In Shannon's words.
Ahm, when you go to the latrine in the night, be careful of the great golden snake who likes to curl behind the door to stay warm.
"Oh. Okay. Is the.. is the great golden snake poisonous?"
We were staying in the South African desert home of Antoinette and Oom Johaness. Steve and I lodged in a small cabin. As we settled in for our first night, I saw an enormous beige spider near the bed. I thought I would capture it, but my legs simply would not let me enter The FORCEFIELD OF DANGER. Steve flung it out into the starry night, and then we laid down in bed. Above our heads, we heard flutterings and squeaks. It was just the birds nesting in the rafters. I turned to say goodnight to my dear but instead my eyes saw a huge reptile on the wall behind him. Instead of "Goodnight", I groaned, "What. Is. That." A closer look revealed a very cute being, with fat toes. We guessed he had been attracted by the single candle flickering in the room, and determined his cuteness to indicate that he would not bite us in the night, and with that we blew out the candle and slept after a long day of travel on roads with no names.
"What you have to do," Antoinette instructed us, "While you are here in this country is to be careful of your body. If you brush your hair take it with you, if you spit then cover it with sand so that it cannot be collected."
"But why?," I asked
"Because there are people who harm others, and they do it through the materials of the body."
"But... wait, are you talking about Black Magic?"
"When I was a young woman, I was dating a young man, he was a Zulu. His mother didn't like that he was seeing me. I went to his initiation ceremony, and his mother cheerfully greeted me and said 'Oh do come this way.' She took me to a tent to sit alone. I thought I was special and very happily sat there by myself. The mother then brought me a bowl of beer to drink and I drank it down. Now later I became ill. I became quite ill with spinal malaria. After years of suffering, when i was in my forties, I saw a doctor who told me it was time to sort my affairs, as my end was near."
"Now when I was a child, and guests would come to visit, my sisters and I would line up in our dresses. Inevitably someone would ask, "What would you like to be when you grow up?" I always said the same thing and it often bewildered the adults, "I am going to live in the veld with a wise shephard who will teach me."
So, I collecting my belongings into my red backie and drove to Theefontaine, my uncle's farm.
Upon arriving ninety two year old Oom Johaness was waiting to see who was coming. When he saw the vehicle he knew who it was, he had seen her in his dreams many times before. When she opened the door, he exclaimed, "what has taken you so long?", "I'm looking to retire" Oom is a Griqua Healer, a person who can lay his hands upon you and offer an accurate diagnosis, his knowledge of healing is traditionally passed along to a grandchild but his kin were captured by other interests.
Antionette pleaded with Oom to teach her and also to help her heal. They decided to work together for a few weeks to see how it goes.
When we arrived it had been many months of worn paths that they walked together seeking out the varied herbs that sprung up in this vast rural landscape. Antionette was healed and found her wise Shepard that she dreamed of as a child. Oom had found his wisdom keeper to draw from his deep well of story telling, healing and herbal medicine.
We were gifted the rare glimpse into a simple life that survived on the threads of story. Good stories only comes from times of great difficulty, surprise and enduring love. We sat in a candle lit room with rain hitting the roof top with the consistent strikes of lightening and thunder rolling over our heads. We were in one of the most active lighting regions of the world. It was not only the landscape that was charged, the people we met had such a gift for story telling. We mixed wild honey that Oom Collected into our team, kept the cameras rolling and listened to the most amazing stories from a simple life.
Story is often overlooked in its power to transform as so many of us get lost in the stormy seas of data and information. So much of our modern living draws our energy up away from our center and moves it into the realm of overthinking and mental pain. Humans are going more mental and the call is for a return to our core. What are our values? What does my heart yearn for? What is life asking from me? What do I want to be a stand for?
During my experience in South Africa and from what I've learned since founding Clearpoint center in 2005 is that we're each here for a purpose, that we are spiritual beings inhabiting a earth body that must listen and care for that tree that grows and gently blows with-in our hearts. It's whispering a yearning for expression and depth, it is our task to be courageously softened enough to follow it's higher wisdom.
I invite you to become a part of our community and commitment to Path As Medicine.
I leave you today with a song by Antionette, she sings us a farewell and speaks poetically of the majesty of nature. I hope to see you soon.