Have you ever met a real shaman?
Great Blue Heron symbolizes transformation.
Talking to Sakim by phone, he advised me on a ritual to reflect about present circumstances - a ritual of layered self-introspection carefully broken up into fours. First, a four-hour fast from things bothering me or things garnering too much of my attention --foregoing food at that time wouldn't hurt, either. After this four-hour start, a four day fast of sorts, choosing from a near unending list of items, ideas or situations to be conquered in the mind and spirit. Then a four-week fast and finally, a four-month fast.
A great blue heron flew by and then proceeded to sit preening itself on the barn roof directly out of the window where (and when) I was talking to Sakim. This being the usual sort of thing that happens around Sakim, it did not matter that I was over 2000 miles away. The heron flew away when I stopped speaking with Sakim. I looked up some associated symbolism linked to blue heron, which is copied below:
Too much self-reflection can lead to self-obsession or a morbid sense of humor. If you have been looking within and criticizing yourself, watch out! It is imprudent to drown the sense of joy that usually accompanies the journey of self-discovery. You may have assumed the attitude that perfection is desirable. You learn some of the most valuable lessons through your mistakes.
Heron reminds you that self-improvement is best accomplished by balancing the desire to change with gentle discernment. There are many layers of truth to understand and wholeness is impossible to attain in one dive. Diving deeply into your feelings, you may emerge renewed. Heron reminds you to dive deeply, but do not hold your breath while waiting for instant or total enlightenment.
Blue Heron (Self-Reflection):
Loren Eisley once called a "hidden teacher" one who has posed for me the central question of environmental ethics: how should human beings live in harmony with the forces of nature that nurture all living things inhabiting the Earth? This essay is about what my hidden teacher, and other more explicit teachers, have taught me about environmental ethics.
The secret to the Great Blue Heron's apparent serenity lies in its contemplative state. It may be poised, waiting for the right time and place to take advantage of what life has to offer. The Great Blue Heron symbolizes the marriage of timing and preparation.
The Great Blue Heron also holds special meaning in the ancient wisdom of Native American medicine, where it represents self-reflection:
As it stands very still in the water, it sends reflections of itself to itself, providing insight into one's unique purpose in life, mirroring 'what is', and inviting quests for understanding how its own path fits within the whole.
The heron symbolizes the journey of self-realization, beginning with the development of the skills to build inner strength and achieve certainty of purpose, the courage to delve deep, and the resulting joy of discovery - of awakening.
Step out of the dark (of unconscious thinking patterns) and into the light (of greater self-awareness and deliberate growth).
Perhaps you have met someone like Sakim. I've traveled the world over and only met one Sakim. He is known as the Keeper of the Muskogee Creek Oral Tradition. A pamphlet about Pine Arbor Tribal Town exists with rituals and stories for those interested. This telling is as much about myself as Sakim.
As I came into manhood, I was driven by the need to find God. Raised upper middle class and white, it was hard to relate to blacks and working class folks. I saw that need and determined to learn how to relate. Problem was I had made some mistakes along the way to young manhood and could not see things in perspective. In my culture, the way to get a clean slate was to get Jesus. I did and boy howdy. First thing I decided was to go over and convert that Indian shaman - Sakim.
Sakim was living pretty good at the time. His rambling two-story house was filled with organs in various states of disrepair. He led traditional games, had a big, warm momma, and taught biology at the local high school. I came into his sitting room that had an old wood fired cooking stove, sat down with tears in my eyes, and proceeded to tell him how to get saved. Imagine an Indian quoting every chapter and verse of the Bible exactly. The look on my face was like I had met the devil himself.
Three or four years later I showed up again. The big, warm momma was in process of taking all his possessions. I had been learning to walk by faith. If ever you get to a certain point, the preachers become for the most part liars. They preach the devil; give me all your money, and a little bit about repentance. - especially in the Baptist church, there isn't much love. That was the lesson I was learning at the time. I was still true to Jesus, but stuck about giving up fellowship with the Christian churches. When walking by faith, one's needs are met in God's timing. I was broke, and trying to hitchhike out of town to a ministry in New York State. Having no luck, I came back home. My parents, thinking they were doing the best for me, called the cops to have me evaluated for the nut house. The shrink said I was sane and free to go.
Sakim gave me shelter at this time, and I said the hell with my parents and the church. I soon went off to live with the Lakota/Sioux, but I never forgot the kindness of Sakim. Over the years, I would visit my parents. We gradually made peace and came to an understanding. I really didn't see much of Sakim for twenty years. He had grown a belly, and his hair had turned white. When I looked him up, he was living in a converted chicken shack in the poor part of town. He gave me a Chinese Bible once, when I was planning to work in China as a missionary. Sakim had family that were originally missionaries in China. I never did get to China.
Another time he introduced me to a backwoods nuclear engineer who ran a sawmill in Iron City, Georgia. Sakim ran a museum in the nearby town of Colquitt until the rich folks in town decided he was spreading too much truth between using his magic powers. I had arrived with a scientist who invented Spandex. Sakim took off my reading glasses, looked through them, and said I needed real glasses. The scientist and I looked at each other. Two years later, when I had insurance and got an eye exam, it turned out Sakim was exactly right.
Approaching the present day, I would see Sakim around Christmas when I went home to visit the family. I usually managed to give him fifty bucks and a little Irish whiskey. In this period I had written a novel about Mayan shamanism. One could never tell when Sakim was putting you on or telling the truth. I had stopped in Austin, Texas at a Mayan conference. They all knew Sakim. In fact, it was the first time that I confirmed that Sakim was a real shaman. A leading scientist in the field, David Freidel, thought highly of him and had put him in the intro to "Maya Cosmos".
Being around a real shaman is a non-ordinary experience. Sakim could play a Bach fugue on an organ. We would travel up to Raeford to visit Indians in prison on death row. Magic always happened around Sakim - mostly of the natural sort - like the heron appearing. It was meeting Dave Jones that finally convinced me of Sakim's genuine ability to love. Dave Jones lived outside of town, a brilliant musician and saddle-maker, but he was declining. His house burned down and his feet were so infected, that he could not walk. He was on death's door. Sakim drove out there, restored things, and nursed Dave back to health. To this day, he cares for the old gentleman. Most of my recent experiences with Sakim have occurred out there.
I showed up on Christmas day and they asked me if I wanted my brains retuned. I said okay. They pulled out this little electronic device and attached two electrodes behind my ears that had been dipped in Willard water. Funny thing was that I recognized the device. That's a whole long story in itself, but suffice it to say that the chief scientist for the U.S. Office of Naval Surface Weaponry built it.
Last Christmas, I had a problem installing a memory upgrade in my computer. Sakim had a Quonset hut on Dave Jones' property. It was filled with disassembled computers. He showed me how to ground the motherboard, replace the battery for memory, and slip in the upgrade. No problem. Of course, a wild red tailed hawk showed up to oversee the process.
Coming to the very present, I still don't quite trust evangelical Christians, mainly 'cause anybody with half a brain, can see how the neo-cons and AIPAC have worked them. I occasionally associate with them. One lady in particular runs a shelter for heroin and methadone addicts. I meditate there with this lady, another scientist, and a young fellow sort of like me in my younger days. I took out the intro to this story, the bit about the great blue heron. This Christian lady read it over, and I ask her, "What do you think? Does it ring true or is it kind of like Tarot cards?"
She hesitates, not wishing to offend me, "like Tarot cards."
I think about that and write this short essay. For the most part, any prophecy I ever got from Sakim never turned out to be true. That being the nature of coyote teaching; that is as it should be. All of us need to go directly to Creator for our answers. I can say that by their fruits, ye shall know them. Sakim's actions have always been about love.
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