In July of 2001 I traveled to Pakistan to visit a small group of animists called the Kalash. I was told that the most powerful of the three remaining Kalash Dehars (Shaman) was at a mountain camp where he spends the summer herding his goats.
It took us two long days to hike up to Janduli Khan’s ghost (hut) in the high pastures of the Hindu Kush Range near the Afghanistan border. Janduli Khan was extremely friendly insisting that we sleep in his 8’x10’ hut. Totally mesmerized by the unbelievable number of flies and fleas inside the ghost, we politely refused the offer and slept outside under the stars.
The next morning Janduli Khan insisted on performing a ceremony to bless our journey. I knew that most Kalash ceremonies involved sacrificing a goat and that Janduli Khan had less than sixty in his herd. Not want him to make any sacrifices just for our benefit, I insisted that it wasn’t necessary. He claimed that he had to do it – that he had no choice. After sacrificing a goat, with the assistance of his sons, he poured its blood over smoldering juniper branches and inhaled the smoke until he was deep in trance. Janduli Kahn was normally very outspoken, but after his trance he only had one statement. He informed us that our continued journey would be difficult, but safe.
Traveling with my son, Dax who was 16 at the time, we were making our journey back to Peshawar and Dax became seriously ill. He was unable to remain alert and to continue walking. It became apparent to me that he required fluids and medical attention. I became very concerned, as we were located so remotely. To my astonishment, we made it just in time to a small town where we met a doctor from Islamabad there to visit his mother. Fortunately for Dax, the physician had emergency medical supplies including glucose, saline, and an IV drip line. Dax was placed in a bed resting outdoors where he successfully recovered. It was indeed a difficult journey that ended well.
I returned from that trip to Pakistan a few days before the tragedy of 9/11. That event caused me to shift my focus to more ‘grounded’ efforts. Over the next 11 years I started a cross-cultural media program (BRIDGES) connecting teenagers online around the world and directed my personal work to addressing the issues faced by women and girls in the developing world. (Stirring the Fire).
Recently I’m drawn back to my work exploring Shamanism and the individual processes of the indigenous shaman that I began 12 years ago.