Author of the Month

Omar W. Rosales, J.D., Author of the Month for July 2009

Welcome to the Revolution: The Resurgence of Elemental Shamanism in the 21st Century (cont.)
By Omar W. Rosales, J.D.

Cherokee SpiritWalker - Expert in Soul Retrieval

In the Valley of the Sun, at the bottom of an Ancient Ocean, I had my first encounter with soul retrieval and a Cherokee SpiritWalker. The son of a Cherokee medicine man, Gary Gent is a Vietnam Veteran with an unassuming nature, and an important skill, the ability to transverse worlds.

Soul Retrieval is the ability of a shaman to heal the psychological trauma caused by cognitive disassociation. [9] Shamans believe that our soul is made up of individual pieces. During periods of great stress, fear, or difficulty, soul pieces will fragment and become stuck or attached to a particular place or person. [10] The accompanying psychological effects may include memory loss, unexplained nervousness, and a feeling of disconnect or isolation. It the role of the shaman to travel to the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds to obtain information about the soul piece and return it to its owner. These Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds are also known as the Non-Ordinary Realms (NORs).

Gary follows this traditional method of soul retrieval, but with a twist. Using a drum as a sonic driver, Gary can enter an Altered State of Consciousness within minutes and retrieve a soul piece. Gent travels to the Lower World to obtain guidance from animal and plant guides. Having obtained the guidance of spirits from the Lower Realm, the Cherokee SpiritWalker will then travel to the Middle World to locate the fragmented soul piece. Once found, the reintegration will begin as the soul piece is returned to the owner. Travel to the Upper Realms is used for revelation and guidance from gods, deities, and beings of legend.

When the soul peace is found and healed, the shaman uses his breath to blow the soul piece back into the patient. What is unique about Gary is his uncanny ability to describe where the fragmentation occurred and where the soul piece was found. With regard to my own experience, Gary was able to accurately detail a college dorm room, a military barracks, and a grandparent's home, all without prior knowledge of these locations.

So, how exactly does the Cherokee SpiritWalker break linear time and glimpse into the patient's past? A more enigmatic question remains. What if the Upper, Middle, and Lower worlds do not exist at all, but are just a method for Gary's consciousness to describe his mind's ability to utilize quantum mechanics and break linear time?

Mysteries in Guatemala: The Cult of Maximon

For over 1500 years, shamans in Maya communities along the Central Highlands, coastal areas, and Peten jungle region of Guatemala and Mexico have predicted eclipses, created calendars, tracked the movements of Venus, and forecasted periods of symbolic creation called Baktuns. The end of the current cycle of creation, the 13th Baktun, falls on December 21, or December 23, of 2012 (depending on the GMT Correlation interpretation of the Maya calendar. [11] So, will the end date of the current cycle usher a period of cataclysms, disease, and catastrophe? Or will life remain the same, relatively unchanged from one day to the next? More importantly, what do the Maya think?

If there were ever a City of Shamans, it would be Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Nestled upon the north shores of Lake Atitlan, the grittiness and squalor of the city is hidden by lush volcanoes. Taking a 30 minute ferry ride or lancha from Panajachel, the boatmaster must navigate past a cove to uncover the bizarre magnificence of the city. Homes are incoherently stacked upon one another, like matchboxes organized by drunken hands. Fires burning grass, timber, and tires spin their smokestreams into hazy skies. Landing in Santiago, a traveler's first instinct is clear: get out.

Omar Rosales travel photo Montage

Yet the city and the countryside are maintained in a relative peace by secret brotherhoods call Cofradias. Old village families have evolved to control the worship and access to the effigy and saint of the region, the Maximon. It is this Lord of the Lake, this Holy boy, the Maximon (pronounced Mosh-ee-moan) that bestows favors, offers protection, seeks vengeance against enemies, and guards the indigenous Tz'utujil Maya populace.

More just than a bundle of sticks, the Maximon represents triumph over tyranny, success over slaughter. The effigy is the last living Maya god, the only survivor of the cosmological onslaught of the Catholic Church and Spanish Conquest. Worship of the deity is tolerated due to a tenuous understanding with the local Catholic Priests. The Maximon is always displayed next to a glass coffin containing a statue of Christ. And the Maximon is told to be the son of Christ.

But these interpretations are wrong, as the Maximon is an amalgamation of Maya nature spirits. The Maximon has the flying ability of Kukulkan, the Maya god of Wind. The statue has the ability to bring rain, like the Maya god of Chac. And the effigy can conquer disease, like Cit-Bolon-Tum, the Maya god of healing. Some legends continue the syncretism fable, saying that Maximon is San Simon, a saint petitioned to provide help for clandestine activities, such as trafficking narcotics and avoiding the law. However, this is also incorrect as there is no Saint Simon in Catholic theology.

Crafted by native hands, the Maximon is said to be carved from a Palo de Pito or Coral tree. Looking for a suitable vessel for the Maya deity, two brothers began the search for a tree. The brothers, Juan and David Co, were led by dreams and came upon an enigmatic tree in the midst of a jungle clearing. In the flesh of the tree, on the bark amidst gnarls and limbs, the brothers began to see the symbols of the Maya: a stalk of corn, a bird, a jaguar, and a two-headed eagle - the symbol of Maya kings.

Carving long into the night, the brothers infused the now-fallen tree, with the nature spirits from the forest and the DNA-infused sweat from their brows. It was the brother's DNA that gave life and character to the effigy. It was shamans' hands that created their supreme ruler and last Maya lord. Yet, it was the spirit in the brothers' hearts that held a secret. Once finished, one of the brothers would become the effigy's standard-bearer or Telinel. The Telinel would be responsible for the upkeep and care of the statue. The Telinel would be the village's first Shaman, with the ability to communicate to the statue of Maximon via dreams.

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  1. Ibid. [back to text]
  2. S. Ingerman, Soul Retreival: Mending the Fragmented Self (United States: HarperCollins Press, 1991). [back to text]
  3. L. Schele and D. Freidel, A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial, 1990).12. O.W. Rosales, Elemental Shaman. [back to text]

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