Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Helpful Spirits by Rhonda Frankhouser

When I was, maybe five or six years old, I often awoke to an ethereal image of a Shaman wavering at the foot of my bed. Oddly, I found his presence quite soothing, even though he was a stranger to me. His expression was neither threatening nor friendly, but I knew he meant me no harm. He was older and slightly slumped over, with light brown skin marked with white stripes and wise, piercing eyes that could almost speak. His cloth-wrapped braids laid in front of his shoulders and a hollowed out deer's skull, with pelt intact, perched atop of his head. The deerskin smock he wore was fringed down the sleeves and covered in bright azure and orange beads. With a satchel slung on one hip, and a sheathed hunting knife on the other, his gnarled hand clutched a walking stick carved into the shape of a snake.
Image Copyright - Yokut Shaman
Most of the time he just shimmered in place, but now and again, he would glide slowly toward the head of the bed so close I could almost touch him. He acted like he wanted to say something, but his lips never moved. I was entranced, nervous, not understanding what purpose he may have in visiting me, but I wasn't afraid. There was an enticing energy around him, a feeling of security that I couldn't comprehend at the time. As I grew older, the image of this majestic figure became my symbol of a higher power. My version of spirituality, if you will.

When I told my family members about the Shaman visiting me in the night, they shrugged it off as a child's imagination. So, after a time, when I couldn't make logical sense of these visions, the door to that alternate reality shut forever. Once tainted by skepticism, I was never again visited by the Shaman.

It wasn't until I mentioned the visitations to a professor some fifteen years later, did I discover that I'd been one of the blessed ones. He reassured me I was most likely being visited by my 'Spirit Helper' and quite possibly, he was there to guide me through some sort of spiritual awakening. If only my family had encouraged me rather than denounce the possibilities, I might have learned more.

This sparked a decade long personal research project into the indigenous tribes in the Kern County area. I was ravenous for more information. Maybe my house really was built over an Indian burial ground? Maybe there had been some sort of uprising in the days the Tulamni Yokuts inhabited the land where our home was built? Maybe this Shaman was trying to tell me something important and I blew it?

Yokut Woman Basket Weaving
Thousands of years ago, the Tulamni Yokuts inhabited the land where my hometown now sits. Back then the area was more marsh than desert, so it was able to sustain a thriving society of nearly 50,000. These original inhabitants were the first to capitalize on the underground store of thick petroleum found all throughout the San Joaquin Valley. By heating the glue-like substance, they were able to secure arrows and shafts together, as well as bind soap root fibers with acorn meal brushes. They hunted, fished and gathered everything they needed in baskets made from the abundant Tule reeds, waterproofed with the asphaltum created by the very same petroleum substance. 

As fascinating as the history was, I only found one small, but significant link between the Yokuts and the Shaman in my dreams. The snake carving on the walking stick. The rattlesnake was revered and often used in ceremonies by the Tulamni shamans to ward off evil spirits. I realize it's a reach to believe my vision was the spirit of an actual shaman, but that's how I'll always choose to remember it. The impression left on my soul is so embedded, I often include the rich, haunting history of Native American tradition in my novels.
Image Copyright - Basket with Snake Depiction
Thanks for letting me tell my story. I'd love to hear if you've had a similar experience. 

About the Author:
After fourteen years in hospice care management in central California, Rhonda Frankhouser now writes full time from her lovely Atlanta, Georgia home. Rhonda's award-winning Ruby's Ranch Series, earned a finalist honor in the Uncaged Review Raven Awards; a second runner up in the prestigious InD'Tale Magazine RONE awards and a Book and Benches, Reviewers Top Pic ~ Books of Distinction award. Her follow up Shadowing Souls Series and Let Yourself Believe Series, have captured the attention of both romance and mainstream readers alike. Rhonda is a happily married stepmom to three beautiful daughters; two adorable pugs and a lazy Labrador named Dutch.
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Renaissance Women said...

While I didn't have a shaman, I did have animal and spirit visitors as a child also. I believe children are more open to what adults can't see.

Lovely post. Doris

Rhonda Frankhouser Books said...

Thank you Doris for sharing. I agree children are more open. Very much so. I still wish he would visit now.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

What a neat experience. We have lots of ghost stories and strange happenings on my mom's side of the family, so I definitely believe you had visitation.

Rhonda Frankhouser Books said...

I’d love to hear about them sometime. I’ll always cherish my visions. He gave me hope of different dimension. 🙏🏻

Sierragal63 said...

I’ve been having “visions” since I was about 5 years old, I am now in my 50’s. Mostly from an older woman looking over me while I’m sleeping, and two or three other spirits. Although the visits are not threatening, they are at the same time unsettling. I’ve been told by some they are my guardian angels.