fires. Take six deep inhales through the nose, exhaling out the mouth. Reflecting on what you saw, heard, felt, and knew, and on how the information came to you.
To journey into the Underworld, use repetitive drumming sounds and shamanic breathwork to go into a trance journey. When you are in the Underworld, allow your consciousness to tune in and ask yourself:
The connection with the animal coessence involves a sharing of sacred essence energy: once a connection is made, we tend to feel energetically stronger, revitalized, vibrant, and more alert. A soul piece of the person has returned, a part that can reside within and outside of the body. I have seen clients, for example, who were complete pushovers with their spouses or certain family members all of a sudden begin to draw self-respecting boundaries after connecting with their animal coessence.
• Is there an animal you have always felt a connection to? • Has there been a particular animal that has appeared to you during critical moments in your life? • Is there an animal that appears to you on a regular basis, whether physically or in dreams or vision quests? Remember to practice deep breathing as you are tuning into these questions. After you have spent some time connecting with your animal coessence and have begun to feel its presence, ask your animal coessence to let you know what its favorite food treats and gifts are. Visualize these as materializing, then lovingly offer them to your animal coessence. Approach it with open arms and an open heart.
Our animal coessence have ways of garnering and exerting power and strength as well as possessing survival habits that can greatly benefit us. When your animal coessence has been revealed, learn about its personal traits and continue to deepen the connection with it. There are numerous ways to do this. Place an image of it on your altar or in your office or home. I had a client paint a picture of their animal coessence, which resulted in many lucid dreams in which it appeared. If it leaves a gift for you—such as a snakeskin, if it is a snake, or a feather, if it is a bird— place this item on your altar or in a place you feel is sacred. If you see it in the physical, greet it and talk to it. If possible, find out what it likes to eat and leave this out for it.
Next, invite your animal coessence into your body. Take its full essence into you, and change into it. Start with the feet or hands, and feel them begin to change. Where there was skin, imagine scales, fur, or feathers forming. Allow your head to be the last part of your body to change. Allow yourself to take the form of your animal coessence. This will enable you to further ascertain its skills, visions, and messages. Once you feel that your animal coessence is inside of you, be open to experiencing its emotions. Don’t hesitate to make its cries or noises if you feel a desire to do so. See yourself as the animal and feel its energies alive within you. What emotions, visions, and
The manner in which the animal adapts and survives within its environment can aid us in surviving within our own environment. Some animals are nocturnal during different seasons. Similarly, we may be more effective at nighttime during those seasons. Some animals may be prone to running with packs, or on
their own, for purposes such as hunting or looking for a home. In analogous situations, we may also fare better in a community, or on our own. For soul retrieval, a loss of an animal coessence, that is, a disconnection from it, can hinder us or put us out of balance with our own animal instincts, power, discipline, strength, and capacities for survival. Many contemporary Maya shamans believe that if a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s animal coessence is injured, particularly through magic, the person to whom it is connected to can also be injured. A lot can be said about this type of magic or sorcery, as there are many different traditions about forming magical relationships with animals, but most of them fall outside the scope of soul retrieval. For now, I would recommend that if you are concerned about this, simply set the intention through your sacred heart to cloak and hologram the information concerning your animal coessence on all ideal levels and ways. Setting this intention is simple. Do it knowing that no instructions are needed: you just know you can do it and do it.
Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D., has over 20 years of practicing as a curandera, mentoring with curanderx and shamans in the Maya Yucatecan jungle, Peru, and Los Angeles, and studying Mesoamerican Curanderismo in academia. She has a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in religious studies with a focus on Mesoamerican shamanism and curanderismo. After healing from a catastrophic injury, she fully embraced her gifts of healing, eventually left her career as an attorney, and now spends all her time doing what she loves. She has written three books on Mesoamerican and curanderismo rites: Cleansing Rites of Curanderismo, Curanderismo Soul Retrieval, and The Sacred Energies of the Sun and Moon. As a modern-day curandera, she utilizes her vast experience in curanderismo, and knowledge of ancient Mesoamerican shamanism to reveal how this sacred wisdom can help us to heal holistically, and also inspires clients to realize and live their BLISS. Find out more at: www.realizeyourbliss.com
Systemic Ritual as a gateway to the ancestral realms By Aleksandra Shymina
Imagine yourself facing a crowd of people, men
humanity, if we imagine that as species we had others as ‘parents’ then we include all living beings as our ancestors, even the planet herself – all those that gave us life.
and women, standing as strong as trees in the forest. Different ages, different clothing, different colour eyes, and all of those eyes are looking at you. With kindness. You are standing in front of your ancestors, seeing them in their most powerful selves. Imagine saying to them – “Thank you for my life.” Imagine them replying in a variety of voices and volumes – “You have our blessing.” What happens in your body when you see this image in your mind’s eye? Close your eyes and check.
Nowadays there are still cultures in the world that actively engage with their ancestors seeking blessings, good will and support from them. They are seen as sacred and are feared, loved and appeased in a variety of ways. They are part of everyday reality as much as living people around. In Vietnam, for example, every household and business would have a little shrine for the ancestors, where incense and offerings are brought to every day. In Africa, some cultures have strict protocols for working with ancestors, practices that support everyday life, bring protection and a sense of belonging. An embodied experience of a live relationship that exists even when one is not
Ancestors are something we all share as a concept and at some point back in time, as a fact. Every human being has a biological father and a mother, they in turn had their parents, and grandparents and so on; and some generations back we are all related. Beyond
consciously thinking about it. Systemic Ritual has been developed in the Netherlands and is based on traditional and core shamanic principles for a healing ritual combining it with techniques and philosophy of systemic family constellations. It therefore provides a framework, a tool, a map for healing and restoration not only on a personal level but for the whole ancestral field too. It is a perfect gateway to ancestors that works for any belief system and practice – it is a frame that you make your own, a unique ritual that you create using a given map to suit your set of circumstances. Our ancestral fields - family trees - are numerous and diverse. There is no way to know all of our ancestors, but some of us are luckier to have quite a detailed and long family history available and for others even the closest ancestors are a mystery. No matter what we know in our conscious awareness, on a level of our soul and our epigenetics and genetics we are always connected to that ‘field behind us’. We carry their stories in our bodies; we follow in their steps, make their mistakes and continue what they have started. We inherit their trauma and we inherit their wisdom and strength. We receive their blessings and curses, we entangle with their destinies. We do this out of love and deep loyalties to our tribe, to those who gave us life and who gave us this chance on earth, who was instrumental in our survival. How could knowing your ancestors, working with them help you live a happier, more fulfilling life? As you learn about your ancestors, as you introduce yourself to them, you might be intrigued to find out similarities between their lives and your life. Patterns that, for example, run ‘in the family’ or are common for maternal line, or happen to only men of this family etc. Recognising repeating scenarios passed down generations might help to see a bigger picture and to disentangle yourself from family dynamics, help to free up decision making from existing family loyalties. Come back to the image of the ancestors in front of you – see them in their power, some faces you know really well, some not at all, some you can’t see but you know they are there. Notice whose choices are impacting your own life? Whose steps are you following? Look at them with kind eyes; find this place within yourself that connects your life to their life.
Imagine saying to them –Thank you for my life. I take it fully. I respect and honour your choices and fate, and I leave it with you. I have my own fate and I ask for your blessing to walk my own path in my own way. Even if this was not possible for you in your time. Imagine receiving their blessing. What do you feel in your body? In all the centuries of our ancestors everything that could have been has already happened: all sorrows and happiness, all losses and love. Every family has a history of pain but it also holds and treasures stories of success, love and tenderness. When we are faced with a dilemma, when we don’t know what to do, how to do it, what is the right step – we can connect with ‘Those who know’. Those who came before us, experienced life and found a way out, found an answer, found right solution. A simple meditation to explore the wisdom of ‘Those who know’ is described below. In most traditions and practices it is customary to first prepare the space, sacred space, that you will work in and as you do so tune your mind to set an intention. In systemic ritual you make it very much your own experience, one that you can connect to, one that will work for you and for your soul. Find a way to create a sacred space that is possible for your circumstances – some use song and drum, some meditate, some smudge and light a candle to connect with their guides and helping spirits. Even simply slowing down, entering silence and saying a little prayer of intention could work. When you are ready set up four or five stones (or any other objects or pieces of paper) to represent ‘Those who know’ and one for ‘you’. First take a place of ‘you’ – stand right above the stone, allow yourself to drop into your body, take a deep breath, notice what is going on inside of you, hold your question in your awareness but focus on your body. Look at ‘Those who know’ in front of you and notice what changes in you when you know they are there. Introduce yourself as their descendant and present them with your question. Notice what happens in your body, when you do that. Step out of your place and choose one of the ‘Those who know’ places to step in to. As you take a place of representing ‘Those who know’, take time to listen to
your body. Notice what happens as you represent an ancient one. Look at your descendant (the stone that represents ‘you’) who is asking a question from 2020; notice how it feels. As you focus on your body allow an answer to emerge from deep within you. It could be a subtle knowing, or a sensation or a word or a full-formed answer. It could be just a confirmation of support whatever happens, or a feeling of being on the right path. It will happen in your own way. Offer it to your descendant in a short, concise, kind wording. It always helps to speak out loud even when you are on your own. Vibration of words is as important as their meaning. Step out of ‘Those who know’ and back into ‘you’. Allow yourself to hear the answer and to fully receive it. Thank them for their support. Take a deep breath in and out and finish this meditation. If you are doing this with a friend, let them stand as ‘you’ and you stand as ‘Those who know’. When you finish, ‘release’ all stones or your friends from their roles and contemplate/share the insights.
Aleksandra Shymina is a London based practitioner of systemic ritual, shamanic healing and family constellations. She trained with Daan van Kampenhout in Mexico and in Europe; and with Chetna Lawless in the UK. Her systemic constellations training she received from the Centre for Systemic Constellations and various international intensives. Aleksandra’s vision is reconnecting people to their ancestral fields to bring balance and a sense of support, to reduce the overwhelming sense of disconnection and loneliness experienced in the modern world, to contribute in becoming a generation of good future ancestors. www.asconstellations.co.uk
Systemic Ritual offers a whole spectrum of ways to connect with your ancestors, through meditation, or representing with stones, in groups, or even with trees. With practice you become good friends with your ancestors, rebuilding your sense of belonging, receiving support of your lineage behind you. This is true even in cases when you don’t know anything about them, and if they were as scattered around the world as stones at the bottom of the ocean. There is nothing to stop you imagining. Your imagination is a gateway for the spirit of the ancestors to find their way back into your life, to share their resources, wisdom and love.
Folk Stories: Sarawak, Malaysia SENDI AND GUANG By Heidi Munan *** NOTE: as the preface to Iban Stories states, most of these stories were told to my children by my late motherin-law. This one in particular is a ‘family story’ - my daughter, Sendi, is a direct descendant (8 generations I think) of the original Sendi, and we have rafts of cousins both in Undup and in Sebuyau! ***
Once upon a time, there was a big, strong longhouse
on the banks of the river Undup. The chief had been a famous warrior in his younger days. By and by his children grew up and got married; only the youngest daughter stayed with him. Sendi helped her father on the farm, and looked after his household. Her mother had died when she was still young. Sendi was clever at
women’s work. Her aunt had taught her how to make fine sleeping mats and colourful baskets, and how to weave beautiful cloth. In those days all Iban girls learnt to weave, and to make lovely patterns, from their mothers and grandmothers. This was very important – no young man wanted to marry a girl who didn’t know how to weave! Sendi had gentle manners and a sweet voice, and she was pretty. Many of the young men were in love with her. But she didn’t listen to any of the bachelors in her longhouse. ‘Sendi is proud!’ some of the fellows said to each other. But this was not true. When she was still a young girl, Sendi had a strange dream. In this dream, her late grandmother told her that when she grew up she
would marry a man called Guang. The Iban people take their dreams very seriously. They believe that their ancestors can talk to them in their dreams, and give them good advice. Sendi was sure that her grandmother wanted her to marry a man whose name was Guang. She was polite and friendly to everybody in the longhouse, but she never fell in love.
to marry Guang. I remember that dream quite well. It was a promise!’
Sometimes the longhouse people have big festivals, called ‘gawai’. This is the time when people visit each other from one longhouse to the next. A gawai can last for several days. Hundreds of guests come to the longhouse. The women cook almost non-stop; big mounds of rice and large platters of meat are served up, day and night! The young people play drums and gongs, and dance. The older people talk and tell long stories, sitting by the fire all night. Because people from many longhouses up and down the river come to a gawai, Sendi secretly hoped that one of the visitors would be the man of her dream, Guang. But nobody in all the longhouses on Undup River was called by that name.
And so the boat pushed off. The longhouse people stood on the jetty, waving goodbye.
Sendi piled heavy brass gongs and tall jars into the boat. She packed enough clothes and food to last for many days. ‘If Guang isn’t here, I will go and find him!’ she said.
‘Will Sendi find Guang?’, the old women asked each other. ‘Was that dream really a promise?’ The boat glided swiftly down the Undup River. Every evening Sendi and her friends stopped at a longhouse. The people always invited them to come in and stay for the night. The paddlers rested on the verandah, but Sendi and her aunt were invited to sleep inside one of the rooms. ‘Is anybody here called Guang?’ Sendi’s aunt asked the old ladies in each longhouse.
‘Sendi will never get married!’ the old ladies said, shaking their heads while they chewed betelnut. ‘How can she ever find a man called Guang?’
‘No, not in this house,’ people told her. ‘Nobody here is called Guang. Maybe you can find a man of this name further downriver!’
One morning, Sendi asked her father for a longboat. ‘I have to go on a journey, father,’ she said. ‘Please give me some strong men to paddle the boat. I will ask my eldest aunt and some other women to travel with me, too!’
The next day, Sendi and her party paddled on, until they reached the big Batang Lupar River. They had travelled for many days already. This big river flowed slowly, it was broad and dirty. Sometimes the water seemed to flow backwards – ‘that’s the tide from the sea!’ Sendi’s uncle told her; he had been a traveler in his younger days. ‘We’ll have to paddle good and hard here.’ The land on both sides of the river looked flat and smooth.
At first, her father tried to make her stay at home. ‘Why do you want to go so far away, my daughter?’ he asked. ‘You have never been on a long journey, child -- what do you know of the dangers? There are hungry crocodiles in the river. There are hidden rocks and rapids. Downriver, near the sea, there are storms; the big waves will upset your boat. And what will you do if some wicked pirates attack you?’ ‘I am not frightened, father,’ Sendi said. ‘My men know how to paddle the boat. When we get near the sea they will hoist sails. They are brave enough to fight the pirates if we meet any. My uncle is the best lookout man in the whole Undup, and he is coming with us. My eldest aunt knows the crocodile magic; she will talk to the reptiles and make them sleep. I must go, father -I cannot disobey my late grandmother. She wants me
There were large rice fields and fruit trees near the riverbanks. Sea birds flew over the water, shrieking a welcome. The wind blew more strongly each day. On the evening of the eleventh day, Sendi’s people saw another longhouse. ‘This is a strong, big house,’ the uncle said. He called to the paddlers to slow down. ‘I think we should stay here for the night.’ Some young men were fishing in small boats near the
longhouse, others were standing on the jetty. Young children were playing and splashing in the water, one man was bathing his fighting cock. Everybody turned when they heard a longboat coming. It was paddled by strong men. Some older women and one young lady sat in the centre. It was a beautiful boat, laden with many gongs and jars.
The longhouse people asked Sendi and her friends to come inside. The men sat down in the verandah of the house. They were served with food and drink. Sendi and the ladies were invited into the rooms of Guang’s mother. A lot of other women crowded in after them. They were eager to tell the news, and find out what would happen next.
Sendi’s lookout man threw a rope to the longhouse men. They caught it and tied the boat up.
‘This is the girl your son has been waiting for, Indai Guang’ they said, all talking together. ‘Now he has found his bride!’
‘Where do you come from, strangers?’ they asked, helping them to get out of the boat. ‘You must be tired and hungry! Come and spend the night in our longhouse! This place is called Sebuyau.’ ‘We come from Undup, a long way upriver,’ Sendi’s uncle told them. ‘We are looking for a bachelor called Guang.’ The most handsome of the fishermen turned around. ‘Who is calling my name?’ he asked, surprised. ‘And how do you know I am still a bachelor?’ The women in Sendi’s party shouted for joy. ‘We’ve found him! We’ve found him!’ ‘Whom have you found?’ Guang asked, surprised. ‘Sendi is our longhouse chief ’s daughter,’ they told him, ‘and she had a dream. In the dream, her late grandmother said she would marry a man called Guang. She refused all the bachelors in our house because they are not called Guang! She believed in her dream.’ Guang just stood there and looked at Sendi. He felt too embarrassed to speak. His younger brother jumped up and down, full of excitement. ‘This is what our grandmother has been telling you, elder brother!’ he squealed, loud enough for everybody to hear. ‘Grandmother always told you not to marry a girl from this longhouse. She always said you would find a bride more beautiful than all the other girls -remember? She said that your wife would be clever, and hard-working, and kind-hearted. Hey, brother, maybe this is the girl!’
Guang’s mother spread a fine mat for Sendi and her aunt to sit on. She gave them a drink. Then she started to ask questions, to find out if this girl was really good enough to become her favourite son’s wife. ‘Can you make baskets and mats?’ the old lady asked Sendi. The girl was too shy to answer, so her aunt spoke up. ‘Yes, Sendi can make fine baskets and smooth mats with delicate patterns.’ ‘Can you plant rice and grow vegetables and look after chickens?’ the mother asked. ‘Her rice grows tallest, her vegetables look greenest, her chickens are fattest,’ Sendi’s women answered. ‘Can you cook and wash, and brew rice wine?’ ‘Sendi has been looking after her father’s household since she was a small girl. He is the longhouse chief, so you can believe she had a lot of entertaining to do’. ‘Can you weave patterns like creepers and stars and rotan shoots?’ Sendi reached into her basket and took out a piece of cloth. ‘I made this myself!’ she said, looking down at her hands as she spread it. The cloth was of a deep red colour, as big as a sleeping mat. Black and white patterns showed a bird’s footprints, curly fern sprouts, a ladder to the sky, the crocodile king, the faces of people. ‘This is the best weaving I have ever seen!’ Guang’s mother said. ‘No ordinary girl could make these
patterns. Sendi, you really are the right bride for my son!’
Editor’s Note: Especially in Southern African Shamanic traditions one can observe the importance of dreams and ancestral guidance. Each of us has dreams, many perceive some guidance from the other side of the veil.
The very next week there was a big wedding in the longhouse of Sebuyau. Sendi’s aunt dressed her niece in finely woven clothes. She tied a heavy silver belt around the girl’s waist. She put silver bangles on her arms and legs, and tall a crown of silver leaves and flowers on her head. Then she led her out of the room, into the wide verandah where all the people were waiting.
But the story of Sendi and Guang highlights an important message – as long as we don’t act on our dreams and vision, they just stay dreams and visions. We have to actively integrate the received guidance in our daily life to achieve its full potential. That can be frightening, especially if we have to leave our old way of living behind. In the story, Sendi literally left the life that she knew behind and voyaged into the unknown. When we change our habits, it often impacts all aspects of our life.
Sendi was told to sit on a small gong, Guang sat on a big gong beside her. A wise old man waved a chicken over their heads and prayed for them. They cut a betelnut and shared it, and gave some to the old people. The wedding feast was the biggest anybody in Sebuyau had ever seen. They killed so many chickens they broke one wooden chopping block! And Guang and Sendi lived happily ever after.
Heidi Munan has spent many years researching the material culture, folklore and history of Sarawak. She is well placed to collect traditional information, and re-write it in a spirited, readable manner. The story of “Sendi and Guang” is re-printed with permission from Heidi’s book “Sarawak Folktales: Bidayuh, Iban, Malay, Melanau, Orang Ulu”. The book is available at shops in Kuching and Penang and can be ordered from email@example.com
Unfortunately most of us no longer live in societies that support those type adventures. With some reluctance, Sendi’s father is providing her with a longboat to go on the search for Guang. Other family members agree to accompany and support her. Do we as parents provide our own children with resources and support to follow their dreams, even when we’re not totally convinced? Do we as mentors give support to our mentees, even when they embark on a journey to a different tradition or spiritual practice they feel drawn to? From that perspective the story of Sendi and Guang also offers some lessons in parenting. The essence of the story also applies to plant medicine. Many people in the Western plant medicine circle focus on quantity – how often they drink, how many cups per session, how many different types of plants etc. But unless you integrate the lessons you receive from the plant spirits, all those nice shapes, colours and visions are just a form of entertainment. A word of warning though – guidance is often received in a very metaphorical way. It requires some interpretation skills. And contrary to the more new age “all is love & light” world view many shamanic traditions acknowledge the existence of malevolent forces. So be careful which guidance you follow. Never follow anything blindly – your actions are your own personal responsibility, not that of some ancestors. Sendi too was not blindly following her dream – she was accompanied by men who “know how to paddle” and are “brave enough to fight the pirates”. Her uncle is the best lookout man while her aunt “knows the crocodile magic”. So make sure you have reliable and capable allies when you start to make your dreams and visions becoming true.
Four Qualities of a Good Shamanic Mentor: Finding Your Way By Meg Beeler If you have been studying shamanic ways for a
while, as I have, there comes a point when you know a lot. You may have experienced multiple cultural perspectives, or studied with several teachers. You may have been an apprentice, a Sun Dancer, or a graduate of many workshops. You may have a calling, or a desire to be of service, and don’t see how to integrate all your wisdom. This is when it’s good to step back and reflect on what you need: who and what would help you step onto your true path, find your unique qualities, and build confidence in your deepest shamanic/spiritual purpose? Your Choices
Let’s start with a few distinctions. A teacher focuses on a curriculum rather than your situation. Whether it is sharing a set of practices, conveying a worldview or cosmovision, or helping you develop specific skills and knowledge, the teacher guides you through the content. You take in whatever you can. For example, you’d go to a shamanic teacher to learn to do soul retrieval, be introduced to Huichol worldview and ceremony, or learn tracking and divination. A master guides by example, requiring an apprentice to participate, observe, practice in order to learn to do what the master does. For example, an Ayahuascero would expect years of ceremonial participation, dietas, and direct revelation from plant spirits before a student would be anointed as a successor.
A mentor focuses on helping a person develop their personal qualities and competencies so they become a fuller version of themselves. A shamanic mentor helps the mentee recognize and believe in her essence, what spiritual teachers call her pre-existing nature. She guides a mentee in integrating her wisdom and finding her path. She is likely to help the mentee discover what gift she is being asked to make on behalf of the future. A shamanic mentor (like any other kind of mentor) draws on her own experience, perception, and insight, along with the perception and insight of her spirit helpers—to guide, prompt, teach, and encourage. Finding Your Way Traditionally, a shamanic calling came in one of two ways. If you were “called by spirit,” you had to find your teachers and mentors; they put you through tests before agreeing, and sometimes you had to beg. If the shaman’s role was inherited, training came from your relative—father, uncle, or grandmother. Sometimes shamans and healers would “recognize” a person from outside their tribe who deserved to learn—as in the case of Mandaza Kandemwa of Zimbabwe—and they would share their wisdom. For those of us born outside indigenous cultures, there is rarely a traditional “community recognition” of a shamanic role. Fortunately for us, we have access to and can learn about many traditions. Yet, even if we feel called and experience deep resonance with a particular tradition (as I did with the Andean cosmovision) the tradition does not necessarily have a way to recognize your calling. So finding teacher, mentor, or master becomes more complex. And issues of respect, reciprocity, and cultural appropriation (avoiding it) are essential to pay attention to.
During my 25 years of shamanic work, I walked three paths (Andean, core shamanism, and Medicine for the Earth). I knew they were complementary. Yet I couldn’t see for a very long time how to integrate the paths, the teachings, or the circles of people interested in and surrounding them. None of my teachers were available for the kind of guidance and dialogue that would have helped me clarify. So in the mysterious ways of spirit, I integrated them as I wrote about them (see Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy). When people began coming to me for mentoring, I had to ask for a lot of advice from spirit. I had to figure out how mentoring was different from teaching, which I’ve done my whole life. (At 15, I began teaching swimming. I successively I taught history, ceramics, and how to use computer applications. I practiced shamanism for years before I began teaching others.) Four Qualities a Good Mentor Has Reflecting on and becoming conscious of the qualities you are drawn to and what kind of person you are looking for will help you make clearer choices. These four qualities are generally recognized as essential for any kind of mentor: 1. Your relationship is one of mutual trust and respect, rapport, and what some call “chemistry.” In other words, you get along easily, feel resonance with each other, and experience mutuality.
My Own Experience
2. Your mentor focuses on helping you develop your character and values by embodying them. Qualities such as self awareness, empathy, compassion, reciprocity, respect for others, open-heartedness, trust, generosity of spirit, and egoless self-confidence are ones I find particularly valuable.
My own experience with mentors has been informal, not explicit. In retrospect, I have had three mentors. From one I learned to create large public, participatory ceremony by observing and working alongside her. With another I observed how to live with an open and loving heart. A third showed me how to manage a non-profit organization with grace.
3. A mentor supports you by encouraging your wild creativity, keeping their judgments to themselves, and helping you be more aware of your great qualities. I’m not talking about a sycophant, but a person who genuinely appreciates you and helps you appreciate yourself while gently guiding you away from unproductive assumptions.
4. A mentor’s goal is to help you become 100% uniquely you. They help you develop personal shamanic qualities and competencies so you become a fuller version of who you are, find your calling, and live from your essence. (Click here for more about ways a mentor might help you.) In shamanic terms, a mentor will help you expand your perception, open the doorways to your wider understanding of yourself within the interconnected universe, and show you options for stepping into your sacred power more fully. In sum, an ideal mentor is someone you respect and admire. She has qualities or a way of being that you are drawn to. And she focuses on helping you illumine your unique calling in the world. Meg Beeler, Author, Shamanic Guide, and Spiritual Mentor—offers training, guidance, and ceremony for healing your soul and spirit, moving your energy, and finding your luminous presence. A lifelong explorer of shamanic, animist, and meditative consciousness, Meg has studied Andean mysticism extensively with the Q’ero. She is the creator of Energy AlchemyTM and the online Earth Caretakers Wisdom School, and author of Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy. Meg lives on Sonoma Mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find out more: www.megbeeler.com
The Magical Art of the Shipibo People of the Upper Amazon By Howard G. Charing Underlying the intricate geometric patterns of great complexity displayed in the art of the Shipibo people is a concept of an all pervading magical reality which can challenge the Western linguistic heritage and rational mind. These patterns are more than an expression of the oneness of creation, the inter-changeability of light and sound, the union or fusion of perceived opposites, it is an ongoing dialogue or communion with the spiritual world and powers of the Rainforest. The visionary art of the Shipibo brings this paradigm into a physical form. The Ethnologist Angelika Gebhart-Sayer, calls this a “visual musical”. The Shipibo are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon. These ethnic groups each have their own languages, traditions and culture. The Shipibo
which currently number about 20,000 are spread out in communities through the Pucallpa / Ucayali river region. They are highly regarded in the Amazon as being masters of Ayahuasca, and many aspiring shamans and Ayahuasqueros from the region study with the Shipibo to learn their language, chants, and plant medicine knowledge. All the textile painting, embroidery, and artisan craft is carried out by the women. From a young age the Shipibo females are initiated by their mothers and grandmothers into this practice. Teresa a Shipiba who works with us on our Amazon Retreats tells that “when I was a young girl, my mother squeezed drops of the Piripiri (a species of Cyperus sp.) berries into my eyes so that I would have the vision for the designs; this is only done once and lasts a lifetime”.
One of the challenges for the Western mind is to acknowledge the relationship between the Shipibo designs and music. For the Shipibo can “listen” to a song or chant by looking at the designs, and inversely paint a pattern by listening to a song or music. As an astonishing demonstration of this I witnessed two Shipiba paint a large ceremonial ceramic pot known as a MahuetÃ¡. The pot was nearly five feet high and had a diameter of about three feet, each of the Shipiba couldn’t see what the other was painting, yet both were whistling the same song, and when they had finished both sides of the complex geometric pattern were identical and matched each side perfectly. The Shipibo designs are traditionally carried out on natural un-dyed cotton (which they often grow themselves) or on cotton dyed in mahogany bark (usually three or four times) which gives the distinctive brown colour. They paint either using a pointed piece of chonta (bamboo) or an iron nail with the juice of the crushed Huito (Genipa americana) berry fruits which turns into a blue- brown-black dye once exposed to air. The intricate Shipibo designs have their origin in the non-manifest and ineffable world in the spirit of the Rainforest and all who live there. The designs are a representation of the Cosmic Serpent, the Anaconda, the great Mother, creator of the universe called Ronin Kene. For the Shipibo the skin of Ronin Kene has a radiating, electrifying vibration of light, colour, sound, movement and is the embodiment of all possible patterns and designs past, present, and future. The designs that the Shipibo paint are channels or conduits for this multisensorial vibrational fusion of form, light and sound. Although in our cultural paradigm we perceive that the geometric patterns are bound within the border of the textile or ceramic vessel, to the Shipibo the patterns extend far beyond these borders and permeate the entire world.
Each of the designs are unique, even the very small pieces, and they cannot be commercially or mass produced. In Lima I met with a woman who had set up a government funded community project which amongst other matters established a collective for the Shipibo to sell their artisan work and paintings. She
an acoustic code.
tells that a major USA corporation (Pier 1 Imports), enamoured by these designs ordered via the project twenty thousand textiles with the same design, this order could never be fulfilled, the Shipibo could simply not comprehend the concept of replicating identical designs. The Shipibo believe that our state of health (which includes physical and psychological) is dependent on the balanced union between mind, spirit and body. If an imbalance in this occurs such as through emotions of envy, hate, anger, this will generate a negative effect on the health of that person. The shaman will reestablish the balance by chanting the icaros which are the geometric patterns of harmony made manifest in sound into the body of the person. The shaman in effect transforms the visual code into
A key element in this magical dialogue with the energy which permeates creation and is embedded in the Shipibo designs is the work with ayahuasca by the Shipibo shamans or muraya. In the deep ayahuasca trance, the ayahuasca reveals to the shaman the luminous geometric patterns of energy. These filaments drift towards the mouth of the shaman where it metamorphoses into a chant or icaro. The icaro is a conduit for the patterns of creation which then permeate the body of the shaman’s patient bringing harmony in the form of the geometric patterns which re-balances the patient’s body. The vocal range of the Shipibo shaman’s when they chant the icaros is astonishing, they can range from the highest falsetto one moment to a sound which resembles a thumping pile driver, and then to a gentle soothing melodic lullaby. Speaking personally of my experience with this, is a feeling that every cell in my body is floating and embraced in a nurturing all-encompassing vibration, even the air around me is vibrating in acoustic resonance with the icaro of the maestro. The shaman knows when the healing is complete as the design is clearly distinct in the patient’s body. It make take a few sessions to complete this, and when completed the geometric healing designs are embedded in the patient’s body, this is called an Arkana. This internal patterning is deemed to be permanent and to protect a person’s spirit.
Angelika Gebhart-Sayer, Professor of Ethnology, University of Marburg writes that “Essentially, Shipibo-Conibo therapy is a matter of visionary design application in connection with aura restoration, the shaman heals his patient through the application of a visionary design, every person feels spiritually permeated and saturated with designs. The shaman heals his patient through the application of the songdesign, which saturates the patients’ body and is believed to untangle distorted physical and psychospiritual energies, restoring harmony to the somatic, psychic and spiritual systems of the patient. The designs are permanent and remain with a person’s spirit even after death.”. Whilst it is not easy for Westerner’s to enter and engage with the world view of the Shipibo which has been developed far away from our linguistic structures and psychological models, there is an underlying sophisticated and complex symbolic language embedded in these geometric patterns. The main figures in the Shipibo designs are the square, the rhombus, the octagon, and the cross. The symmetry of the patterns emanating from the centre (which is our world) is a representation of the outer and inner worlds, a map of the cosmos. The cross represents the Southern Cross constellation which dominates the night sky and divides the cosmos into four quadrants, the intersection of the arms of the cross is the centre of the universe, and becomes the cosmic cross. The cosmic cross represents the eternal spirit of a person and the union of the masculine and feminine principles the very cycle of life and death which reminds us of the great act of procreation of not only the universe, but also of humanity, and our individual selves. The smaller flowing patterns within the geometric forms are the radiating power of the Cosmic Serpent which turns this way and that, betwixt and between constantly creating the universe as it moves. The circles are often a direct representation of the Cosmic Anaconda, and within the circle itself is the central point of creation. In the Western tradition, from the Pythagoreans, and Plato through the Renaissance music was used to heal the body and to elevate the soul. It was also believed that earthly music was no more than a faint echo of the universal ‘harmony of the spheres’. This view of the
harmony of the universe was held both by artists and scientists until the mechanistic universe of Newton. Joseph Campbell the foremost scholar of mythology suggests that there is a universe of harmonic vibrations which the human collective unconscious has always been in communion with. Our beings beat to the ancient rhythms of the cosmos. The traditional ways of the Shipibo and other indigenous peoples still reflect the primal rhythm, and their perception of the universal forces made physical is truly a communion with the infinite.
Howard G. Charing, born in London, and has lived in the Netherlands, the USA, and Peru. He worked in the computer industry from 1970 to 1991. He quit the industry following an elevator crash in which he suffered serious injuries; a broken neck and severe spinal damage. In this accident he had a near death experience that transformed his life. This accident closed the door to his ‘normal’ prosaic life, however new doors leading to exploration and adventure opened. Over the last 24 years he has become acknowledged as an international workshop leader on shamanism, an author and visionary artist. For over twenty years he has worked with some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans and elders in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He has co-authored ‘Plant Spirit Shamanism’ published by Destiny Books (USA), and ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’ published by Inner Traditions (USA). His latest book published in 2017 by Destiny Books (USA) is ‘The Accidental Shaman’. Find out more: www.shamanism.co.uk https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/howard-charing email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mesa 101 By Daniel Moler Re-printed with permission by the author and the Heart of the Healer
Despite how far you go with something you must always revisit the basics, to reinforce your foundation. With the mesa it is no different. So, let’s explore the core elements of what the mesa is and why we use it. Put very simply: a mesa is an altar that is used shamanically for healing and connection with the natural world. An altar is a created space where religious rites are performed to gain access and connection to whatever source of spiritual awareness one may have (God, Goddess, Nature, etc.). Anyone can use a mesa, there is no canonical order or hierarchy of priesthood/priestesshood one must go through in order to work with it. The mesa is a very personal, individualized tool one uses in their own spiritual work. One way to see the mesa, as noted by shamanic practitioner Matthew Magee, is as “a living
control panel, co-created by Spirit and the curandero [shaman], to become a vehicle for experiencing the ineffable.”1
table) with an assemblage of sacred artifacts (called artes) arranged on top of it. These artes act as tools for the curandero’s use to conduct healing on others, assist in divination, and commune with the unseen world of Spirit. The assemblage of these objects is very personal in accordance with a curandero’s own spiritual guidance and training. On the other hand, there does seem to be an overall theme most curanderos follow on the Northern coast, which makes their tradition distinct. A Northern coastal mesa is often divided into three vertical sections, called campos. Each one of these campos designate the type or style of healing that is being performed on the client. In a nutshell, these campos are divided into left, middle, and right sections of the mesa: Left: called the campo ganadero, works with dispatching and releasing dense energies. Middle: called the campo medio, works with balance and integration. The word mesa is a Spanish term, which literally means “table.” It denotes the typically flat surface area in which a mesa is generally used. That the mesa is a table can also symbolize the table in which a family gathers to feast, just as we gather to feast upon the fruits of our communion with Spirit.
Right: called the campo justicerio, works with raising energy and bringing good fortune. Artes are placed specifically in those sections to match the particular curing power of the healing object.
The mesa geographically originates in the Latin Americas, most specifically Peru. There are many styles and variations depending on both the region and the individual user. Like most shamanic lineages, this makes pinpointing a distinct and categorical tradition of the mesa sometimes challenging. In essence, there is no one way or tradition of the mesa that is the way; however, there are some basic “denominations” of traditions that the mesa can be classified into, especially in terms of the lineage of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. NORTHERN COASTAL CURANDERISMO The curanderos (curers/shaman) of the Northern coastal region of Peru are shamanic folk-healers with roots dating back to the ancient Chavín culture, approximately 900 BCE. The layout of a curandero’s mesa in the Northern coastal traditions usually consist of a manta cloth laid on the ground (or sometimes a
These campos, though distinct, collaborate within a collective field of participation which mirrors the curandero’s own interpersonal cosmology. As noted by Ross Heaven, prolific author of shamanic practices, “the mesa can be regarded as a representation of divine (rather than human) scales of justice where the goal is equilibrium and order, not a weighted outcome in favour of ‘light’ or ‘dark’ . . .”2 ANDEAN PAQOKUNA
Quechua are farmers and lama herders; they spend much of their time working in the soil and hiking the treacherous landscape of the Andean highlands. So, a paqokuna mesa needs to be resilient and able to travel. Therefore, a bundled mesa is natural solution that works well for the agricultural society of the Quechua. Author J.E. Williams, who spent years with the Quechua in study, states: “Much like North American medicine men who carry the objects of their trade in a bundle that they keep by them at all times, Q’ero paqos carry objects they find in the mountains, that come to them directly from other dimensions, or that are given to them by another shaman.”3 THE PACHAKUTI MESA Trained in both the Northern coastal curanderismo and Andean paqokuna traditions, don Oscar Miro-Quesada was tasked by his teachers to bring the medicine of the mesa to the Western world in the hopes steering humanity’s course away from destruction and toward a more meaningful relationship with the natural order. don Oscar understood the task before to be a difficult one, as the concepts of indigenous shamanism often do not translate well to modern convention. Inspired by the Eastern concept of the mandala, and seeing its correlations with the mesa as it was taught to him, don Oscar developed a new understanding and usage of the mesa called the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition (PMT).
The paqokuna are a class of shamanic healer-priests of the Quechua peoples that live in the highlands of the Andes Mountains in Peru. The Quechua are the direct descendants of the Incas (1400 CE) and have maintained as much of their heritage as possible through centuries of colonialism. Unlike the open mesa of the Northern coastal curanderos, the Quechua paqokuna (also called paqos) operate their rites with the mesa as a closed bundle. Most paqos very rarely open their mesas, if at all. The bundle is full of sacred artifacts similar to the curandero’s mesa, though they generally refer to these healing objects as khuyas. The bundled nature of the paqo’s mesa is very fitting to the cultural framework of the Quechua. The
Pachakuti is a Quechua term which means “transformation,” or more literally “turning over the earth.” It is the name given to the tilling process the Quechua use before planting their crops. Likewise, it is the name given to the alchemical process which one undergoes during apprenticeship into the PMT. The Pachakuti Mesa is designed to enact transformation, on both a personal and planetary scale. Integrating the lineages from both the Northern coast and the Andes, don Oscar has formulated a unique altar set with cross-cultural (not just Peruvian) applications. As in most shamanic traditions, the Pachakuti Mesa is arranged in such a way that it honors the directions of the compass, as well as incorporating a fifth direction as a unifying axis point. Each direction carries with it a collection of elements, archetypes, and attributes that represent
inherent powers of the natural world. The directions represented are: South: called Pachamama (Mother Earth), which honors the element of earth. West: called Mama Killa (Grandmother Moon), which honors the elements of water. North: called Wiracocha (Great Spirit), which honors the element of air. East: called Inti (Father Sun), which honors the element of fire. Center: called K’uychi (Rainbow), which honors the element of aether. This framework, fostered through the meticulously designed Pachakuti Mesa Tradition Apprenticeship Series, assists the practitioner in garnering a rapport with the natural forces of the unseen realms. This is an essential component to any sort of shamanic path: building a relationship with the spiritual forces of the universe. This marriage of soul should result in stewardship for our planet and all living creatures.
Daniel Moler is a writer, artist, and sanctioned teacher in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. He is the author of Shamanic Qabalah: A Mystical Path to Uniting the Tree of Life and the Great Work from Llewellyn Worldwide, Machine Elves 101, RED Mass, as well a contributor in Ross Heaven’s book on Peruvian healing Cactus of Mystery and Llewellyn’s 2020 Magical Almanac. He has published fiction and nonfiction works around the world in magazines, journals, gaming modules, and online, including: GrahamHancock.com, Positive Health Magazine, Cannabis Culture, The Tattooed Buddha, Sacred Hoop, and A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism. Visit Daniel online at www.danielmolerweb.com.
As don Oscar himself says in his book Lessons in Courage, “In the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, our shared visionary focus is to harness the power of creation from spirit, as did our ancestral peoples, and to properly channel it so that it serves the entire Earth community..
FOOTNOTES 1. Magee, Matthew. Peruvian Shamanism: The Pachakuti Mesa, p. xvi. 2. Heaven, Ross. The Hummingbird’s Journey to God: Perspectives on San Pedro, the Cactus of Vision, p. 57. 3. Williams, J.E. The Andean Codex: Adventures and Initiations Among the Peruvian Shamans, p.47. 4. Glass-Coffin, Bonnie & don Oscar Miro-Quesada. Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life, p.116.
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