Like the winged ones, shamans and road men also have had a way of appearing in my life. Whether it be traveling to Mexico, the jungles of Peru or even here in my own backyard. Of course there are medicine women who are as wise and wonderful as the willow tree. I think because I fill my cups with such divine feminine energy when I walk on the earth, and swim in her waters, it is the male healer that shows up for me to counter balance and ground the internal storm of love and anger at the unjust consistently swirling inside of me.
These wonderful male archetypes have befriended me in my life, and I am thankful for those relations. I do believe these medicine people deserve financial retribution for their services. When I think about how much money doctors make and how much more deeply my life has been touched by the songs and medicines of shamans..I would much rather give my $400 a month health insurance fee to them. Honestly though, the medicine men I consider true are the ones that will help you no matter what you have to give. They will help you because they see any fragment of the soul that can be mended, as a way to heal themselves, heal the Earth and heal the larger oneness of humanity.
The men who run church services in my church are called Road Men. The Native American Church which is based on faith, love, hope and charity is not a permanent structure, but rather arises through need for prayer. Whether it be to celebrate and give thanks or to ask for help, the tipi travels and is erected through requests. Road Men are thus called because they have to sometimes travel far and wide to conduct these prayer meetings.
I feel like Road Men, similar to shamans, walk amongst us separate but entwined into the cosmic oneness, like the tall trees without which we cannot breathe. All of us surviving off the oxygen which the trees provide, and many of us completely unaware of their majesty, ungrateful for their beauty, shelter, and shade that they selflessly provide for us. These men are like the non-Hollywood. They are not famous and loved for playing a character, but for who they are and their ability to be so completely themselves. They don’t walk the hall of fame, but rather the red road that has been paved by so much suffering of their ancestors. The wisdom comes from these forgotten people’s endurance of listening.
They recall the stories of their elders who at one time lived as gods and goddesses, true caretakers of Life. We all have the capability to live as divine expressions of Love, but in their past these people managed it as a culture. Even in their wars, and scalping of heads, there was a nobility to them. That nobility has been trampled upon for years, and yet you can hear in the prayers of these road men, a love of life, a forgiveness for our mistakes, compassion for themselves and for others.
Of course these men are human, and they are living in a different world than was given our first people, before the settlers came. We have ALL been changed for so many years of worshiping power, the material and the abstract, instead of Life and the mystery behind it in its constantly fleeting form. After the genocide and taking away at the core of these people their relationship to the land, many of them have become lost. Just like in every other culture, many of their youth, OUR youth, the world’s youth, have caught the disease of apathy.
But out of the fire, the phoenix continues to arise. And even the humanness and mistakes that these road men make, we need their prayers. And we need them to hold space for us, so that we too can communicate with the Creator and give up our prayers as well. We all have our own direct lines, but let’s just say these men have it on speed dial.
It wasn’t until May of 2006 that I met Bill Thomas (in featured photo from his daughter’s page), whom I refer to as Uncle Bill. I only knew him a few short years. He was the first road man that I invited into my life as a blood relation. It was almost like I never had heard of rock and roll and then I met Mick Jagger after he retired. Oh wait, he is never going to retire. As easy as it was to love Uncle Bill, it was also easy to take him for granted. While my acceptance and love of Bill was unconditional, I am still learning about who he was. This man lived a life as vivid and alive as the cedar he collected from 38 states. He was like the water that traveled to the deepest lows and sewages, and also came from the highest mountain tops. He traversed all emotions.
I have much more to process about Bill. For now, I will leave you with this..that in every spiritual tradition that I have studied, if you ask for a teacher, he or she will come to you when you are ready. I like to think that everyone has something to teach us however. And we can take ourselves and our own learning very far by simply sitting still and listening. We all carry our own medicine: the things we do that make other’s smile, our strengths that get us through, our weaknesses that keep us humble. Start with the easy care of your self: rest, diet and exercise. Don’t be afraid to pay someone who is more adept at the emotional healing if needed. Perhaps the support won’t show up as a shaman or a medicine man, but I believe that if you invest in yourself, life will unfold to help you in your journey. It has for mine. And I am ever grateful.