I closed my eyes and in the darkness of my mind two dragon eyes, red with strength and ferocity, opened wildly. The scent of smoke danced in spirals all around my body as I lay flat upon a quilt on the floor. Palo Santo and cedar I recognized, and other unknown sweet herbs from Peru were blown into the top of my head, into my belly, into my feet. The singing bowl sung and bells danced and chanting brought my spirit back to me.
I have been quite out of sorts the last few months, you know. I have been referred to as a curandera, a medicine woman, an herbalist, a shaman, a healer. This work I did not choose, it chose me and it is at times terrifying, exhausting, and fierce. And somewhere along the journey in July I picked up something. Something unidentifiable and something that dwelled within my heart and lived on my strength. I became depressed and weak.
I went to visit my beloved mentor and friend, a Caddo and Comanche holy man named Thompson, in Oklahoma in June while he was recovering in a nursing home. He honored me by letting me do ceremony on him. We talked of many things, and he warned me of a Bruja. “I am a bruja, my friend!” I laughed. In my Celtic/Nordic culture a witch was a healer. An herbalist. A midwife. The word means wise woman. But in the Native (my ancestry as well) and in Hispanic cultures, a bruja is a bad witch. Disney aside, a bruja is someone who can cause you harm.
I knew something wasn’t quite right. I turned down ceremonies and readings to protect myself and others. Speaking to a friend who has a shop I became keenly aware of the other women in her store, listening. Mind you, dear ones, that jealousy and bad wishes are the same as curses. If you think something badly about someone you will inadvertently send them bad events. If a healer is weakened, those curses stick. I don’t know if it was the tremendously difficult healing ceremonies/meetings/soul retrievals of a quiet alcoholic I performed, or if it was the community upset in a church after finding that I knew a secret. I don’t know if I was around someone that carried spirits of dark and one transferred to me.
I told my friend, Osegi these things and how I was depressed, not kind, and even the smell of smudge herbs made me appalled. I told her something was wrong. “Why do you think I’m here?” she said sweetly. She was one of my students long ago. I have done ceremonies for her and her family. She has been working with shamans all over, including Nepal, and especially Peru. She had a young man with her who was quite the shaman himself. From around the world to Pueblo, they were there to help me.
In June I finished a book about a shaman who each time had something afflict him, another shaman who could help would end up crossing his path. Thompson used to worry that no one would be able to heal him. I worried too. And yet, there they were. I felt something leave my wrist. I felt something leave my nose. They placed hands on my stomach that has been hurting for months. A wild spirit of a wild woman interspersed with the dragon in my mind and I felt myself breathe and I felt myself become myself. And I was back thanks to a healer’s healer. What I was trained to be. We need each other. We are all connected. I wasn’t getting out of being a healer that easy!
“What did you see?” I asked Osegi after the ceremony. She replied, “I saw a dragon.”