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I knew my life would be changed after that ritual, I just had no idea how much. No one could have known how much, and if I had known beforehand, I’m not sure I would have made it through. And though the day dawned just like any other, I could feel the change already.

For one, my thoughts were still swimming… Why was I left for last? How could I feel when he had selected me as his next victim? Why did he keep passing me up? And why, after I felt the wilderness, after I went through there, why didn’t I reconnect with the community?? Why did that make me so sad?? I felt like I’d been left, only I knew I hadn’t been. I remembered singing the words myself, “We are a new people, stronger than before…” Only I wasn’t, and that seemed like an ominous sign.

I talked with my friend who had invited me and was amazed at his response. “That was you at the end?!? Wow…”

“You’re shocked…” I was confused.

“It’s just, everyone was talking about the last person left. Me and the Shamanettes [a nickname for the folks who helped Shaman with his rituals] They… I guess I mean you… You were fighting so hard, you never wavered even though you were all alone. You just sang your little heart out, it was so moving…”

My mind reeled, my heard expanded in my chest… I was still so wrapped up in my reactions to the ritual, I hadn’t even considered that I did something special. That put all my morning questions in a different light. I didn’t need to feel forgotten or overlooked at all. I had, just in trying to be myself and follow my values, been memorable and a big part of the night as a whole. Even if I didn’t reconnect with the community, I had been of service to the community, and valued at that.

I was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions once again. I was going to have to think about this some more. And this was the way of Shaman’s rituals… he could do the same thing the same way and it would be different and magical each time. I didn’t know that yet, but I would come to. At the time, I was sure this was to be the end of the story. Thank the Powers That Be that I didn’t know what was coming next, or I would have shut down right there.

Let me tell you a little about my friend who introduced me to Shaman. He was a friend I’d made through a game league we were both involved in, and I’d known him for several years. He worked in the health care industry and I worked in high tech. Neither of us was the other’s type, but he was a handsome devil all the same, and we shared a love of our Scottish heritage. We were both young, so it was a huge shock when he was diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer.

Most of my friends had no idea what liver cancer meant, let alone Stage IV, so I saw some pretty bad treatment of him behind his back. No one wanted to talk about it, and that’s all he could talk about it. I ended up being one of the few people who was willing to listen and talk to him. Knowing what I know now, I can only imagine the terror he felt. People don’t come back from Stage IV, and they weren’t even going to operate.

But then Shaman offered to do a healing ritual, and against all reason, it worked. Shortly after the rite, my friend started experiencing pain. He thought that was part of the process, but then it got bad enough that he brought it up to his doctor. The pain he was feeling was not normal. In fact, he wasn’t supposed to be in pain at all with his type of cancer. The doctors did some scans and discovered something strange. Now was the time to operate…

And when they opened my friend’s belly, they discovered that the cancer had killed itself. As it had grown, the tumor cut of its own blood supply and died. The pain my friend was experiencing was the pain from the necrotic tissue that had been left. The doctors were able to clean him out and call him cancer free. They’d never seen anything like it…

That was the reason I had been willing to go to the Yule Rit. Coming from St. Louis, Missouri, I was very much a “Show-Me State” kinda girl. Anyone can make pretty promises. Few can deliver. I saw my friend go from death’s door to a renewed lease on life, literally. If Shaman could do that, I was willing to see what his public appearance was like. And I was not disappointed.

But it still felt like i was missing part of myself. I remembered how torn I was in the wilderness, on the one hand thinking: I should be miserable. I’m supposed to be miserable. I’m supposed to feel bad because I’m all alone out here, but… (and here’s where part of me left) Just look! There’s so much to see! Who needs people? This is awesome… I wanna see more! (Wait, where did that come from?) No, I need to be miserable. Okay, here I am… I’m miserable. I should feel miserable…)

I didn’t understand it, and part of me wasn’t even willing to think about what that my other voice was saying. I was supposed to feel miserable alone. I was supposed to reconnect with the community. Right? What happened?

When I saw Shaman next, was able to get those answers and much more. But by then, I was in need of my own healing….