24 April 2004

(32) Raven and the birth of a Shaman

The Shaman Aadhya -

Although the stories vary from north to south, there is a remarkable similarity in the development of a shaman(Russia) or brujo (Central and South America). This magician is both removed from and integrated with all aspects of society. He or she is the doctor, priest, philosopher, historian and poet. Their knowledge is feared and revered. They are not the victim but the master of nature, using will and wits to obtain power. They enlist the forces of nature in order to transcend them. Their thoughts - literally - take wing.

There was a young man who lived an ordinary life among his people in Siberia. One day he became terribly ill and fell into a deep sleep. He could hear everything that was said around him, but he could not move or speak. Suddenly he heard a flutter of wings and saw a huge black raven staring down at him. The bird clutched the youth with his beak and flew away with him high into the night. At the very top of the sky was a small opening and the raven flew through it to a land where the sun and moon were both shining. The beings in the Upper World had the bodies of humans but the heads of ravens. The bird carrying him flew into a house and set
him in the hand of a gigantic old man, who carefully weighed him and nodded his head. "Place him in the highest nest, " said the old man. The raven flew up the tallest tree the youth had ever seen, and on every branch was a nest. The raven set the boy down in a nest on the highest branch, and for three years he lay there and was nurtured, growing smaller and smaller until he was the size of a thimble. One day the old man said to the raven, "Go down to the world below, seize a woman, and bring her back." Soon the raven returned, carrying a woman by the hair. "Now hide her well," said the old man, "So that our son, who lives below, may not come up and carry her away."

In a little while the nestling heard the beating of a drum and a voice singing, and peeking out he saw the head of a human appear through the hole that separated the two worlds. It was a shaman, a medicine man, who had come to find the soul of the stolen woman. The shaman transformed himself into a bull, broke down the door of the house where the woman had been hidden, and galloped off with her on his back to the world below.
Finally the day came when the old man said, "Throw our child down from his nest, for it is time for him to be reborn. He shall become a great shaman, and serve his people well. " The child was lifted from his nest and tossed down through the opening at the top of the world, and he lost all memory of what had gone before.

As the old man had said, the child was born again to a new set of parents and given the name Aadhya. When he was five years old he suddenly recalled everything: how he had been born before and lived on the earth;how he had been born again among the raven-people; and how he now had another life on earth.

With his recollection of all that had happened, Aadhya also discovered that he had great healing powers. When someone in the village became sick, he would put himself into a trance with a drum and a song and search the patient for the source of the illness. If a medicine was needed, he called upon the raven, his spirit guide, to lead him to the place where the proper herb grew. If he determined that the soul of the sick person had been taken away, he would fly like a raven to the Upper World and seek to bring it back.