This weeks challenge was to: ‘Imagine you’re the apprentice of a shaman and he learns you all magical and mysterious skills. Write a short story or poem in which you describe how your shaman teaches you all the things he knows.’
As I trudged around the corner the sight I wanted so much to see came into sight. “Darbra Shaman Services” in large shiny letters, which changed colour the closer, I got to them.
Already there was a line up of people outside displaying all sorts of odd maladies.
People bed ridden, some on crutches, angry wives with their husbands attached to dog collars as they foamed at the mouth looking around and making strange howling noises, angry husbands with their cowering wives whom they berated from time to time and then every so often offered them for sale as a household slave, whore or something you might like to walk on.
I was taken aback by this, as this was not the sort of thing the shaman in my village was known for.
As the third son of the third son of the third generation Weeful fairies, just to the left of the third sun it had been decided at my birth that I would be the heir apparent to the shaman in our village.
In our fairy village the shaman was the most respected person, the one you went to when something was bothering you either physical or mindful. He was the person you sat with over a hot cup of Rocky Tea, known to induce calm in the maddest of the mad, and sort out whatever issues it was that concerned you. In our village not one person ever left the shaman dissatisfied….
I entered the door and announced myself to the receptionist.
She directed me to a door beside a large bookcase with the sign Dr Arbraca Darbra in gold lettering.
Dr Darbra sat at his desk peering into a very large important looking volume. As I entered he closed it and looked at me with a gaze I found disconcerting.
‘You are?’ he asked looking down his long crooked nose.
‘Thomas Sparkling, of the Weeful fairies. My parents have made arrangements for me to learn the art of shaman from you.’
There followed a long silence.
‘It’s a tedious business,’ he said. ‘Being a shaman is one thing; learning can take years off your life. Are you ready to be put through the rigours of all that? Wouldn’t you rather attend the playfairy mansion next door and become desirous as a fairy of worldly pleasures. God knows I would!’
‘No Dr Darbra its shamanism for me as I am the third son of the third son of the…..’
‘Stop all that third son business that’s a load of crock…..just a way to get you out of the village and into a career they think has potential. If you become a shaman then you stay a shaman none of this modern day career changing stuff you are stuck forever in the arts of the dark, the skills of the needy, the wants of so many that the times your kilt may have cause to tilt will be numbered in less occasions than the fingers on one hand.’
I am keen Dr Darbra to learn. I have come a long way. My fairness is keen to embrace the skills and arts you will
me so that I can become a useful part of my community.’
‘Well I think you are half way there already. You are beginning to talk like a shaman, believing your own shadow is important. Well the dark arts are dark my son, once you go down that path its curtains on any life you had before.’
‘I am ready sir.’
‘Don’t call me sir. My name is Arbraca. Stick to that and we will get along fine.
Over the next week Arbraca began my training as a shaman. There was so much to learn.
We spent so much time developing my skill to go into a trance or daydreaming, as Arbraca tended to call it though I was beginning to see his whole attitude to shamanism as somewhat cynical.
There were morning and afternoon classes on ritual, so important in the life of a shaman though Arbraca had a bad habit in my opinion of referring to it as ritual as smoke and mirrors.
In the evenings there were the divination sessions in which Arbraca taught me the various skills by which I could predict a persons future. There was reading palms, tealeaves, ears and noses and finally feet. Dr Darbra took a lot from a person’s foot and I soon discovered his penchant for feet after he read mine six times one evening, which I found a very tickling experience. In the end he said divination revolved around one immutable fact, that the sun would come up tomorrow.
In the final weeks he moved on to healing. This was when he brought me into the practice and allowed me to sit in with him when he saw patients.
He’d sit with the person involved, listen patiently to their tale of woe before writing a note in his book and leaning forward telling them what treatment would best work for them. So often the treatment began with a foot reading which often took longer than I expected it would as Arbraca took hold of the patients foot, caressed it in his hands, smelt it, traced its outline all the time focused on foot at hand.
Then he would often engage them in some ritual usually with incense and then slap them on the back and tell them to go about their business, as they had never done so before after seeing his receptionist on the way out.
They always left with smile on their face and a skip in their step unless they were bed ridden and then the smile said it all.
After a day of intense one on one interaction he sat me down to ascertain what I had learned during the day. I recounted everything that I had seen and more.
He took in all I said and then told me to remember that the secret ingredient to healing was belief in what you do, knowing the patient had belief in what you do and a lot of luck.
My training complete I left with a certificate in my hand announcing to all who might read it that I had trained under the watchful eye of Dr Arbraca Darbra.
My future now decided and with great excitement and anticipation I skipped home. Among the Weeful fairies there was going to be a change in the way the shaman operated beginning with ritual foot washing.