There are times when Mama Universe likes to play hide-n-seek with the answers you seek.  Those “love the questions” moments when she puts the jigsaw pieces of your life out on the table, holds a few critical pieces back, smiles, and says, “that’s enough for now.”  And, then.  Well, then there are the moments when she gets right to the point and speaks with the simple clarity of truth and light. 

This morning was one of those moments. 

It began around 7:15.  While waiting for coffee at my corner store, this 20-something kid and I started talking about the weekend.  He had come to town to see Andrew Bird play.  And, so, as happens a lot in New Orleans, we started talking about music, about people, about the city and about how it all comes together here in a hard to describe, but impossible to resist way.  Walking out together, he asked what I did.  I told him that, like most New Orleanians I know, I did a number of things but, to me, it all came down to being a shaman. 

He told me that he’d never heard of shamans until two weeks ago when a friend of his tried to do some shamanic work on him.   I say “tried” because, as the kid told it, after about 15 minutes, his heart started racing and his body started sweating.  “You’re blocking me,” his friend told him, stopping the session. 

Damned jigsaw puzzles. 

Ditching my intent to return home with my coffee and write a completely different shaman’s journey post, I told the kid “Well, then.  No time like the present.  Let’s give it another go.”

Three minutes later, he was in my house, flat on his back, eyes closed.

A few minutes after that—with an ample assist from Tina Turner and her Buddhist recording “Purity of Mind” and a “shhh, not now” to his second chakra—his eyes were closed and there wasn’t a bead of sweat to be found.  “Wow, I’m relaxed,” he mumbled. 

I told him that I sensed he was holding something back and, since the seeds of most of what we adults hold back are planted between the time we're 5-8, I asked him to talk about his childhood. "I played outside a lot.  There was this one tree I used to climb up every morning to watch the sunrise."  I chuckled because, as you may or may not recall, I had a horizon tree in my childhood, too.  Perhaps we all did, in one form or the other!

The young man and I travelled to that tree.  He climbed up, catching the morning sun mid-rise.  And started crying.  Wonderful rivers of snot-flowing, face streaking tears.  I gave him a hug and held him.

"Do you know why you're crying?" 

"No, I just feel so sad and such discontent.”  I asked him where and he said “my chest and feet.”

After a minute or two, he told me that he was climbing down from the tree. 

"I see a crushed diamond and a snake," he said.   "It's staring at me."   

"Sit with the snake," I said, putting my hand around his shoulder. "It won't hurt you."

"It's turning away."

"Follow it.  It's ok."

"Wait, now there are rabbits.  Rabbits everywhere.  And they're eating."

"Where's the snake," I asked. 

"Huh, I don't know"  ("Not ready," the snake whispered to me).  "Now I see a girl with her back to me.  She's running." 

"Follow her."

He did.  To the edge of a cliff.  Where they jumped.  Into an ocean that gradually became black as night. 

"This feels great.  I love the ocean," he said, followed by "But now I'm back on the shore."

"Let the water carry you back out."

"OK, it is, but now I'm sinking."


"OK.”  And, then, he opened his eyes.  33 minutes after we had started.

"Do you spend much time outside?  Do you go to the ocean?  Read poetry?"

"I like all of those things, but do none of them,” the young man said.  “I’m an accountant.  I live in Atlanta and live in a house with a bunch of guys.”

“Well now,” I said.  “You have an invitation.  From your inner feminine.  To lighten up, loosen up…and get up.  To go outside that which you know.”

We then talked about the possibilities of what he had experienced.  It didn’t take long because, as I said, Mama Universe was in a very forthright mood this morning.  Perhaps she sneaked in a double latte while the kid and I were buying our coffees. 

“You came down from the tree, a place of joy and innocence, to see the diamond as shattered truth, pulverized power,” I said.   You felt sadness in your heart but you also felt discontent in your feet, a separation from Earth.  From nature.”

“Next you encountered snake, looking directly at you.  Snake is a symbol of transformation.  Of transmuting poison from something that brings death to something that offers life.  But you weren’t ready.  You surrounded yourself with rabbits, which symbolize…wait for it:  fear. But, then. Then, something you are ready for appeared:  the girl. She started running and you followed her.  Why?  Because she’s you.  That feminine part of yourself that you’ve locked up and hidden away.  Maybe so you could be an accountant.  Maybe so you could make your parents proud.  Maybe so you could make yourself successful.   As the snake said, you’re not ready to find out why, yet.  But the invitation is there to follow your inner feminine.  Over the cliff of certainty and into the most uncertain waters of mystery, of surrender.  Sink into those.  And feel the hard edges of your current choices and life start to soften.”

He blinked about three times.  Wondering, perhaps, how, in less than an hour, a coffee run had turned into an encounter with his inner feminine.    “How do I do that?”

“Go outside.  Alone.  For three days.  Do you know anywhere where you can do that,” I asked.

“I know exactly where I can do that.”

Slapping his hands to his legs, he said, suddenly, “I’ve got to go and get on the road.  I have a long drive.”

“Yes,” I said.  “I believe you do.”

“Thanks for the lift,” Mama Universe added.

Follow me on Twitter  @bwtshaman

4/30/2013 03:52:40 am

Thank you for your advice the other day. And thank you for posting this story.
I did follow up with that question, could I be both? I still don't know if I could, but the best place to start would be to learn more. Any book suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
I wanted to ask you a strange question: Do you know a person who is also a raven? A peacock once told me that I would find them someday; that was six years ago, and I feel compelled to ask you, even though I really don't want to hit the submit button and broadcast this question. Here goes...

Brett Will Taylor
4/30/2013 10:31:30 am

Hi Kieri,
Good for you for hitting "submit!" :)
As to your questions, I can only share what I have gleaned from my own experience.
As to books, consider that all that books offer are glimpses into someone else's path. Perhaps, what you most need now is to illuminate your own path. That illumination can only come from going within. If you are looking for guides who can help you get your sea legs on that most wonderful adventure, I recommend Rumi (anything translated by Coleman Barks), perhaps Castaneda's Wheel of Time, and maybe even Jung's Red Book. All of the above offer nothing more than clues, vibrations, whispers. But there's a resonance within each..and within that resonance are keys! :)
A number of us carry Raven in our totem or shield. Why do you ask? You might also want to go directly to the source and just invite Raven in. See what it has to say to you directly!! :)
And, now, it's my turn to hit "submit." Thanks again for the inquiry and the dialogue!

4/30/2013 12:04:22 pm

And when you say to invite raven, it seems like the simplest of solutions, but truth be told, I have disliked ravens ever since once spoke (real words) to me once in college. Like, words really came out of his beak, and he said my name and told me to run. I was in my car and still do not know what run meant. I didn't run, I cried, and it just kept shouting until I drove away.
The raven-person has been something that comes up a lot in dreams and journeys. That this is a person, here in the world, and I will meet them, and they would have something to teach me. I think I feel like when you wrote about Charles, who was going to answer your questions and tell you who and why you are :) It's always just more questions to answer ourselves isn't it?

Brett Will Taylor
4/30/2013 10:10:27 pm

This is a reply to your last reply--somehow Weebly won't let me do a direct reply. Anyway....ya, I know that "will someone please tell me WTF is going on" feeling well. :)
Possibly, Raven is a manifestation of your Shadow (always fun!). Whatever the manifestation, it certainly seems Raven has something to share with you...and "run" would not be it. :) The key, I have found, in receiving the gift--or medicine--of such energy is to send it nothing but love and compassion. "Learn to dance with it," as my friend and colleague Jill Leigh once told me. That "learning" takes a release of fear and an acceptance of darkness. Not an easy journey, but trust me, it can be done. Also, I just heard that you should consider accepting Raven as just a "fact"--a very Zen approach. No judging, no emotions. Just is. That should release lot of layers of illusion and perhaps increase your ability to see.... :) And, yes, the questions never end...well, until you simply stop asking.

6/1/2013 01:09:52 am

For what it's worth, the Raven has been a resonant energy form for me for what seems like forever. Whether it is a totem/shield/spirit animal, whatever you want to call it, I've just tried to concentrate on being present to it, because it always has something to teach me.

Brett Will Taylor
6/2/2013 01:37:56 am

That's wonderful to hear of your relationship with Raven and that you are present to that which it brings forward from the Void. Powerful manifestations abound! :)
Thanks so much for the comment and continue to enjoy the gifts of the moment! BWT


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