The shaman is a torture artist.
He endures the worst things possible
because someone has to.
Someone has to pierce the veil of flesh
travel the realm of spirit and return
with elixirs, balms, and wisdom
which only someone willing to
sacrifice it all would be able to acquire.
In short, the job of the shaman
is to suffer and die
and then be resurrected.
And this is just the application process.
An initiate in Siberia is stabbed with arrows
until he passes out,
his skin stripped from him
and his bones counted.
But after this,
once the call has been accepted
there is the power to fly,
to move one’s will through space and time,
to see the invisible everywhere.
But only as an individual
who’s given your life entirely
to the Mystery
in service of a community.
Otherwise the spirits block you from all blessings.

This is what happens when one
receives the call, but
what does it mean when
you aren’t a person,
but a people,
and the spirits call you?
You may be minding your own families, crops,
wars, and business,
but the spirits have started you
on a path towards death – towards capture.
You are whipped, chained, shackled
and death claims you.  You die
as you resist, then in dungeons
then on galleons, from small pox,
from failed mutinies.
You die as British naval schooners
stop your ship and you are drowned
to conceal the contraband.
Death in the form of sharks
chases after slave ships
since African bodies are
jettisoned with regularity.
Sunken skeletons are stacked so high
there are places you can walk across the Atlantic.
When you reach shore, your name is taken from you
and your self dies.
Your children are sold way,
and your spirit dies.
Even in freedom, Death haunts you in a manner
invisible to others, and sometimes even yourself.
Today, when schools teach you nothing
but that you were once a slave,
your past dies.
When the laws are changed so it’s easier
to incarcerate than educate,
your future dies.
And yet in this moment
of the full realization of your pain,
you see, that you have remained.
Even after every effort to eliminate your self,
your spirit, your past, your future,
your culture, your family,
you have endured their every depravity
and you are still here.
And faced with the intensity of your initiation
your calling can be about nothing less
than to heal the world.
Once you hear your calling
you will have the power to fly
to move your will through space and time.
You will be able to raise mountain ranges,
to destroy your enemies with words so clear and severe
they will wither like willows in Autumn.
You will have the power to change
the lines on the maps,
the statistics on graphs,
the numbers in jails and prisons.
You will build
sky-scraping cities
of garden communities
and all will see an true New World has risen,
based, not on exploitation,
but revelation, causing the elevation
of all people everywhere.

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