This is a story from my lineage. For some here, it may touch you deeply, but it talks about a shaman, the boy that taught her, a village and a travelling nomadic clan, a loss and a-gain.
Are you a curse or a gift? | A shamanic tradition journey story.
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This story is about a young boy and when we say young, about ten or older and he was quite a beautiful boy and he was very soft and very gentle, very kind, he liked to play and he liked to be with the other boys, but was very soft and gentle.
And of course, the boys were encouraged to hunt, fight what have you and he would be taken out on hunts and the hunts were never successful when he was there. Never successful and they would take him, never successful. Take him, nothing successful.
So, he became like a bit of a bad-luck-charm and the people couldn’t not like him because he was so soft and gentle and kind but they became wary of him because when he was on the hunt, they were not successful.
So, eventually, he was not accepted to go with anyone, even his father couldn’t take him because otherwise, they would have starved.
They would ask him: ‘What? Why?’ but he couldn’t explain himself because for him nothing was happening, he was with his father, his brothers or other men of the group so eventually as he got a little bit older and he was not getting those skills he was going to become unmarriageable because he would not be able to support his family and he was also becoming as he got older people were more wary of him, which of course then bled into the family. They were wary of the family and didn’t want their daughters marrying into this family because it could be like a curse.
But as the boy grew older he became more beautiful and he was strong and he was kind and gentle, he could see things, he was always available to help and this confused the people because when he was first there to help they would: ‘Oh, fantastic!’ and then they would push away. This confused them greatly.
So, this went on for some time.
This particular group was not a nomadic group, they were settled. They did not have a Shaman, they had women who were knowledgeable about herbs and midwifery and things like that, but not deeper skills, shall we say, and there was ‘word going around’ that there was a clan or a tribe that was coming close to them because their hunting grounds had been disrupted or affected by another tribe, a settled group who had infringed in their space and they were not able to maintain the amount of food so they were travelling closer to settled places. That’s just the way of the world.
The father heard that these people were coming and it was assumed that there would be a Shaman with them because most of the wondering, the nomadic groups had that type of person because it was considered a necessity.
So, the father went to the group and of course there was a lot of: ‘Why are you here?’ and chest-beating of the men and this type of thing. The father had taken the boy with him, he was a young man by now and by that time he should have been married and had children already, or at least be married.
He was trying to explain to them but their language was slightly different so that was difficult, but the Shaman sensed something and came out and did this sign/body language and everybody melted away.
She looked at the boy and the boy looked at her and there was no fear. From him, there was no resistance, but there was also no familiarity as if he knew all along, or he met this person before. There was none of that. It was just an amicable situation.
So, she walked up to him, she looked at him for some time, turned around and started to walk away and he just followed her. And the father sat out of the group for some time. The others sat all on alert. The boy was with the Shaman for quite some time and the group eventually brought the father into their fold whilst they were waiting because it was several days that the boy was in there.
And what transpired in the space of the Shaman was quite interesting because it was not the Shaman trying to heal the boy or instruct the boy, or find out what was wrong with the boy, but it was, in fact, the boy teaching the Shaman.
The boy for the first time was able to express his experience of life. The Shaman was transfixed by this experience because it was for a non-Shamanic individual it was quite a rare experience; This boy was not a Shaman and that was not just because the group did not have a Shaman, it wasn’t that thing, it was because he was not a Shaman.
What he explained to the Shaman in his teaching time with her was that whenever he went hunting, they would never catch anything. Then the people in the town or the village became wary of him, so he was explaining all of these things. His whole life was being explained.
And as he spoke about these things, he became a sort of grey, he became grey. Not dark, but there was no: the light was dimmed, he was just grey.
So, then the Shaman asked: ‘When you are hunting what is your experience? What happens to you?’
His experience was that when they were hunting, he would be with whoever and he said: I can feel my heart and then next to my heart I could feel another heart and they are beating at a different pace. When it first happened to me, I was puzzled, then I became alarmed and then they became equal, they beat at the same pace. The same rhythm and then I had this feeling that I was, not that I was the animal that we were hunting, but that we were of the same heart. We were of the same heart and when I realised that I became alarmed for the animal because we were of the same heart. If the animal died, would I die?
So, when that internal alarm occurred, the animal would flee. It happened every time and I tried not to be alarmed. I tried not to feel vulnerable or that I was in any danger because I wasn’t in any danger, but he said I could never move past that moment of when we became the one heart that the alarm would come and I would feel: iiiiihhhhhhhhh ! and when I did iiihhhhhhhhhhh then the animal would know and would go.
As he was talking about this, he started to change colour, he started to light up and then she said: ‘Well when you are with humans or when you are with people and you see that something needs help or you sense something is wrong, what happens?’ It is the same, I have two hearts and then I become one heart.
But with the people that I know within my group, it is different, because it is as if I am drawn to them and I just feel like sometimes I appear. I don’t even remember walking to them. I just appear and there I am and when they first see me they are overjoyed as if we are one heart, but then they realise who I am and then it’s like my heart is ripped like this and as he spoke about that the colour faded.
She realised that he was a true gift and that he had the opportunity or the possibility of being not a great leader, but a great asset to any group if they could understand his special attribute. She had never come across this before, she had heard stories, but had never come across it before.
So, she said to him: ‘What do you want from us? What do you want from me?’ The young man said I would like to be free. I would like to be able to be like everybody else and not have this experience so that I can be accepted by the people that I am with and I can have a family and that I can hunt and all of these things.
So, she said to him: ‘Well, let’s journey’ but she spoke in different ways but effectively there was a journey that was had and in that journey, she gave him this vision freedom he sought, took him down that path of that, of not having the heart connections and just being like everybody else.
What he experienced was a shadow. He became like a waif, he was no longer solid and physical human, he became just like a shell, there was nothing inside. There was loneliness and there was distress and there was a feeling of worthlessness and uselessness. When he came out of the journey, he was angry with her because he said “why would I feel all of those things. I am those things now!”
But you don’t feel those things right now. You feel as if you have a fullness of being when you are able to fulfill your one-heartedness with others, you shine. When that is not possible you dim. She said this for you is a gift and a curse. You can choose it as a curse and live your life like you are living. You can use it as a gift and start to utilise it for the benefit of yourself, for others, for your group.
And he was alarmed and he said: ‘But they don’t want me. They don’t want it!’ and so there was time when they were together discussing this, he slept for quite a long time.
After about three or four days they emerged from the shelter and she said to the father: ‘You have two options. You take him and you live the life that you have been living and you feel that your family is cursed, your village feels you are cursed and you are cursing them or he stays with us and we will learn from his gift and we will develop ourselves from his gift.’
Of course, the father didn’t know what she was talking about, because for him, why his people experience the young man a curse and their people would experience him as a gift?
So, he said to the young man: ‘What do you want to do? What do you want?’ and he said “Well father if I come back it will be a curse, everybody will feel it’s a curse. So, if I can experience my life as a gift, and I can do that here, then I must stay here and you brought me here and you knew that this was for me and for that I thank you.”
And the father, of course, was distraught because he truly loved the son, because he was a beautiful human being, but the father realised the wisdom of what was being said and left the young man there.
When the father went back to the group, he explained what had happened and they were relieved, they felt joyous, they felt something had lifted from them. They no longer felt like they had to be wary, as if they had to be on guard.
The young man in the nomadic group, well he became what you know now as a celebrity. He became very well known; he became honoured because he could tell that someone was ill before they knew they were ill. He knew that danger was coming before they knew danger was coming and things like that.
The Shaman did not find this competition at all. For her, it was an enhancement for her group, for her whole group and for the betterment and development of that whole group.
So, he was able to live his life in a fulfilled, meaningful way and he benefited the new group that he was in.
The village that he came from they became sad. They became sad, not because the boy had gone, but because the light that he shone, even when it was brief, it was so strong that it gave like an uplifting experience. Even in that moment that they experienced it and none of them realised how much he benefited them in the village.
So, the village itself became quite sad. The village became sad, not so much, this of course affected the people but there was a sadness in the village. It was as if the boy had come out of the spirit of the village, to help the village, not just the womb of his mother. The spirit of the village had ‘created’ to make the village more, to buoy the village, to give the village something special.
The meaning of this story really is that we all see things differently, but we generally see things by how they affect us. In both situations, they saw this boy as how he could benefit or not the group.
In one group they saw his gift as a curse and that he was of no benefit because the effect on them seemed to be negative.
The other group saw his gift as a gift and it would benefit that group because it affected them positively, because they saw it for what it was.
So, both groups were mercenary, if you like, in their use or non-use of this individual, but one group gave him this space to express himself, to experience himself and they benefited and they supported him in that.
So, when you are looking at things from a journey point of view, if you look at that journey which was just a small tiny part of this story, it gave him a view of himself without his gift.
Many people that you will come across find their gifts a burden, but without their gift there is a loss. There is a hollowness. Most of those people who find their gift a burden because they are in groups, like the village, where their gift is not understood, and it is seen as something that is negatively affecting the people.
It’s important for these people to be shown a way that the gift that they have is fundamental to their existence. It’s not just a present. It’s not just something that they are special at or they can do. That is something that is within them that possibly other people can’t do and it’s not a burden. It can be a burden, but in the right environment, with the right teaching, with the right understanding, it can be opened up, it can flourish and it can benefit many people. It will still be used/exploited somewhat, but it will be in a way that fulfills them and the people that are around them.
The journey was the thing that showed him that. The Shaman could have talked and talked and talked and talked, but he had to see it for himself. He had to experience the loss, the ‘freedom’ from his gift. He had to experience that himself.
A lot of people close down their gifts and they have difficult lives. If they can see through a journey what the possibilities are, then they are more informed without having to lose part of their life before they realise.
We run Medicine circles in Sydney and Cairns Australia.
All rights reserved 2020 (c) Brad Dunn and Caroline Allinson-Dunn
Image thanks to Wilfredor / CC.0.