The Reluctant Shaman: A Woman's First Encounters with the Unseen Spirits of the Earth

The Reluctant Shaman: A Woman's First Encounters with the Unseen Spirits of the Earth

by Kay C. Whitaker

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Overview

This is Kay Whitaker's spellbinding account of her "reluctant" apprenticeship to Domano and Chea Hetaka, two charismatic shamans from the Amazon Basin who come to teach her — a young homemaker — to be a Kala Keh nah seh, a builder of webs of balance," and to hand down the ancient wisdom of their people. In spite of her doubts and fears, Whitaker finds the balance and harmony she was destined to know.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062509437
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/06/1991
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 391,907
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Kay Cordell Whitaker lives in Oregon.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Invitation

Struggling against the force of the wind, I bent forward and walked toward the edge of the cliff. Drenched and cold, I stood looking, out into the sea. This is what I was seeking. I wanted to feel the storm in my bones.

A movement caught my eye. I turned, and facing me was a man who seemed to appear from nowhere. The wind was blowing his white hair straight back. Thunder burst in my ears as the man stepped toward me, watching the waves as they broke over the path. He nodded his head and said with a quick glance, "I've been waiting for you. You wasted no time in getting here. That is good."

The wind drove the rain hard into my face. I heard a second thunderclap, and I could feel electricity tingling on the bottoms of my feet. I figured he must be one of the crazy derelicts who lived under the bridges. I stepped a few feet backward, afraid he was going to attack. But he didn't move. He just stood motionless, facing the sea. This was my chance to escape fast and abandon the storm.

Then, just over the howl of the wind, I heard him say, "We waited pretty long years to be able to meet with you."

Now l knew he was nuts. My stomach tightened up and my head ached at the temples. I started to walk away through the mud. Lightning filled the sky a third time. I couldn't move fast enough.

"Are you going to throw away so many years of preparation?" he asked calmly.

I was stopped in my tracks, and as if the old man and the thunder were in league together, the thunder and lightning jolted again. Itmust have been striking very close. I noticed for the first time that the man had an accent, though I couldn't place it. I turned to look at him. He still hadn'tmoved. He looked like he was in his late seventies or early eighties, maybe slightly over five feet tall, with darkish skin. He was wearing, sandals, peasant pants, and an old, disheveled poncho. Despite his age, I felt physically threatened.

"Leave me alone," I yelled, stepping backward, the wind almost blowing me over. Lightning and thunder hit twice, once on either side of me. The sound immobilized me.

His words seemed to flow out of the sky around me: "It is time for you to learn the balance. Ka ta see. You have much work to do."

I was so cold and wet, I ached and buzzed. I could hear a seagull screaming in the distance off the cliff to my left as the thunder came the seventh and final time. I wanted to scream at him. Anything. Obscenities. It didn't matter. I even wished the wind would push him off the cliff. Then he lifted his head and opened his eyes fully for the first time.

These were not the eyes of a drunken derelict. They were calm, knowing, and caring. They were strong eyes reflecting something mysterious. His stare was softly compelling, which scared me even more. For a moment, I didn't know whether to stay or to run. The wind pushed around us furiously. I made up my mind and started for the car again. I wasn't going to let anything stop me this time.

I raced to the car, turning to see if he was following me. He still hadn't moved, but he held out his hand and yelled, "We will meet again. Ka ta see. Soon"

I opened the door as fast as I could, hopped in, and started the motor, never looking back.

Two weeks later I was sitting and writ ing, as I often did, in the coffee shop at Stevenson College on the University of California campus at Santa Cruz. My kids were in school, and I wasn't working, so I often rode into town with my husband on days when he was attending classes. A sudden huge gust of wind blew over one of the tables outside. I looked up, and to my astonishment I saw the same old man sitting at a table next to the window. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I could feel the same fear welling up inside me again. He nodded and kept his soft eyes fixed on me. He looked less like a derelict today and more like a very old simple man.

I was going to leave, but then I decided I'd be safer in the coffee shop. I'd just sit there and ignore him until he left. I was sure he'd get bored and leave within fifteen or twenty minutes.

Two hours later he was still there and still nodding his head politely. He looked a lot less threatening in there, and older, too old to be living under a bridge. I thought of going over to him and just telling him to go away and leave me alone, but I was much too intimidated. A true product of the 1950s, I had never learned how to stand up for myself to men, especially those much older than me. So I sat there sipping my French roast, getting angrier at myself by the minute. I was too afraid to leave and too afraid to confront him.

As I sat there heartily engrossed in my stewing, he quietly doddered over to my table and asked if he might join me. His demeanor was soft and small. I suddenly felt silly and ashamed for thinking such loathsome thoughts about this little old man. He seemed now so small and almost feeble. In his broken English he was consistently polite.

I said nothing to him, unintentionally allowing him to sit at my table. I wanted to leave, but I just didn'tget up.

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