follow a rookie writing his first novel

Other altered states

Well, here we all are; apocalypse averted and raring to seize 2013 by the throat!

I thought I might start off the new year by revisiting one of my favourite subjects – sources of inspiration. Last year I spoke a couple of times about how stories can appear nearly fully formed in dreams. The dream state is not the only altered state of consciousness from which  to access good ideas though. Another state is that employed by shaman the world over, sometimes called journeying.

Shamanic journeying is a mental state similar to meditation and day dreaming combined and can be easily learned by anyone. The shaman believes that through this state they can access the spirit worlds in order to gain information that can be bought back into the everyday world for practical application. Commonly this might be information regarding cures for illness, but the technique is by no means limited to this.

As an example, I once journeyed in order to meet the spirit of my drum (shaman often use repetitive drumming to go into trance, and there is a special bond between them and their drums). This is what the spirit of my drum told me:

Once there was a tree; older than anything else in the landscape. The tree had a friend, a deer, who would come to browse on the leaves of his low hanging branches. One day the deer said “I envy you my friend. You have lived so long and seen so many things. You must be very wise in the ways of the world, I wish I could live as long”.

To the deers surprise, the tree replied “No, it is I that envy you. I have only ever seen this piece of the world as far as the brow of the hill and I have often wondered what lies beyond it. I would give anything to see for myself”.

The deer and the tree continued their conversation and devised a plan to fulfil their wishes. They visited a local shaman in his dreams and made their petition. The next day the shaman took his bow and hunted the deer, who readily gave himself up. He then took an axe and chopped down the tree, who was pleased to lie down for him. The shaman then fashioned the wood into a drum frame and stretched the deer skin over it to give it purpose.

Now at the sound of the beat, the deer and the tree travel the spirit realm together. as far as the shaman’s imagination can take them and for as long as the spirit realm exists.

Now, I haven’t edited or tidied this up in any way (what do you mean, you can tell). This is the story as the drum told it to me, but I think it could easily form the basis of a much longer work. So, happy new year and I hope all your writing projects are a success.



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