The Shamanic Journey

Peter Hymans
Legacy Discovery Shaman
Western Region 

The following summer while picnicking at an event, Matt Lyons and Kurt Thorne heartily encouraged me to step up to be PTM (production team manager) at the next LD. Kurt and Matt saw abilities in me I had neither experienced nor dared to sense. I took the job and was lovingly (and brutally) mentored by John Kimura, another epic leader in our wider circle. My sense of self-respect, dedication and purpose grew.

After I had been on the LD training team at several events, Matt had become shaman. He invited me to be his understudy with hope that I might succeed him in carrying the shaman’s staff. Matt is a great mentor. He deftly reads people’s body language and voice intonation. He “hears” more than words tell. I saw Matt being present to draw results out of the men, instead of teaching or preaching. I got that patience, silence, poise and eye contact can often be far more effective than energetic talk or arm waiving. The experience of graceful shaman-ing is the feeling of ecstatic vibrations of soulful music, while conducting a silent orchestra.

When my time came – after two events in Matt’s shadow – I was invited to be shaman. I was ready logically but I was daunted by fear. The shaman’s work is to be responsive to what the participants bring. In many ways being shaman requires one to already possess a deep love of humanity, a broad portfolio of life experience and the ability to communicate in ways that go deep into the flow of “nowness.” It is hard to actively prepare for this roll. If “magic” resides in the shaman, it is in his being able to channel energies of the moment into audible sound or countenance (body language) that help participants gain clarity.

Three days before I would first carry the staff, I learned that Matt had to be out of the country on business … I would be flying solo without the benefit of a check-flight from my mentor. I quivered some and I whimpered to those who would listen. What came back were comments that essentially said, “Shut the hell up Hymans! Just be yourself.”

I had experience on stage as a musician, a public speaker and in dramas; so stage fright was not the issue. Gurgling beneath the surface was a fear that I might miss cues and opportunities to deliver the best to the men. 

Then, I felt an invisible, firm and supportive hand on my back emanating from the reflections I had received from good men from previous men’s teams. My countenance radiated my sincerity and care for the men. That reinforcement buoyed me. My concerns morphed into willful intentions, and I drifted into the flow of the event.

The first three events were torturous because there was little feedback to speak to the work I did. There was no shaman emeritus present, and measuring context was more difficult than reviewing the well-defined modules in the syllabus.

On the fourth pass, miracles happened in the way things germinated and bloomed. At the closing circle I had tears in my eyes because it was apparent that I had achieved harmonic resonance with the men and they, in turn, had a vivid connection with our shared journey. My fifth and closing event was the cherry on top of rich cream.

By invitation, I attended the Southwest Region’s LD February 5– 8, and I was given the opportunity to do some of the shaman work along with the region’s shaman, Richard Rutherford. Rutherford was masterful in reading the men and giving cause for them to maximize their participation. The energy flow was awesome, and men worked brilliantly to experience changes they never thought possible before showing up.

So, just who is the shaman at the Legacy Discovery anyway? He is the person who forges the context of the event at the opening circle. Thereafter, he introduces and supports the four major masculine archetypes: King, Warrior, Lover and Magician as well as the shadows of those archetypes, which show up during times of weakness.  

The shaman also is entrusted to guide men into, and out of exercises, where character is called into question and contexts, purposes and forming legacies are examined. And…the shaman is the one who ties the bow around the contextual package for the participants and their sponsors at closing circle.

There is nothing “magic” per se in this job, other than the fact that it is a real advantage to have the ability to draw stuff out of the ether and deliver inspirational words on a moment’s notice, words that inspire, soothe or invoke deep thought with the participants.

In all of my years, in all of my experience and after all of my activities, being shaman for the LD stands near the top of the pile of my most inspirational experiences aside from marriage and fatherhood. The gifts I gave and the gifts I received are incomparable with any others.

I will continue to be on the training team and will offer my best to continue to develop and refine the LD as a crown jewel of life experiences a man can have. And, I know I will derive great pleasures in this service. I must admit, though, that I will surely feel a twinge of envy when our shaman steps forward to welcome the participants and sponsors this coming October, when the Western Division has its next Legacy Discovery event.

My heartfelt thanks are hereby given to the Western Region LD management team and to each and every one of the trainers, production team members, meal teams, participants and sponsors–who drew out the best from me by showing up strong and willing. I am a far better man for all of your presence.

I completed my service as official Western Region shaman a few weeks ago at our Legacy Discovery closing circle by relating an experience I had many years ago on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco. Shortly after the Boeing climbed to cruising altitude, the click of the P.A. microphone foretold that the pilot was going to give us the welcome message with perfunctory details on altitude, weather and flight time. What followed changed my life forever and imprinted my path through life: “For those of you sitting by the windows; look out and behold the dance. All the stars in the sky, the clouds, the mountains, the rivers and every creature above and below are a made with electrons that are in a great dance. Please take time to enjoy the dance.”

Ho Mitakuye Oyasin

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