Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Nations Shaman

[image from]

I once knew a shaman
who didnt call
a shaman.
He didnt talk about
spirituality, ever.
He simply, humbly
was spiritual.
He said in his culture
things of spirit
were not talked
about publicly,
for they were sacred.

His path
had been long,
and he had evolved
through pain
towards wisdom,
the journey
the most fortunate
among us
are privileged to make.

Around his quiet
I felt our
talked far too much,
and too loudly.
as if we
needed chatter
to know
we were
still alive.

Every morning,
winter and summer,
he plunged 
into the ice-cold river
to purify himself.
He didnt talk
a great deal,
but when people
wanted wisdom,
they sought him out.
He was
such a
good listener.
Just being
in his presence
always helped.

He never spoke
a harsh word
about anybody.
Even when someone
was behaving terribly,
being offensively officious,
he gave them
his respectful manner,
as a fellow human,
smilingly acknowledging that
"every leader wants to sail
his own boat".

He was quiet.
He watched, and he
saw it all.
He watched it
all happen.

They were
trying times.
A struggle
Head People
and Heart People
was going on.
My heart
was wounded
by the wrongs I saw
being done
to the place I
believed in,
to the people
that I loved.

One day the three
Nuu chah nulth leaders
were asked to give
a "mission statement".
He and the other two rose,
without having
even needed
to confer,
crossed their arms,
spoke in their
own language,
the same words
with a power
that nearly
blew the roof off,
and a steely
in their eyes.

We didn't need
any translation.
For once,
we were

They hadnt needed
to show
this strength,
but they could,
when they deemed it

(white people)
are not big on
We seem to need
a piano to
fall on our heads
to get
the message.

They closed me,
one day,
in a darkened building.
I was the only mumakli,
invited to
this secret ceremony,
they loved me. 
They saw
how my heart
was wounded.
They saw
my love for
their people.
They trusted me,
and it was
an honor.

We were covered in
cedar branches,
from head to toe.
A fire burned in
the center of the room.
What was done
in that room
is not to
be spoken of,
for it is sacred.
But they were trying
to heal me
of the hurts
they had watched
me receive,
to support
my spirit,
that was faltering
under the pain of
what should not be

I feel wounded
in spirit
once again,
for life
can be
I have been missing
these beautiful
who knew so much pain,
yet loved to laugh so much.
I am needing
to see
my wise shaman again,
not to talk,
just to listen.

I send him
a thought
on the back
of a raven.
I have no doubt
that, soon,
he will


  1. Beautiful and thoughtful poem, Sherry. You have such an identification with the Native People. D did also. Perhaps you know of Chief Dan George. She spoke of him.

  2. Silence is perhaps the most powerful message, just as non-violence is more powerful than cannons. On the one hand, I believe true activists never run out of words (and thus don't resort to violence); on the other hand, the creator gave us two ears and one mouth. We should consider that proportion more often. Thanks for a thoughtful, powerful post. Love, Amy

  3. Spirituality is a path, a way of life, a connection with life and all that lives. You are blessed to be touched in this way by others who walk this path.

  4. Sherry, I knew a woman like him. I wanted only to sit next to her, suck up her gentle energies. She seemed to know that intuitively and would let me do just that, while occasionally turning toward me with a soft and knowing smile. Thank you for reminding me of that space and time.



I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!