Ancestral Knowledge

Ancestral Knowledge

Spring of 1975 found me in the final moments of preparation for my third Initiation. Grampa Peña muttered a song, the crystal quality of Spirit induced trance becoming softer, somewhat hazy. Like passing through a field of wind blown dandelion silk, everything was disfocused. With a clap of thunder resounding and a light equal to the concurrent lightning’s blast, we were standing no longer on a small mound of earth outside Grampa’s small cabin on the San Juan River of Southern Colorado. Instead, I found myself upon an earthen mound….elsewhere! Grampa Peña stood there before me, as before, but now dressed in some ornament bedecked hide of groomed design.

From my peripheral vision I could see two similarly dressed old men. Grampa nodded to me, by his look both asking if I was ready and informing me that the time had come. I nodded in turn. The two Elders stepped to my side and firmly grasped my arms, bending them behind me. Grampa drew a glistening black obsidian knife from his belt and lifted his arm high above his head. With a continuance of the muttered prayer/song issuing from slack lips, his arm swept forward like some bird swooping in for its prey, gliding the ceremonial knife deep into my chest, sawing the blade downward, spilling my heart’s blood upon the earthen mound where we had stood, where now I lay, dead upon the ground.

Swirling in an ascending spiral, I rose, geometric forms of brilliance cascading about my ethereal form. Taking form-given stature once again, I stood looking into the glowing coals of ‘Grandfather Fire’, the primordial essence of Creator. Blessing myself thrice with handscoops of live coals drawn over and through my three Souls, I then looked up and across the Fire, where sat the Old One. He beckoned me across. Taking seven steps to cross through the Fire, I stood beside him. He motioned me to follow him, and in silence I did. Into the depth of the forest surrounding the meadow in which we had met, we walked. A deep impermeable mist soon enveloped our Spirit forms.  The Old One spoke. “Whatever you do, don’t become afraid.”  Ha!!
The ground opened beneath us as we slipped into a timeless vortex, dropping endlessly down, down, down, ever downward. With a rending ‘POP!’ the two of us were dropping out of the sky. From the view of the environs, it was clear that we were in the cold reaches of Siberia. Below was a large circular domed hut, made of wattle, mud and hide, giant mastadon tusks and an assortment of bones. Out a hole in the center top, smoke drifted upwards. Into that smokehole we plunged, entering via the roof into the living structure within. Amazingly, somehow, we landed in a sitting pose upon the floor, directly across the fire from the dweller of the lodge. His face was aghast, having just had two Spirit People drop in on him unannounced.

The Old One spoke to him in a language I did not know, and yet understood. He seemed to be explaining our presence to the man. Now visibly less agitated, the owner of the lodge poured some tea into three wooden bowl, offered it around, and drank with us, a universal showing of welcome. The man was, clearly, a Shaman. His lodge was meticulously decorated inside, with the floor covered in furs and an occasional wool felt carpet, decorated with appliqué. The walls of the lodge were exquisite in their harmonious arrangement of implements, sewn hides, painted rawhide boxes and wooden sculptures. Beautiful implements of copper, ivory, wood and bone were about within this comfortable dwelling.

Things having settled in, the Old One asked of the man of the lodge to ‘show’ me everything he knew.  From that moment forth, and well into the night, the Shaman taught me songs, dances, Doctoring methods, Ceremonies of season and honor, knowledge of the stars and their ways, introducing me to his Spirits, passing into my body sacred implements and protections. On and on he went, duplicating his every Power and Way, inserting these into the very weaving of the web of my Being. From him I learned of the Yupa, the seven notched Ceremonial Dance Pole, and of the Sweat Lodge of the Great White Mother Bear, its history and tellings. Ceremonies and workings of Shamanism were revealed, many of which I have not yet even come to fully integrate within myself in the expression of ‘The Ways’ that I carry as a Sacred Trust on behalf of the People. An incredible wealth of Knowledge and Power were passed into me that night in the Shaman’s lodge.
When the Siberian Shaman was completed, there in the hours just before dawn, the Old One turned to me and instructed me to show the Siberian all which I carried. This I did until dawn, that which I had to share being significantly less extensive than what the Siberian Shaman had been able to offer me.

The night’s activities being completed, we sat across the fire from each other, overwhelmed at the intensity of the exchange. The Old One then spoke to me, while pointing to the Siberian Shaman, and said “He is yourself, many, many lifetimes ago.” Speaking  next to the Siberian, pointing to me, he said “And he is yourself, many, many lifetimes hence.”
He, the Siberian Shaman, and I, the novice initiate, sat staring at each other dumbfounded. We both broke out laughing, tears of profound paradox streaming from our eyes! Up we jumped, danced a jig with each other/ourselves, while the Old One looked on. Composing ourselves, we sat. The Siberian Shaman offered tea around one more time. As we were sipping the brew from the birchwood bowls the first ray of the morning’s sun shone into the lodge.

The Old One said to me “We must now go.”

Up we soared, the old One and I, through the shaft of blue-white light, passing through the flames of Grandfather Fire.

“Ahhhhrgh!” My indrawn breath, the first of a new life, resonated my throat and chest. I sat upright, a pool of blood upon the earthen mound beneath me. Grampa Pena, standing alone, smiled at me with that quirky grin that was his signature of Spirit’s actions revealed. I stood upon the mound from where, perhaps only moments before, my  Grampa had been singing his chant of dimensional shifting intent.

From this time forth have I been enabled to awaken within my Soul the presence of not just the Siberian, but everyone between that lifetime and this who has been Shaman in my blood line. Should I encounter a situation of which I have no direct experience, the Ancestors are there to provide their assistance.
This, my  third Shamanic Initiation, awoke within me Ancestral Knowledge.


I honor my Grampa Peña his compassionate gift of recognizing that that which I am , and would need to carry ‘The Ways’ forth, is greater than the methods and ceremonies of his own Native American culture, that I would also require the acceptance and expression of the Knowledge of my own blood. Thank you Grampa.