As a tiny kitten, she named herself “Shamann’” by biting through the cover of a book entitled “Shamanic Voices.” I would spend the next sixteen years comprehending the absolute perfection of her first act of power.
This is not a sad story about death― it is a jubilant tribute to Life and the unfathomable wonders woven into the fabric of our never ordinary days. It is a story about the amazing beings who bless us with their unconditional love and companionship… these Master Teachers some experience only as “pets.”
Shamann stood by my side through a painful divorce, two fierce battles with cancer, the establishment of several healing centers, the devastating death of my father, and the publication of my first book. She adored drumming and ceremony, occasionally took-over during healing sessions, once “yowled” the call-back signal for a shamanic journey, and shockingly initiated me into stone medicine. She took me all the way through the end of the Mayan Calendar… and then she had to go.
Despite her recent departure from this world, Shamann continues to be my muse, faithful companion, working colleague, trusted spiritual advisor, my true Anam Cara (soul friend.) These far-reaching assertions might be nothing more than the sentimental illusions of a broken heart, but please consider the following, very intimate entry from my personal journal before you decide…
DECEMBER 26, 2012
I have just returned from my first walk to the Urban Forest since Shamann’s crossing on Christmas Eve. My feisty little girl actually had me laughing out loud earlier today, just when it seemed I might never laugh again. She was filling me with a spontaneous memory of the time she chased the neighbor’s “cat hating” Black Lab in wild circles all over that wide open pasture― HUGE canine lessons were taught by a master that day! But I digress…
So this afternoon I trekked down the snowy trail to pray at Grandmother Juniper, sending heartfelt blessings and boundless gratitude to Shamann’s valiant spirit, and to Creator for sending me such a precious, sacred companion.
When I finally stepped away from the tree, beginning my usual counterclockwise jaunt around the backwoods circle, I noticed a lovely long, broad piece of bright red satin ribbon laying atop the pristine snow, just to the right of the path.
Tears filled my eyes as I knew instantly this was a clear sign from Shamann. “Everything sacred is wrapped in red”― an ancient Native American teaching I’d learned from Sweet Medicine Nation many years ago. Just two days before, I had lovingly wrapped the still-warm body of my beloved Ocicat companion in red Sundance cloth once gifted to me by Sweet Medicine. I retrieved my precious scarlet gift from the snow, rubbing the silky smooth treasure between my fingertips as I walked on.
Within a minute or so, I thought I spied my dear friend, Rabbi Shupack, perhaps only a quarter circle ahead of me. He’d magically shown up just moments after Shamann’s death, notified of my distress by the vet as she left my house. Talk about sacred timing! The rabbi sat a long while with me as I cradled Shamann in my arms, singing a Hebrew blessing for both of us on that painful night.
I walked faster now, not at all sure it was my dear friend again, but so hoping it was. For some reason, the man suddenly stopped on the trail ahead, still with his back toward me, almost like he was waiting for me to catch up. As I approached and called out “Hello!” the man turned. Sure enough, it was the rabbi! Miracle of miracles, he wrapped me in yet another bear hug, exactly what I needed most.
And then he glanced down at the long red ribbon dangling from my hand. “What’s this?” he asked. I told him how the ribbon had magically appeared beside the trail, and mentioned the Native teaching that “everything sacred is wrapped in red.”
The rabbi reached down, took the ribbon from my hand, and tied it softly around my neck. “Everything sacred is wrapped in red,” he repeated. Another holy moment…
We walked on together, talking of many things along the way. Finally we came to the place on the trail where the rabbi needed to depart for his home.
“I always bless the forest here,” he said, raising both hands toward the beautiful snowdusted trees. “I always ask myself ‘Am I full?'” he explained, a way to ensure he’d given himself enough time to be amply nurtured by the forest.
Raising my own hands in mirrored respect, we stood several minutes side by side in reverent silence. Suddenly I sensed something big moving overhead, glanced up to see a gigantic Eagle soaring directly over us, just a few feet above the tree line. According to the Native American perspective, I’d just received one more undeniable message from “the one who flies closest to Great Spirit.”
The great bird had flown in from the North, the direction of The Ancestors and ancient wisdom, moving toward the South, the direction of The Child, trust and innocence, the gateway guarded by Blue Heron, Mouse, Coyote, and yes… THE SPOTTED CAT!
Obviously, Shamann is doing just fine, simply working her magic from the Other Side now. How many signs does one need?