Saturday, September 7, 2013

Home sweet homies

Shamans around the world (well, the ones I've read about) have always been loners. They are the weird folk who live on the edge of the village. Shamans are not exactly popular - except when someone needs their help, kind of like the dentist maybe. Though - dentists are usually pretty normal people. Shamans are meant to be not so normal.

You never read about the happy, long lived marriages of shamans or about their children or ancestors of blood. The shaman-as-abandoned-orphan-who-never-marries is a common theme. In order to crack open shamanic perception, the shaman must undergo hardships - usually illness, insanity or injury, or all three. These hardships tend to make them ill suited to the usual discourse among humans.

Shamans are no good at cocktail parties. They are crap at smalltalk. When they speak, they say the weirdest things. No wonder they live in the tiny shack at the edge of the village and no wonder regular people cross the street to avoid them, unless they need healing. Good lord.

For awhile I was one of those shamans. I recognized, even strove to be the weirdo in the shack at the edge of the village. Looking back, I can not remember why that seemed so appealing. I pushed people away right and left, preferring the company of dead people, animal spirits and spirit guides. My cronies were the weather, the cloud people and the seasons.

I was very weird for awhile.

But when I left the Feri tradition and was brought into the blood of Mongolian shamanism, something shifted. One of the ways I shook off the energy, the "current" as it is often called, of Feri, was to study Judaism with the luminous Rabbi Manewith during her tenure at Temple Micah. I took classes and attended services for about a year, trying to bring myself back into some sort of balance.

I remember attending Yom Kippur services with the congregation, spending a long day packed into a tight space, praying, listening, singing. I remember, at one point, looking down at my feet. I was wearing shiny new shoes. I had dressed up, such as I do, and was spending the whole day as part of a community. The thought came to me in that moment that I was no longer feral, that I had rejoined the ranks of my fellow humans. It was a happy thought.

Funny hats

I don't regret my years on the edge of the village - I honestly don't. I learned so much and had the time/space to develop intimate relationships with my guides and the spirits of nature. I maintain those relationships of course, but I've also, in recent years, allowed certain humans into my inner sanctum again. Among these people: my siblings, from whom I wasn't exactly estranged, but had not been close to - not ever. I made an effort to come to know them better and they welcomed me with open arms. Also among the first people I let in were my housemates John and Manuel.

At the Finger Lakes, I could have disconnected from them, stayed with the water and sky rather than accompany them on our sojourns away from the water. They gave me a lot of space to commune with the land and weather, of course. They know me. But I didn't spend all my time with the spirits. I walked around the "downtowns" of Geneva, Canandaigua, Naples and Watkins Glen with them. If I'd been up there on my own, I would have spent all my time hiking, walking, talking to the landscape, but I was with John and Manuel. I wanted to hang out with them. We tasted wine, cooked dinner together every night. We listened to music, exchanged stories. We laughed a lot.

I delighted in their company. What a great sign of the balance I acquired after leaving Feri. Thank you, Rabbi Manewith!

Also may I say, it was a lot of fun. I really love them and am comfortable with them. We know each other's quirks and annoying habits, having shared a house for almost ten years, yet we are tolerant of each other! More than anything, what I enjoyed about the Finger Lakes was being with my old housemates. That is a bit of a revelation.

I have more to say about that, but not today.

Just one more thing: I was finally able, after several days, to contact the spirit of the Iroquois nation. What they said is that I didn't need them to interpret the voice of the land. I could speak directly to the lake, the sky, trees, birds and deer. I'm a shaman and apparently do not need a middle man. Well ok!

And so I did my shamanic dances with the water, the mountains, crows, the Milky Way. I learned a lot about that land, and especially about water, an element I've never really understood. I'll be writing about that for sure.

It was a wonderful, wonder full journey. It's great to be home, in my beautiful apartment in the chateau, in the heart of Eastern Market, the epicenter of my village of Capitol Hill. I do not live at the edge of town anymore, I surely do not. I keep company with the people, I have friends, family. I'm so glad!

I will post many, many more pics of the lake, I promise. This was my morning perch. While I communed with the spirits, John and Manuel left me to it. They know me.


ellen abbott said...

what a great post Reya. it's good to have a few friends you feel totally comfortable with. I'm such a hermit myself. it was quite an experience for me, spending a week in close quarters with 14 strangers except that after the first day no one really felt like a stranger. I think getting older has a lot to do with that. anyway, I'm off to the antique store today, my one day of the week when I interact with other humans.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen, you and I would be instantly comfortable together. I know it.

Reya Mellicker said...

May I also say, it's nice to have some alone time today! I'm certain John and Manuel feel that too - the comforts of home.

tut-tut said...

I'm glad you had such a great time. I'm always on the edge of things, myself. In fact (we have always owned a house on a ridge, interestingly) and in spirit.

Reya Mellicker said...

That makes perfect sense, Beth.

Steve Reed said...

Wow, that is an amazing balcony view. Sometime you'll have to tell me where you stayed, in case I want to check it out!

I'm glad you had a chance to strengthen your bonds with John and Manuel, and could appreciate the surroundings in a more social way than you otherwise might have! Not that a social way was needed -- but it's different from what you would normally have experienced. Breaking routines again!

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes! Breaking routines. Yes.