Satinka's Workshop Experience..... Episode 2 (May 5-6, Knoxville, TN) Spirit Canoe Journey
Satinka's Workshop Experience..... Episode 2*
(May 5-6, Knoxville, TN)
Spirit Canoe Journey
I was asked to relate some of the journey experiences I had while
participating in the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Basic Workshop
in Knoxville in May. For those not familiar with journeying in
general, I suggest reading Michael Harner's "The Way of the
In order to show us how the Spirit Canoe journey is done by many
shamans, Dana had us actually go through it, acting the "canoe" for
him as he practiced his shamanic art on someone in the group who
Having lived in the Northwest, where this form has been in use
until recently,* I was quite fascinated by the technique, and had
some interesting things happen. While not a group worker by
choice, I can see that at times it would be useful to have other
shamans to work with. I can also see that, in the typical
Northwest (or other tribal) society, a powerful family who needed
help would certainly make an impression by paying that many shamans
to work for them!
One of our group was having problems with the exercises, and
generally, problems with his personal and professional life at this
point. For our purposes, I'll call him Scott. Scott and his wife
were participants in the work shop, and she formed a part of the
canoe with the rest of the class. Dana's intent was to go to the
lowerworld in the spirit canoe, retrieve Scott's missing power
animal (or a new one) and return with it, and blow it into Scott.
Scott would then dance to welcome the animal, and come to know it
as a friend, guardian and teacher. If successsful, this would help
him in all facets of his life.
The canoe was made by sitting all of the class in a canoe shape:
two folks shoulders together at the back with feet pointing
outward; then each next person sitting between the feet of the
person behind. It was important that we all be touching one
another, to form an unbroken line. At the bow of the canoe, two
people sat with their feet braced against the "figurehead" - in
this case a man who had danced a bear during the calling. One
woman who had already done this workshop once did the drumming for
us, and Dana stood in the middle of the canoe, with Jim on the
floor in the center.
We were asked to close our eyes while Dana did some rattling and
the basic binding and calling. We sang power songs under his
direction. We were told that when the drum started (at his
signal), we were to imagine ourselves seated in a large canoe,
doing our journey to the underworld by paddling along a river in
the tunnel to the other side. We had nothing else to do (in the
ordinary world, that is) but sit with our eyes closed. All the
work was going on in the other world.
AT his signal, I began to place myself in the canoe - I could feel
the lap of water against the sides and bottom by my feet. I had
a "pop" of very clear vision, where I could see the man directly
ahead of me paddling. He was wearing buckskin leggings and no
shirt. I could see the back of a leather thong tied around his
neck - I don't know what was on it. His hair was just as it
appeared in the ordinary world - not Indian at all. I noticed I
was wearing my leather leggings as well, but my shirt was cloth,
loose fitting, and had long sleeves tied at the wrist with thongs
of some type. I could see the dim (misty) landscape going by, and
the water where our paddles churned it up. I could hear animal
sounds as well as water sounds, but I didn't see any animals.
When the signal came that the power animal had been recovered, we
turned the canoe around and started back. I felt slightly dizzy
for a moment - like a quick bout of carsickness - but it was
manageable, and went away quickly, too. Back in the room, we sat
quietly, eyes closed, as Dana returned the power animal to Scott.
That done, he told us basically what it was he brought back, and
how he found it. The figurehead told us he had concentrated on
being ferocious, seeing (or more like sensing) some kind of shadowy
shapes near the canoe during the journey and assuming it was his
job to scare them away.
When Scott returned to normal consciousness, we broke up the canoe
and moved back against the walls, and drummed for him while he
dance to welcome his new animal power.
Scott's performance in the class improved a bit after this, and the
next morning he reported some rather interesting dreams, and a
sense of tremendous energy. This is typical and frequent shamanic
work - retrieval of a power animal - and the basic premise will be
covered in Episode 4!
From: "The Shaman's Rattle"
AION QBBS Roswell,GA
Copyright (c) 1990 By Satinka Istari. This document may be
distributed freely as long as it remains intact and unmodified and
contains this notice of copyright.
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