Flight of the Eagle Shamanic Resources

Archived Journeys


The Hunt

For the first time in months, I go running on the track at the gym. I am thrilled to see the room completely vacant. I can use the opportunity to try the running trance which had worked so well in the autumn (see The Long Run). That music may be a bit of a problem. Hmmm! Let's just see.

After a few rounds of Tensegrity (kind of a shamanic yoga) and a brisk walking lap, I am off and running quite literally. Pant, pant, it has been a while. I am well into my first mile when the chanting breath begins to lull my thinking. In fact, I feel quite stupid for a little bit. I begin to feel more than just the wooden track floor beneath each footfall. There is the definite sense of jumping over some obstacles and ducking under others. I go deeper past my conscious thoughts. Snippets of images pop into my imagination. Vegetation foreign to my experience becomes visible. I want to question the what's and where's but manage to quell the rising curiosity. Slowly, the scene takes shape and I become somewhat rooted in it. And the story begins.

dense vegetationI am inside a man running, far more easily than I, through a jungle. I glance downward and see his dark skin and the long sharpened pole in his hand. There are large thick leaves strapped to his arms and thighs. I guess that they are to ward off briars and branches as he runs through the dense foliage. I am amazed at how comfortably he runs with bare feet on such rough and uneven ground. It is as though he barely touches its surface. I notice from this observation that he is sensing his surroundings as he races along. He is using more than his eyes and ears and the feel of ground and bush. I recognize the command of instinct and reflex. I had learned this command while playing sports; in younger days (sigh).

What a scene though! The flow of data is almost overwhelming. I flash back and forth to my body just to stay sane. This man is absorbing his environment with so much more of his awareness than I usually do. This toggling back and forth finally comes to fuller focus. His body feelings become more central to my experience. This ought to make my running a lot easier. I can feel him leaping over low branches and fallen trees and bursting through vegetation in his path. I sure am glad his body knows where to run. For the life of me, such blind movement through this jungle is worse than any high speed city highway driving that I have ever done. Once, he even uses his pole to vault over what appears (in passing, wheeee!) to be hawthorn or some other spiky thorny shrub. I hadn't expected this movement but he never misses a beat. It is as if he had traveled this unmarked path all his life. Then, I notice a recognition in him of a presence ahead. I think perhaps it is a predator. I am not surprised when he raises the sharpened pole. I am surprised that he never misses a step forward in cocking and throwing the thing though. Just keeps right on running until he comes to the object of his toss.

non-human primateHardly even breathing hard (I am disgusted!), he stops before the twitching body of a monkey of some sort skewered on his spear. I notice in a glance that the pole had been partially polished and has a place carved for his grip showing the wood to be green and oozing a little sap. Turning my attention back to the monkey, I can see it is about the size of a basketball and bleeding profusely (doesn't everything just bleed profusely?). Without removing the spear from where it had stuck into the ground and his prey, this remarkable man pulls a sharpened stone from his hair. With it, he strikes the monkey's skull, breaking it open like melon. He quickly pries open the bones and grabs a handful of flesh as a prize and eats it right on the spot. I am glad I am in a detached state for this scene. What I do feel is his gratitude and reverence.

He removes a piece of some fiber-like cord from around his middle and quickly ties the monkey into a harness. He swings this onto his back, grabs his spear and sets off again on the dead run. "How does he do that?" I catch a quick thought of how right this hunt feels. This is no intellectual giant. He didn't seem to need much intellect today though. Before long, I see the growing light of a clearing in the jungle ahead. I begin to feel the proximity of other people as we come to a halt just within the jungle at the clearing's edge. "Ah, there's what we came for!" we both think at once. There in the clearing is a small herd of deer-like animals which I assume are gazelle. What do I know from gazelle? They are deer-like with funny horns. That is all I can see for the short glimpse we get before squatting below the tall grass. He searches the perimeter of the clearing, more with his inner senses than his outer ones. "This is amazing!" I think. "He commands his feelings as I do my thinking." Whatever that means.herd of gazelle disguised as deer

He peeks at this clearing with a growing sense of marvel. "Man Chief to the Dry and me to the Wet. Seed keeper to Night and Spirit Keeper to Day." Or words to that effect. The rhythm of his thoughts is hard to grasp or convey. He calls to his brothers almost telepathically. It seems it is his emotion which passes from one to the next instead of the low hoarse whispers and subtle hand movements. I hardly ever see another human throughout what is surely a long exchange of information.

"In now!" is his next command that I could understand. We moved slowly through the first 20 yards of tall grass, never even peeking up to see where we are. Suddenly a strong feeling passes through us and seems almost tangible in how it moves along in a wave to the next hunter around the perimeter. "Killers!" An image of Lions flashes on through. "On Rising sun," he thinks. "A gift of the Mother." This is not the term he uses but that is how it feels. Again his reverence for his Earth is profound.

"Keep the young ones close," he commands. I hear him reflect that all know precisely what to do. This facade of command is required of him though it always struck him as odd. OK, so his thought wasn't that sophisticated but still is more so than I expected and much to that point.

The circle round the prey grows ever smaller but moves slowly and cautiously through the grasses. When he calls a halt, he also beckons the hunter to his right and hands him the monkey off his back. I couldn't suppress a slight giggle at the metaphor. He urges the "bait" be passed to "spirit keeper" and everyone waits until it reaches that destination. While he waits, his thoughts become intensely focused on his gratitude. He is sure of tremendous amounts of help on this hunt from "The Mother." I see flashes in his mind of the list: the small size of the herd and of the clearing making the kill easier to arrange, the gift of the monkey and even the presence of the lions which surprises me. How could the lions be a gift? There are other images which are too foreign for me even to register.

Suddenly, bidden by some impulse, he commands "NOW!". I can see the body of the dead monkey sailing through the air to my right and about 100 yards ahead. Instant noise as the lions respond and all hell breaks loose. The herd bolts and as it dashes to and fro, men begin to stand as the animals approach them. The men wave their arms but are remarkably silent. We remain hidden and the others begin to herd the prey toward us. "Choose the small ones," is his next order. I can feel him beginning to tense inside and prepare for the kill. He peers over the grass but is careful to stay hidden. I can sense him making a decision as he chooses which beast to slay. It is a fairly small one behind a large horned beast. As we rise to our full height, and maybe a little more, the large male rushing down on us veers slightly to the left of us. My host quickly plants the butt end of his spear into the ground and in a moment that can not have been a second long, the smaller animal bounds into its point. This man's timing is exquisite! He leaps to the side without an inch to spare to avoid the sharp hooves which straddle the spear. The movement is a blur to me and I am watching from the inside! "He brought children to this?" I think. "People must get killed doing this work"

In only moments it is all over. There is no shouting or mad rushing about. No one has forgotten the lions feasting in the clearing. Several from the herd have been brought down and all hands are instantly busy preparing them for transport back to the village. With the easy flow of command, my host sets his brothers to gutting and trussing the carcasses onto long poles. As soon as one is finished being tied to its pole, it is carted out of the clearing. In only a few short minutes all is complete. One small animal is left behind with the entrails of the others as gift to the lions who had helped make the hunt so successful. As far as I am concerned, it is left to insure that the people won't be followed back to the village as potential prey themselves.

Once more, thoughts of the gift of this hunt entered my host's mind. With a plentiful catch and no casualties, surely this is no small omen of the year to come. I even catch a glimmer of thought that perhaps there is a way to keep a larger catch longer before it spoils. Cold water maybe? This passing thought is quickly replaced by the developing plans for his next job as he turns to head back to the village. He has no further responsibilities until the ceremony in the evening. He is befuddled by the need to ritualize such events. He only knows that he has been chosen for this job whether he likes it or not. Images of dances and special words go through his mind, feasting and loving in the darkness. Hmmm! Not so bad after all, we both think, and plunge back into the jungle.

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