Dia de los Muertos

The circle sat quietly in sacred space, men and women. Some in chairs and some on pillows on the floor. Candles were aglow on a center altar cloth with a sparkly spider web design, as well as a small mossy animal skull, a piece of Ursula’s grandma’s hand-tatted lace, and a bowl of marigolds. It was the Day of the Dead.  Dia de los Muertos.  All Souls’ Day.

The larger, more public ritual at the Community Center had gone off well. People had brought mementos of their dear departed to create a huge altar in the west that glowed with multi-colored electric lights, fall flowers, gaudy Mexican hangings and a great deal of love evidenced by photographs, artwork, and bits of the lives of those who had passed on.

Molly had explained that many traditions considered that the veil was thin between the worlds of the living and the dead at this time of year when the leaves were falling and the harvest was mostly in.

People had spoken the names of the deaths in the previous year into the circle and everyone repeated the name twice. The tissue boxes scattered around the circle came into good use as tears flowed. At last, when it had been quiet for a bit, someone began to sing softly, “May the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by…..” Immediately everyone had joined heartily in on the chorus. “There’s another home awaiting, in the sky, Lord, in the sky.”

They had ended the circle with a woman from the city leading them in a few of the Dances of Universal Peace. Afterwards there was feasting on the food people brought that reminded them of a loved one. From blintzes to enchiladas to Ritz crackers and salami, the beloved dead had their due.

Now in this circle it was time for the smaller after-session, held this year at Charley and Ursula’s house, chosen in part for the availability of the hot tub. Joining them as usual were several not usually part of the group who had lost someone during the year and who were open to a deeper connection than the larger circle allowed.

Cindy sat with bowed head. She used to feel pressure to “produce” at these occasions and then worried that what came to her was a product of her imagination. The training of generations to doubt psychic “knowings” was hard to dispel.

I-mage-in. Magic. Imaging. Being a mage. After several years of doing this she’d acquired faith that what came through to her had relevance, so she didn’t care as much what others in this intimate circle thought. She trusted the effectiveness of the invocation at the beginning to allow in only those energies dedicated to the highest good of all beings. She was comfortable doing this in small groups where she knew most of the people. Maybe some day she would be willing to be more public but for now she still wanted some degree of invisibility.

She didn’t think of it as a séance. In fact she shuddered at the word and its connotations, especially as it was one her husband, Van, threw at her when he was being particularly skeptical of her gifts and process. But she knew it was true that she had a special connection with those who had passed over and this was the time of year when their disembodied voices seemed to press on her most forcefully and persistently. It used to be that she and June were the only ones to “receive” but increasingly in recent years others experienced connections as well. They had an agreement that whoever popped in their heads was considered to be present. Given all the people they knew who had died, it was no longer a stretch to say that the ones who appeared in their minds wanted to connect. It was always interesting to see who “showed up.” And who didn’t, which by definition wouldn’t be noticed until afterwards.


Molly hummed notes without a tune to herself. Others soon picked it up and it segued into toning that soared, multi-leveled and glorious. As the harmonies and disharmonies wove in and about, a palpable cone of power rose above them. Some could actually see it shimmering. June and Raven, for instance.

Suddenly, with no word or direction, the tone broke off. All of the voices fell silent. Some touched their hands to the floor to ground the energy into the earth. Some covered their hearts to take it inward. Some reached skyward to call in the dead.

Molly spoke into the silence. “As I was toning, I kept thinking of Seth – my dear work companion at ReBound – gone several years now. I could feel his energy around me wishing me well, apologizing for ways that he let his ego and insecurities get in the way and let me down. Thanking me for taking on Loki-dog until she died. This is the first time I’ve felt him in circle. Occasionally he comes to me at ReBound, though it’s hard to separate out his actual spirit presence from the memories of him associated with so many aspects of the place. Maybe there is no difference….” Her voice trailed off.

“I remember how much he loved odd metal bits,” said Owen. “He got a lot of people started welding. And he could fix anything.”

“He never met an engine he didn’t like,” laughed Alex. “When we cleared out his work area and then his house after he died, there were dozens of them.”

“He could be pretty hard headed and not everyone got along with him, especially our younger staff,” remembered Molly. “He was always so charming though, I forgave him even though perhaps I should have been harder on him for some things. We both were such rule breakers…. He sure was a teacher for me about trickster energy.“ Ursula and Raven each reached out from either side to put hands on her knees.

“Is he wanting anything from us?” asked Pia.

“I’m getting that I’m to pay a little more attention to the garden where his sculpture is… and… he wants me to do some of my own art…. I’ll try if you’ll help me, Seth.”

The group lapsed into silence again. Then Cindy spoke up, “Alex, I sense Jed here, your dear partner of so many years. Can you feel him?”

Alex began to weep softly. Ursula handed him one of the cloth hankies she kept in a basket. “There are more here if you need them. Put the used ones in the smaller basket when you’re done,” she said softly as she passed the basket around.

“The manner of Jed’s leaving was such a gift to the community,” said Charley. “I loved that day when we all came through to say goodbye to his body lying there in the bed surrounded by candles and flowers. I was so grateful you let us all take part in that. You were brave to keep the mortuary people at bay.”

“I was grateful that it worked out for me to be at his side as he died,” said Pia after several quiet heartbeats. “I saw his soul lift up. In fact, I haven’t told you this before because I was a little afraid you’d take it the wrong way, but I helped a little with my breath and hands. He was working very hard to do it well, but he needed just a little assistance in those last moments to actually leave his body.”

I’ve felt guilty that I was asleep when he passed,” said Alex. “But you helped me to understand that sometimes people need to do that last step without the presence of their loved ones. That for some it’s too difficult to leave otherwise. Still, I so wanted to be there. If I’d known how quickly he was going….”

“He wants you to be in contact with him now. He says you have some work to do together…..”

“Man, he would have hated that implication before he died – he was so science minded and so clear that pesticides and other shit killed him. So certain that death was the end…..” His voice trailed off and they all waited in silence to see if Alex himself could pick up anything.

“Blackberries,” he said finally. “Blackberries. I’m supposed to chop the brambles. What on earth can that mean?!”

“It’s not exactly on earth,” quipped June. “Perhaps it’s about clearing the path between your different worlds. And maybe teaching the rest of us about that.”

“Maybe you can come for a tarot reading soon and we can look at that more deeply,” offered Ursula.

“Don’t forget to listen to your dreams,” said Owen. “It may be a soul contract you made somehow that you have to stay connected.”

“I did have a particularly vivid dream about him recently, “ said Alex. “I knew he was trying to tell me something. But I couldn’t make out what it was.”

“Keep listening. I think that’s what he means by blackberries. Those huge tangles of prickers are in the way of you guys communicating. He’s saying he loves you very much,” said Cindy. Again there was silence to see if any more would come about Alex and Jed.

“I’m getting all sorts of local creatives flashing through,” said June. “Klaus Jordan, a painter on the Mountain who died 30 years ago and dear Brin who taught music at the Community College. I think we all need to be doing our art more no matter what the medium in order to find out more about ourselves.”

“And I just got Marta who landed here for a bit so spectacularly a few years ago with her shamanistic paintings,” said Cindy. “I think these folks will help us if we let them in and pay attention to their whisperings. We all need to clear the blackberries.”

“I’m getting something about – from? – the native peoples of the Mountain and our river,” said Charley. “They just popped into my mind anyway so I thought I’d better mention them. But I can’t…. I have no idea what they’re trying to say.”

They all sat breathing quietly, listening, reaching out…. Until finally, “Thanks to you, spirits, for coming through to us tonight,” said Owen. “We will work with your messages.”

“Ho!“ Said everyone in unison.


Owen at the Tree 2

Owen’s mind reached to the roots of the tree, down, down their hugeness…. journeying…. out onto the plain of the Underworld…. The sun is overhead here, a warm breeze blowing. A hummingbird, impossibly iridescent chartreuse and red, buzzes at eye level, then darts off, only to return again. Does it want him to follow? It hovers now over a gigantic datura plant. Owen moves towards it sniffing and feels its spirit kiss him before it sends him on his way. A cluster of tiny psilocybin mushrooms waves him over. Suddenly elfin himself, he sits like Alice in Wonderland at the foot of one, marveling at its subtle beauty, conjuring for a moment the delicate tracery of form and color that particular Medicine provokes. Before long, however, he salutes the fungi and turns again towards the sound of the hummingbird behind him. His wee guide is now looming as large as a goose over a stand of Devils Club whose few enormous spiky leaves are the browning yellow of autumn. His heart speeds in his chest. He’s been asking to make this connection. Is he ready for what these dangerously prickled sticks have to tell him? He fingers the aventurine still somehow in his pocket in this the Spirit World.

When it comes it is not at all what he expects. slide3

“I am the sharp surprise in the woods. I am Pan,” booms the plant. “They cast me as the Devil and are afraid of my power. My cloven hooves and randy ways are confusing to this world that wants to control everything – to dam rivers, mine veins and bludgeon trees into planks. In real life you can’t touch me in this form. But here in the Underworld you can rub against the brazenness of my stickers with impunity.”

“I won’t be filled with their diabolical torture?”

“They will spur you. Acupuncture for your dormant inner eye, the pineal gland asking to be awakened. Another re-membering of your body parts for the tasks ahead. No need for actual touch on the earth plane. An essence made in my presence will serve as a goad, a guide, a guardian. You are a Green Man yourself. Orion hunts with you, the Dog Star Sirius at his side. Chiron – the wounded healer – is calling for you. Listen….”

Turning towards a sound, Owen sees a centaur – half man, half horse – gallop towards him over the hill. Blood is dripping from scores of arrow wounds. “Heal me,” says the creature, “Heal me before they fester that I may heal others that they may heal still more.”

Owen stands baffled and overwhelmed.

“You know how.” Is it the Devil’s Club or is it Pan? It is hard to tell as they shimmer in and out of each other. “Puncture wounds will scab over but sometimes must be lanced to give the pus a vent. Call on me when you Journey and my Medicine will energetically find and open up the crusts whether they are visible scars or ancient and far under the surface. Do this for yourself and for him. You came into manhood in the war in the same era as the discovery of the asteroid Chiron in the sky. Your warrior wounds are the same.”

Reaching his hands towards the Centaur, Owen feels energy fizz back and forth between them, until the man/horse dashes off.

“You are one who shows the way, Owen.” The Devils Club speaks gently now. “With my lance and the Tarot’s Hermit lantern held high, you search out overgrown byways. You know how to lead your blindered compadres down the paths of this green world to find their wounded places, lost parts, their shadow selves. It is time now to grow into your power as a shaman. Be the Scorpion who knows when to sting and when to salve. You have done the background work. You need only open another degree to my energies. Let me in. Let me light the fires of seeing in your brain.” His voice booms again. “The coals of healing blaze in your hands. The sparks of regeneration smolder in your cock. No need to make more babies. But you do need to make magic and your cock is a fine tool for that. Your hands will touch and heal. Your cock will light fires of inspiration and healing as well.”

Owen feels his prick shrivel with the thought. This is not what he was imagining for his future. “I’m hardly a horny kid anymore….”

“Ha!” shouts Pan. “You fear. You would stay hidden. Too late for that. Rise to your potential. Fulfill the promise you made to yourself when you were born in this place!”

Owen bows his head in acquiescence and feels the sting of thousands of teeny barbs…. His hands fall off and lie twitching on the ground. His lungs gasp, his teeth rattle and his heart pounds so hard it jiggles open the door on the locked ribbed cage it lives in. Seizing its moment for freedom his coeur, his corazon jumps out of his chest into the sword ferns where it morphs into a dove who sits preening in the moonlight. “Have so many hours gone by?” and “Not a dove, it must be a band-tailed pigeon.” His rational self asserts itself for a moment. But not for long.

His penis begins to pulse and glow with a strange blue light as if electrified from within. Snakelike, it grows and grows until it passes the moon. It stretches even further until it enters VenusIsisAstarteAphroditeInanna who is sparkling voluptuously, high in the dawn of this magical place where time zigzags about as madly as his body parts. “Welcome home,” the Goddess of Love whispers happily. “It’s been ages.” She writhes and moans as he enters her labyrinth. Who knows how long they dally in delight, hearts open and connecting, until eventually millions of dancing beings spray forth from their orgasms, their energies scattering to fertilize new generations of seers and healers. Venus whoops and Owen roars in ecstasy. He is MarsJupiterScorpio Rising, gloriously alive. His legs goat-like and hoofed. His hairy chest and taut belly heaving with emotion. Mossy tendrils curl from his beard up around his face and hair. Violets cheer and lilies bow to his presence. A grouse rises up in a whirr of surprise then spins its spiral dance at his feet. Is that a wizard’s peaked cap on his head?

As he notices the hat, his energy begins to deepen and quiet. He stands tall and clear-eyed, feeling his roots in the earth while silvery energy lines curve between him and the people of his community. The ones he grew up with, the ones he’s called in. Yes, he has called them in with the help of this Tree and the Mountain. He knows that now…. His strength is in the marriage of moon and sun in this green place…. He must find the Council Fire…. and the Others….

…..He rises and starts down the hill towards town, but before he has taken more than a few steps, sleepiness blurs his sight and his intention slips beyond his conscious knowing.

He curls instead into the lap of the Grandmother Tree. His penis nestles sweetly limp on his leg like a tired child. Cooing, the dove that is also his heart pierces his chest and roosts in his left ventricle. His hands, inscribed with strange markings, inch over like worms and zip into the cuffs of the green leather shirt he now wears. His eyes are heavy with all that he has seen. Someone covers him with fern fronds and moss…. The Moon smiles from directly overhead. The Sitka whispers sweet dreams of deer nuzzling his cheeks. He sighs feeling safe again. While the Mountain….

The Mountain’s hummm becomes louder, vibrating Owen’s newly reconnected organs and body parts. He doesn’t hear it consciously himself, but his being absorbs the love and caring of the gigantic energy of this place. Somewhere deep inside he senses welcome and thanks for his work of the night and for the long years of his tenure here, as well as for his ever-growing consciousness. It isn’t entirely peaceful however. Those energetic prickers from the Devils Club are still working in his system. His body registers the spurs as if it is a horse and rider on an urgent mission. A centaur?


Down at the house June wakes slightly, noting the louder than usual hummmm, and turns over to dream again.


Cindy hears it too and wonders what is stirring. She is often aware of the Mountain’s gentle pulse though she’s never told anyone about it. Tonight it is crescendoing like it does when something big is afoot. There are almost words to it. “Wake to the call…. Sitka, Cedar and I, we need you awake…. River and Bay need you…. Raven and Eagle need you….”

Does that mean she should be doing something or is the message for another? Plural or singular “you?” She suspects with a feeling of dread that it is for all of them and that she needs to share the message. That is way too scary a thought….


Startled awake, Uri hears the hummm for the first time. Is it an engine starting up? A log truck downshifting on the highway? He glances at the clock. 2 am is an odd time for any of those possibilities and it is going on way too long. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter? The refrigerator? He can feel it deeply in his body now and as he settles into it he realizes the sound is coming from below him. From the earth itself. He tunes in another degree, calming his rational brain from its tentative explanations. Words begin to form in his mind. “Welcome Home…. What took you so long? Now get to work….”

“I’d better talk to someone about this. I wonder who.” He knows that Michael, snoring gently beside him, is not a good candidate for hearing about the weirder stuff. It is time to find some allies in this new place in order to bloom that side of himself. Finally connect with Ursula? He’s been putting that off. Or Cali…. Things they’d said at Harvest Fest had made his ears prick up….


Owen opened his eyes with the first bird chirps. Robins even this late in the season, and a flicker. A gentle rain was falling on his sleeping bag. He didn’t remember getting into it. He lay there still warm inside, feeling the glow of his connection with the tree. There had been more but he couldn’t quite recall…. A dream about…. Pan? Seems like he should take on some clients for shamanic journeying work. And maybe he’d collect the last of the rosehips and make some necklaces to sell at Bear Essentials. Was it time to make a Devils Club essence? It would surely strengthen his green self.… He felt strong and clear…. If only he could remember the wisps of the dreams teasing at the edges of his consciousness.

By the time Owen arrived back at Sitka House he was soaking wet and ready for a shower and some breakfast. He hoped that Cali or somebody had dropped off eggs. He needed the protein. As he stepped in the door, he was greeted by June at the kitchen table, sipping her tea from a delicate Limoges cup, her wispy white hair all a-tumble about her shoulders.

“I dreampt about you,” she said without preamble in her straightforward way.

“Did you now?”

“It was a Capital Letter dream. The kind that says, ‘Listen up!’ I saw you in a glade dressed all in different shades of the forest like an elderly Robin Hood, but with a strange blue light coming from your crotch. You morphed into a stag and winked at me before dashing off. It felt all merry-merry-in-the-greenwood. I followed you and found a maypole in another clearing with the ribbons woven and nobody around except for some ravens peering at me from the trees. I wondered if it was the ravens themselves who wove the ribbons or if it was some of us. Or us in raven form…. Oh and there were owls there too.”

“Did you take any meaning from the dream? It feels rather phallic for an old Lesbian like you.”

“Not for you though. What’s stirring there, Mister?”

“I did have a wild Journeying session last night up at the Grandmother Tree where I saw Pan and Devils Club in the underworld but I can’t remember what they told me except that they are linked somehow.”

“Pan. Robin Hood. Peter Pan. The green playful ones want you to join them more often. You need to be going deeper, Owen. The ravens want us to play with magic and owls call us both to see into the shadows – maybe even into death. The gates of Shamanic death anyway. And they want you to open your heart, to let the community have more access to you. No more hiding your gifts of connection and healing. I just remembered there were vines coming out of your hands, and runes. Sure signs of healing energy.”

Owen grunted, increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. “I’ll do some journaling this morning to see if anything more comes up. If it stops raining by this afternoon I want to go back up and make an essence from the Devil’s Club root near the clearing while the moon is still full.”

June watched him leave the room, thinking there was something different about him. Some change had happened during his night in the woods that he wasn’t entirely aware of yet. He smelled intriguingly of magic and rue. Had he been dancing with the Goat Footed God himself? About time.


Owen at the Tree 1

Owen had never known how to describe the giant Sitka Spruce before him well up in the Logan Family Forest, across the highway from most of the houses in the north end of the community. Always he was filled with awe at the powerful presence of THIS GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHER OF THE FOREST. The roots and branches – even those several stories above – were themselves the size of most large trees. The ferns growing way up overhead on her thick branches were the size of a VW bug. She was like an elephant, or rather, a whole tower of elephants. Huge legs. Massive body. One could almost see her wise eyes beaming and sense her enormous beating heart…. Yet, none of these images sufficed to express the power of her physical presence. The reverence she engendered was as boggling as a giant cathedral. Her connection to All That Is…. An ancient, gigantic force….

As kids he and Gordy had climbed into those branches. He could still see the frayed ends of the ropes they’d used to pull themselves up, ropes probably strung by their father and his brothers. They had even spent the night there on occasion, but it had always been spooky somehow and by the time they were teenagers Gordy had become disinclined for that particular adventure. Owen had continued on solo for a few years but his dreams while there had become disturbing, and soon his travels away from the community meant that he too left the Sitka behind.

Since his return twenty-five years ago, he hadn’t neglected the tree entirely, but he came up rarely and not to spend the night. The Medicine Groups held ceremony here from time to time. It took at least a dozen people, hands outstretched, to reach around it. He’d also brought Robin and the Illahee children over the years, but he’d been disinclined to share the place with many. It was too special.

He wasn’t quite sure why he had chosen this particular evening, but he sensed that September’s Equinox Labyrinth had woken something in him. Ever since then he’d been feeling a strong call to journey inward, to spend a night in deep listening to the Tree and the forest as a whole.

Owen settled into a soft mossy place in the crook of the Grandmother Sitka’s mammoth roots. He could feel the tree embracing him, loving him. It was almost as if she was congratulating him on following his inclination to choose this spot on this night. “OK, I’ll take that affirmation,” he whispered.

His thoughts as he centered in were full of Daniel Giamario’s Shamanic Astrology idea Pia had talked about the other night in the Medicine Circle – how Rising Signs are what we are here to learn this time around, while Moon Signs are the expertise we bring into the world from former lives. His own Cancer Moon explained his innate ability to care for others, his mothering of Robin after his wife’s death, and even his strong on-going connection at Illahee, both to the group as a whole and to the some of the needier children there. It was so easy for him to reach them through nature. Kids that were having trouble reading, especially those coming discouraged from other schools, thrived when Illahee got them out in the woods. Finding a newt or an animal skull could spur an interest in looking it up and it didn’t take much nudging for a drawing and eventually a little writing about it…. He knew he was also inclined to be something of a worrying mother hen. Maybe that was the shadow side of his Cancerian expertise. His Libra Sun gave him balance, but he could get fretful especially about details and young people.

His mind’s eye flickered over times when he’d been overly fussy about the children’s safety. It was hard to listen to Celeste’s sage advice that huge learning leaps often occurred right after a kid had climbed high in a tree or scaled a rocky incline. It seemed that mastering a physical challenge often meant immediate advancement of an elusive academic skill. Brain-mind connections. Somatic learning. Illogically, he still fretted even knowing his own and his brother’s tree born adventures, perhaps because of those escapades.

His Scorpio rising sign was intimidating. A wizard? He didn’t think so. Although lately the Green Man archetype had been moving him almost to tears. Green Man. Pan. That wild ultra-masculine forest being, the uncontrollable aspects of Nature – floods, typhoons, lightening-set fires. Spring growth. Procreation. Rampant sex.

Owen grinned. It was hard to imagine that part of himself going wild. What would a goatish rampage look like in a sensitive widower tuned into children and plants? Unpartnered too. No easy outlet there. He’d certainly never felt like casual encounters. Was there somebody to play Green Woman to his Green Man self? Goldberry to his Tom Bombadil? For a minute he wallowed in a longing he rarely admitted to himself. He loved Tolkien’s image of the cozy, wooded cottage and imagined a Northwest American version with Tom’s magical appearances here and there to spur the furious growth of a coastal spring and summer – blackberries and Old-Man-in-the-Ground, those vine beings that curled relentlessly, reaching for sun and nutrients. Butterflies. Bees. Pollen. Sex.

Yet right now was the opposite season. The dying back. At sixty-four, his life matched this October season. He listened to a couple of raccoons chittering in the distance, almost a quarrel, but not quite. The bats swooped low. The full moon was hidden at the moment but its silvery light gave an eeriness to the density of the forest. Suddenly he felt a little spooked. All alone in the woods…. on the Mountain…. He could almost hear a hummm, a low throb of the life within the Mountain. He’d forgotten about that pulse. Hadn’t heard it for a while….

He opened the thermos of tea he’d packed. Chamomile, catnip and salal from his garden to ground and calm, with a pinch of lobelia to heighten his sense of adventure, but also to help with any lingering PTSD upwellings. He’d tossed some motherwort in too – its scientific name, Leonuris cardiaca, lionhearted, speaking to courage in transitions which is what he was really asking for. His Libra self liked the balance of all those opposites. An aventurine stone was in his coat pocket. He used to think it was “adventurine” with a “d” but had recently learned that it was about growth, especially opening and clearing the heart chakra which he figured also means it’s about courage for making shifts. “Coeur” meaning “heart” in French.

Leaning back he settled the orange and brown Peruvian woven wool blankets he’d brought a little more comfortably behind and under him, his thoughts drifting to more prosaic topics. His upcoming conversation with Gordy about finances was sure to be unpleasant. An article to be written for the Conservancy Trust newsletter about making peace with invasive species. His nagging question about the importance of Devil’s Club…. He looked towards the stand of Devil’s Club he knew was just outside this clearing, but it was now too dark to distinguish one plant from another. This would be a good place to Journey with it….

Held in the arms of the Great Grandmother Sitka, he mused about all the people who had come into his life since his boyhood days in Mahonia and Nekelew. He had been lonely then for others who loved this place in the way he did. So many of his growing up peers either lived here without noticing or had been set on moving away. He had left too….

The Vietnam War had been calling as he graduated from Nekelew High School and going had seemed the right thing to do. For sure he didn’t have any other options lined up for himself. He wasn’t exactly the studious type. Nor wanting to learn a trade…. The War. Now there was a topic he didn’t want to think about. These home woods were so different from the tortured jungles around Duc Pho.

On the other hand, his visit to the Amazon Basin a few years ago had been all too similar a landscape. The sensory overlap of sound and smells of the two jungles had given him flashbacks of terror in the midst of learning about traditional healing plants on Peru’s Madre de Dios River, making it a truly heroic shamanic dismemberment journey. It had felt like a blowing asunder of his body parts like his recurring flashbacks of others’ deaths and dismemberments. However, the vision medicines had shown him some clear distinctions of time and place that allowed him to make peace with the differing energies. The war was then. The medicine plants were so very NOW. The war and its aftermath had tempered rather than broken him. He had been lucky – neither physically wounded, nor so psychologically scarred that he had fallen into debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Alcohol had been an issue, as had pot. But thanks to his higher powers for AA, he was now clear of those substances. He knew they could be sacraments, but he had overused them and they had taken over for a while. Drinking and smoking too much had worked to drown out the shrieking demons haunting him from the Asian jungle but he knew he had become too deadened to be useful to this world and his deep connection here in the temperate Oregon rainforest.

The people now in his life had shown him the possibilities of a spiritual pursuit and after the Amazon he had studied far afield with different teachers to learn about the sacred inward paths with no further need of outside hallucinogenic infusion…. Thus his thoughts led to the typical drumbeat for shamanic journeying and he began to hear it in his head….