I believe I’m bad to the core. Born heartless, seeking undeserved forgiveness for something I must have done, but cannot recall. With each passing day I drink increasing amounts of alcohol, believing that this alone will extract the demons from my heart and soul. I feel hopeless and frightened that my inner darkness will drive me further into oblivion. On hangover mornings I dispatch promises and oaths that I’ll stop drinking to an obscure being whose power I question.
I live in Maine, one of the northernmost areas of the United States so it’s no wonder I’m particularly attracted to the beliefs and customs of the Sami people and their shamans, who have lived for centuries along the northernmost territories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, with some of their land areas extending into the Arctic Circle.
Prior to the 14th century, they were repeatedly frightened that the Sun God was angry with them for reasons they didn’t understand. “Why did he leave?” they wondered, attempting to appease their God by sacrificing small animals, tying their bodies with sinew to evergreen boughs. They believed this would entice the Sun God to forgive and return to them.
One day, the shaman notices the reindeer herd consuming the Fly agaric mushroom, more commonly known as the Amanita muscaria. He sees that after consuming the Amanitas, the reindeer lick their own urine where it has seeped into the deep snow. They immediately become merry, click their heels, jump high into the air; it seems that they might actually fly.
The Shaman consumes a handful of urine-soaked snow. Soon, he is flying, toward the Sun God, who gives him a message to deliver to the villagers: “Do not worry, I’m not angry with you, I’ll return soon.”
The Shaman returns from his journey and finds he’s lying under an evergreen tree. He’s able to hear the reindeer, trees, stars, and the animals scurrying in the underbrush.
His flight to the Sun God has shifted his perceptions; he’s certain now that the Sami will survive; and the Sun God will return.
In January 1976 I drive my robin’s-egg blue VW beetle under a starry new moon sky. I’ve consumed three glasses of homemade wine, another jug at my side. A light snow is falling on the windshield as I wind through icy back roads.
Suddenly, from behind me, a soft angelic voice rises. “Mama, please stop drinking, you’re scaring me.” In my drunken stupor I’d forgotten that my partner’s daughter is in the backseat! I steer to the side of the road, toss aside the wine, and turn to the five-year-old in the back. “I promise I’ll stop drinking. I’ll get you home safely.”
Angel voice awakens me
I steady the wheel,
Respect the snow.
At home, I put the angel
Pass out on the couch
The following morning, I feel I’ve been touched by an actual angel, struck by a light sword, cracked open like a fresh egg. I cradle the mouth-piece of our black rotary-dial phone on my right shoulder, dial a number listed in our local phone book. A compassionate voice answers.
After being sober for four months, I step outdoors on my way to work. I am dumbstruck by a field of yellow daffodils. I notice them for the first time, though they have apparently been blossoming for all the years I’ve lived here. I’m pulled into their energy, feeling like I could fly into their bright yellow faces and arrive in another world where all is bright and beautiful.
In 2002 I studied with a modern-day Sami shaman. During our time sitting in circle, he says Americans talk too much. That we should spend silent time in the woods, learning that there is no separation between living beings. “Have internal conversations with trees, birds, animals, sit on the ground, feel Mother Earth’s rhythm, and with time you’ll understand that we are all the same, and separation is an illusion.”
I follow his advice; it breaks my heart and soul wide open. l am able to feel the presence of an inner divine light that has been present all along.
Knowing the truth of the omnipresent light within all beings, I regularly extend my light to connect with my teacher, who died a few years ago. He now resides in spirit, outside of space and time, where he’s able to easily reach me, others, and all that is.
I haven’t consumed alcohol since the angel spoke to me from the backseat, forty-six years ago.
Dory Cote is a Master Shamanic Healer who has studied and apprenticed with shamans from around the globe. Over several decades, she has guided thousands of worldwide clients to restore their personal power and purpose in order to achieve a life of inner peace and joy. Her passion is working with people committed to deep soul healing. You can find her at dorycote.com.