Satinka's Workshop Experience. Episode 1 Knoxville Basic Workshop- May 5-6, 1990 I was ask
Satinka's Workshop Experience..... Episode 1*
Knoxville Basic Workshop- May 5-6, 1990
I was asked to relate some of the journey experiences
I had while participating in the Foundation for Shamanic
Studies Basic Workshop in Knoxville this month (May).
For those not familiar with journeying in general, I
suggest reading Michael Harner's "The Way of the Shaman."
The first day was devoted to Lower World journeys. There
are actually two different journeys here - taken within
about 40 minutes of each other during the first morning
of the workshop.
After a bit of getting acquainted, singing in a circle,
drumming, and "calling the beasts" we were given
instructions for our first journey. We were to enter a
hole or cave and go down a tunnel into the lower world.
We were not to do anything in particular, simply go, look
over the landscape, and return. Although I have done
this lowerworld journey many times, I had never attempted
it in a group setting, and my trials were far from
consistent in results. I was interested to see if I
could, in fact get anywhere in this environment.
I went into my usual cave, feeling Bear nearby. I could
hear the drip of water, and it seemed very dark - moreso
than usual. I asked him if he wanted to join me, and he
agreed. Draping my left arm over his neck (he always
walks on my left for some reason), we rose slightly and
began to fly although I had no sensation of movement -
more that the tunnel was moving and there was a wind
blowing from below. I could still hear the water
dripping, and felt that we had not moved. But there must
have been water at both ends of the tunnel, that I could
hear the entire trip through - I could still hear it as
I overshot the tunnel end and was flying over a mist-
covered landscape that was patchwork like a farm seen
from up high on a mountain. There were no buildings in
The colors of the landscape were varied (yellow, reddish,
brown, green), but muted and dull looking. The sky was
very murky looking, and the mist or fog seemed to gather
into clouds, and then melt away - all between me and the
landscape below. I flew around a bit, then went back to
the lip of the tunnel - I found a ledge there that leads
of to the left as a path. A few feet away is a cut in
the stone (on my side) opening out into a grassy hilly
area on the other side, with a stream down the middle.
Looking out over the landscape, I noticed above me quite
a ways was a circle of black birds. They were flying
almost beak to tail, in a perfect circle. They seemed
to be very large birds.
I tried several times to count them, but was unsuccessful. I
walked on down the ledge then, following Bear, to the ridge above
Three otter people came to me while I stood there above
the water. They were grey-brown, about 5 feet tall (just
a tad shorter than I am). They wore woven sashes (of
reeds or grass) with fringes decorated with small shells.
The center otter - the tallest - wore a necklace that had
small shells on the sides, and a big pendant of a large,
flat shell - similar to an oyster shell - in the center.
They were carrying freshwater clams or muscles - with
blue shells, that looked something like oyster shells -
and they gave them to me with some solemn ceremonial
gestures. I opened the buckskin pouch I was wearing at
my waist (See note on dress) and offered them each an
oyster "from their cousins on the coast," which they
greatfully accepted. They got friendlier after that,
and touched me with their little hands, feeling my skin,
my clothing, and most of all, touching and sniffing my
hair. They had very expressive faces. Bear sat by
through all of this, looking rather bored, and the otters
totally ignored him.
When the signal came to return, I said goodbye to the
otter people, regretfully. They said I could come visit
again, and I promised I would. I put the clams in my
pouch, draped my arm over Bear again, and we flew back
up the tunnel. At the mouth of the tunnel, he dropped
me off and disappeared.
All the participants talked about experiences for a while
after this journey, but I declined to share mine. I
really felt it might be a bit overwhelming for the
others, since most of them had really NEVER journeyed
before, and I didn't want to say too much. Several
people mentioned journeys that appeared to be involving
them in their own (past?) funeral ceremonies or other
things that might have been a form of initiation.
Several others had first journeys that equalled my own
in depth and visual experience, and Dana seemed pleased
that everyone was progressing so quickly.
Journey to find a power animal - lower world
The directions for the next journey were more detailed.
We were to go to the lowerworld with the intention of
finding a power animal. When we found one, we were to
ask the question that our partner wanted answered. My
partner in this exercise was a man from Knoxville, and
he wanted to know how he could get more joy in his life.
Bear (See note on power animals) met me in the
tunnel, and we went the same way as before. The otters
were waiting for me. "Are you my power animal?" I asked
them, and the otter with the necklace said he was.
"On behalf of my partner, I want to ask you a question,"
I told him. He nodded.
"What can he do to get more joy in his life?"
The words formed in my mind, as if the translation of
either language or concept from Otter to human was rather
difficult: Creative play shared with others.
"Can you clarify that for me?" I asked.
Immediately, the three otters began to wrestle and fall
into the water, sliding down the rocks. Barking and
jumping, they tussled goodnaturedly for a few moments.
Then they came up the bank again, dripping water (I could
feel it on my feet!), and they, and BEAR, joined hands
and began to dance in a ring to some absolutely beautiful
flute music. (I never saw the source of the music.) They
went on for a short time, until I got the call-back
signal. They broke the ring then, and I gave them each
an oyster from my (evidently overflowing) buckskin pouch.
The otter who is my power animal gave me his shell
We flew back up the tunnel again, and Bear disappeared.
When I came back to OSC, I told my partner what they
said. He said it did make sense to him, but was
reluctant to elaborate. (He later missed half of the
second day to work at his job - I get the impression he
needs - and knows he needs! - to spend more time in
Shortly after this, we broke for lunch, and were told we
would do a Spirit Canoe journey after lunch. That will
be the subject of "Episode 2."
*An interesting aside from this. Our group was meeting
in a renovated warehouse (sometimes used as an aerobics
studio) behind a Mrs. Winner's restaurant. There were
no major restaurants or groceries nearby to account for
this happening. Sunday morning I arrived early, and the
door was still locked. Deciding to take a short walk,
I walked around the warehouse building (the front 2/3 is
a gym, the back "room" is our classroom). There was no
path from the other side, but it wasn't too wet, so I
walked up the grass under the pine tree there. On the
ground, imbedded in the mud, was one lonely oyster shell.
I brought it back and cleaned it up. Dana was not sure
what to make of it (although he thought it was positive
and very interesting), but I consider it a "gift" from
my Otter, and will drill it for a necklace - a physical
representation of the one I was given, and wear in the
Note on Power Animals: There is a lot of discussion
about how many power animals you can have at one time.
My own theory - based solely on my own experience - is
that you can have several, if they are complimentary, and
maybe only one or two if they are at opposite poles.
I'll get into this in another text, but evidently I have
at least 2 at any given time (plus add-ons like the two
"attendant" otters), and sometimes 3. This should not
be confused with allies that you request aid from for a
specific reason, and who normally are not a "part" of you
- some animal spirits do this for me, but they are not
power animals, they are allies.
Note on dress: I've heard a number of people report that
they find themselves dressed or looking differently in
the SSC than the OSC. Although it's not a particularly
important detail, it does make for interesting journeys.
Regardless of what I'm wearing in the OSC world, I've
found most frequently when I cross over I am dressed in
a loose cloth skirt and blouse, or leather leggings and
a leather tunic. Either way, I tend to have things with
me that I carry only there - the buckskin pouch is a good
example. I own no such item in the OSC world, but it is
full of all kinds of interesting and useful items in the
After my journeys, some of the gifts I have received have
cropped up in the OSC as well. The oyster shell is a
good example of that - I was given the necklace in the
SSC world (and I always wear it there, no matter what
else I'm wearing), and because I found the shell, the
necklace I make from it in the OSC world will be similar
to the one the otter gave me. This is a frequent
translation problem: it is easy for an outsider or a
beginner in this area to confuse the OSC world version
with the SSC world version, and to think the actual
object that you can lay your hand on in this world is the
one with the power in it. The shaman knows the
difference. It is simply that the physical object
represents the actual object, which resides in the world
perceived while in SSC. All forms of magick use physical
representations of the "other" reality - and the fact
that it is so prevalent among magickal systems makes it
more likely to be a universal phenomenon.
Well, I hope this elaboration on the basic journey
technique is helpful to you. Even without a lot of other
reading, you should now understand basically the process
by which shaman from all cultures and times have entered
another state of consciousness for the good of their
people. But as a venerable being once said - every
journey begins with a single step. Just reading about
it won't do anything for you. Journeying will - both now
and for the rest of your life in this world.
-=Balance and Blessings=- /
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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