Walk. . .

The drum has carried me now for almost seven years. I am an infant, crawling at the feet of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who sat upon the hill with tear stained eyes and sang their prayers to the rising sun through lips cracked and parched.

You do not choose to walk this path; the path chooses you. And when it does, you cannot help but follow. It hunts you, draws you in, governs every decision you’ll make until the day you drop your robe and return to all that is.

You will leave a great deal of yourself scattered upon the road behind you as you walk. You will lose your friends. You will lose your family. You will lose the places you used to go and the people you used to be; but having paid that fee, you will gain your freedom.

These you will call upon for their counsel in the loneliness of your days: the River, the Wind, the Earth, the Spirits. And if you are worthy, and your reasons pure and unencumbered by thoughts of personal gain, they will answer you in a language beyond words.

Do not enter here unless you are prepared to bar the door behind you.

This is not a game. This is not a fad. This road is not a peaceful journey towards the gentle fields of enlightenment. It is hunger. It is shadow. It is fire. It is pain. It is humility. It is joy. It is truth.

The nights are wild and full of shapes that dance along the edges of your vision.

The mornings are dappled gold and sinewy gray.

You burn with the light of creation itself; and you weep for the pain of every living thing.

You will know the suffering of others, and walk between their nightmares. You will know their fears in ways even they cannot.

And for your labors you’ll receive a bit of fur, the occasional feather, and answers to the thousand questions of your life. . .and ten thousand more will rise to take their place. . .


14 Responses to “Walk. . .”

  1. thank you for your words, they come at just the right time


  2. And thank you for yours…


  3. Ben, this is a wonderful post! So perfect! I keep trying to touch on these things and finding that words just do not do them justice. Still, one fails while hopefully maintaining a sense of humor, awe and wonder. Then sometimes we come close, as you do here. That is awesome!


    • Thank you, Michael. It’s a sentiment I try to impress upon those I apprentice. Methods of those like Michael Harner and others following in his footsteps are certainly to be commended for bringing the teachings to a wider audience now when it’s most needed. However, I think, in this time of coffee-table spirituality, people often don’t fully consider the implications – and dangers of Spirit work.

      Core shamanism, for me, was the opening of a doorway for something I’d been carrying around with me since my early childhood. There was an almost immediate shifting of energies in my life…and to this day, people, places andthings I once thought important continue to shake loose.

      It’s often difficult at the time, but it’s always liberating.

      And the new family I’ve found along the way has been a sheer blessing…


  4. this has touched a nerve with me tonight, it does hunt you down, and you do lose people, but finally closing that door and barring it behind you – that’s a challenge for me right now


  5. It is a difficult step, Katie, no doubt. And how deep you’re willing to go is a decision everyone needs to take very seriously. As an Elder once said to me, “If you don’t want to change, don’t do the work.”

    I will tell you, if it’s any consolation, that after the first initial shifts, they seem to get easier, because you come to accept them as a way of freeing up space, and an indicator that your energy is transforming into something of a higher level.

    Whenever you let anything go, let it go with love. The old addage is true; if it’s really part of your life, it’ll find its way back to you. If not, then letting it go allows you to make better use of the energy its absence returns to you…


  6. kelly brown Says:

    Thank you. It’s good to know pain n struggling is normal. I pray to Great Spirit that I’m strong enough to defeat my biggest enemy ……me.


    • Perhaps it’s not about defeat. Perhaps it’s about becoming gentle with ourselves and understanding who and where we are along our path. Remember, our “enemines” have a sacred contract with us. They show us our shadow side, and help us to do our greatest healing there.

      In the direction of the South on the Medicine Wheel, we pray for our “enemies” and come to understand them as our greatest teachers. We are thankful for the lessons they present us, and begin to understand that they present an opportunity for self-discovery, humility, and forgiveness.

      Perhaps self-forgiveness is where it all begins?


  7. Michael J. Melville Says:

    You know what you are talking about from personal experience. This is a path, which mystics have spoken about in this way for thousands of years, of consequences we have learned to recognize by stumbling over them ourselves. Yes, this is a path I know as well. New family is necessary as we transform ourselves. Painful to lose those whom we love, those who can no longer see us. We have become invisible to the dwellers in the past. Going back is not an option. Love and blessings on your path Brother.


    • “We have become invisible to the dwellers in the past.”

      Beautiful and appropriate, Michael.

      Thank you as ever for your kind words.

      For all its difficulties, this path also presents us with a glimpse of the true depth of Spirit’s love. Sometimes by obvious example (my marriage to a woman I met in the very studio which houses my practice, for one), and sometimes in subtler ways (an unexpected breeze to cool the skin after two straight days of dancing in temperatures well above 100 degrees).

      At any rate, once the eyes are opened, there’s no going back to sleep.

      I am honored by the presence of those like yourself who walk a similar road…


  8. michaelwatsonvt Says:

    Ben, This is a fine post. I am deeply moved. You have grown ever more articulate during the time i have been reading your blog. I know your life has had challenges, and I know your heart has found a good place to call home. The road has its rewards.


  9. Thank you, Michael. I’m honored by your continued reading and responses. I’ve learned a great deal from your blog, and the continued example you provide through your words and your life.

    Every healing; every ceremony; every beat of the drum brings with it the discovery of something completely alien…and yet as familiar to me as the scent of my own skin.


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