One night a Mongolian man came in a dream. He said, I used to be a shaman, are you sure you want this? This was my udha, the unique shamanic spirit that each shaman has that is responsible for the calling of the shaman. The fact that I’m Irish and the udha Mongolian may seem odd but as Sarangarel explains in Chosen by the Spirits,
‘Even now new udha are being produced as the human population increases and the need for new shamans grows. Nevertheless, there are many lonely and neglected udha spirits who are seeking new partners, even if these partners may be from outside the culture in which the udha was incarnated during its lifetime as a human being.’ 29
In truth, I wasn’t sure if I wanted ‘this’, whatever this actually was. I must confess also that I really didn’t know what to do with this new drum of oak and stag. I knew that it had to be brought into the world but its secrets eluded me for many months. I loved to play it out in nature at night under the moon but it felt just like an active meditation to me. Kundalini would rise, I would have a sense of wellbeing but I was not taking a journey and I was very much aware of this. Having experienced many different states of consciousness and even spontaneous shamanic journeys on occasion I knew that something was missing. I felt confused, I even began to think that the drum wasn’t for me and that I should find the right person to pass it on to. In retrospect I can see that I was actually going through a process of spiritual modification that would allow me to understand the drum when the time was right.
The most important changes centred on my chest area. This occurred in the winter, there was heavy snowfall and I was alone. The first thing that happened was that when I sat down to meditate intense pain rose up from either side of my chest, through my jawbones into my head. This was extremely scary and I thought I might be having some kind of heart attack. After much research on the Internet I couldn’t find anything that matched my symptoms exactly. I suspected the pain might be spiritual but I was still rather concerned and that night I left all the doors of the house open, despite the cold, so that if I died in my sleep the animals wouldn’t be trapped. Over the next couple of days I found myself compelled to take very long walks in the snow. Then, something amazing happened, I awoke sometime during the night to see a swirling mass of electric blue energy above me; it was the size of a football. It flew straight into to my third eye and I convulsed as intense energy rushed through me. There was so much energy that the hallway light switched itself on and off. The next afternoon, after lighting a big fire in the range, I once again sat down to meditate. The intense pain came on straight away but this time the blockages were broken through, the pain went and I found myself in the vast space of the heart. For a moment I wasn’t in the room and thought I would pass out but eventually I came back to normal consciousness. I think this was meant to happen when I was alone, it was a special time and I continued my long walks in the snow and meditations.
Eventually on the spring equinox a transformation occurred. One day I was something like a yogi and the next day I was also something like a shaman. The night before the equinox I dreamed of a tree with deep red berries, around it, I sensed strange and wonderful paths where I felt I had journeyed before with Michèle. Then the dream became lucid, as Michèle appeared and began chanting a mantra. I then came fully conscious and saw a Mayan sun disc made of gold in my third eye. In the disc, the head of a tiger appeared, it lifted its head, roared and walked out of the disc into me. The next day someone asked me to take a journey for them, I was reluctant to try this but at the same time I felt perhaps it was sign. To my great surprise I was able to take a journey and come back with clear and accurate information. During this journey a large grey wolf came to me, beside it was a glowing ball of red fire. The next day I decided to do some drumming. I opened sacred space and began. The kundalini came strongly into my brain, it balanced exactly on both sides to bring my brain into perfect equilibrium before entering my third eye. Suddenly the spirits were there, they had their hands in the air, they were dancing joyfully as if to say, at last he’s arrived, we’ve been calling for so long! Shortly after this, in meditation, a tunnel opened and the Tiger leapt through it and ran around happily. It has been with me ever since, this spirit Tiger of whom I had dreamed so often before this moment. I can’t describe the joy of this meeting and the great honour it is to have such a guardian with me. Shortly after this many spirit shapes began to flow into me and I knew the Ancestors had come. I saw them lined up before me row upon row, hundreds going back in time, lives lived that I might live mine. For several months after the equinox, meditation was impossible, because as soon as I closed my eyes, the Tiger would appear and take me journeying through the cosmos. There are many different states of consciousness from our everyday waking one. Dreams, lucid dreams, astral projection and more but perhaps the least understood is the shamanic journey. Before I received the ability to journey I had in fact done things very similar on a few occasions before but simply didn’t understand what it was. Once, during a period of intense kundalini a spiral appeared in my third eye and I went through it. I found myself in a lucid dream. I was naked, in a house. I found I had special abilities like opening and closing doors with my mind. Within the dream I astral projected and found myself fully aware but in a previously un-encountered state of consciousness. The colours were really bright and stunning, I was shown various things including many clocks all set to different times. This was a first shamanic lesson, that all times are happening at once. After this I an Indian woman came and spoke to me in a language I didn’t understand. I told her this. She then took my hands and said, you have done very well.
It was really not until that equinox when the Tiger came that I really understood the shamanic journey and that I could do it at will. Siberian, Sami and other shamanic traditions have a model of the universe where there are three worlds along the central axis of the World Tree. These are the Lower, Middle and Upper worlds. The Sami called these, Ylinen (the Upper world, realm of gods and light spirits), Keskinen (the Middle World, spirit side of this mundane world) and Alinen (the Lower world, realm of power animals and ancestral spirits). This scenario is clearly depicted on many of their drums. Rather than seeing these three worlds as being stacked one on top of the other they are really more superimposed upon each other and in constant interaction.
The Tiger would come, ask me to follow and we would travel through various tunnels and vortexes to the various worlds. I might find myself going downwards at tremendous speed to the Lower world and I would follow the Tiger as a bird, soaring high with eagles I would see it running across plains filled with reindeer or oceans full of leaping dolphins and orca. Sometimes the Tiger would take me up the tree trunk. We would climb together, then jump off and scale a cliff face, travel at high speed on a meandering river. The first time I went up the Tree, I pulled myself out onto a plateau where tribal people were waiting for me. I walked ahead and they parted before me and I came to a huge rock covered in petroglyph stick figures. I watched as the figures began to dance.