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The Animal Shaman, The Elk, And The Sword

The Animal Shaman, the Elk, and the Sword

As a practicing energy professional it is important that I do regular shamanic healing sessions for myself, clearing out old issues. Sometimes the issues are very apparent, an event occurs that churns up emotions of anger, fear, sorrow, etc. Other times my choice of issue is more conscious and related to planning for the future.

Such was the case recently when I decided to work on stepping more fully into claiming my power in preparation for several of the projects I am working on, but most particularly for the public platform I am creating regarding how to better connect with animals, especially zoo animals, and advanced energy healing techniques related to animal healing.

My personal sessions are facilitated by my friend and fellow shaman Carolyn Riley, who does beautiful work, especially in the area of shamanic journeys. On this occasion she came back with a very powerful image of me standing at the top of a place that looked like Angel Falls in Venezuela, shrouded in mist vapors, dressed in animal furs, and holding aloft a sword.

It was an image that really stuck with me, and one that yielded unexpected shamanic manifestations the following day. While out shopping with friend Vicki Draper in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle, I stumbled across (okay, was guided to) a book called Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits.

It was the front cover image that grabbed my attention, consisting of a beautiful woman dressed in a satiny evening gown, 1930’s style, crouched in a defensive stance, sword at ready. Yes, readers, amazingly the entire book “tells the story of fifty women in their forties to sixties, inspiring women who have entered midlife with defiance…” and each and every one of those stories contains a photo of said woman holding a sword!

The book itself was a powerful gift, featuring women like Joni Mitchell (her image reminded me of Joan of Arc), Cybill Shepherd, and Erin Brokovitch, but in my case it was like a bolt of shamanic lightning illuminating my path, and validating it. As I tearfully leafed through its pages, struck with awe by the sheer power of the moment, I knew I had to purchase it; doing so would anchor the work of the session the day before into consensual reality, helping to further bring it to fruition.

But Spirit was not done with me yet.

It started innocently enough. Vicki and I entered an art gallery that contained the haunting black and white portraits of Native Americans photographed by Edward Curtis; important images that documented a rapidly vanishing culture.

Interestingly, Curtis’ first Native American portrait was of Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief S’eey`ahl (Sealth) of Seattle. His tribe lived in the area where I now reside, and welcomed the first settlers when they landed at Alki.

It was Vicki who discovered the chair tucked in a corner at the back of the gallery, and when she drew my attention to it I knew I had to have it. Constructed entirely of elk antlers except for the seat, a cushion covered in sheepskin, it called to me from the shamanic journey that Carolyn had done. Sitting in it I felt like a warrior Queen, strong in power but peaceful—a strength that did not require showing off or subduing. A natural strength like that of the proud elk who had worn those antlers for a season, and then shed them.

In looking at the sweep of antlers I pondered where I could place it. My home office was not overly large, what would I have to replace to fit it in? I discarded the idea of displaying it in my office/living area. When I thought about teaching class while sitting in it my mind balked—what would people say?

I had further concerns about how the cats would treat it, especially Cougar who tends to pee on new items—it seemed to me that elk energy would represent a true challenge to his nature. As I was pondering this dilemma, my dog Puma, who had accompanied Vicki and I that day, came over to the chair and licked the end of an antler. I realized that I had another concern, the chair looked like one big chew toy to him!

Eventually I decided that the only way to keep the chair safe AND not freak out people who came for classes or sessions would be to keep it in my bedroom. Since the door was usually closed no one would see it and it would be protected. I realized with regret that would also mean that I would probably not sit in it much as a result, but still I wanted the chair.

I made arrangements to have the chair delivered the following day. Puffing slightly (all those elk antlers are heavy) the husband of the gallery owner brought it up the stairs and was kind enough to carry it to the spot I had chosen. And then the unforeseen (at least by me) happened, the sweep of the antlers did not allow the chair to pass through the doorway into my bedroom. No matter how he tried, no angle worked.

I thanked him for his trouble, and he departed, leaving the chair sitting in my office/living room, exactly where I had not wanted it to be!

As I stared at the chair, now looking rather like the elephant or elk in the room that no one could ignore, I was simultaneously overtaken by a wave of panic along with an urge to cry. I felt that I HAD to sell the chair immediately, any thought of having new Reiki students come to class and see that chair sent waves of fear and anxiety rolling through me, yet there was also sorrow that I would have to give up something I desired.

As I mentally and emotionally ran in circles, I had a sudden inspiration—I could store the elk antler chair in the cellar until such time as I had a larger living space! Immediately calm descended, all would be well, even though it meant I would certainly not enjoy the chair for some time.

The calm lasted ten minutes until I realized with despair that the two doors into the cellar were exactly the same size as the bedroom door.

The next few minutes were not pretty, I alternated with talking myself into selling it on Craigslist, and trying to imagine dismantling it and reassembling it to fit it through a doorway—any doorway—where it would not be seen by clients and students.

It is precisely at the moment that you most need to remember what you know and have learned that you can forget it all because of a flood of emotions.

Somehow, through all of the panic, a ray of light broke through and a calmer part of me said firmly, “Go and sit in the chair.” I went and sat. “Okay, how do you feel?” I felt pretty good, the chair fit well, the curve of the antlers embraced my arms, and I once again recalled the energy that had caused me to want to bring it home with me in the first place. And that ray of light reached in and illuminated the fear so that I could see it clearly—this situation was an extension of the shamanic work I had done the day before around the fear of being seen as the animal shaman I truly am!

And with that realization and my embracing of it the fear vanished. As I sat in my new elk antler chair I felt empowered and calm. I was ready, if not to raise my sword high, at least to hold my head high—a head literally embraced by a crown of antlers—and be seen for my true self.

Ironically, several days later I was preparing to teach a Reiki Master Teacher class, and was not in the room when my students arrived. As they entered they saw the elk antler chair for the first time, and called out to me almost in unison, “Cool chair, where did you get it!?”

And everyone who has seen it since has had the same positive response. Validation that there can be a big difference between perception and reality; that what we think is real can be quite distorted by our emotionally charged issues. And that there are many people who can accept you and love you for who you really are, and those are the people you should treasure.

P.S. My fears around how the animals might treat the chair proved groundless as well. I was able to communicate to Puma that the chair was mine, and off bounds, and Cougar has adopted the chair as his when not in use for classes. As a matter of fact, I seldom get to sit in it at other times because one of the felines is usually occupying it!

Photo of Rose and Kiya courtesy of Vicki Draper©2009


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©2009 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.

Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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  1. Before I finished reading, my first response was, “why would you be worried that people would see the chair? It’s awesome”

    Love you.


  2. Hi, Rose,

    When I saw you in that chair, it gave me shivers, like I had seen you from many, many years ago, in another time. It felt so ancient, like you have sat there before.
    Glad your fur kids like it..

  3. I just knew you would end up teaching from that chair – Spirit ‘gnew’!!! Loved the story – thank you for sharing it.

    Munay Ki & Reiki Blessings….


  4. Thanks so much for your lovely comments on my new blog. The support in this community is just incredible.

    I laughed at your line “the fear of being seen as the animal shaman I truly am.” Isn’t it funny how all sorts of ‘concerns’ make it seem so reasonable to water down our true selves? As someone smack in the middle of a re-defining journey myself, I greatly appreciate your openness. I will look around and see what chairs of my own I may be hiding from view.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. Its amazing how we let others perceptions of us hold us back. I know how you feel and it is nice to know that others feel the same and have to go thru some hurdles and acknowledgements to get to the truth of the matter.

    We are always growing no matter how old we are or how long we have been doing something. Life is full of possibilities and challenges all we need to do is reach out and believe. If you notice, cats have no problem at all in believing in themselves!! At least mine don’t!

  6. I have to say that of all the articles I have written this one has generated the most comments. My thanks to everyone for their positive support and comments, they are much appreciated. May you each find the courage, support, and guidance in whatever forms it may take so that you can step up and shine your light into the world!

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