3. May, 2018

Shaitani (Spirit)

I don't know why, but on reading an account by anthropologist and shamanic teacher Hank Wesselman, I felt the urge to rewrite it in my own words.

It is about his experiences with Spirit. Here it is, in my own words:

Leopard man came to me when I was three years old. 

At that time, I had only seen leopards in the zoo. It was a thunderbolt in the serene sky of my childhood. For days on end, I dreamt of him: leopard man.

My mum took me to the zoo often and I grew up smelling the scents of wild animals in the midst of New York.

On that winter day, though, I stood spell-bound in front of the elegant spotted creature that paced a narrow cage.

As I looked, the leopard gazed into the depth of my soul and I felt a mutual recognition.

Afterwards, leopard man came into my dreams and visions.

We would meet in the park, near bushes and tall, thick trees.

He was to become my playmate and guide.

When I grew up, I became a postgraduate student of anthropology, I had my first fieldwork experience in South-Western Ethiopia.

One day, as I worked at the fossils excavation site in the Lower Omo Valley, I had an eerie sense of being watched.

As I gazed around, I saw a sudden "break" in the air and the quick, liquid vision of a spotted creature appeared.

I asked what that was to my fieldwork companion, an Ethiopian young man who had been watching.

He grinned -- because he had seen it too.

"Shaitani" -- he said. In Swahili it means "Spirit."

And he bent a brass bracelet around my wrist, in acknowledgment of our common tribal past: the ancient tribal past of an Ethiopian young man and a native New Yorker.


Picture by courtesy of Yigithan Bal, via pexels.com