10 Ways to Know For Sure You’re Not a Shaman

This post is dedicated with deep love to the human beings who, like me, yearn to fly while learning to remain grounded. May humor tickle our hearts and grace rule our judgments. Simple work is never easy. The healing masterclass continues.  Much love and respect to all my shaman friends. You know who you are. PLB

10 Ways to Know For Sure You’re Not a Shaman

1. If you’ve ever used the word “shaman” to describe yourself, you’re probably not one.

I am not a shaman, I am God.

I am not a shaman, I am God

2. You haven’t suffered through a shamanic initiation of pain, hardship, or terror.

frog hand cropped

Frog poo hand, a traditional and terrifying Shamanic initiation

3. The terror you feel during shamanic initiation is caused by your lack of preparation for what it takes to become a shaman. No magic in that.

4. Hanging out in a sweat lodge with a group of middle-aged, overweight white people while unknowingly inhaling poison ivy smoke obligates you to tell your story and save others from living through the pain of that dumb mistake, but it doesn’t make you a shaman.

5. You have bought and paid for an arduous spiritual journey requiring intense physical stress and emotional peril, but you’re not at the peak of health and there’s a good chance you may die. You’re going anyway. Reread number 3.

6. You’re just after the powerful visions. Poser.

America the Beautiful

Wait wait wait simba wait simba yes simba go go wait simba no simba go simba

7. You prepare for your shamanic journey by memorizing the lyrics to John Prine’s famous shamanic journey preparation song, The Bottomless Lake. http://letras.mus.br/prine-john313412/

trust_shaman_button(1)8. You dishonor your elders and all the animal spirits and the mothers and grandmothers and all the trees and birds and, you know, the worms and bees and all the little living things, by cheaping out on soulless toxic frankenfood. (Seriously, this is the only seriousness in this entire post. Except for the dedication. I am serious about that. And this.)

9. John Prine is a fucking shaman and, although you hate to admit it, you know you aren’t shamanically qualified to pour his beer or light his cigarette.

10. You’ve never heard of John Prine.


“You get the Timothy Leary you deserve.”

BONUS! 11. You hackle and crackle and burn this post down.

Walk on.

Together, forever

After a quick breakfast of muscadine grapes and crunchy toast topped with super greens, I set my intention on making the 9AM yoga class. But heavy school bus traffic got in my way this morning,  so I turned the car around and came home. All I could think about was the cigarette pack in the kitchen drawer, and how good it would feel to smoke one.

I’m one of those people who’s read Alan Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” three times. I love that book. The little nicotine monster croaked easily after the first try, but was resurrected when my mama died. Mama was a heavy smoker the last twenty years of her beautiful life and, after her lively memorial service in December 2013, it felt dishonorable to ignore a chance to bond with my sister and nephew over a smoke. Had it been offered, I’d probably have taken a toke and a shot in the church parking lot, too, but Mama would have frowned on that.

A shiny metal, key-ring-sized cylinder, filled with a small batch of my parent’s mixed cremains, sits on my writing desk. I can touch them anytime I want to.  A few of their ashes are floating somewhere off the Adriatic Coast near Vasto, Italy and, in October, Dad will finally realize his dream of traveling to Australia. Mama has no choice but to join him, although she’d rather go to Hawaii.

By moms treasure boxthe cylinder is a sacred metal box filled with more tiny treasures. A lock of  Mama’s long steel-gray hair, held together by a narrow black ribbon, entwines around one of her lipstick-stained cigarette butts. Now, I realize non-smokers might find this creepy or disgusting, but feel free to honor your mama in your way and I’ll do the same.

The little red Cardinal feather lying in the top left corner of the box is a glowing ember straight from Mama’s heart, a gift of warmth that floated through the sky and landed on my arm a few weeks ago while I was working in the garden. Her message? “Have that okra fried with gravy on the side, doodle-lee-do.” Or maybe it’s a reminder that everything is going to be just fine, especially if I put my red lipstick on.

Soon, I’ll hit the mat and practice a few sun salutations. Then I’ll smoke another cigarette and think about my mama some more. Then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll pick up where I left off with Alan Carr.