My tribe is known as the Wai’a’atika. During my spirit walk to meet my totem as a young warrior brave, the Great Bear came to me. He told me he would walk the warrior path with me, teaching me his ways. The Great Bear wisdom is the way of courage and peace. Size and strength matter but it is only the foolish who let brash fierceness lead the way. The Bear warrior’s heart tempers the way balancing harmony and respect for all living things. For truly the Great Bear is a lover of peace and tranquility.
It is now my duty and honour to teach the ways of the warrior to my son. This is my story.
NANUNJA’S DESTINY REVEALED
Nanunja sat in tranquil silence listening to the hypnotic chanting of the Shaman. The cloying sweet fragrance of incense served to deepen the serene sacredness that permeated to his very soul. Sometime during this time of no time he was handed a chalice containing a hot, bitter sweet drink. His senses were heightened. Sounds became purer and clearer. Fragrances contained layers of aromas mingled into an exquisite blend that was surreal. Colours were more vibrant. His skin became super sensitive to even the whispers of air stirred by his breath. His vision seemed to broaden beyond the walls of the hut which disappeared altogether. He was alone, yet not alone for he heard the chanting and saw shadows moving in the corners of his vision.
How long he was in this trance-like state was impossible to know. It seemed to last mere breaths yet forever. Slowly his awareness returned to the everyday world through which he had entered the enchanted one. His body felt heavy, sluggish. Yet his mind had a clarity he had never experienced before. The Shaman handed him a cup of hot sweet herbal tea. It tasted good and slaked the sudden thirst he had. Next he was given a wooden platter, intricately carved. On it lay fruits and nuts of the forest. Until the first bite he did not realise how hungry he was as well. Having finished the meal, a tiredness crept into his bones so heavy he could not keep his eyes open. Nanunja curled up on the mat and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep that was to last that night, the next day and the following night.
With the rising of the sun, Nanunja woke with a start. Disorientated, it took a while for him to realise where he was. Famishingly hungry and thirsty, with a desperate need to relieve himself, he rose silently. But not silently enough for the Shaman was alerted to his wakefulness. Greeting Nanunja with the customary morning welcome, the Shaman bid him return to the hut as soon as he was done. His family, he was told, knew of his whereabouts so he need not concern himself about them. Quickly Nanunja took care of his morning ablutions and returned to the hut. A glorious feast had been laid on the mat in front of him. Without hesitation he ate, savouring the taste and feel of the food and drink filling his hungry stomach.
Sated, he sat back and waited, not sure what would happen next. He did not have long to wait. The Shaman stood up. Moving towards the door of the hut, he beckoned for Nanunja to follow him. They moved silently, in the way of the warrior, through the forest. Once more, Nanunja found himself in the sacred ceremonial enclosure. Someone had clearly been there since his last visit. There in the middle next to the carved throne were two large bundles. They were intricately woven and decorated ceremonial robes. Next to them lay some rattles, feathers, stones, and a bag. It contained the Shaman’s tools of trade. Nanunja had seen them many times and recognised the familiar patterns that illustrated Wai’a’atika’s spiritual heritage and healing arts. He must have come here while I slept, Nanunja surmised. The only difference today was that there were two sets of ceremonial robes. Obviously the other set must be for him given there was no-one else present. This was an unexpected twist.
All his life Nanunja had been mentored by the Shaman, preparing him for this very event. Surprisingly, Nanunja had never questioned his relationship and teaching with the tribe’s healer. To him it had been an ever abiding and given friendship formed in the earliest days of his life. It had never occurred to him that apart from the friendship, he was in fact being prepared to step into the Shaman’s shoes one day. The thought did occur to him now. His stomach knotted. His heart pounded, the palms of his hands clenched, his mouth went dry and his forehead broke out into a sweat. These he knew as signs of a warrior preparing to face great danger. But he knew he was not in danger now. Doubts filled his mind. He was not worthy; he did not know enough; he was not wise; he did not measure up in any way to the greatness and goodness of this man, he thought. And yet here he was, having gone through many days of ceremonial rituals, trances, dream states and preparation for this moment of sacred initiation. He wondered briefly at his own naivete, why he had not realised what was happening before now!
Taking deep, slow breaths to still the rising panic, Nanunja forced himself to focus on the now. Familiar with human frailties as he was, his experiences had also taught him how to fly free of them. He did so now. A deep certainty and calm settled in his solar plexus. Without a doubt he knew this was his destiny, his path. The gods had so decreed – it must be so. Standing tall and straight, he broadened his shoulders, raised his head to Father Sky feeling the warmth of his rays caressing and soothing his body. Mother Earth, solid beneath his feet, supported and nurtured him. Nanunja turned to face the Shaman who had all this while been watching his struggle. Their eyes met. They smiled. He was ready.
To be continued on Wednesdays … welcome to following Nanunja, Warrior of the Wai’a’atika Tribe. The tale now turns to focus on the story teller himself, Nanunja.
© Raili Tanska