FILLING THE ANCESTORS' SHOES
Dreamed 1995/9/24 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a state park protecting a Native American medicine site. The path climbs through steep wooded hills. I'm tracking down four acquaintances, computer geeks who love magic in theory but don't know how to handle it in practice. I'm sure some of them got caught by the site's powerful medicine. They're probably buried. Though burial's not fatal here--just grubby and embarrassing.
But then, they're basically clowns anyway. Let them be embarrassed. Still, they're my friends--if they're stuck in anything worse, I'm here to unstick them.
I go into a lodge and sit. I don't even have to ask. Whiffs of it all over the place. The medicine shows me what happened.
Fred walked in alone. Let's call him Fred. He's a tall pale Aryan type, hair like a white-gold cap.
Fred wanted to use the medicine for something new. He mentioned his best idea to his Native teacher, who warned him "that path was explored and found impractical long ago." But this clown went right ahead and tried it alone! I bristle--so he thinks the locals are too dumb to know their own technology? No, no, try to be fair, reserve judgment till you've heard the whole story, walked in his shoes... I'm sorry, medicine. Go on.
You see, Fred wanted better, cleaner lighting for traditional lodges far from the Anglo power grid, and he got this bright idea: "Summoning a powerful spirit and fooling it into glowing will do the job! All-Native, bright, clean, nonpolluting." As if the spirits are programs, as if they're tame, as if they have no pride!
So Fred chants a summoning, and juggles balls of light---his own medicine, no servant-spirits, for he's no fake, his power is quite substantial.
The Ancestral Bear appears, looking almost Egyptian in her glowing breechclout and pectoral, fringed in bright clashing colors, more neon than dyed porcupine. Now Bear is not about to be outdone by a mortal. She summons her own balls of lightning, bigger and brighter. The Anglo sits back and smiles. Lights up the room, all right!
But how long can this go on? Ridiculous! Soon as Bear realizes this idiot summoned her just to be a lightbulb, we're going to see teeth.
The old shaman himself comes in, interrupting my medicine-newsbrief. We greet each other, and he tells me the rest in person.
"Poor Fred failed the shoe test. The Ancestor made him do it. He put his feet in, but he just couldn't fill the Ancestor's shoes. So ALL the ancestors will snub him till he grows enough--if he ever does."
Huh. So no spirit will speak to him, till he's a fully competent, responsible, big-souled shaman? Pretty hard to become when you're grounded indefinitely, all itchy from being stuck in one world.
Still, I'm relieved for Fred. Just grounded? It could have been so much worse. Bear must be mellowing out!
THE NEXT MORNING
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