Tag Archives: Shamanism

The White Orchid

A poem by Lightning Heart


The White Orchid

Remember when you offered it to me,

It was after Shiva touched my shoulders and

Sent seizures through blood, skin, and bone

You came with a lion’s mouth and nose, stringy haired,

Downed in frayed gossamer.

I would not accept it at first out of

Fear for what it meant


Dew lived on its petals, even in the desert

Its yellow mouth, frozen in a seductive smile

They say never to accept an orchid

If it is in bloom,

Something about shocking its system,

Stagnating its growth


Then again, I’ve never been a rule-follower

Now that it is here, I stare at it,


Especially that face–

like butterfly wings suspended on a corkboard


only the pin does not kill it,

for there is no pin

Not this time.

The clay pot is too small

It has to break someday

when tubers burst through

. . .or better yet. . .

When they devour the pot with new life


–a poem by Lightning Heart


No explanation owed

The world does not owe you an explanation. Stop thinking about it; instead, live.


“You think about your acts,” he said. “Therefore you have to believe your acts are as important as you think they are, when in reality nothing of what one does is important. Nothing! But then if nothing really matters, as you asked me, how can I go on living? It would be simple to die; that’s what you say and believe, because you’re thinking about life, just as you’re thinking now what seeing would be like. You wanted me to describe it to you so you could begin to think about it, the way you do with everything else. In the case of seeing, however, thinking is not the issue at all, so I cannot tell you what it is like to see. Now you want me to describe the reasons for my controlled folly and I can only tell you that controlled folly is very much like seeing; it is something you cannot think about. . .


“. . .You really know how to talk and say nothing, don’t you. . .you seem to have an unbending intent to confuse yourself with riddles. You insist on explaining everything as if the whole world were composed of things that can be explained. Now you are confronted with the guardian and with the problem of moving by using your will. Has it ever occurred to you that only a few things in the world can be explained your way?”


-teachings of don Juan

Everything becomes unimportant


“You believe that because you’re thinking. You’re thinking about life,” don Juan said with a glint in his eyes. “You’re not seeing.”

“Would I feel differently if I could see?” I asked

“Once a man learns to see he finds himself alone in the world with nothing but folly,” don Juan said cryptically. . .

“Your acts, as well as the acts of your fellow men in general, appear to be important to you because you have learned to think they are important. . .

“We learn to think about everything,” he said, “and then we train out eyes to look as we think about the things we look at. We look at ourselves already thinking that we are important. And therefore we’ve got to feel important! But then when a man learns to see, he realized that he can no longer think about the things he looks at, and if he cannot think about what he looks at everything becomes unimportant.”


–Castaneda, A Separate Reality: Further Conversations With Don Juan

A short journey

Chanted the Heart Sutra to the rhythm of a buffalo drum yesterday.  Whatever works.


Finding your own Way: Both –And.


A velvet Elvis. Seriously. 

A personal message from your friendly blog manager:

For some time now, I have been conflicted. Conflicted over whether to cut loose my deep connection to shamanism and the Great Nature Spirits in favor of a full serving of committed Zen. Zen, the pragmatic “here and now” approach that has helped me on so many levels to get out of my own way; helped me realize that logical, rational thought is fine. . . fine in its place, but that there is an ever more profound place for compassionate, intuitive, direct perception.

And then I realized, through what I can only call a shamanic infused zazen session, that it is not a matter of “either or,” but it is, and has always been, Both –And. They can unify, interconnect, whatever phrase you like, and become a path unique to me. Zen is about finding your own path. Shamanism is about finding your own Path. Both. And.

The mechanistic, positivist, materialist gods of “Either-Or” have left the building, trailing behind them is a band of imposter Elvi shrouded in velvet.

Just a rant. Take what works for you and leave the rest behind.

–Thanks, Vikara

A year in the desert: burning, burning, burning for the woods.


path heart

“Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same, they lead nowhere.  They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush.  In my own life I  could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere.  My benefactor’s question has meaning now.  Does this path have a heart?  If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.  Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t.  One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it.  The other will make you curse your life.  One makes you strong; the other weakens you.”

– don Juan, Yaqui Way

Conversation is stupidity


“I asked him to explain this point to me in more detail, or to describe the difference in effect between the two.  He looked at me for a long time and laughed.  He said that learning through conversation was not only a waste, but stupidity, because learning was the most difficult task a man could undertake.  He asked me to remember the time I had tried to find my spot, and how I wanted to find it without doing any work because I had expected him to hand out all the information.  If he had done so, he said, I would have never learned.  But, knowing how difficult it was to find my spot, and, above all, knowing that it existed, would give me a unique sense of confidence.  He said that while I remained rooted to my ‘good spot’ nothing could cause me bodily harm, because I had the assurance that at hat particular spot I was at my very best.  I had the power to shove off anything that might be harmful to me. If, however, he had told me where it was, I would never have the confidence needed to claim it as true knowledge.  Thus, knowledge was indeed power.”

-C. Casteneda, Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Looking, looking, breathlessly

Shaman in Tuva“For me there is only the traveling on paths

that have hear, on any path that may have

heart.  There I travel, and the only worthwhile

challenge is to traverse its full length.

And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.”

—Don Juan, Yaqui Shaman

“The worlds of different peoples have different shapes.  The very metaphysical presuppositions differ: space does not conform to Euclidean geometry, time does not form a continuous unidirectional flow, causation does not conform to Aristotelian logic, man is not differentiated from non-man or life from death, as in our [Western] world.  We know something of the shape of these other worlds from the logic of native languages and from myths and ceremonies. . .”

–Walter Goldschmidt