Friday, November 11, 2005

Shamanic Journey at the Center for Spiritual Living

I attended an excellent musical event on Wednesday Nov 9 this week at the Center for Spiritual Living in San Jose. I learned about this event from my drum teacher and friend Mike Fair who teaches and performs middle eastern drumming (if you're interested in learning to play the RIQ, TAR or doumbek, let me know... I'll put you in touch with Mike). I was further intrigued when I saw my friend and Bay Clan member Pat Wyatt on the bill, playing the Native American Flute.

The Center for Spiritual Living is buried in a residential community in South San Jose. I got off the freeway and followed my google maps to the Center. As I was driving down a residential street I was beginning to wonder if the address was correct. But, as it turns out the Center was right where it should be. The crowd started small, but gradually grew in size as we were serenaded by excellent guitar music (I apologize that I don't know all of the performers from the evening). The event started with a belly dancing performance, in which Mike played rhythm along with another drummer for a belly dancer. After that there was also a jazz dance performance to drumming by Mike and others. The real treat for the evening, however, was the meditation and shamanic journey in which Pat played the flute and Dave led the drumming on a frame drum.

This was my first experience with a shamanic journey. Dave led us on our path by invoking the journey with a strong cadence on the frame drum. It took a few minutes for my brain to relax and settle into the sounds which surrounded me, but my journey began. In my vision, I was met by my spirit guide in the form of a hummingbird. The hummingbird had glittering green feathers covering its body and hovered immediately in front of my face, beckoning me to follow him. As I agreed to follow, I was transformed into a hummingbird form, and my perception was changed such that I immediately could see every beat of my spirit guides wings as if time had slowed down. I also percieved the beat of my own wings and had the ability to fly. My spirit guide beckoned me to follow him again.

He took me on a journey through a huge (even more so from the perspective of a hummingbird) redwood forrest. At first it was very much like the scene from Star Wars as we dodged tree trunks and bushes as we sped along the forrest floor. My spirit guide would disappear behind one tree, only to reappear further up our path rounding another tree trunk. The sunlight played off of the bushes and plants and tree trunks as it filtered through the canopy above. This changed when my spirit guide brought me to the base of a gigantic tree, the largest in the forrest. He waited for me to catch up and then he immediately began to fly around the circumference of the tree as he spiraled up the tree. I followed. I could percieve in great detail the bark of the tree to my right as I followed clockwise around the tree. I could hear the drumming in the background growing in intensity, surrounding me, pushing me on. I took energy from the drumming and continued my journey.

As we sped to the top of the tree, I finally looked down and realized that we were out of the atmosphere, the blue sky had changed to the darkness of outer space. I could see the tree truck extending back through the clouds to mother earth, like the giant beanstalk that Jack climbed. My spirit guide stopped, hovering at the tip of the tree and made it known to me that he could go no further. I could see the stars spreading out above us. I knew that I was on my own from there. I thanked my spirit guide and began the rest of my journey towards the stars.

This where this journey ended. I am not sure what might have happened had I continued my journey or what will happen the next time I journey there. But I must say that I was enthralled by what I experienced and I am still replaying the journey in my mind.

Thanks to Dave, Pat, Mike and the other musicians who made this event possible. I will be back for other events at the Center in the future. I encourage you all to push your comfort level and limits as I did in this experience.

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