Sometimes I burn it and inhale the fragrant smoke. Mostly I leave it in the china cupboard to remind me of meeting him. I first posted this art in 2010. You can read about my first experience with a sweat lodge here. It's not the only time I've had shamanic experiences either. You can read about my childhood experience rescuing a deer here.
Everybody and their sister told me not to go to California. I had struck up a conversation with the shaman online and found out he’d been in prison and liked musicals. Okay, I knew more than that. We talked a lot one year. I came to care for him quite a bit and I valued the spiritual insights I gained from his different upbringing and experiences.
He didn’t invite me to California. I informed him I was coming. Maybe this is something other people do, but I don’t. I’m usually far more sensible and polite. I combined the trip by meeting a close friend.
My girlfriend and her bf drove me about 1 ½ hrs in insane traffic to meet the shaman. First impressions weren’t good, which just goes to show people deceive each other online. My friend clearly didn’t want to leave me in his care and asked repeatedly if I was sure about it. Yes, I was. I can’t even tell you why either. All common sense told me I’d cart my friend out of there if the shoe was on the other foot.
He took me to an affordable, clean hotel and left. This was within walking distance to the ocean, and every day I walked miles along the water. Every morning he called to find out where I was and picked me up. We spent the days and evenings together, but not the nights – though one day he slept at the hotel while I babysat his nephew. He was a gentleman throughout.
I tagged after him as he did his usual things, most of which involved trying to scrounge up money and jobs. I met friends and relatives. I shared ceremonial smoke and meals. We threw food to seagulls and took long, scenic drives, and talked, talked, talked.
I can’t explain the ether of the whole experience. I felt compelled to go. I think I helped him? He was worn from too many ministerial demands without compensation. I reminded him his flock should feed him and make his life easier. A dead shaman can’t help anyone. He couldn't keep a regular job and stay constantly available for his people.
Every bit of common sense told me not to talk with him in the first place, and I'm not encouraging anyone to take risks as I did – but, it was a profound experience for me. He is kind and self-sacrificing, sincere in his spirituality, and loved by those who know him. We shared so much I can’t touch it here. I'm lucky for the experience and the things he taught me.