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Doobie Shemer“Welcome to New Orleans and welcome to Basic Shamanic workshop, my name is Dana, and I’ll be your facilitator.”
I felt a little nervous as I never have been to a Shamanic workshop before. I heard some of people say, “I want to practice Shamanism, I want to help myself, I want to help others.”
Some said, “This is not our first workshop, but we are a little confused from a previous training time. We don’t think we’re doing it right.”
Me? I had no clue what on earth were they talking about.
My turn. I looked around. They were all Americans. They all came prepared with nicely hand-made colorful rugs with geometrics symbols. Some brought native Indian blankets with images of animals and Indian totems. They had rattles and feathers. They all looked at me, and even the candle in front of Dana seemed pointed at me, an Israeli, a relatively newcomer to the country. “My friend” I said pointing to my friend on my right, “brought me here, and I really am looking forward to a sea-food dinner later at the Pelican Club where the fish will melt in your mouth.”
They laughed, and Dana went on to the next person.

I sat on my timeworn dark blue simple Yoga mat. Next to me on a vivid orange green geometrically striped rug sat John, a kind, blue-eyed hippie from Mississippi with a long gray ponytail lying on his back. He had been to Introduction to Shamanism workshops before but had not succeeded in his journey into the Lower World. In front of me, Louis and Alice were seated on a fluffy brown, yellow blanket with big smiles in their eyes. They were African-Americans from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They had been practicing Shamanism for quite some time, and this workshop was their gift to Matthew, their thirteen-year-old son who came along. On the other side of the room, sharing a colorful red and purple psychedelic rug, sat Rachel and Annabel, two friends from Panama City, Florida. It was their first time to experience Shamanism, as well as mine.

From that moment, Dana got my undivided attention, I was fascinated. My mind was captivated with each word, and my pencil sped across the page like an ancient Persian scribe. After all, what could be more fun and exciting than spending a weekend’s morning chasing spirits in others world and feasting over a great Creole cuisine at night?

I looked at the other faces; they all seemed focused on themselves, expecting to experience something out of the ordinary. The room was silent.

Dana told us about Shamanism and how it has been practiced in various places around the world such as Siberia, Peru, and Australia. I was fascinated by the way he described Shamanism. I felt as if I entered into a secret place, a place I had never visited before yet a place that made me feel at home. I never felt like this before.

Dana’s voice interrupted my thoughts as he said, “In the next few minutes we will begin our journey to the Lower World, and there, we will meet our Power Animal. Next, when the time is right, we will journey, still in the Lower World, to meet our Spiritual Guides.

He looked at us, we all sat still. No one spoke, “To practice Shamanism regularly one should first meet one’s guides. They are always there, in the other worlds for us; we just have to “go” and meet them. The method is quite simple. We will lie down on the floor, and I will start beating my drum. You will journey to the sound of my drum.” He demonstrated a drumming sound, “A nice, soothing, monotonic sound resonates with breathing rhythm and a heart beat.” This rhythm pierced me deeply. It awakened a strange feeling inside me; something familiar almost as if it connected to a hidden layer touched a long time ago, deep inside me.

Then Dana ‘s voice became husky and low: “You will lie down with your eyes shut. When you hear the sound of the drum, we will begin. Visualize the earth’s surface, and then look for an entry in the surface, something that suggests an opening in the earth’s surface. Once you find the opening slip into it and travel down into the open space, down into the Lower World.

There, in the Lower World, you journey until you run into an animal, any animal, small or big, on land or in the sea, a fox, a snake, a tiger, a bird or a whale. Ask this animal, “Are you my power animal?”

Dana continued, “If the answer is ‘yes,’ you will return exactly the way you entered. Open your eyes, and write notes of this journey. There will be paper on tables and pens to use. Do this quietly as others may not be as timely as one of you. For those who have not found their animal, keep traveling along in the Lower World until you meet your Power Animal who awaits you. When returned, all of you may quietly write your thoughts, descriptions, and feelings, any experience in your first Shamanic journey.”

He then finished his instructions. “That’s all! That concludes your first journey,”

The room was silent. That strange feeling in me would not subside, and somehow I felt reconnected to deep-rooted childhood places still warm in my Soul.

I laid on my Yoga mat, which felt hard, but I didn’t mind. Calm yet somewhat excited, I covered my eyes and took a deep breath. I felt glued to the floor. Dana’s drumbeats seemed soft, and then sounds ascended, almost vaulting up into the room. The drum’s sound slowly flew into me, its rhythm filled me until I felt our indispensable oneness, and then I found my opening to the Lower World. I was above an ocean, looking down at the far deep crystal clear water, and I saw myself, my own image, through exceptionally cleared emerald water, deep down at the bottom of the ocean. I saw my own image standing on the edge of a small hole at the bottom of the ocean - evidently it was my opening to the lower world.

Without further delay, I plunged through the hole onto a huge water slide spiraling deeply right into the Lower World. I was thrilled, and I didn’t want this joyful ride to end. But the fun ride suddenly ended, as I glided straight into a little round water-pool, about 30 feet diameter, in a curved ceiling cave. I was facing three small wooden doors mounted in a cave wall. These doors were Hobbit sized with round tops, arched from top to ground, sympathetically curved to the cave’s wall shape. Each door had a small metal knob on its left. The two closed doors were covered with dust, and mud was piled up in the ground in front of them. It looked as those two doors had been closed for a long time. Only the middle door was wide open. I was standing in the pool, water up to my waist. I felt a great sense of joyfulness mixed with curiosity.

Pale light was coming through the open door I could see a. I felt being pulled towards this light. I stepped out of the round water pool and walked towards the light, through the open middle door into the other side of the cave. I could not see much, but I continued to push myself forward and as soon as the shadow of the cave was behind me, I was amazed by the outside view of an ocean shore. The sand on which I stepped barefoot felt like silk. I walked slowly, and strangely leaving no footprints, and it felt as if my feet were cradled in love. I looked around at Palm Trees dotting the landscape, and the ocean water glistened with deep emerald colors.

A sense of increasing astonishment filled me as I stood on the edge of this emerald ocean. Suddenly a beautiful dolphin with sleek grey back, arching, came towards me. The dolphin smiling looked at me, happy to see me – yes, he actually smiled. I felt stunned; my throat vibrated as a question deep from within me traveled towards him, “Are you my Power Animal?” “Yes” he replied; “my name is Dolphin,” he added.

“Thank you,” I said. He raised his magnificent shiny body over the water, shaking off droplets of water, and hovered on his tail touching the surface. He leaned closer to me, and I could smell a salty water scent on his smooth skin. He looked into my eyes, smiled, turned his head to the water and then disappeared into the deep. It was a moment I will forever remember. I felt safe and free, happy, and I did not want to leave that beautiful place, but I had met my Power Animal, Dolphin.
Reluctantly I turned back to travel the same way that I have reached this underground heaven. I journeyed back to the room, to the Yoga mat on the hardwood floor, back to our dimension. Dana was still drumming

There, on the floor, visibly still, but my mind, my consciousness exploded in emotions swayed by the amazing experience. “What was that?” I thought. “What was that journey, that experience I just went through?” but I expected now answer, I felt that if I tried to rationalize, to explain it, it would ruin the whole experience.

I opened my eyes, only four minutes had passed, and I raised my head, looking around at the inert bodies, still present somewhere in the Lower World.

A while later Dana gave the signal, by accelerating the drumbeat, for all of us to finish our journeys, and then, a couple minutes later, he stopped drumming.
One by one they opened their eyes rose to seating position and took notes. We all were still under the influence of our recent experience, but slowly conversations took places. “I met a beautiful wolf”, someone said with great joy in her voice. “I did not succeed, could not find an entrance to the Lower World.” I heard another person, expressing great sadness. Others sat with a serious expression on their faces and didn’t say a word. Soft sounds of conversations hovered like low-slung clouds over the room. It felt strange to be there in this room, in a place I just came to know, with people I never met before, and yet we had just shared a powerful and spiritual experience. It felt odd, but at the same time, it was the first time I felt that I was doing something different, something exciting, something I would want to repeat.

I looked at Dana’ closed eyes and his drum next to him. Was he listening to the conversations in the room? As if he heard me, he opened his eyes, surveyed the room the room and waited for silence. He then began, telling us more about what the Shamans, what they did for the tribe, for their people.

He then asked, “Who would like to share their journey with the group?” Only two people volunteered. I was surprised to hear that quite a few participants didn’t succeed in their journeys. They said they could not locate an opening in the earth. I hesitated. Should I tell Dana and others about my journey? Should I share about Dolphin? When Dana asked for again for a volunteer, I raised my hand. There was a complete silence in the room when I told them every single detail of my journey. I was thrilled, me, the Kibbutzkink from Kibbutz Givat-Brener, Israel, seating in New Orleans, and humbly telling everyone in the room how I found my opening to the Lower World, the water slide, about the door in the cave, how I met Dolphin, and how wonderful it was to journey.