The Shaman’s Breakdown

I’ll preface by saying, if family legend is correct, I am a direct descendant of a gwrach or witch. And one from deepest darkest Snowdonia to boot. Sometimes “the gift” skips generations and resurfaces in the most unlikely of beings, maybe even a chemical physics dude and laser jock. 😉

Around 1995 I had a major depressive episode with inherent suicidal ideation. Initially I was on the green and whites. Later when these did not work the consultant psychiatrist put me on monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclics.

There was major risk because of potential dietary interaction. The doctor felt able to take that risk because I was a practising vegan at the time. I even flew to Japan whilst on the latter combination and only had a mild hypertensive episode once at a business dinner in a fancy restaurant. This kind of treatment is usually for inpatients.

It was pretty clear to me that something had to change and change fast.  So, I began to look at alternate ways of living and ways of viewing the world. It is common knowledge amongst the shamanic community that many shamans have to have a kick up the butt in order to start practising. This is either a breakdown, a vision or a major life-threatening illness.

My first encounter with the word shaman was in the books of Carlos Castaneda. However, I had met two wise men before. These were our gardener and our houseboy when we lived in Zambia.  The houseboy was 53 and the gardener, Tembo (elephant) was in his seventies. They let me (10-13) sit with them sometimes, even when others came to ask their advice. They had a divination game involving throwing some stones over a grid of shallow holes dug in the ground. I was OK, my sister not.

During my illness a copy of the I Ching fell off a bookshelf in a bookshop in Tring and landed right at my feet. Ok, I am meant to look at I Ching. I found a course on Native American Indian Shamanism and began. As a part of this we did Runic Shamanism and Remote Viewing. I carved an entire set of runes from slate and wore each one, in turn, as a necklace. I got better.

One could argue it was the meds or it could be that I was at last looking into something I was “meant” to.

Here in Brittany, you can find shamans, clairvoyants and tarot readers in the yellow pages. They even had a thing in the local newspaper when someone opened up a cartomancy or Tarot business in the local town! It is a bit odd, to my eyes, for a catholic country. In the local town there is one shop which sells catholic icons and crosses as well as books on shamanism, Angels, and divining pendants. As usual there are contradictions.

So why am I being pointed again at Shamanism?

I’ll ask the I Ching.

There could be a business opportunity…