Soul Flight, a poem and its background

“What is Shamanic Journeying? Shamanism represents a universal conceptual framework found among indigenous tribal humans. It includes the belief that the natural world has two aspects: ordinary everyday awareness, formed by our habitual behaviors, patterns of belief, social norms, and cultural conditioning, and a second non-ordinary awareness accessed through altered states, or ecstatic trance, induced by shamanic practices such as repetitive drumming. The act of entering an ecstatic trance state is called the soul flight or shamanic journey, and it allows the journeyer to view life and life’s problems from a detached, spiritual perspective, not easily achieved in a state of ordinary consciousness.” MORE 



A soul journey today: So much happening in the world and in my life, I decided to take time for “ecstatic trance.”  This may sound strange to many, but it is a healing practice that has worked well for me for some time.

About twenty-years ago the daughter of my Native American friends committed suicide, hanging herself in the coat closet by their front door.  As part of the healing process for her mom and dad, a local shaman performed a “soul retrieval.”  Some would call this ceremony pseudoscience. I’d prefer to call it proto-science out of respect for my friends and their tradition, though that term more properly refers to science as it was evolving in the 17th and 18th century.

At any rate, though I knew nothing about shamanic drumming and soul retrieval, I went to the ceremony out of love and without any expectation. The shaman was a gentleman of both Mexican and Native American shamanic family traditions.  His mother combined a Catholic belief system with traditional Mexican shamanism. Think of some of the curandeira like Ultima in Rudolfo Anaya’s coming of age novel, Bless Me, Ultima. His father was a shaman of the Objiwe peoples.

The ceremony was beautiful and I unexpectedly went into trance with the drumming.  I discovered that this is rather easy and like prayer and meditation, it brings with it release, healing, vision, and other unexpected gifts. This poem shares a bit of what the experience is like. If you’ve had experience with soul journeying, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Riding the shaman’s drum
seeing through the heart
magenta sunlight against
an untamed chartreuse sky
grabbing the river as it runs
wrapping the sea in clouds

Elements of peace, like fledglings
nesting in the tree of life, nature
buzzing with heart’s thrum
heart’s thrum and the drum, drumming
Spirit quickens under a blithe sun ~

Journey on the hypnotic beat
below the outer-crust, tunnels
and tumbling, disarticulating bone
body bursting into shards …
….drawn back
……..reassembled!
….           soul retrieved
filled with light, fed on knotty sedges,
the breeze, flowers chanting praises
and the dawning visions: progenitors
ghost-dancing on metamorphic rock
Earthkeepers dreaming the world

©2019, Jamie Dedes

This is the video I used should you wish to try it yourself.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, G Jamie Dedes, Versifier of Truth, Woma Words Literary Press, November 19, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Making Space for Conversation … Wednesday Writing Prompt, Reaching Across the Divide, an invitation from Michael Watson

dsc03772A lovely late winter morning, the light clear and vibrant on the snow and trees. The day is warm for late February; this entire week will likely be far above normal in temperature, a condition that increasingly seems normative in itself.

Early Saturday morning a crew arrived to install solar panels on our roof. In spite of our best efforts our steep driveway was dangerously icy which resulted in a confab as to whether the work could proceed. Fortunately, the temperature was rapidly rising and the application of more ice-melt soon remedied the situation. Sometime in the next few days the panels will be connected to the grid and our home will begin to generate relatively clean electricity.

Over the weekend my Facebook feed was filled with the idea of resistance. After a month of resistance I’ve decided that even more important than resistance, which remains crucial, is vision. We’ve had many years of resistance by one party or the other here in the US, resistance that has only managed to create ever more division and the very real possibility of massive physical violence. (I imagine people on all sides might agree they have experienced a prolonged period of emotional and spiritual violence.)

Also on the weekend, I got around to reading about a new project from Howlround and SpiderWebShow. Howlround wrote:

Across the much-discussed border, we are exchanging letters; Letters from Canadians and letters from Americans. CdnTimes will publish letters from Americans to hear what it’s like on the ground, now, for theatre artists working in the United States. Meanwhile, HowlRound will be publishing letters from Canadians about what’s affecting our work now. Artists from both countries share warnings, worries, strategies of resistance, generosity, and advocacy—messages of solidarity. What can we learn from each other? —Adrienne Wong and Laurel Green, co-editors at SpiderWebShow’s CdnTimes.

I’ve been wondering how I might bring diverse voices together in this difficult time, and as I read the first letters I became increasingly excited, wondering how the inspiration inherent in that project might be joined with and amplified. I’m still curious. What might those of us who are working for a more equitable, caring, responsive world share with one another that would be useful and mutually supportive? How might I provide an accessible forum for the thoughts and concerns of a diverse group of fellow travelers? What might happen were the conversation to be global!

I envision a gathering of folks in the arts, from around the world, where a conversation might be had about making art in this vexing time. I like the idea of letters as the are usually written, yet may contain photos and artwork. Letters can be thoughtful, personal, and engaging; they are by nature more than sound bites and talking points. Letters might also be created using video and integrating images, words, and sound. Hopefully the conversation would be inclusive, and those in education, the healing arts, and many other vocations would participate. If there is enough interest, I’ll put up a separate website to carry the conversation.

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

I invite you to share your preferred vision for the your life and the world, and how your work feeds that vision. You may leave your response here at The Poet by Day (I’ll read them) or on my site. My expectation is that write-ups here today would be thoughtful, personal, focused on your work, respectful of a wide range of views, and honoring the possibility of reconciliation and mutual care, far beyond North America. Please do let me know what you think of this idea, and whether you might be interested in participating in such a project. My hope is that should I go ahead with the project there would be letters from artists, and others, working in a wide range of disciplines and in many lands, and that conversations and collaborations might arise from the sharing.

© Michael Watson

Michael Watson
Michael Watson

MICHAEL WATSON, LCMHC (Dreaming the World) is a storyteller, artist, educator, Narrative therapist, polio survivor, Native/European, Ph.D., living in many worlds. Michael is also a contributing editor to The BeZine.