Saturday, August 27, 2016

Unfortunately due to the Labor day weekend shaman conference in San Rafael as well as some additional, recent unforeseen demands there will be no blog this weekend nor on the Labor day weekend.
See you again in September
Have a great long weekend

Sunday, August 21, 2016


The Creation story can best be understood by the Four Worlds of Kabbalah; 
Emanation - Intention or the Word
 Creation - the Blueprint or Plan
 Formation where all was animated by the Breath of the Divine (even the Still beings have their own slow vibration and energy) and as Kabir said; "what is God - the breath within the breath." 
Actualization where all was made. 
This process is also represented on the Tree of Life.

Everything began with the word (Emanation) - the Word expressed as undifferentiated imaginative power above the Crown of Keter of the Tree, filtering down into the Sephira and the element of Water - (top right) - Wisdom - imagination - undifferentiated thought.

This was followed by the blueprint (Creation) - (top left) -  Understanding, verbal thought and symbols rather than pure imaginative fantasy.

The next six sephirot below represent the world of Formation and the element of Ruach; Air, Wind, Breath.

And finally in the lowest Sephira of Makhut or Kingdom or Earth  Actualization occurred and all was "made" - the Still, Growing, Wild and Talking beings. This happened as the Word and the Breath of the Creator animated all these worlds coming down the Tree of Life like a lightning bolt.
The quote above now may make a little more sense.


Just as the world was created through the FOUR WORLDS so we can regain a spiritual "Eden" by our "BECOMING," slowly up the Tree, rung by rung, and furthering our transformation. A Buddhist or Yogi might call this "Eden," the Pure Land of self-realization or enlightenment.

At the end of the day if we just studied and immersed ourselves in nature, so much more would be revealed.


Saturday, August 13, 2016


We saw on a prior blog how each Chakra is represented by a different element beginning with the lowest, Earth at the first Chakra, and ascending the Chakra hierarchy to Water (2nd,)  followed by Fire (3rd) i.e. the lower three survival Chakras below the diaphragm.
 The vibration then rises  above that to the higher Chakras of Air (Heart Chakra,) Ether, Spirit (4-7.) 

The Chakra model can also be extrapolated to the universal archetype of the Caduceus. The two snakes represent the sun and moon channels spiraling around the central channel of the spine. A Chakra is situated where each channel crosses.The wings represent the transcendent, the oneness experience or unity consciousness and the Crown Chakra.

The Tree of Life is also associated with the elements but in a different way and order.  The six Sephirot above Earth, represent Ruach, (Wind, Breath, Air, Prana or Chi.) The top left is Fire, top right Water. Above that; Infinity, Nothingness - ether, spirit.

We are made in the image of the Divine and this is how we create in our own microcosm, as does the Great Spirit in the macrocosm.  As above, so below. We usually start with undifferentiated thought (fantasy, imagination,) top right, represented by the element Water. "To think like God is to think with imagination." The Ancestors
"Waters of wisdom, waters of love, grace of life, be present here and flow within. The Ancestors
From imaginative wisdom comes verbal or differentiated thought or understanding in language or symbol represented by Fire;
"Fire of warmth, fire of transformation, light of illumination be in this flame and burn within."

This is a glimpse into the nature of creation so one should not be dismayed if it reveals only our total lack of understanding - for which we should substitute awe and amazement. The elements are key to the phenomenon.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This week's blog;
A Lesson from the San Hunter-Gatherer 
(Extracted from a chapter in "Inner Passages Outer Journeys"  after an extended trip to the Bushmen in 1987. This was a window in time when one could still witness an occasional clan living in the old way as their ancestors did eons ago. Sadly things have changed as they always have done for indigenous societies.)
 As stated in the last blog, the rules of three tell us we can only live three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, three weeks without food and three months without any human connection.The San Bushmen are well aware of this and have to be intimately connected to the elements and all beings; still, growing, wild and talking in order to survive.

The Bushmen (or San,) one of the last Hunter Gatherers of Africa.  have attracted various groups of people for different reasons. Anthropologists see them as a link to long lost stone age cultures and naturalists and hunters admire them for their extraordinary expertise in the bush. Those of a more mystical inclination are fascinated with their oneness with the fauna and flora of the Kalahari, a connection that has enabled them to survive for centuries in a desert that most other peoples have avoided. Through this, they previously remained free from the trappings and problems of more sophisticated societies. 
Physically, the San are quite different from other South African Bantu peoples. They have always said that they were the first people and genomic studies show them to be correct. We all have Bushman D.N.A. in us and possibly this is why visitors to Africa and especially to the Bushmen often describe a profound feeling of coming home. Its not so long ago that we were all Bushmen.

Many pressures threaten the San way of life besides the introduction of water on tap. Huge cattle ranches have appeared with fences that both limit game migration and inhibit the San's nomadic pattern. Cattle overgrazing is a problem with regard to the destruction of natural habitat and food to forage. Game preserves, mining and hunting areas have been demarcated and the San are no longer welcome, even though their hunting needs are small and do not affect the ecology. The San hunter-gatherer is slowly disappearing since it is easier for them to assimilate with their Bantu neighbors around them.

Essential for the spirit, cooking food, protection and warmth.
Also see last weeks blog and photo.

Water was like a drug to the San and wells put in by the Botswana government are among the factors that have put an end to their nomadic way of life. It is so much easier to turn on a faucet than to go and dig for tubers and look for Tsama melons, even if it means a walk of five miles or more. Plastic bottles have replaced empty ostrich egg shells as water containers. Previously these were filled with water from hollowed out tree trunks, using hollow reeds to suck the water up and spit it carefully back into the shell. These natural reservoirs were covered meticulously with a log or branch to prevent animals from drinking and polluting it. The Kalahari has no natural water and it rains infrequently. Before the advent of wells these people did not have water, yet adapted happily to the environment.
To get water they dig for a tuber (Raphion Acme Burkei,) grate it with a sharp stick and deliver the juice inside. To this are added one or two different plants to take away the bitterness and possible catalyze the release of more water, since an excessive volume can be squeezed from a modest amount of the shavings. Nothing is wasted, and they use the residue of the fibers to scrub and clean themselves
The women provide most of the food by foraging. They are outstanding botanists and, while walking at quite a pace, can discern subtle changes in the shapeless Kalahari scrub denoting something edible. Out comes the ubiquitous digging stick, and within seconds a tasty morsel is thrown into the skin bag. Many of the roots, bulbs and tubers are quite deep underground and have to be uncovered a foot or more down. It is only deep under the surface of the earth that they can acquire enough moisture in which to grow. One to two hours later and five skin bags full and they return to camp with enough food and, if needed, medicine for all. 
All that the men have with them for a hunting trip are a bow, a quiver of arrows, a digging stick, fire stick and a sipping straw to suck water out of hollow trees or from sip-wells in the sand. With these simple implements and their incredible knowledge of the desert they can survive indefinitely. Their back yard has always been their pantry and their skills give them an enviable sense of freedom.
Hunting is now a rare event, since little large game remains in the vicinity around their villages. Meat, is still occasionally available from small game because of the Sans' ingenious trapping ability. They now concentrate on the trapping of smaller antelope and birds especially the delicate duiker and steenbok, ostrich, koraan and guinea fowl. Watching them set a trap is like a surgical exercise. They pay minute attention to detail, and their trapping is a work of practical art. Most astounding is the knowledge of the animals, as they "become" that animal, chatting away to each other and discussing all aspects of behavior and where and how best to set the trap. It seems uncanny that in this vast expanse of desert, they would be able to eat meat just because one animal placed one foot or the neck in a six-inch diameter spot somewhere in the vast Kalahari. It is not difficult to learn how to set a sloppy trap but it takes a lifetime to learn where to set it. 
Rope making is essential since without it one cannot make a bow or snare. Rope was made from a small fibrous-like plant (Sanserveria,) also called mother-in-law's tongue, which is ubiquitous. 
Hunting of bigger game is now impractical on foot for the San in terms of energy expenditure. The Bushmen have to walk long distances to find their quarry now that their hunting grounds have been encroached on.
Skinning of the animal is done quickly and efficiently on a table of broken branches in the sand. Nothing is wasted and the delicacies -- the heart, kidneys and liver -- are wrapped in the stomach and cooked in an ash oven or pot. These are the privileges of the hunter, and the rest is shared. In times of drought the San even squeeze the liquid from the stomach contents for a drink. Survival in the Kalahari lays esthetics aside.
The poisonous grub of the diamphidia beetle can be found a foot away from a particular commifora bush. It is hard to imagine how the first San discovered that the innards of this grub were deadly when in contact with the blood stream. Perhaps it came to one of them in an altered state of consciousness during the "Trance Dance." The time it takes to kill depends on the size and weight of the prey and the San have been known to track a large wounded animal for a day or more. Sinew is wound around the metal shaft of the arrowhead and the poison smeared onto it with great care not to put any on the point of the arrow. A mere scratch could be fatal, and there is no antidote to the poison. It is easy to understand why the quiver is solid and made from a specialized piece of hollow bark. 
The San are small people, and their bows and arrows are toy-like. They do not rely on a fatal shot from afar, as their incredible tracking ability and stealth allow them a shot from up close. The poison takes care of the rest. The wooden body of the arrow is arranged cleverly to drop away from the poisoned metal shaft which remains stuck in the flesh so the animal cannot dislodge it by rubbing up against a tree. The poison is deactivated with heat, cooking and also by gastric juice. Poison on the arrowheads is easily eliminated by placing them in the fire for a minute.
The Bushmen are master trackers. They can tell how many animals have passed by which were male and female, their size and approximate time of arrival. Even if a track looks relatively recent they will know if the animal has too much of a head start to be worth following.

The San have rudimentary grass shelters in which they rarely sleep except in the rare event of rain. The grass walls soon become a haven for the small creatures of the Kalahari and every now and then have to be burned down and reconstructed. Kalahari nights and the stars are extraordinary and everyone welcomes the release from the heat of the day. The San usually all sleep together on the earth, next to the fire. 

The San are extremely egalitarian. They have no chief or leader and everyone -- male and female -- has a say in the activities of the group. Certain members are known for their extraordinary skills such as hunting or healing but this does not confer on them any additional privileges. Egomaniacal attitudes are not part of Bushman behavior.
 Children would be considered thoroughly "spoiled" in our terms. When a child picks up a musical instrument, allowance is the rule no matter how distracting the noise. Children rarely have a request refused and no adult can bear to hear a child cry. The Kalahari desert is a cruel enough teacher, and the environment outside of home holds enough to teach youngsters to be responsible adults. Even amongst the adults, an unconditional positive regard for others seemed  routine and it is difficult to find judgmental attitudes amongst the group.

Out of body spirit trance dance. The healer has not yet come back to his body.

The San spirit dance is a magical phenomenon that enables the healer to leave his or her body and invoke the spirits for the restoration of balance of the clan or the health of the patient. This gift arises out of the purity of the hunter-gatherer life style with its intimate connection to wilderness. One has to live beyond the five senses in order to survive in the Kalahari. It also is known as the "Little Death," since the dancer is in danger of not returning to the body and has to be carefully watched. Trance dancers have been known to do remarkable things with fire, including putting parts of their anatomy in the flames without suffering burns. They are known for their psychic and healing abilities, and many Africans prefer to see a San healer than be treated by their own medicine sangoma (shaman.) There are also many whites who can testify to being cured by a San healer after Western medicine had failed them. In trance, the San travel into the spirit world to get diagnostic information and then come back out of trance to administer energy with hands on healing. In this out of body trance state the shaman is also capable of remote viewing of game or water sources which information helps the clan survive. (For those interested go to my web site for videos on this and more.)
Bushman rock art depicting a shaman shape shifting during trance. The line coming out of the top of the head has been described as a "rope to God"
Although many Westerners are enthralled with the superb bushcraft or “hard” skills that the Bushmen have mastered in their brutal environment, just as noteworthy are their group interaction or “soft” skills, as well as their spirituality.
When we take a deep look at what the San represent it is easier to understand what the Ancestors mean by; 
"The force of the primal self manifested as love is the glory of God. Those who awaken it in others and nurture the nurturers glorify him."