The first time I heard this poem, I was sitting with a large group of people, in a workshop for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. The Elder leading the group, a man named Dana, recited it for us. This weekend touched me in many, many ways, but I’ll never forget the greatest lesson I learned that weekend. The Otherworld IS REAL. Until that day, until those experiences, I thought it was all ‘imagination’, ‘unreal’, and the product of ‘fantasy’. I kept all of my experiences, my friendships, and now what I understand to be Journeying in the Otherworld, to myself, since I was a child. And that weekend, I was surrounded by folks who had these experiences, too, and I didn’t need to  ‘stop acting weird’ and I wasn’t needing to ‘slam my mouth shut and act right’. It was a life-changing revelation for me. I could talk about these things, and so did others! Amazing!

THINGS A SHAMAN SEES

Everything that is
is alive.

on a steep river bank
there’s a voice that speaks
I’ve seen the master of that voice
he bowed to me
I spoke with him
he answers all my questions

everything that is
is alive

little grey bird
little blue breast
sings in a hollow bough
she calls her spirits dances
sings her shaman songs
woodpecker on a tree
that’s his drum
he’s got a drumming nose
and the tree shakes
cries out like a drum
when the axe bites its side
all these things answer
my call

everything that is
is alive

the lantern walks around
the walls of this house have tongues
even this bowl has its own ture home
the hides sleep in their bags
were up talking all night
antlers on the graves
rise and circle the mounds
while the dead themselves get up
and go visit the living ones

(Chukchee)

Source:
Cloutier, David. Spirit, Spirit: Shaman Songs. Providence, RI: Copper Beech, 1980. Print.