I read the Carlos Castaneda books in the late 80’s.
Interesting and wild and different.
A refreshing break from the Indian gurus and Zen masters I was inhaling at the time. The same dynamic of master and student but coming out of a wildly different culture. Carlos was the student and Don Juan was his master.
There was talk of feathers of the eagle, of being a warrior, of adjusting the shine of your eyes to change reality, and of death stalking you all your life.
Nowadays it’s hip with the Sedona crew to talk about Shamanic death and how we go through many of them in this life and how they are liberating and not to resist.
I’m not so sure.
I’ve been here before.
Death stalked me through the summer of 96. It circled around me and my little family as we chirped along oblivious — my little girl in her stroller and my lovely wife by my side.
When it struck, the speed and intensity were blinding.
When it was done, nothing was left.
Shamanic death sounds exotic and cool — it wasn’t.
Physical death, the death of a loved one, is laden with completion native to the process. Like birth, there is an unstoppableness to the process.
This Shamanic death has none of that luxury.
It is laced with insecurity and a sickening parade of roads not taken.
My complicit hand is ever present to wave and point and gut-punch — never letting me forget my part, my actions, and inactions, and worst of all my unconsciousness. The unconsciousness I no longer have.
Now death is stalking me again.
A realisation that is at once thrilling and terrifying.
Last time I didn’t see it coming. This time I can.
“I am the end of things and the beginning of freedom.
All the things you have been stressing to maintain,
I am the end of them — your marriage, your job, your, house, your body — let me lump it all together and tie it up with a pretty bow for you — your illusion of security.
For as long as you want security you will never be truly free
because you will always be trying to hang on to something.
Look at old people, they know.
They spent their whole life trying to hang on to something that is, in the end, always taken away.
You feel my breath close at hand and you can’t help yourself knowing it is the breath of freedom.”