Meeting Shaman


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It was a rainy Seattle night, typical of the winters here. It was Yule, and I was meeting a friend of mine to attend a Rite lead by his friend, Shaman. That was the only name he went by: Shaman. Many people in the pagan circles use what’s known as a “craft name,” and I guessed this was his.

Fair enough, I thought, Catholic Priests don’t introduce themselves  at the beginning of mass. They just go by “father.” So I guess it’s okay. I mean, I’m just attending a ritual. I’m not going into business with the guy…

I didn’t know where my uneasiness came from, but it was there. I’d attended plenty of pagan rituals in the past, and from what I could see, it wasn’t much different than any of the Christian or Jewish rituals I’d been through. Paganism was just a different symbol set, but the same ritual mechanics underneath. I’d studied theology and mythology. I knew my Joseph Campbell. And like the Jesuits taught me: “There is more than one way up the mountain. All lead to God.”

Despite all that, I was still nervous. And as I walked gingerly up the wet steps to the temple. And as I reached for the handle, I thought: My destiny lies inside. If I open that door, nothing in my life will be the same.

My hand froze. Where had that thought come from?! My fingers were inches away from opening the door. No, I thought back, This is what I want. I have been searching for change. this change, all my life. I will not balk now.

I opened the door.

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