Storytelling Indian manhood by Harpal Mahal

    Winter was slowly setting its feet in Punjab, a state of the rich in the north western region of India. Winter means the season of weddings in Northern India. And that’s where I was too, with my family in the city of Ludhiana, Punjab . While we lived far away in Mumbai, my sister’s wedding was to happen in Ludhiana and we were staying at my Aunt’s in her mammoth 8 bedroom bungalow. 

It was my second day there and my older cousin Sandeep Singh and I had plans to go for a walk in one of the parks in the neighbourhood. 

Although belonging to a Sikh family, Sandeep , like me and many other modern Sikh boys, had chosen against keeping the hair long and wearing a turban. 

After shaving his face, Sandeep wanted to have a glass of milk before we headed out. He walked in the kitchen on the first floor of his bungalow. 

Seconds later, without a warning, I heard a deafening sound of a hard slap coming from the kitchen. Moments later, Sandeep came out of the kitchen whistling and smiling, asking me if I was ready to leave for the park. When my bhabhi (Punjabi for a brother’s wife) appeared from the kitchen, she seemed ashamed to make eye contact with me as she hurriedly walked into the other room. I had, however, managed to catch a glimpse of the trail of tears on her red cheek. 

Sitting next to Sandeep in his car, we drove through the markets of the bustling city of Ludhiana as the sun was slowly setting somewhere behind the jaded concrete buildings. As the aromas of various street foods entered our car through the rolled down windows, I was trying very hard to construct a question in my head that I was going to ask my cousin Sandeep that wouldn’t offend him.

Here was a man my siblings and I had adored growing up. He had an amazing sense of humour and he always had shown great warmth towards us all whenever we visited him. We would tease him, crack the meanest of jokes on him and he would always respond with a laugh. What a great sport he was!  

So why did this kind, funny man, hit his wife? 

‘Paaji, ( Punjabi for elder brother) what did bhabhi do that you had to slap her ?’

He made a sharp turn abusing a passerby who was blocking his way in chaste Punjabi. Then he looked at me with a smirk. 

 ‘The milk wasn’t as hot as I wanted’

‘What, that’s it?’

He had stopped smiling. I could see another man slowly taking his place in his big protruding eyes.

‘A husband should hit his wife whenever he sees an opportunity. What I did today is called a maintenance slap. Just to keep her in check. If you be too nice to them for too long, they wouldn’t let you breathe man!’

This was 16 years ago, I was about 20 years old then and I still remember not being able to completely process the good intentioned advice from my cousin, who must have been around the age of 30 then. 

In coming days, he had asked me to accompany him to his work. 

Soon, I found out that work meant hanging out with various guy friends talking about one topic the whole day- Sex! He had bought quite a few shops from his inherited money which made him good money through rents. It meant he could afford not working and could just loaf around with his other rich brat friends the whole day. 

Then I asked him a question. It was actually more of small talk than a serious question. But the answer he gave me still lingers inside me somewhere.

‘So Paji , when are you going to really start working ? This all must get boring after a point, no? What are your plans for work?’ 

I was sitting pillion on his scooter. The muffler wrapped around his neck was constantly brushing my face as he rode fast through the dusty lanes as we were headed back to his home. He turned his head enough towards me , so that he could be heard clearly, 

the plan is simple boy. For the next two years, main sirf fuddi maarni aa !’ ( the plan is simple. For the next two years, I will just hit as many pussies as I can ! )

I remember thinking about what Sandy had said before I slept that night. Here I was, with my over calculating, over worrying mind over-thinking about my career plans and everything else about my life .And I was only 20. And then there was Sandeep. A 30 year old married man, with a 5 year old son who was only going to fuck as many women as possible for the next two years. I had to give him full marks for his clarity of thought!   

And he had referred to sex as ‘hitting the pussy’ . It occurred to me that night that, while all this meaningless sex wasn’t obviously about love, it wasn’t about satisfying a sexual urge either. It surely had something to do with masking some sort of hidden inferiority complex. The more pussies you hit, the better a man you are. It had to do with some twisted definition of being a male in his mind.

For the next one month, I would accompany Sandeep to his various sex destinations. A short married woman working in a gift shop; a young employee working in Travel Company, a hospital nurse and many more. He ensured he never ran out of Condoms, Viagra and cheap adult magazines. I would wait outside in his car or sit on the scooter as he would ‘hit the pussy’ and return in about half an hour. His target was 5 women a day, but he would often reach three or four on good days. 

One afternoon, when Sandeep returned from ‘hitting the pussy’ of the girl working in a travel company , he just couldn’t stop giggling . When I enquired , he told me with a lot of pride in his eyes that the girl had refused sex  as her office cabin was occupied by the others,  so he ‘hit her pussy’ in the very tiny bathroom of the office . Short on time and space, he used a small blade to cut open her Salwar ( loose pants that most women in India wear to go with a long knee length shirt ) from between her legs to fuck her. He said he felt like a Lion who never lets go of its prey. 

On Valentine’s day , the ‘married woman from the gift shop’ gifted Sandeep a small box which had a silly, cotton made heart along with a perfume bottle. As he sat at the wheel of the car, he had tossed the box at the back seat of the car, mouthing choosiest of expletives after he had smelled the hideous perfume. 

Later in the evening, at the traditional dance function at my Sister’s wedding, Sandeep gave the box to his wife during a round of couple’s dance. 

As Sandeep’s wife saw her husband sitting on a knee, giving her a Valentine’s gift, she couldn’t stop smiling. It was the second occasion when i saw tears in her eyes.

When she opened the box and smelled the bottle, she pretended to have loved the perfume!

Everyone clapped and for the rest of the evening she couldn’t take her eyes off of her charismatic and romantic husband. 

I could see, she had that look on her face. The look, when a woman wants her man to passionately ‘hit her pussy’.


Harpal Mahal is the author of the comedy novel, I Know What Women Want, published with Srishti Publishers. He has authored  two Audio books, Detective Giri and Kaali Raat for StoryTel India. For the same house he  has written two Audio singles, Beimaan Raat and Oh Karishma!
Apart from writing books he has written Screenplay and Dialogues for various short films released on digital platforms.
 

 

Shamans against the warlords

Personal foreword: I feel the need to translate and share with you all my dear readers this message I received from the Shaman and Italian Medicine Woman Michela Chiarelli. Whether you believe it or not this is truth and I do hope it gets to your hearts the way it stroke directly through mine. When Michela first sent me this file, I cried and she said: ok, will this make you pray more? … I said yes. And before you read her words I want to talk to you about praying because unlike what we all believe it has little to do with religion or religious beliefs. To pray is, to me, to connect with something bigger and above me… you call that God? Allah? I call unto Her. Humanity is finally waking up again to the fact that we live in a multidimensional world and that our senses are limited for we don’t see nor hear above or below certain frequencies. Who lives there? What lives there? Others… Others who have the ability to interfere with our world and ultimately to interfere with us. Some of these Others feed off of our negative feelings and thoughts (which ultimately is just energy – and energy is life source…. for some is light for others is darkness). Around the world today Shamans are undergoing a battle against invisible forces… we, not shamans, everyone, anyone, need to help them. We all can make a difference! 

Shamans against the warlords

These days I'm really worried about the world indifference towards the death produced by the dozens of conflicts that happen in the world.

I don't think there is not enough information.

Some are falsehoods it's true.  

It is some time now that I suggest working with compassion, learning to be with oneself must be useful to be able to help others.

We are shown a terrible world in which we continually live, posts, newscasts, radio, etc., etc.

But there is also so much beauty out there. There are good people, there are children, there are brave women.

I and a friend of mine a Tunguso Shaman, we pray together with the Sacred circle of great mothers and during a hard work to help the Kurdish people I was involved in a horrible battle.

I carry very invalidating signs and I feel severe pain in my whole body.
The most atrocious experience I have ever experienced and not that this hasn't already happened. If we were more to pray, it could really make a difference.

There are many good souls who pray, who know how to recognize the value of life in all creatures and, there are so many dark bodies that do not give value to life, they feed on the darkness that we carry within our hearts and I speak of the envy, of the sense of revenge, true wickedness, the inexistent ability to tolerate others.

These dark beings feed on us every day in every moment.

At this moment trying to hinder them by myself is practically impossible, so I ask you to read these words carefully as I don't know when and if you will find them again.

The world needs to recognize beauty.

That you recognize beauty everywhere.

The world needs you to think that everyone has the right to have a wonderful life.

To create a new era of peace, thoughts of peace are needed.

To create a kingdom of light, brotherhood and love, we must live them manifest them at every moment otherwise it is useless ...

If we all believe that it is possible then it will be possible.

The Dark Lords of War exist, they are everywhere.
They distort the field of our minds, our thoughts and our desires so that we can only desire useless things or produce frustrated and sad thoughts.

We are sick and worried and angry, we against our other brothers ...

We are worried about illnesses, bills, salaries ... etc

We are like already dead batteries.

The warlords use our thoughts.

They are our forms, because then we feed them with our frustration and create eggregores.

4 or 5 people in the world have power and money, and have the ability to govern 7 billion people manipulating us through false desires, making us forget who we are.

The legend of death represents it ...

When a story is told, the mind of those who are listening to it is infected, which in turn tells the same story and spreads the contagion: if the story is powerful, this contagion can last even thousands of years.

As has happened with this legend, an ancient and universal history, since it speaks of death.

The first appearance of this story is found in the Talmud, which is one of the sacred texts of Judaism and is known in two versions: that of Jerusalem and that of Babylon.
The 53rd sukkah of the Babylonian Talmud is a parable that tells of how King Solomon one day realized that the Angel of Death was sad. "Why are you so sad?" He asked. "Because they ordered me to take those two Ethiopians," replies the Angel of Death, referring to Elihoreph and Ahyah, the two Ethiopian scribes of Solomon. The King wanted to save his precious men and made them escape to the city of Luz, but as soon as they arrived there the two scribes died. The next day Solomon met the Angel of Death again and saw that he was smiling. "Why are you so happy?" He asked. "You sent the two Ethiopians to the place where I was expecting them!" Replied Death. To which Solomon expressed the moral of the parable: "The feet of a man are responsible for him: they take him to the place where he is expected." , not from their feet.

The seed is launched: various versions of this parable will ignite the creativity of authors to the present day.

Our desires are not ours, our dreams, they are not us.

If we want things or objects but we do not do anything useful to others, we shoot against anyone who does something different and we are manipulated we are not free in any way.

To make you feel even worse, sinister and manipulative journalists write articles like: We have blood on our hands because we sold weapons to the Kurds or to Syria.

I have not seen even one euro of those weapons that the state was able to sell and made a personal capital of it, plus it did nothing with that money for the Italian people, so the Italian people by themselves are not to be blamed for anything.

Let's talk to the neighbour.

Stop envying that person because they are more beautiful, toned or intelligent.

Let's play with our children.

Go to the sea or to the mountains.
Let's stop to observe the beauty.

Sign petitions ...

Go down to the square.

Let's sit in meditation

We pray wherever we believe it works.

Light candles.

Think strong of light.

Visualise it.

Call upon the Archangels.

Summon ascended Masters so that there is more and more evolution.

So that everyone gets Light and Peace.

Bring these principles into our daily life.

Michela Chiarelli © ️



Sciamani contro i signori della guerra  

In questi giorni sono davvero preoccupata per il menefreghismo mondiale verso la morte prodotta dalle decine di conflitti che succedono nel mondo.

Non credo non ci siano informazioni sufficienti.

Alcune sono falsità è vero.

E' un po' che suggerisco di lavorare con la compassione, imparare a stare con se stessi deve essere utile per poter essere d'aiuto anche agli altri.

Ci viene mostrato un mondo tremendo nel quale conviviamo in continuazione, post, telegiornali, radio ecc, ecc.

Ma c'è anche tanta bellezza là  fuori. Ci sono persone buone, ci sono bambini, ci sono donne coraggiose.

Io e un mio amico Sciamano Tunguso, preghiamo insieme al cerchio Sacro delle grandi madri e durante un lavoro forte per aiutare il popolo Curdo io sono rimasta coinvolta in una battaglia orribile.

Riporto segni molto invalidanti e provo forte dolore a tutto il corpo.

L'esperienza più atroce che io abbia mai sperimentato e non che questo non sia già successo. Se fossimo di più a pregare potrebbe davvero fare la differenza.

Ci sono molte anime buone che pregano, che sanno riconoscere il valore della vita in tutte le creature e, ci sono tanti corpi oscuri che non danno valore alla vita si nutrono dell'oscurità che portiamo dentro i nostri cuori e parlo delle invidie del senso di rivalsa, vera cattiveria, la capacità di tollerare il prossimo pari a zero.

Questi esseri oscuri si nutrono di noi ogni giorno in ogni attimo.

In questo momento cercare di ostacolarli da sola è praticamente impossibile per questo vi chiedo leggete attentamente queste parole non so quando e se ne troverete ancora.

Il mondo ha bisogno di riconoscere bellezza.

Che riconosciate la bellezza ovunque.

Il mondo ha bisogno che pensiate che tutti hanno il diritto di avere una vita meravigliosa.

Per creare una nuova era di pace servono pensieri di pace.

Per creare un regno di luce, di fratellanze e amore dobbiamo viverli manifestarli in ogni istante altrimenti non serve a niente...

Se tutti crederemo che è possibile allora sarà possibile.

I Signori  oscuri della Guerra esistono, sono ovunque

Distorcono il campo delle nostre menti, dei nostri pensieri e dei nostri desideri così da spingerci a desiderare solo cose inutili o a produrre pensieri frustrati e  tristi.

Noi malati e preoccupati arrabbiati, noi contro gli altri nostri fratelli...

Noi preoccupati per le malattie, le bollette, gli stipendi... ecc

Siamo come pile già scariche.

I signori della guerra usano i nostri pensieri.

Sono le nostre forme, perché poi le nutriamo con la nostra frustrazione e creiamo eggregori.

In 4 o 5 persone al mondo  posseggono potere, denaro e hanno la possibilità di governare 7 miliardi di persone manipolandoci attraverso falsi desideri, facendoci dimenticare chi siamo.

La leggenda della morte lo rappresenta...

Quando si racconta una storia si  contagia la mente di chi ci sta ascoltando, il quale raccontando a sua volta la stessa storia diffonderà il contagio: se la storia è potente, questo contagio può durare anche millenni. 

Come è accaduto con questa leggenda, una storia  antica e universale, visto che parla di morte.

La prima apparizione di questa storia la troviamo nel Talmud , che è uno dei testi sacri dell’ebraismo ed è conosciuto in due versioni: quella di Gerusalemme e quella babilonese.

La 53ª sukkah del Talmud Babilonese è una parabola che racconta di come un giorno Re Salomone si accorse che l’Angelo della Morte era triste. «Perché sei così triste?» gli chiese. «Perché mi hanno ordinato di prendere quei due Etiopi», risponde l’Angelo della Morte, riferendosi a Elihoreph e Ahyah, i due scribi etiopi di Salomone. Il Re volle salvare i suoi preziosi uomini e li fece scappare fino alla città di Luz, ma appena giunti qui i due scribi morirono. Il giorno seguente Salomone incontrò di nuovo l’Angelo della Morte e vide che sorrideva. «Perché sei così felice?» gli chiese. «Hai mandato i due etiopi proprio nel posto in cui li aspettavo!» risposte la Morte.  Al che Salomone espresse la morale della parabola: «I piedi di un uomo sono responsabili per lui: essi lo portano nel luogo dove egli è atteso.» Suona strana come morale, visto che in realtà i due poveri scribi vennero mandati da Salomone a morire, non dai loro piedi.

Il seme è lanciato: varie versioni di questa parabola infiammeranno la creatività di autori fino ai giorni nostri.

I nostri desideri non sono nostri i nostri sogni, non sono noi.

Se desideriamo cose o oggetti non facciamo niente di utile verso il prossimo, spariamo contro chiunque faccia qualcosa di diverso e siamo manipolati non siamo liberi in niente.

Per farvi sentire ancora peggio giornalisti biechi e manipolatori scrivono articoli tipo: Abbiamo le mani sporche di sangue perché abbiamo venduto armi ai curdi o alla Siria.

Io non ho visto nemmeno un'euro di quelle armi lo stato che ha potuto vendere quelle armi e ne ha fatto un capitale personale, non ha fatto niente con quei soldi per il popolo italiano, quindi il popolo italiano di per sé non ha colpa di nulla.

Parliamo col vicino.

Smettiamo di invidiare quella persona perché più bella, tonica o intelligente.

Giochiamo coi nostri figli.

Andiamo al mare o in montagna.
Fermiamoci ad osservare la bellezza.

Firmiamo petizioni...

Scendiamo in piazza.

Sediamoci in meditazione

Preghiamo ovunque crediamo che funzioni.

Accendiamo candele.

Pensiamo forti alla luce.

Visualizziamola.

Chiamiamo gli Arcangeli.

Convochiamo i Maestri ascesi affinché ci sia sempre più evoluzione.

Affinché tutti ottengano Luce e Pace.

Portiamo tali principi nella nostra vita quotidiana.

Michela Chiarelli ©️

Shamanism in Italy: yes or no?

I write this article because for a while on social media and on the internet the Italian Shamanic tradition is being analysed and I want to answer to those who assert with such vehemence that in Italy Shamanism and the figure of a Shaman of hereditary tradition, therefore I, do not exist because of the Catholic presence.

It is not easy to define what Shamanism is and it is not certain that you will agree with the definition I will try to give below.

Shamanism is not a precise subject and there will be anomalies in what I write – but I hope to give at least a general idea, except for the exceptions.

The word “Shaman” is a Western transposition of the word samaan or s’amanthe, originating from the Evenchi Siberian people (formerly known as the Tungus population), and was imported into the Russian language by the first explorers of Siberia.

The word was gradually accepted in Russia and Europe as a general term to refer to a native Siberian, African or South American healer, but the holy Spanish inquisition attacked our ancestors. The term “witch”, or “bruxja” or “bruja” was then exported by anthropologists to the rest of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leaving the world to believe that Shamanism in Europe and in Italy was dead.

Naturally, our healers hid their knowledge from the masses and transformed ancient rites in techniques of use and folk costume by Catholicizing them: although in a different way from north to south, they followed modern evolution, started attending schools, having running water and exercising certain late rights such as the right to vote, to study and to work. In step with the changing times, the Italian woman left her dresses and skirts to wear blue jeans and accepted the pressure cooker instead of the “cassarola e cucchiara …”

Unfortunately, today the world of spirituality has become a source of pride rather than a service to others: if you don’t have a recognition that you buy yourself in paid courses you are nobody, and the know-it-all tell you that in Italy Shamanism does not exist.

So let’s make some clarity. Shamanism is a set of traditions that come from the native peoples of the whole world, from every continent of the globe.

Even in Italy, before the great known civilizations, native peoples were present and lived in close contact with the earth, in full respect of the biological rhythms of every living being. When we hear about Shamanism, popular belief brings thought to strange practices, which call to mind extravagant figures and sorcerers who practice magic.


In reality, Shamanism and the figure of the Shaman are a return to ancient traditions, in which the human being is placed at the center, with the aim of regaining his balance in full respect of nature around.

The human being is an integral part of Nature, it cannot exist outside of it. This is a concept that has been lost over time and has caused many problems to our health, the ability to relate to the world around us and with our authentic needs.

For a Shaman or Medicine Woman, the term Medicine has nothing to do with a drug or a substance, and the Shaman herself never opposes the use of universally recognized allopathic therapies, (also because going to school in the West, we recognize the evolution of medicines).

However, a Medicine Woman always remembers that Medicina, in a subtle sense, means power, intent, life force, connection, completeness and integrity. Medicine is seeing the connection between all beings and all things. Medicine is rediscovering the depth of oneself, rediscovering the space of the divine and the sacred immortal within us.

Everyone is a carrier of medicine and can make of his/her life a good medicine, BUT not every individual who attend courses can become a Medicine Woman or Shaman because of the profound meaning of selfless service to others.

Medicine is the energy that extends in lovingness towards each other.

Medicine is everything that supports the human being, everything that heals the body, mind and spirit: Medicine is the WILL to SERVE.

Speaking of Italian Shamanism we must extend the concept to syncretism. Italian Shamanism is a natural condition of being, a magical, graceful, confident and harmonious way of facing life. His/her reality is alive in everyday life, a dimension in which he/she works to train women and men to be aware of their own Self.

Italian Shamanism is inserted into the flow of spirituality of the ancient religions of the earth.

From a technical point of view, it has mixed origins and has evolved over the centuries, preserving its specific identity with respect to the other Shamanic ways.

Starting from Ancestors of various ethnicities, my family has preserved the Knowledge of the Laws of Healing and Energetic Rebalance of the Mother Goddess, mother Earth, Mother Nature and transmitted them to women from generation to generation.

In our time I am the last heir of this ancient generation of women, a Medicine Woman of Italian hereditary tradition and custodian of tradition.

The term syncretism means the encounter between different cultures that generates mixtures, interactions and fusions between heterogeneous cultural elements. The field in which this concept is most widely applied is the religious one and the history of religions with the anthropology of religious systems are the disciplines most attentive to these cultural phenomena.

The term Shamanism indicates, in the history of religions, in cultural anthropology and in ethnology, a set of beliefs, religious practices, magic-rituals, ecstatic and ethnomedical techniques found in various cultures and traditions.

A Shaman is a person who is recognized having thaumaturgical and divinatory faculty, considered an intermediary between men and the world of heavenly spirits and the world of Nature.

I was initiated by tradition, synchronously, to the cultural ethnic techniques of the Italian territory.

Between the serious and the funny, the television and cinematographic information has carved in our mind a granitic stereotype of the Shaman: man – 90% is male – who carries out his job half-naked, showing off tattoos and epidermic paintings, belonging to remote indigenous tribes who knows where.

In the West the figure of the Shaman has been lost with civilization: as the man has moved away from nature naked, he has returned dressed. In my country we weren’t called Shamans … but rather “vammane” dialectal term synonymous with healer and midwife …

Today the Shamans are people, inserted in our society, who have undertaken paths of discovery and self-knowledge, in close contact with the native peoples who still exist, such as the Americans, Australians or Africans.

The Shaman experimented first on herself, and then brought others the ancient shamanic practices related to physical, emotional and spiritual healing. It’s a person in full connection with his/her own inner self and the surrounding nature.

The Shaman has learned to live in love and in the absence of judgment, focusing on the good of the person as a whole. Ego is put aside and the heart is the only tool to be used in the approach with the other.

What is Shamanism for? Why approach these ancient disciplines?

In today’s world, the tendency is to close in ourselves, communicate through a screen and not find time to devote to the contact with natural elements. We spend less time outdoors than in closed spaces.

The Shaman reconnects us with our primary needs, freeing us from all the conditionings that society sews on us year after year.

Fears, judgment, limits, fears: these are all states of mind that do not allow us to live in full freedom and happiness. Shamanism and shamanic practices help to free oneself, a little at a time, from the limiting conditioning and bring us in connection with nature, with its strength, its energy and its beauty.

It becomes a journey to discover our true Self, which brings balance to our body and our emotions, helping us to live every day as the best gift we can receive.

Browsing around as a philologist, I discovered that among the Mongols, the Burati, the Jakuti, the Altaiani, the Evenchi and the Kyrgyz, the word to designate a “female Shaman” is Udagan with the variants utagan, ubakan, utygan and utugun, which probably come from the Mongolian word Etugen which is the name of the ancient Goddess of the hearth. This also happened to our women called Janare from Jana, Danu, Diana and sometimes two-faced Janus: “the one who saw beyond”.

The Shaman has an animistic view of the world.

An animist believes that all parts of Creation are alive in some way and have a spirit.

Nothing is dead in the universe for the animist: you and I have a soul, and so it is with all animals and plants, rocks and rivers, mountains and clouds, stars, the sun and the moon. Even a disease, a concept, a ceremony or a ritual object have a soul: everything has a soul and we live within a vast network of interconnection.

All animistic and shamanic cultures conceive it.

All shamanic cultures are animistic – but not all animistic cultures are shamanic.

In the early 1980s, a new style of Western shamanism developed – generally known as ‘Core Shamanism’. It developed mainly through the work of Michael Harner.

The core shamanism has taken up the basic modality of shamanism to enter into trance and travel to the worlds of the Spirit, but has stripped it of all cultural aspects, making it more easily accessible to Westerners. The fundamental principle of core shamanism is that anyone can learn to travel and use “shamanic techniques” in their lives to help themselves or others.

This is undoubtedly true and many people take many advantages from learning shamanic techniques. However the rule “to be chosen by spirits” is still applicable. I always think that the spiritual world is a bit like the ocean. All people can explore the surfaces of shamanism; sit on the beach with your toes in the water or paddle where the waves break – in other words almost everyone can learn to make the basic shamanic journey and do something near the shore. Some people will go into the ocean with water to their chest or they will learn to swim a little and they will go deeper.

But only those chosen by the spirits and who carry it in their blood will truly learn to swim and dive, hold their breath underwater and go to the depths of the spiritual world.

By saying this you do not want to be elitist: it is simply the truth.

Paraphrasing great souls, I confidently affirm that only “when the student is ready, the Master appears”.

Shamanism at a certain level of depth can be very dangerous, physically and psychologically: some Shamans die during ceremonies. That’s why I don’t really write anything about everything I know, and I only pass it down to my apprentices or my children.

The books written so far are only very small steps and elementary practices to which I was initiated and approached 37 years ago.

Not all people are bio-spiritually fit to dive deep: only those who have the blessing and help of spirits will learn to push themselves enormously out of their limits, to return to safety – if they are lucky. But everyone can live a rich animistic life and can learn simple shamanic first aid remedies – and I believe the world would be far better if there were more people practicing it.

There are so many people around who are actually implementing a good shamanic practice but there are so many others that unfortunately are doing … “other stuff” and even in good faith! – New Age can be a place so full of fluff that we can drown in it very easily, choking on all that fairy dust.

I often come across people who think that yoga, reiki or some other form of therapy is “Shamanism”.

They are not: at most they can be “animist” practices, but not Shamanism.

In Italy we go down into the quarries or climb high in the mountains; we deprive the body of comfort, attachments and only then do we enter the veils between the worlds, encountering the animal driving in nature: if we survive, this will be a bulwark and strength for us … but if we imagine it only to the sound of a drum and under psychedelics , what will appear will be relative to the context.

Is Shamanism going into nature, sitting in the grove, with your back leaning against a tree, trying to connect and become “one with everything”?

Again, this is not Shamanism either.

Meditation in nature is something to be encouraged: attunement and feeling one’s connection with all one’s “relatives” is something that brings great benefit – but it is not Shamanism.

Shamanism is a work of severe discipline: you meet the spirits, you have real dialogues with them, you negotiate – sometimes submitting or even fighting – for the good of your community.

People in the New Age community often think that Shamans are wonderful people – close to the Spirit – who love everyone and do good deeds all day long.

This is also a myth.

Traditional Shamans often fight and sometimes try to kill each other and steal the other’s power with the help of their spirits. Traditional Shamans often curse as much as they cure and make the practice of other Shamans difficult.

Fortunately, these types of attacks are very rare in Western shamanic communities and among those who practice core shamanism: among them there are only a few people who have such profound and powerful knowledge as to do great damage.

I strongly advise against doing the “obscure work” because one opens oneself to spiritual forces much greater than us, endangering oneself and their loved ones.

You can also lose your connection with any healing spirit you have worked with up to that point.

Shamanism is often associated with taking mind-altering plants. In recent years, tourism to the Amazon has proliferated and people take substances like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote and various types of mind-altering fungi.

People often seem to think that this is essential when it comes to Shamanism, but let me assure you that it is not.

Most shamanic cultures around the world do not assume any substance that alters the mind – instead they are based on the spirits that possess them, aided by a combination of ceremony, song, dances and musical instruments.

You may feel attracted by following an animist path derived from your ancestors: perhaps you have Celtic or European, African or Central Asian blood and the call of blood is strong.

This of the blood is a wonderful line to explore, but be aware that, if you come from a European culture, traditions have been broken and paths like Wicca or Druids are modern inventions and little correlated to their ancestral ancestors.

Our ancestors did not follow a spiritual path for pleasure or self-improvement: they were linked to their spirituality because they were there to save their lives, to help heal their sick and to help bring crops and animals to their tables: they observed the seasonal cycles and honoured the bad weather, they talked with thunders and unleashed storms, they honoured animals from which they drew nourishment and warmth, they safeguarded knowledge and techniques by dressing them as folk magic to save their lives. To safeguard knowledge they dressed it with Catholic prayers … but they knew that a day would come when everything would be brought to light.

I don’t talk about it on social media, nor on books, but I teach in real life, I choose and teach those I think smart enough to honour an Ancient Tradition.

I am very concrete and simple because I believe that it is very easy to “let yourself go” to the imagination in the West, where we are detached from the natural world and we do not need our ancient methods to survive or be amazed in front of a woman, me, who is simple and marks you for free and prays in an ancient way to help you heal.

In ancient times, if things did not work, people would die: now – with us and for now – it is not so and there is no longer the essential pragmatic point of “spirituality”.

We look for it to bring balance to our urban world, seduced by its novel and enchanted by fantasy, to escape from the monotony of an office. And we do it also because it is “easy” to devote ourselves to spiritual works to justify an unhappy life, to give us a tone and to subdue other people, to humiliate others, to feel superior, to make money by selling shamanic drum constructions, sweat huts and ayahuasca to a people of dazed, insensitive and unfortunately ignorant of the herbs that grow in their own territory.

I do not want to “make a bundle of every herb” and it is up to you to identify the dishonest, but I strongly advise you to remain human, to appreciate nature, to do good, to not judge others without knowing them and to not become so spiritual that you are no longer a land good.

So: is there “Shamanism” in Italy?

In the history of religions, in cultural anthropology and in ethnology, the term shamanism refers to a set of knowledge, beliefs, religious practices, magical-rituals, ecstatic and ethnomedical techniques found in various cultures and traditions, closely connected with Mother Nature, its rhythms and its cycles, handed down orally. For how I lived with my Grandmother, with women close to her and my teachers in the management and domination of the elements, my answer is unequivocally YES.

Michela Chiarelli 

 

 

Cooking Peace

Nadav Malin

“I watched these three cooks -one Christian, one Muslim, and one Jew – working in perfect harmony in the kitchen where cooperation and communication are essential. It was very exciting. It suddenly popped into my mind that we should do something together on a sustained basis. I realised that since all people have to eat, including chefs, why not cook and eat what we make together – but without any talk of politics. I felt it could work. We started by preparing meals for ourselves, and then the idea took shape as we began to cook for others.”  Says Kevork Almenian, The founder of ‘Chefs for peace’, a non-profit, non-political organisation founded in the Holy City of Jerusalem in November 2001 by a group of Jewish, Christian and Muslim chefs committed to exploring cultural identity, diversity and coexistence through food.

 

‘Eating is a political act’ claims Michael Pollan, a well known food activist and journalist.  This statement usually takes shape in the socio-economic side of the politics. Eating and cooking have a significant effect on financial and environmental issues. In the last years we saw several chefs stepping out of their kitchen and working for a better world through food.  Celebrity chefs such as Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi, Dan Baber, Jose Andres, and more, were involved with numerous great projects concerning local cooking, sustainability, biodiversity and the preservation of culinary heritage. Many other chefs throughout the world are working everyday in their restaurants with these same values.

 

In recent years, these actions taken by chefs show that their role as chefs doesn’t start and end in the kitchen behind the closed doors which separate them from the dining room. Chefs of our times have a significant effect on people’s opinion and eating habits, but can they play this role with a wider view? Chefs For Peace aims to use cooking to dimostrate exactly this. In events organised and held by Chefs For Peace, the goal is to bring cooks to the kitchen and diners to the table with indifference to politics, religion, nationality or skin color. Food, as a basic need and a great pleasure to human beings, is a great bridge between different people and a powerful tool to connect them. Cooking is an excellent tool to facilitate the learning of mutual acceptance. The kitchen is a place where, unlike the battlefield, knives and fire are used to create and not to destroy, it is a great place to bring harmony and to promote co-existence. 

 

Chefs For Peace brings us the image of the chef’s role as creator and non violent figure. It brings the story of the person who cooks and his identity. After telling this story, the question always rises whether you, as chef,  really think that you can bring peace. Well, of course not. Like any other, a chef cannot change global violence from his restaurant, but… he can make an impact. Peace is a very complicated achievement that is built in a long process on the negotiation table much like other global politics decisions. Living in peace starts within each person, same as with the will to eat good food. We are working on opening people’s minds and hearts to the idea that we can live and eat together, we are raising the awareness for our dream to solve this conflict and live in peace together in our divided city of Jerusalem.

 

I was a teenager when my mother went to a trip to Italy, she was one of the Jewish chefs to take part in the Slow Food festival that was held in Positano, Italy. I remember that they came back with the idea to create a group of Chefs for Peace and it seemed magical. As a child who grew up in a city such as Jerusalem, it appeared only natural that food will bond the divided people of the city. With the passing of the years, this small group grew to a non-profit organisation that holds events throughout the world. From time to time I joined them to cook in various events in Israel and I recall the good and special energy every time.

 

While I was a student at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy I had the opportunity to organise a meal cooked by Chefs For Peace as part of special meals held during the event ‘Salone del Gusto & Terra Madre 2010’ in Turin, Italy. The result was and is always amazing: after dining, to see these chefs from what are supposed to be conflicting cultures stepping outside the kitchen together, gives an extra value to the food; It opens people’s mind not only to the taste and appearance of the food but also to its background and to the people who cooked it. Kitchens all over the world are multicultural spaces, and they can make people stand up for peace, leaving behind the conflicts belonging to politicians and extremists.

 

In the last summer (2015) we had to stop our routine, work and creation for the sake of war. Suddenly our life changed dramatically and we found ourselves with no work, no one to cook for and nobody to feed. The noises of the kitchen has transformed into noises of alarms and missiles dropping by. In this extreme situation we decided to have an open dinner cooked by Chefs For Peace in our garden. We feared that not enough people will show up because of the situation, that people wouldn’t agree with this statement during days of war and that our dinner will be interrupted by a group of extremists. Nevertheless, the will to cook, to express ourselves in some semblance of normality was strong and we decided to make the dinner.

 

0n the 27.7 .2015 we held one of the most successful dinners held by Chefs For Peace in my kitchen (‘Luiza Catering’) located in ‘Abu Gosh’, an Arabic village in suburban Jerusalem. The village of Abu Gosh is a living symbol of coexistence. For many years the village sustains a very good relation with other neighbouring Jewish communities and there are some Jewish and Christians habitants in the village, so it was only natural to perform our dinner in that location. We organised everything within a few days, and a couple of days before we were already booked up with 200 reservations and a lot of interest from the media. We couldn’t believe it. In an open kitchen at the middle of the garden all the chefs coming from unimaginable different backgrounds gathered together to perform a dinner composed of 13 small dishes. The good vibes were indescribable, a light shone from the event, leaving us feeling illuminated.

 

Paradoxically when times are harder in our small beautiful land, bonds between us get stronger. When the extremists from any side push for conflict our work becomes increasingly important, ensuing the voice of human sanity to be heard above the war cries. We do this by cooking and hosting. We hope that in the future we will have more cooperation from our politicians. We will continue with our mission until the day will come in which a cooking session of Jewish, Muslim and Christian chefs will be a normal day to day thing and not something to write about in a magazine or the news paper.

Nadav Malin
(4 October 2018)