Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Shaman Who Became a Storyteller

The Shaman who Became a Storyteller.
Paschal Baute.

Once upon a time, long time ago, there was a young shaman, called against his will to be a shaman for his tribe. He was to be a go-between, between ordinary reality and the Upper World and the Lower World. He would be a mediator, a bridge-builder, between worlds.

He was taken for rigorous training with older shamans. He endured years of study and hardship. Finally he was ready to return to his tribe. Most welcomed him, although some avoided him and a few were suspicious of him, for no reason he could ever discover.

He was trained in the art of shamanism, with tools of magic power, drumming, rituals and trance inducing methods. He learned to take persons, help them journey into the Upper or Lower World. Introducing them to Power Animals was part of his repertoire. He had his own very powerful Power animals to call on and to guide him. He could take himself into a trance and call on his own power animals and have them have a conference for answering some question.

He found he could help many people. Some he could not. IT was most likely their own fault, for not trusting his art and many skills. Then he reached his first mid-life crisis. His Shamanic arts and skills stopped working for him. He was in despair. Even when he went to another shaman, a must older and wiser shaman, it did not seem to help.

In despair, he gave up being a shaman and went away to monastery where old and burnt out shamans lived, not a faith community so much as a non-faith community of grumpy old men. He could not help but observe the vast diversity of shamanic traditions they had all given up.

One day, a young shaman cam to this gathering of refitted and burned out shamans. He told such fantastic stories that he made even the oldest ones laugh and feel good. Our hero knew those stories were not true, but he could not help noticing and admiring the effect they had. He began to see that the power of the shaman was not in the truth of what he told, but it resided in the heart of the teller and the story itself. Even though the tales were a little weird, they worked. It dawned on him, like a shining light from the Upper World, that whether the beliefs were true or not, or even whether the story was true. It did not matter if the Upper World or the Lower World was real. What mattered was that the story touched the human heart.

What was vital was the story offered help, through hope. He realized that humans needed these things, and these “magical tricks” he had used and lost belief in, were, in fact, Life Giving for humans. It was the story itself that was transforming agent. Or, maybe, better still, the way each listener resounded to the story.

So, thirty years after his first mid-life crisis of doubt and despair, this burned out shaman became a storyteller. He loved it so much that he became a raconteur, beguiling many young hearts into the world of awe, wonder, possibility, passion and courage. He found himself believing in the power of his stories. He was surprised that the power of the story was what seemed to be the magic, inviting wonder and hope.

He slowly learned that catching stories and storytelling kept him young and happy long after his appointed time. He felt as if the joy in storytelling and the delight of many children had become for him, the Elixir of Youth. He had never imagined that much joy and delight. He continued to be amazed. When he finally passed, put one word on my tombstone, he said. “Storyteller.” Or perhaps, if someone chooses. “Raconteur.” He died happier than he ever imagined. He was long remember by many children not only for his wonderful stories but also for the great enthusiasm he brought to his beloved art of storytelling.


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