Herding Kittens – a shaman’s job


I’ve been herding kittens (looking after RW students) for near 20 years now, I’m fairly au fait with the various turns they galumph through, especially as they come up to the starting post. I can also see Otherworld having the whale of a time putting embuggerance factors before their cute little ballet-shod tootsies LOL. It is funny, but it doesn’t make the job any easier! I also need to shout “yere be dragons” every now and again or I’m not doing my job.

The latest intake to Rainbow Warriors comes up to the starting post in about 5 weeks time. There may well be a couple more joining us too – I can hear them lurking about in the long grass wondering whether to come down to the water hole and drink. Like a good lioness, I’m crouching quietly and fairly invisibly on the sand coloured ground, melting my sand-coloured hide into it and panting softly.

Meanwhile I still have to keep an eye on the ones already signed on and raring to go. It’s a funny old time that, the waiting to begin. And yet, in some ways, you already have begun. You’ve read your pre-course notes, got your books, begun to learn the mechanics of the journeying process we use, gone hunting for your sacred space, etc, etc. So you feel as if you’re already doing it … but you’re not. Not yet.

And one of the things that will happen to you as a brand new apprentice warrior is that all the skills and abilities you had will fall away from you. You’ll be naked and skill-less, unarmed, vulnerable and … to make it worse … your head is likely to feel like wet cotton-wool! What happens to folk who sign on to become awake and aware and useful to Otherworld is that they have to go through the Butterfly Soup process.

Butterfly soup … ??? You don’t know that one? Yes you do, I’ll bet. It’s what happens to the caterpillar at the end of the summer, like about now-ish. The little wriggly beastie finds himself a corner, or a branch, or a leaf and makes himself a cocoon. Inside the cocoon, once it’s hardened and dry, the caterpillar completely dissolves – he becomes soup, a soup that will gradually rebuild itself into a butterfly.

This happens to apprentice Rainbow Warriors too – except they gotta do it without the cocoon! Oh they don’t dissolve physically – at least I’ve not had one do that yet! But emotionally, mentally and spiritually they do. In fact, they become a complete mess *g*. Quite often, students come to Rainbow Warriors with a good set of skills, lots of abilities and a reasonable confidence. They often manage to keep all of this until they arrive at the first journey … then wallop! They find themselves naked and exposed, and all the skills they had gone. It can be very scary. I do try to warn them about this beforehand but, like teenagers, they don’t believe what the Old Fogey (me!) says, not really. Oh, it may happen to others but they will be different, shining, exemplars, able to swan though with no problems at all.

Well, I do get some like that, some who’ve slipped through the lioness’ net. Unfortunately, they’re ones it doesn’t work for, they learn nothing, go nowhere, and leave early. I do try to make this happen before they sign on … but there’s always one, isn’t there *g*. If it all goes easy for you it’s an absolute sure sign you’re failing! If all hell breaks loose then you’re on a winner, if not a roll LOL.

Like all alchemical processes, you have to break down to build up. Otherworld are very keen that you do this and do their best to send you down the shop for a tin of striped paint and box of tappet clearances. And they lure you into the woods where large hairy beasties will growl and chase you … until you stop running away, turn round and ask them their name. And they leave you outside the castle gate in the snow for weeks on end until you learn to ask the Gatekeeper’s name rather than be a clever clogs and find out all by your little self. Le Guin’s “Wizard of Earthsea” (one of the books we use) has a very good story on this. All the nasty tricks of the faery story … that are really the tests to see if you can measure up to the hard training that will come.

And that’s really the first trick all apprentice warriors have to learn … to sit still and ask. However, although Life (& shamanism) is simple nobody ever said it was easy *g*.

My usual advice to the “kittens” at this stage in the game is, “For goodness sake take a cold shower! Clean the kitchen with a toothbrush! Generally learn to slow down. I am serious about that. You miss things at the ecstatic rate you’re currently running. Try to sit physically very still and allow the ecstasy to flow through you without any attempt to steer it. You might try giving your brain sixpence and telling it to go play with the traffic !!!”

In fact, I took my own advice last w/end. Me and two friends, the 3 witches of Endor who look after Rainbow Warriors, went to go sit in our wood under Dunkery Beacon, by a 4000+ year old sacred stone.  There are always ravens there, and owls, as well as many other creatures, denizens of the nightwood.. If we are still enough they come to visit us, speak with us, show us things. But only if we are still. Only if we are focused on them and not ourselves, not off in our heads planning and scheming and generally making a ghastly spiritual noise!

UPDATE on return from Exmoor … It didn’t work out like we thought at all (how surprising *g*) … will write the blog and put it up on Sunday. It was fascinating and just goes to show how Otherworld are also Herding Kittens too, even when it’s us old fogeys what been doin’ it all our lives like LOL. We can still need to be chivvied into going the appropriate way *g*. Watch this space …

If you are interested in shamanic training look at http://www.elensentier.co.uk/rainbow_warriors.htm 


BTW – the picture is of the Culbone Stone, with his Earth-Eye-Cross. The beautiful dancer, Lucy Bethune, is superimposed.