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First Things First

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

When I stepped into Mentor's warm house, out in the middle of nowhere, I took an intense 180 degree turn. #Shamanism takes you backward while you move forward. You go both ways at the same time.

An intense dream from the night before tolled through my brain. A large brown bear tailed me as I walked through my childhood neighbourhood. I sprinted home, crashed through the front door, made it to my bedroom, and dove behind my bed. Like the killer in a horror film, the bear followed at a steady, slow pace. No escape. The floor creaked as it sauntered toward me.

'I'm here, bear. You got me.' I stood, hands up and body shaking.

It looked at me, eyes filled with gentle laughter. 'I know.'

A bat flew from my bookcase. The bear and bat touched noses before it flew away.

Mentor is a small man. He barely reaches my nose. Bushy eyebrows, large nose, rugged skin, and scraggly hair pulled back into a small bun. His bright blue gaze is filled with humility and confidence. Mom and I discover he's 72 but he doesn't look a day above 50. Dressed in a button up jean shirt and dark blue track pants, he looks nothing like what I'd concocted in my mind. And I'm sad to say my mind did not reach past what many white people envision spiritual gurus should look like.

His deep, grainy voice feels like a baptism in fresh spring waters. We follow him through his pristine home to a large room made ready for our arrival. He directs us to the comfy mattresses on the ground and asks us why we want to learn more about the shamanic path.

Why? Because I'm drowning. My lungs are filled with water. Every time I open my mouth more water spills in. The abyss is swallowing me whole and I don't have the strength to fight anymore. Shamanism is my last attempt to build a life raft.

'Everything I read about shamanism feels like home.'

Mom admits she hasn't read anything but wants to see what it's all about.

'Well, there aren't many books I'd recommend about shamanism. But I can give you a list before you go home if you want to keep learning. I'll give you my introduction to it all, and then you can decide if there's anything you can take from it.'

This isn't like walking into a church. No iconography or people eager to save our soul. Because you're here to save yourself.

"First things first," Mentor says. He lowers himself onto the floor, back resting against a solid pillow. "Everything is energy."

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